It’s time for the 2018 year in review

It’s that time again, when we turn another page on what was 2018 and present a brief synopsis of the top news making stories from our neck of the woods.

January

Bryson blaze leaves family homeless
A fire that started during the early hours of Jan. 1 destroyed a Bryson home and left a family of four without a home.
Firefighters responded to the call at around 12:30 a.m. and were on scene until nearly 9 a.m., but unfortunately the house was completely destroyed.
The occupants, a family of four, weren’t home at the time of the fire and many members of the local community banded together to help them in their time of need.

Sled Dog Races
From Jan. 6 – 7, mushers from all over the world arrived at Timberland Tours in Bristol for the second annual Pontiac International Sled Dog and Skijoring Race. More than 80 teams of competitors braved the frigid temperatures, which dropped to -40 °C on the Saturday, to race in several different categories.
Organizer and Timberland Tours owner Denis Rozon was pleased with the turnout.
“It’s been a very good turnout and we’ve seen lots of new dog teams, which is great for the future of the sport,” he said.

CANAMEX meeting
Business owners and tourism experts from around the region met at the Meredith Centre in Chelsea on Jan. 11 to discuss the possibility of an agritourism route in the region.
Close to 30 people attended the meeting, which was spearheaded by Allumette Island farmer David Gillespie, to discuss ways to promote sustainable agriculture practices and incorporate tourism into their business models.
Gillespie hopes to incorporate the Outaouais into a larger agritourism route that includes trails in New York State, Vermont and South eastern Ontario.

Bridge contract announced
On Jan. 15, Pontiac MNA and Minister for Transportation André Fortin announced that the $5.1 million contract to repair the Félix-Gabriel Marchand Bridge in Mansfield had been awarded. The contract was won by Pavages Chenail, based out of Saint-Rémi and was expected to begin within a few weeks of the announcement.
Fortin was joined for the announcement by Mansfield et Pontefract Mayor Gilles Dionne and Pontiac Warden Jane Toller, who spearheaded the campaign to restore the historical structure, which is one of the oldest covered bridges in the province.

Rosaleen Dickson passes away
Long-serving EQUITY editor and owner, Rosaleen Dickson, passed away on Jan. 23 at the age of 96. She and her husband David purchased the newspaper in 1953 and founded Pontiac Printshop Ltd., a printing and publishing business in Shawville, where they raised their six children.
As the editor of THE EQUITY, Mrs. Dickson was an outspoken presence in Pontiac County, both through the pages of the paper and community life. She and David passed the business on to their children in the early 1980s.

Public Safety Minister discusses flood cleanup
The province’s Public Safety Minister, Martin Coiteux, met with officials from the Municipality of Pontiac on January 23 to discuss the cleanup from the previous year’s flooding.
Coiteux, along with Pontiac MNA André Fortin and Mayor Joanne Labadie discussed issues such as funding and information sharing between organizations. One of the main concerns broached by the municipality was the insistence by the Ministry of Public Security on the need for confidentiality of those affected by the flooding.

Local player finalist for Hoby Baker
A Shawville-born hockey player, Derian Plouffe, was named as a finalist for the prestigious Hoby Baker Trophy on Jan. 24. Ploufffe, who plays for the Niagara University Purple Eagles in NCAA Division 1, was sidelined in Nov. 2016 with a severe brain injury after taking a puck to the head in practice.
After being fully cleared to play in May 2017 and went on a tear, leading his team in scoring. Online voting determined the recipient of the award.

Pontiac hosts Provincial Minor Hockey Tournaments
The Shawville arena hosted young hockey teams from across the province for the last two weekends in January, with Bantams and Midgets taking the ice Jan. 20-21, Atoms and PeeWees playing on Jan. 26-28.
With over 250 children participating each weekend, organizer Scott Lemay had his hands full keeping the tournament on schedule.
The Pontiac Lions Midget A and Bantam A squads came away victorious in their respective divisions the first weekend, along with the Bantam B Fort Coulonge Comets. The following weekend, the PeeWee C Lions managed to pull out the W.

Luskville Winter Carnival brings family fun

The annual Winter Carnival in the Municipality of Pontiac took place from Jan. 26 to 28, and hosted a wide variety of activities for those young and old.
There was a mix of indoor and outdoor events all over town, from a talent show and circus demonstration to axe throwing and snowshoeing.
Charlene Young, an organizer with Groupe Action Jeunesse, said they aimed to put on a larger event to attract a more substantial crowd.

February

Community Bonspiel turns 43
The Shawville Curling Club hosted its annual Community Bonspiel between Jan. 25 and Feb. 4, bringing out more than 50 teams to compete for the coveted toilet seat trophy.
The tournament was held in the memory of the club’s long-time ice technician, Rick Allen, who passed away on Jan. 18.
The winners were Pontiac High School Big Cheese, made up of Monica Tanguay, Cameron Rowat, Jack Alexander and James Orr.

Les Grandes Crues hit Coulonge
Francophone comedy duo Les Grandes Crues had a great set at École secondaire Sieur de Coulonge on Feb. 1, performing for a crowd of around 160.
Marie-Lyne Joncas and Ève Côté took to the stage with wine glasses in hand to talk about life, love and politics in their witty style, much to the amusement of the Pontiac crowd. Their performance was organized through an agreement between MRC Pontiac, CHIP 101.9 FM and Dotoris Hall in Témiscamingue.

Pontiac Cup adds sled races
The Pontiac Cup, the rebranded 3v3 hockey tournament in Fort Coulonge, had a special twist for 2018 with snowmobile races being added on the Saturday afternoon. Held from Feb. 8 to 11, 27 teams participated across three divisions, while over 100 sleds took to the snowy parking lot outside.
Organizer Danick Boisvert, who has been organizing the event for the past eight years, said the additional activities would help make the event the largest yet.
The winners of the B Division were the Perks, Canadian Shield took the A Division and Mickey Creek prevailed in the Open Division.

