The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the July 15, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Lowdown on Low in 'Up the Gatineau!'
Nearly one year ago Low celebrated its 150th birthday, Canada its 141st, and Jack Kealey his 100th.
Canada Day ranks a distant third in Brian Doyle's article on the event in the current issue of "Up the Gatineau!" - The Gatineau Valley Historical Society's annual publication - but he still paints a scene of what the town's national celebrations are, and have been, like.
The celebrated children's author recounts a typical Canada Day exchange where two locals ask each other whether they'd seen the parade. Neither has, since each was a participant.
"One of the ironies of the Township of Low on Canada Day," Doyle writes. "What's the point of having a parade if there's nobody to watch the parade because everybody's in the parade?"
The answer might be that there's just always been a parade. In a few short pages, Doyle evokes the town's tradition through its people's (past and present, living and dead) names, faces and interactions.
While Heritage Hall is decked out for the occasion and a band plays in the rain outside Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Don Kealey shows slides, documents and films of Low's history.
Doyle comments on the inherited similarities among the town's population.
"Their complexions are similar, their body language relates, they inflect and intone alike. They laugh alike and a lot."
The story's hero, if not the town itself, is Jack Kealey. Kealey, Doyle writes, had promised to do his best to attend Low's 150th, which so happened to fall in the same year as his 100th.
When mayor Mike Francis introduces Kealey to the Heritage Hall crowd, he receives applause "big enough for everyone assembled and all those who came before... There isn't a dry eye to be found."
"Up the Gatineau!" volume 35 also features a salute to Low's 150 years, written by GVHS member Carol Martin. In it Martin traces the town's name to Charles Adamson Low, a lumber merchant who operated in the area in the 1830s but - as far as censuses show - never "took up residence in his namesake municipality and township."
Also inside: Anita Rutledge's profile of Bill Bridgeman, "the last in long line of millers of flour" at Wakefield's MacLaren mill in the 1920s and '30s."
Michal Anne Crawley traces the history of Crawley films all the way back to Budge Crawley and his new wife's award for best amateur film of 1939. Carol Martin has another article commemorating the Artists in their Environment studio tour's 20th anniversary and Trudy Cross Stephen revisits some of her father's poetry. Up the Gatineau is available on sale at many stores in the area.
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