• Hunter Cresswell

Cantley to buy, turn glacial rock site into park

Council approves $125K purchase of 11.5 hectares

Those eye-catching, smooth rock formations along Hwy 307 in Cantley will soon become a glacier park.

Glaciers and glacial meltwater created these smooth rock formations just north of the intersection of Chemin St. Andrew and Hwy 307 in Cantley, the purchase of which was approved by the municipality of Cantley earlier this month. Hunter Cresswell photo

The Cantley council in April approved spending up to $125,000 to buy 11.5 hectares of land near the intersection of Chemin St. Andrew and Hwy 307, Mayor Madeleine Brunette said.

“We want to protect the rocks,” she said, no more excavation is allowed there. “We want to make it a historical and patrimonial site.”

An article in volume 41 of “Up the Gatineau!” titled “The Sculpted Rocks of Cantley” by David Sharpe, who started with the Geological Survey of Canada in 1982 as a research scientist, explains the origins of the formation.

“The rocks of the Cantley pit have an arresting aesthetic appeal that catches most visitors off guard. I might be able to explain the scientific interest and significance of their smooth curves, but perhaps not the essence of their eye-catching allure— something that only an artist can capture,” Sharpe wrote in his article.

The rocks were smoothed to how they look today not only by moving glaciers but also by the water that melted from the glaciers.

“Glaciers, with sediment at the base of the ice, acted like a sanding block that wore down the rocks at Cantley. But many other rock surfaces at Cantley show smooth depressions that apparently did not result from such sandpapering. The smooth hollows of these surfaces have no glacial striations, no sanding marks. They seem to have been formed by the swirling, erosive action of turbulent glacial meltwater flow,” Sharpe wrote in his article.

Brunette said the municipality will apply for grant funding to build paths and install picnic tables or benches in the area.

“The objective is to enable Cantley citizens and future generations to enjoy and learn from Cantley's unique ‘Monument of the Ice Age.’ It is known by geologists, experts, teachers, and researchers,” she said.

Brunette said the next step in the buying process is to get ministerial authorization to borrow money to purchase the land, which is being processed now. She added that a registry is being set up for residents who want to voice their opposition to, or comment on, the borrowing.

“I would think [the purchase will be finalized] within the next three to six months,” Brunette said.

For more municipal information, visit cantley.ca and to read Sharpe’s full article, look it up by title on gvhs.ca.

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