Fat bikes race along the PPJ
A troupe of diehard cyclists competing in the Wendigo Ultra, a fat bike ultramarathon starting in Cobden Ont., cruised through Portage du Fort and and Shawville on Feb. 10. A total of 22 riders took part in this year’s iteration, choosing between 50, 100 and 150 km routes, though only 9 crossed into Quebec.
Fat bikes have become popular in recent years as their girthy tires allow for a smooth ride across snow and other difficult terrain.
Organizer Cameron Dubé said he added the Pontiac leg to the race because crossing the river added to the allure of the race and might encourage locals to participate in future events.

Rotary Club honours 2018 Paul Harris Fellows
On Feb. 12, members and friends of the Shawville Rotary Club gathered at Café 349 to celebrate the 2018 Paul Harris Fellows: Marc Latreille, Cheryl Campbell, Sue Page, Larry Coleman, Henry Horner and Nancy Suominen. The award signifies a personal donation, or one made in the fellow’s name, of $1,000 or more and is named after the Chicago attorney that founded the Rotary Club in 1906. Coleman, the club’s president, explained that every local Rotarian is also a Paul Harris Fellow, which is quite a distinction for the group.

Old sleds send it to Quyon
On Feb. 18, a pack of 89 riders hopped on their sleds in Constance Bay Ont. and made the annual migration across the Ottawa River to Quyon for the 12th Old Sled Run and Vintage Snowmobile Show.
Featuring machines from every conceivable era, the event is managed on the Quebec side by the Pontiac Snowmobile Driver’s Association (PSDA). Once they arrived in Quyon, many riders took the opportunity to stop for a sip at Gavan’s Hotel and peruse the machinery lined up across the street.
PSDA member Jeff Campbell commented that the weather and trail conditions were outstanding.

MAPAQ investigation at PCH
Inspectors from the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and food (MAPAQ) were at the Pontiac Community Hospital on Feb. 19 to investigate complaints about poor food-handling practices.
They found several infractions, such as food being stored at improper temperatures and being transported along with construction materials.
Due to kitchens for the region’s healthcare facilities being amalgamated, and the hospital’s staff have had to adjust their routines. CISSSO representatives met with staff following the inspection to go over best practices.

Hospital support workers stage protests
Workers with the Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs de la santé et des services sociaux de l’Outaouais CSN (STTSSSO-CSN) staged a protest at the Pontiac Community Hospital on Feb. 19. The union, which represents support workers at healthcare facilities in the region, decried the excessive amounts of overtime and short-staffing their members were forced to contend with.
May of their placards displayed a low-battery symbol, along with personalized messages like ‘I am not a machine’ and ‘Cuts everywhere.’

Abattoir announced for Shawville
A new abattoir for the Shawville area was announced on Feb. 26 at a press conference at Willow Hollow Farms. Owner Alain Lauzon, alongside Pontiac MNA André Fortin, explained that the new facility would specialize in halal-certified products and would employ around 10 people once fully operational.
Fortin announced that the project would receive just over $700,000 in funding from the provincial government.

Chamber awards night
The Pontiac Chamber of Commerce held its annual Business Achievement Award Gala on Feb. 23 at the Spruceholme Inn in Fort Coulonge, bringing out over 60 people to celebrate local entrepreneurs.
Hosted by Francois Carrier of CHIP 101.9 FM and Pontiac MNA André Fortin, the evening also featured the musical stylings of Simon Clarke. Shawville Giant Tiger owner Ken Pack was named Businessperson of the year and Arthur Fleming of Auberge Northfork was presented with a lifetime achievement award.

March

Province mandates municipal emergency plans
On March 1, the provincial government made it mandatory for every municipality in the province to form a municipal action plant, a move that came in response to the massive flooding in the spring of 2017.
The goal of the move is to ensure that residents are better prepared for natural disasters. Around 30 per cent of Quebec Municipalities, including the Municipality of Pontiac, already have a plan in place.

Anonymous letter leads to heated council meeting
More than 50 people attended a Calumet Island council meeting on March 5 where the newly-elected mayor was grilled by local residents and even asked to resign. An anonymous letter was distributed to mailboxes in the area earlier in the week that was critical of Mayor Serge Newberry and the former Director General of the municipality. It encouraged locals to attend the meeting, which they did in droves.
Former councillor Richard LaSalle called for Newberry to resign, which he refused. Newberry is the fourth mayor the island has had in as many years.

Officials preview new dialysis unit
On March 5, local media were invited to the Pontiac Community Hospital for a sneak peek at the plans for the new dialysis unit that was then in the early phases of construction.
The hospital’s Director of Nursing, Gail Ryan, gave a presentation showing the floor plan and answered questions about the long-awaited unit. Allan Dean of the Hospital Foundation explained that the community had been fundraising since 2007 and had raised more than $650,000 for the project, which will allow locals to cut down on travel to Gatineau and Renfrew.

Fish Findlay Classic turns six
Over 22 teams took to the Shawville Arena from March 9 to 11 for the sixth annual Fish Findlay Classic 3v3 tournament.
The tourney is a highlight in the town’s calendar and organizer Darcy Findlay said he was lucky he for all the support from the community and local Minor Hockey association.
Team Bamford won the A Division, while Team Martineau prevailed in the B. Team Kirkham managed a win in the C and Team Murray cleaned up the female division.

MRC defrauded of $170,000
Sûreté du Quebec officers arrested a woman from Fort Coulonge on March 14 that had allegedly defrauded MRC Pontiac of more than $170,000 over five years.
The alleged crime was discovered in August 2017 by a MRC employee in the accounting department and was referred to police. The accused was an employee of RPGL Avocats, a law firm that processes municipal bylaw infractions for the MRC.
52-year-old Collette Morrissette appeared at the Gatineau Courthouse on March 15 to face charges of fraud, among others.

Shawville councillor passes away suddenly
A beloved Shawville municipal councillor and community member, Margaret ‘Peg’ Sheppard passed away unexpectedly on March 14. She was known for her dedication to the townspeople and her work at the Senior’s drop-in centre, among other community functions.
“She will be sorely missed in Shawville,” said Mayor Sandra Murray.

ESSC hosts slam poetry night
The auditorium at École secondaire Sieur de Coulonge was packed on March 28 for the third annual slam poetry night, entitled À Coeurs Ouverts (To Open Hearts). Nearly 50 students took to the stage to share their pieces, reciting stanzas from their iPhones and sheets of loose leaf.
“Slam is much more than a school event,” said organizer Dominque Bomans. “They have feelings in their hearts that they want to share.”

Flying Elbows at the Shawville Arena
Participants in the Flying Elbows tournament took to the ice in Shawville from March 22-25, with over 300 players joining in for the 19th year. Games started on the Thursday night and continued on through to Sunday afternoon.
In the C division, Stanton’s Bar took home the title in extra time, while Tomlinson won the gold in the B. Perennial favourites Atko’s Army successfully defended their title against Mickey Creek in the A division.

April

Livewell partners up
Livewell Foods Inc., the company heading up the proposed cannabis research facility in Litchfield announced on April 5 that they were partnering with Smith’s Falls giant Canopy Growth.
After announcing in December 2017 that they had acquired approvals for a the Litchfield site, they announced that they would be hitching their wagon to Canopy Rivers, a streaming service that injects capital into cannabis start-ups in exchange for a percentage of their production capacity.

Driver knocks out power to more than 200
A single vehicle collision on April 8 left more than 200 people in the Bristol area without power. Emergency crews responded to a SUV in the ditch along Hwy. 148 around 4 p.m. The vehicle had snapped a hydro pole and landed on a fence.
The driver, a woman in her 60s, was uninjured and it was suspected she fell asleep at the wheel.

Pontiac Old-timers honour pal
The Pontiac Old Timers held a dance on April 7 to celebrate the lives of both teammate Freddie Desabrais and Shawville councillor Peggie Sheppard. Friends and family gathered at the Shawville Lions Hall to remember their pals and enjoy some tunes.
Old Timer Marc Latreille unveiled a new minor hockey trophy created for the occasion, the Fred Desabrais ‘Moustache’ Memorial award.

Quyon spelling bees
Young language aficionados from the Municipality of Pontiac gathered at the Quyon Library on April 14 and 15 for the first annual Pontiac Spelling Bee.
Children competed across six age divisions and in both official languages.
“With the young ones we really had a good turnout,” said librarian and event organizer Suzanne Lyndon.

Local player gets NHL ring
Chapeau resident Chris Hayes was presented with a Stanley Cup ring in April nearly half a century after playing his first and only game with the Boston Bruins.
Hayes was a part of the Bruin’s farm system during their 1972 playoff run when he got the call to suit up for the semi-finals against the St. Louis Blues.
It took some finagling from Hayes’ friend and former Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MP Hec Cloutier, but he finally received the ring he earned.

Bristol woman gives birth on the road
A Bristol couple had a far more exciting trip to the hospital than they bargained for on April 16, due to one persistent newborn.
Alina Seguin-Holmes and her husband Phil Holmes ended up welcoming their third child, Davison, to the world while on the way to the hospital, near the intersection of Hwy. 148 and Gilpin Line.
“I always thought it was something that happened in movies,” said Seguin-Holmes.

Local park gets Blue Jays grant
The Luskville Recreation Park was one of the recipients of a $150,000 grant from the Toronto Blue Jays on April 17. The donation was announced during a Jays broadcast and Luskville was one of 16 communities in Canada to receive the funds.
“It’s extremely exciting,” said Recreation and Community Life Co-ordinator Meghan Lewis, who noted that the funds would likely go towards new lighting for the ball field, among other things.

Construction starts on Chapeau seniors home
Pontiac MNA André Fortin and MP Will Amos were present on April 30 for the ground breaking ceremony for the Résidence Meilleur du Haut Pontiac in Chapeau. The 12-unit seniors facility is the culmination of seven years of hard work by community members, and cost an estimated $3.1 million to construct.
Local federal and provincial contributions numbered around $1.1 million, with an additional $300,000 from the municipality.

Abattoir Q&A
A mixture of representatives, from concerned citizens to politicians, business owners and farmers, filled the Shawville Recreation Association Hall on April 30 to discuss the newest business to open in town, a slaughterhouse.
Everyone was provided a FAQ sheet highlighting common areas of concern, and three of four owners of the abattoir were present to answer people directly. Residents were assured by the owners that odours, water quality, zoning and the animals’ health were all being taken care of up to all levels of standards set by the provincial, federal and municipal governments.

Pontiac Anglican leader retires
The Venerable Mavis Brownlee retired from her service within the Area Parish of Renfrew-Pontiac on April 29, following one last mass in Shawville at St. Paul’s Anglican Church.
Brownlee worked within the community for nine years, including helping to see through the creation of the Area Parish of Renfrew-Pontiac, a conglomerate of local Anglican churches ensuring service is brought to all corners of the encompassed area.

May

Senior hockey almost makes a Shawville comeback
Hopes were raised for Shawville hockey fans as resident Nick St-Laurent sought to start a senior team in the area.
He had tried to start a senior team under the name the “Pontiacs,” within the newly-formed Outaouais Senior A Hockey League. Though the league would form, along with a team in Fort Coulonge, the project failed to take off in Shawville.
In light of this, the Fort Coulonge team became the Pontiac Senior Comets, hitting the ice later in 2018.

More details come to light on MRC Pontiac fraud
The Fort Coulonge resident and RPGL Avocats employee accused of defrauding the MRC was alleged to have stolen the money from municipal fines owed to the MRC.
The 52-year-old woman was reported to have bilked the MRC of $170,000, representing nearly 60 per cent of the fines owed.
The missing money went unreported because the accused allegedly forged signatures and amounts owed.

Break-ins reported
A series of break-ins were reported the morning of May 4, from homes in Shawville, Campbell’s Bay and Ladysmith.
One resident, Rhonda Meisner, shared that items and cash had been stolen from her bedroom while she slept.
Two were arrested in connection with the robberies following the incidents.

Flooding recedes
Springtime flooding in the Municipality of Pontiac returned to the area, though worries were alleviated when the levels capped off at a lower point this year.
The season’s highest point was recorded on May 9, when it was reported that waters had reached 59.8 m above sea level.

Life-saving messages
The Shawville Lions Club started a new initiative in the area, when they brought the Message in a Bottle program to residents.
Elderly participants are given a form to fill out with their personal and medical information, which is then sealed in a bottle and stored in the fridge. In case of an emergency, first responders can find the bottles to be alerted to pre-existing conditions or other issues.

Classroom-made barges
Pontiac High School welding students tested their semesters’ work out, when they dropped their pontoon boats into the waters at Norway Bay Beach for a float.
Students worked on every step of building the boats, from design to fabrication, and working with staff from Magnalum Inc., had the chance to test them out. School Principal Debra Stephens said it was an activity the school had held before, but it was the first time in a decade that it had taken place.

GELAM reopens at new location
GELAM Riding Stables held an open house at their new location on May 12, letting guests check out the facilities. The location was significant for owner Ginger Finan because it was where she had kept her horse while in high school, under the previous owner’s care. After the previous owner had died in a car crash, the property was without horses for about a decade.
“It’s been about 10 years without horses on the property but having them back has revitalized the business,” said Finan. “I think the previous owner would be happy.”

Fun times in Norway Bay
With Royal Wedding fever in the air, THE EQUITY reporters Caleb Nickerson and Donald Teuma-Castelletti joined a group of excited guests at the Jack Graham Community Centre for the early morning viewing.
Nickerson gave a firsthand account of the gathering, as he tried to understand the thrill of watching a couple get married thousands of kilometres away.
He came out enjoying the activity more than he anticipated, as he took in discussions on outfit choices and sipped mimosas.

Bush fires cause destruction in Thorne
A mid-afternoon bush fire on May 14 quickly consumed 15 acres east of Ladysmith, with firefighters from Thorne and Otter Lake responding to the call.
Sparks from a heater were suspected to be the cause of the fire, which consumed a garage and shed on the initial property. Firefighters worked successfully to protect two homes from being consumed as well.
La Sociète de protection des forets contre le feu (SOPFEU) sent in reinforcements to help with the situation around 4:15 p.m., and water bombers were soon scooping from nearby lakes to help control the fire’s spread.

Fire department recognizes 35 years of service
The Campbell’s Bay – Litchfield Fire Department honoured Chief Kevin Kluke for his 35 years of service, 25 of which were served as chief, at their awards night on May 12.
Denis Dubeau received an award for 25 years of service and Terry Racine also received an award for 15 years. Many more bars and medals were also distributed, for years of dedication.

Bryson CWL marks eight decades
The Catholic Women’s League of Bryson’s Immaculate Conception Church celebrated the group’s 80th anniversary on May 15, marked with a special mass.
Starting in 1938, the group originally saw 44 members in their numbers. Several new and veteran members were given pins denoting their length of service.

Provincial candidates emerge
Roger Fleury, running on the Parti Vert du Quebec, announced his candidacy for the Pontiac riding on May 30.
He was the first to step up and challenge Liberal candidate and Pontiac MNA André Fortin, running on a platform of opposing the near surface disposal facility planned for Chalk River Laboratories, further up the Ottawa River.

Raising funds for dog guides
Shawville’s first Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides took place on May 27 at the Shawville Fairgrounds, raising $1,400 for the cause.
Shawville resident Chelsea Smith organized the walk, as she sought to bring awareness to the benefits an assistance dog can provide an individual and their family.
Local families who have seen firsthand the benefits spoke ahead of the walk, highlighting how their dogs have helped the blind and autistic.

Phone line funding for Pontiac
May 22 saw an announcement in regards to improved telecommunications in the Pontiac region, when Bell announced $2 million to improve the networks.
Attempting to address the issue of areas losing service when a line is damaged, Bell announced their plan to build an additional link between telephone exchanges in Chapeau and Pembroke.

Doors open at Portage water facility
Residents had the chance to see their new water treatment facility in Portage du Fort on May 26, when a doors open event with the new water technician was held.
Technician Jessica Nilsson gave residents an in-depth look and explanation as to what the facility provides residents, and the work she does to ensure everything runs smoothly.

June

Bench, splash pad dedicated to Bryson man
Le Patro revealed that their new splash pad and an accompanying bench would be dedicated to long-time attendee of the facility, Sheldon ‘CC’ Ostrom.
Ostrom, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, spent two decades attending the summer camp, referring to Le Patro as his favourite place to be. Unfortunately, he passed away in Aug. 2017, but Fr. Marc Frappier decided to memorialize their biggest fan with the tribute on June 1.

War games come to Mansfield et Pontefract
Soldiers from CFB Petawawa were training in the region, running a series of exercises from June 1 – 6. Involving air force and platoon-level training, two dozen troops performed a series of problem-solving tasks amongst small groups.
The training took place at Davidson Mill and saw helicopters and light explosives used, with much of the work taking place at night.

THE EQUITY tours UTEAU
This publication was granted an inside look at the septic and waste water treatment plant in Litchfield on June 6.
Owner Maurice Charlebois gave a rundown of their operations and what it means for Pontiac residents, including the breakdown of sewage through microorganisms and how leeching is prevented from affecting the river.

MoP roadwork leads to headaches
Residents in the subdivisions surrounding the areas of Hwy. 148 that were under construction during the summer were soon disgruntled, as motorists chose to bypass the bumpy, long wait to get through the work and drive through their streets instead.
Many claimed these motorists actively ignored the posted speed laws, often driving as fast as they would along the highway. Concerns over safety were voiced, as well as the amount of dust kicked up by these speeding vehicles along the unsanctioned detours.

Shawville fastpitch players take on Team Quebec
The Shawville Men’s Fastpitch League welcomed the provincial team to their local diamond on June 9, playing back-to-back games.
The Shawville players donned a set of jerseys honouring past members of the league, as they wore the Shawville Scrappers’ uniforms emblazoned with the names of those players, as donated by Ralph Horner.

50th reunion sees students return to Chapeau school
St. Mary’s Teachers’ College in Chapeau saw the class of 1968 make a homecoming on June 9, filling the halls as well as the convent next door, where the Sisters who taught them would have lived.
Graduates from all over Quebec and Ontario took part in the reunion, totalling out at 20. This was the second-to-last class to graduate from the school before it’s doors shuttered in 1969.

Hockey legend flies in
A Portage du Fort man diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer had the dream of a lifetime come true, when Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur arrived by helicopter to Clarendon to meet him.
Wayne Troke and his family spent a few hours visiting with Lafleur on June 15, enjoying casual conversation and a meal together.
“Every time he talks about the visit, he’s talking a mile a minute,” said Brenda Troke, Wayne’s daughter. “It was pretty awesome, and I know it meant a lot.”

MoP votes against further legal action with McCann
The current Municipality of Pontiac council voted against continuing action in recuperating legal fees from former councillor Eddie McCann on June 12.
After receiving the legal opinion of RPGL lawyers, it was agreed that there was insufficient evidence to prove McCann had acted maliciously or with the intent to harm. Rather than risk further costs to the municipality, the council voted 5-2 to discontinue further legal action.

Long-time Otter Lake fire chief retires
Otter Lake Fire Chief Rodney Vadneau retired from the department in April 2018, after serving 51 years with the crew.
Vadneau reflected on seeing how the department had grown and changed over the years, marking the many highs and lows that come with responding to emergency situations. He joked at the retirement party in June that he was getting out just in time, as the job was seeing more and more paperwork coming in.

Manor kicks off fundraising for new wing
Just a few months after acquiring ownership of the building, the Friends of St. Joseph’s Manor announced that they were beginning fundraising to build a new wing onto the facility.
The addition would see 10 new rooms, a chapel, hair salon, additional laundry and administrative spaces, as well as a staff room. The total cost is pegged at $955,020, and fundraising has continued through the year with many initiatives, following the announcement on June 14.

Le Patro founder honoured
Fr. Marc Frappier, founder of Mansfield et Pontefract’s Le Patro, was presented with a certificate recognizing his 30 years of community.
Pontiac MP Will Amos presented the certificate at Le Patro’s annual St. Jean Baptiste Party on June 24, where over 300 attended to take part in all the fun and celebrations.

High speed internet on the way
The federal and provincial governments announced funding for Bell Canada and Télébec to increase accessibility to high speed internet in 16 communities on June 30 at the Thorne Community Recreation Association.
It is expected to see 1,425 homes in the Outaouais benefit, though concerns were raised by the public in regards to the choice of providers in the area, affordability, and access to a map detailing which households will receive the coverage.

PHS celebrates 50th anniversary
Pontiac High School put out an open invitation to all previous students and staff, welcoming all to attend the school’s 50th anniversary at the end of June.
Guests were seen filling the school’s halls, checking out their old lockers and recalling fond memories of their time at the school. Following the open house, a casual party was held at the Ag Hall for all to catch up.

July

Brownlee sentenced to life
Brian Brownlee was sentenced to life in prison on July 3, after pleading guilty to the second-degree murder of Darwin Zimmerling.
Zimmerling was found dead on Jan. 18, 2017, the cause of death determined to be multiple gunshot wounds. Brownlee was also charged with 11 firearms charges and will not be eligible for parole for 10 years, though there was time served before the sentencing.

Big funding for MRC Pontiac roads
Pontiac MNA André Fortin announced $1.3 million in additional transportation funding for 14 municipalities in the MRC on July 5.
With this boost, the region saw a 38 per cent increase in road funding over 2017, with Chichester and Litchfield receiving the largest increases, percentage-wise, at 69 per cent and 76 per cent, respectively.

Frustration over snowmobile, tourism trails in MoP
A motion to allow the mayor and director-general of the Municipality of Pontiac to enter negotiations with the NCC for a new tourism trail was abruptly tabled at a council meeting on July 10, causing frustration amongst the voting party. Citing the need for further discussion, one councillor asked that the motion be removed.
The Pontiac Snowmobile Drivers’ Association were upset with the NCC’s decision to close the snowmobile trail on Curley Lake Road. This trail connects Masham with the MoP for the group’s members, but will be used winter 2019 after a one year moratorium was negotiated.
Further concerns were raised over who owns the road in question, in a debate between the municipality and NCC.

Charges dropped against Fleury
Mischief charges pending against Fort Coulonge resident Roger Fleury were dropped on July 13 by the City of Gatineau.
The charges stemmed from a 2014 incident, when Fleury and five other Indigenous activists sought to protect an archaeological site in Gatineau that was slated for development.
Though relieved to see them dropped, Fleury expressed his disappointment in seeing the site built over.

All shook up
A series of small earthquakes were reported on July 19, affecting residents of Shawville and Campbell’s Bay.
The largest registered at 2.8 MN, originating outside Bryson at a depth of 18 km.

Curtains fall for Under the Pines
The Under the Pines music fest wrapped up for the foreseeable future with one last show on July 21, as Louis Schryer, Erin Leahy and Timi Turmel put on a foot-stomping good time.
Organizer Phillip Holmes said he and his wife were taking a step back from arranging it in the years to come as life is plenty busy enough for them at the moment, as they raise three young children.
As well, a lack of government grants has made affording the show much harder.

Quyon community purchases new CLSC examination table
The CLSC in Quyon received a new examination table on July 25, after years of waiting for a replacement.
The table was purchased through fundraising provided by the Quyon Lions, Lionettes, CLSC Foundation and Pontiac MNA André Fortin’s office.
The updated equipment has made it much more comfortable and safer for patients under the care of Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt.

Semi-pro wrestling pile drives Shawville
Classic Championship Wrestling came to the Shawville Arena on July 14, putting on a high-action show full of stunts, characters and gimmicks.
Organized as a Shawville Fair fundraiser, attendance to the show was low, but those who did fill the audience had a blast as they cheered and jeered the wrestlers across seven fights.

New CISSSO board includes Pontiac resident
Former Grand Calumet Island mayor Pierre Fréchette was appointed one of four new members to CISSSO’s board of directors on July 22.
Seventeen people now sit on the board, with the Pontiac resident’s appointment coming following pressure from citizen groups in the region to have their voices heard adequately.

August

Additional funding for Shawville abattoir
Aug. 1 saw the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food announce $200,000 in additional funding for the Shawville abattoir project.
Given as a grant, the money was provided to help get the project up and running on schedule, as well as to achieve profitability sooner.

Shawville foreman honoured
Denzil Yach, a Shawville councillor and previously the town’s foreman, was recognized for his years of hard work with a bench dedication in Mill Dam Park on Aug. 8.
The Shawville Lions Club donated the bench in his name, after Yach tended to the park, including maintenance and upgrades, for over 20 years.

MoP institutes new accident bylaw
The Municipality of Pontiac added a new bylaw, forcing non-rate payers who are involved in car accidents on Hwy. 148 to pay the bill for the fire department’s response.
As several accidents take place on the highway, the costs associated with sending the department out to calls regularly proved expensive and took its toll on the municipality’s budget.

Outaouais healthcare grossly underfunded
A study done by the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques (IRIS) found that the Outaouais healthcare system was underfunded by $250 million, affecting everything from administration to services and education.
Combining the five MRCs in the Outaouais, the total population makes up 4.7 per cent of Quebec, but receives only 3.5 per cent of the province’s healthcare spending.
“For every dollar people in Quebec get for healthcare, the people of the Outaouais receive 75 cents,” said Bertrand Schepper, a researcher from IRIS.
CISSSO refused to comment on the story.

First female-focused film festival in Fort Coulonge
The first Festival international du Cinéma des Femmes de Fort-Coulonge took place during the second weekend of August, featuring a wide variety of cinema options with a focus on female directors.
Free-of-charge, audiences were able to see as many films as they wished as seven full-length and six short movies were shown.

Portage du Fort park re-opens with upgrades
New swings, a play structure, sandbox and more were the main attraction as Portage du Fort’s park opened with more than just a fresh coat of paint on Aug. 18.
The town’s recreation association were proud to see the project completed, especially as close to 30 children arrived to take part in the fun.

Norway Bay store announces closure
The riverside community is without a convenience store now, after Henderson’s Store announced in August that they were closing for good come Sept. 30.
A social media post from the family-owned business saw many express their well-wishes to the family for future ventures. The owners cited rising costs outpacing sales and competition from big bulk stores with beer purchases as the main reasons behind the closure.

Protests against nuclear entombment
Citizens and groups from around the Pontiac, Ottawa Valley, Gatineau and Ottawa descended up the capital, protesting against the disposal of radioactive waste at four Canadian facilities close to major waterways.
A press conference was held at the Ottawa Public Library on Aug. 21 decrying the plan, before the groups gathered downtown on Wednesday for their Red Canoe March outside the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission offices.

Shawville Fair ambassador announced
The first-ever male ambassador for the Shawville Fair, 14 year-old Alex Mayhew was announced on Aug. 9.

Candidates interviewed ahead of provincial election
The Aug. 29 edition of THE EQUITY saw several provincial election candidates interviewed.
Olive Kamanyana represented the Coalition avenir Quebec, Julia Wilkie ran for Quebec Solidaire, Samuel Gendron was the NDPQ candidate, Roger Fleury represented the Green Party, and André Fortin continued to run with the Liberals. As well, Marie-Claire Nivolon represented the Parti Quebecois, Kenny Roy ran for the Conservatives and Louis Lang represented the Marxist-Leninists.

September

Shawville Fair kicks off
The 162nd Shawville Fair kicked off with performances by Meghan Patrick, The Trews and High Valley. Despite some soggy weather, thousands of people from the Pontiac and beyond came out for some good old-fashioned country fair fun the weekend of Aug. 30- Sept. 3.

Dog attack in Municipality of Pontiac
Two men suffered serious injuries after being attacked by a dog in the Municipality of Pontiac on Aug. 28. After a 40-year-old man was attacked by the dog, a 69-year-old man attempted to intervene and was also mauled. Both men were transported to hospital with serious injuries.

Work accident causes severe injuries
A work accident caused serious injuries for Jim Newton, owner of Jim’s Tree Service, after he was crushed underneath a boom he was loading onto a truck on Aug. 28. A Go Fund Me page, which raised at least $10,000 was set up to assist Newton in his recovery.

Trouble bruin in Shawville
Shawville residents woke up to a surprise visitor on Sept. 12 when a black bear wandered into town. Although the bear left of its own volition, representatives from the Ministry of Flora, Fauna and Parks said that officers increased their presence in the area.

Amphibious challenge hits the water
The annual Amphibious Challenge took place in Sheenboro on Sept. 8 as 50 competitors ran and swam their way through either a 15 km or 40 km route.
Participants came as far afield as Calgary, France and even Hawaii (although the Hawaiians had to pull out due to injury).

100 years for Bristol Pentecostal
Bristol Ridge Pentecostal Church celebrated its 100th anniversary. The festivities kicked off on the Sept. 8 with a free turkey dinner and live music. A service the next day made sure to reflect on the church’s storied history.

MNA bilingual debate
Five of the Pontiac candidates for the 2018 provincial election participated in a bilingual forum in Campbell’s Bay on Sept. 13. Each representative laid our their vision for the Pontiac in the fields of healthcare, the economy and population growth.

Pontiac climbs in economic rankings
The Pontiac climbed four spots in the annual Panorama des Regions, which looks at the economic health of each region in the province. The Pontiac finished 78th out of 104 regions in Quebec with a per capita disposable income of $23,398.

Toller responds to employee letter
MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller denied accusations that she fired an employee after she was informed of the employee’s intention to run for political office. Toller said she offered her another position since political campaigning would have limited the employee’s ability to carry out her duties.

Tornado rips through Pontiac
A category 3 Tornado ripped through several parts of the Pontiac, including Otter Lake and Breckenridge on Sept. 21. After crossing the Ottawa River after laying waste to parts of Dunrobin, Ont. the tornado caused massive amounts of damage, which many homeowners are still dealing with. Luckily, no lives were lost.

MNA Anglophone debate
Pontiac candidates vying for the provincial MNA seat participated in an English language debate at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Aylmer on Sept. 19. The candidates focused on several issues, mainly through the lens of minority language rights.

Door-to-door composting in Municiality of Pontiac
The Municipality of Pontiac announced an awareness campaign for the upcoming implementation of its recycling program. Some residents were upset that the new council voted to go with door-to-door pickup instead of the previous council’s plan for at-home composting.

October

Fortin wins re-election
André Fortin won re-election as his party lost government in the provincial election on Oct. 1. Although his Liberal Party took a beating at the polls, Fortin won the Pontiac with more than 50 per cent of the vote. He went from being the Minister of Transport in government to being a front-runner for party leader in the aftermath of the election.

Canada, Mexico, U.S. ink USMCA
After Canada, the United States and Mexico agree to the new USMCA trade deal on Sept. 30, local dairy farmers voiced their concern about what the deal means for them.
“It’s going to complicate things,” said local dairy farmer Robbie Beck. “I think there’s going to be an impact that we’re going to feel at the farm level.”

Oktoberfest in full swing
Ladysmith hosted its 33rd annual Oktoberfest celebration from Sept. 28-30. This year, longtime volunteers Randall and Marguerite Born were honoured for their years of service. As always, the barrels of sauerkraut were no match for the voracious appetite of those in attendance.

The bay says goodbye to Henderson’s
A Norway Bay institution, Henderson’s Convenience Store, shut its doors for the final time. Residents of the bay threw a farewell party on Oct. 6 for Andy and Val Henderson, who have been behind the counter for years.

Grads get yearbooks
The Pontiac High School graduating class of 2018 were given free yearbooks thanks to Danny Lalonde of Lalonde’s Towing on Oct. 4. The donation, which cost around $2,500, was a way for Lalonde to ensure that the grads had a piece of memorabilia from their high school years that they could look back on.

Junior hockey back in Shawville
The Canadian Premier Junior League hosted its first game in Shawville on Oct. 6 featuring the Maniwaki Mustangs and the Grey Highlands Hawks. Mustangs owner Eric Gauthier said he’s bringing junior hockey back to Shawville to gauge interest in a possible return of the town’s very own junior squad.

Senior hockey back in the Pontiac
The Fort Coulonge Comets, the Senior hockey team participating in the newly formed Outaouais Senior A Hockey League plays its first game on Oct. 13 in front of a raucous crowd. Although they lost the game, the crowd size shows organizers that the appetite for hockey is alive and well in Fort Coulonge.

CISSSO hosts annual public meeting
Representatives from CISSSO were in the Pontiac on Oct. 9 to get feedback from local residents on the region’s healthcare system. CISSSO Director General, Jean Hébert, listed the areas of progress from the previous year. Residents questioned Hebert on issues like local governance of the region’s healthcare.

Police seize 100 kilos of pot
Sûreté du Québec officers seized more than 100 kilograms of cannabis from several properties throughout the region. The bust included the seizure of more than 3,200 cannabis plants on Oct. 9. Although the bust occurred the same week that recreational cannabis use became legal, Sûreté du Québec spokesman Marc Tessier said commercial growing remains illegal. “500 plants in a cornfield is still going to be illegal,” Tessier said.

How sweet it is
The Pontiac Home Bakery was named the Sweetest Bakery in Quebec, and finished second overall in the country. As a thank you, bakery owner Dan Duggan threw a massive party for the community featuring live music and stand up comedians on Oct. 20.

Work halted on greenhouse
LiveWell Foods Inc., the company responsible for the proposed cannabis growing facility and research centre at the Pontiac Industrial Park, halted construction on the greenhouse facility, which was reported Oct. 24.
“Recently, what happened was the Canadian regulations allowed us to grow indoors and outdoors,” said Michel Lemieux, LiveWell Chief Administrative Officer. “So we have to redesign the project.”

New president for pool committee
MRC Pontiac Warden Jane Toller announced her intention to step down as the president of the Pontiac Pool Committee on Oct. 18. Toller had faced criticism about the optics of a sitting politician also being at the helm of an important project like the proposed pool.
“I will still put a lot of energy into this, because I think it’s a very important project,” Toller said.

Touring the Pontiac
Federal Conservative candidate for Pontiac, Dave Blackburn, made several stops throughout the Pontiac on Oct. 29. Blackburn was conducting a listening tour with residents and said the main concerns he heard were about the economy, employment and high-speed internet.

A dog-gone good time
The ninth annual Bristol Dryland Dog Races took place at Timberland Tours on the weekend of Oct. 27-28. Owner and race organizer Denis Rozon said that this was the biggest dryland event yet. More than 300 teams participated for a slice of the $10,000 purse.

Learning about cannabis
The Pontiac Chamber of Commerce hosted an information session for employers, which went over their rights and the rights of employees in light of cannabis legalization on Oct. 17.
The event was held at the Little Red Wagon Winery and featured Tyler Pirie, a substance use expert, giving pointers to employers on the ins and outs of cannabis.

November

Remembrance Day
Several municipalities hosted annual Remembrance Day ceremonies. This year’s event marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Abattoir open house
Shawville’s new abattoir gave meat producers the opportunity to get a first hand look at the facility on Nov. 3. It gave farmers an opportunity to ask specific questions of the facility’s owners.
“We’re anxious to show we haven’t cut any corners,” said abattoir owner Alain Lauzon.

Maison des Jeunes get new digs in Shawville
Maison des Jeunes showed off its new drop in centre at Pontiac High School (PHS) on Nov. 2. The room features all kinds of activities ranging from board games to electronics to local activities for youth.
PHS Principal Debra Stephens said that the room gets anywhere from 20 to 40 students at lunch.

What a dump
A large pile of illegally dumped garbage was found on the side of Picanoc Road. The garbage ranged from household appliances to recyclables to construction waste. The site previously had two garbage bins but they were removed when non-household garbage continued to be dumped there. The MRC issued a press release on Nov. 4.

PHS grads toss mortarboards
Pontiac High School’s 2018 graduating class came together for one last time as a group to celebrate their graduation on Nov. 10. With over $26,000 in awards handed out, many grads got some help for their future studies. Valedictorian Emma Findlay had some wise words for her fellow grads during her valedictorian speech.

4-Her gets Royal experience
Local 4-H member Rebecca Nugent got a chance to show off her skills at the TD Canadian 4-H Dairy Classic at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto on Nov. 9. Nugent, the president of the local 4-H club, said the opportunity to compete on such a grand scale was eye opening.

Pontiac Forum 2018
The Pontiac Community Development Corporation and the Pontiac Social Development Table hosted the Pontiac Forum 2018, a roundtable discussion on how to effectively serve the community. The forum, which took place on Nov. 16 at the Campbell’s Bay R.A. Hall, was attended by officials and community organizations looking to find ways to work together and serve the community.

Shawville 4-H hosts awards banquet
Shawville 4-H members were out in full force at the Jack Graham Community Centre on Nov. 17. It was a fitting end to a busy season for the 4-H club that included the Canada Day parade, running the 4-H booth, square dancing and attending the provincial rally in Lachute.

Country crooning
Francophone country music artist Cindy Bédard took the stage at École Secondaire Sieur de Coulonge on Nov. 15. The crowd of dedicated fans was grooving right in front of the stage to Bédard’s tunes.

Rural internet report
Canada’s Auditor General released a report Nov. 22 criticizing the governments handling of the rural high speed internet file on. The report says the government needs to do a better job maximizing the return on its investments. The report also expresses worry that Canadian taxpayers shouldered costs for infrastructure investments that private companies would have made regardless.

Break and Enter at Smoke’N Bull
A popular eatery in Luskville was the victim of a break and enter on Nov. 20. Two perps broke a window and the door in an attempt to gain entry, but were scared off by the alarm.
The business was closed for several days because the open door caused water lines to freeze.

NCC survey on Gatineau Park master plan
The NCC released a survey in late November asking resident for their input on the redevelopment of the Gatineau Park master plan.
One issue in particular was a major concern for the region’s snowmobile clubs: Curley Lake Road. Both the NCC and Municipality of Pontiac claim ownership over the tract, which is used by snowmobilers to get to Masham.

December

House fire claims a life
An early morning fire in Quyon claimed the life of one man, who is survived by his wife and three children. The cause of the fire, which broke out in the eraly morning hours of Nov. 24 was under investigation, and no further details have been released.

MRC budget presented
The MRC Pontiac council of mayors approved the draft budget for 2019 on Nov. 28. The budget will increase from $6,179,661 in 2018 to $6,451,129 in 2019.

Dialysis unit opens in Shawville
After years of fundraising, Pontiac residents finally got their first look at the Shawville Hospital’s new dialysis unit on Dec. 8. The community raised more than $650,000 of the $1.4 million cost of the unit.
“These patients are going to have a quality of life that they don’t have right now,” said Dr. Tom O’Neill.

Micro-brewery opens doors
A German-themed micro-brewery opened its doors in Campbell’s Bay on Dec. 7 to start selling its suds. Owner Todd Hoffman said the brewery could produce up to 300 barrels per year. Customers can choose from 473 ml cans or 30 L kegs.

SCFD members receive awards
Two members of the Shawville Clarendon Fire Department were the recipients of the Governor General’s award for fire services. Mike Tubman and Ken Evans were both awarded with the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal on Dec.1 at Hursty’s restaurant in Shawville.

Quyon gets new gym
The Pontiac Community Fitness Centre opened its doors on Dec. 12 to massive fanfare. The project has been in the works for months with volunteers working long hours to make sure the gym is in tip top shape for patrons.
“We just felt there was a need in the community for something like [this],” said Quyon Family Centre Director General, Catherine Beaudet.

New DG for Municipality of Pontiac
The Municipality of Pontiac announced that it has found a replacement for the recently departed Director General, Benedikt Kuhn. His replacement will be former Chelsea councillor Charlotte Laforest. Although she has been in the municipal offices familiarizing herself with the landscape, Laforest’s first day is Jan. 1.

Parishioners get papal recognition
Three members of St. Alphonsus Parish in Chapeau were honoured for their years of service with medals from the papal office on Dec. 16. The medals recognize the dedication of recipients to the Catholic church, their families and the community. Jerome Sallafranque, Bert Collins and Henry Sallafranque were honored to receive the medals.

Fire claims one life, destroys business
The second fatal fire in Quyon in as many weeks claimed the life of one man and gutted a business on Dec. 4. By the time firefighter arrived, the roof had already caved in, which made fighting the blaze especially difficult.

 

 

 

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