To learn more about the current socio-economic status of the English-speaking community of Quebec and its issues please follow this link where you can view chapters from the book The Vitality of the English-Speaking Communities of Quebec: From Community Decline to Revival edited by Prof. Richard Y. Bourhis. This work was distributed at the Community Revitalization Conference held by the Quebec Community Groups Network from Feb. 29 to March 2, 2008 at the Université de Montréal.
Renaming Historical Streets
There are two roads - Chemin du Lac-Leamy on the north side of Lac Leamy and Promenade du Lac Leamy in the park. It is Chemin du Lac-Leamy on the north side of the lake that is the road in question.
The name Andrew Leamy is as commonly associated with the commercial and industrial development of the City of Hull as is the name of Philemon Wright and, as is the case with most of the illustrious names of the Ottawa-Gatineau area like Nicholas Sparks and J.R. Booth, Andrew Leamy began his business life in 1820 as an employee of the Old Squire Wright, living on Wright's Columbia Farm and learning his future trade as a lumber baron.
After a few years of frugality and good economy in Wright's employ, Leamy had saved enough to purchase 500 acres of land from Philemon Wright in 1835, and began his own enterprise as a millwright on the south shore of Leamy Lake. As well, his close ties with the Wright family and Nicholas Sparks no doubt led to his eventual marriage to Philemon Wright Jr.'s daughter, Erexina (who became Nicholas Spark's adopted daughter after Wright Jr.'s death).
He was a devout Catholic and, in the tradition of the Wright family, gave much of his time to the social and cultural development of the small developing village of Wright's Town. He worked hand-in-hand with Père Reboul to achieve the emancipation of school governance for the county. The result was the creation of the county's first independent School Commission in 1866, of which he was elected its first President.
From the time of his land purchase, which was1 part of Wright's original Columbia Farm, his farm and the lake, formerly known as Columbia Lake, carried his name. Indeed, the lake was known as Leamy's Lake for generations until recent history when it became more commonly called Lac Leamy. A side note: when the name was francicized, the name Leamy almost became lost. Several official maps over the years were published identifying the lake as Lac Lemay; more the reason for preserving the knowledge of our heritage.
Leamy's farm contained several buildings located on the north side of the lake between the lake and the Gatineau River. There was a long road that led from the intersection of Chelsea Road (now St. Joseph Blvd.) and Brigham's Road (now St. Raymond Blvd.) to Leamy's farm. The road was always known as Leamy Road until it too was francicized to its current designation as Chemin du Lac-Leamy. One of the log buildings on Leamy's farm was most likely Philemon Wright's first home on the banks of the Gatineau. The foundations of the houses were rediscovered in the 1980s by the NCC and recovered for preservation. The historical value of the area cannot be overstated as it is most certainly where the cradle of this area's social and cultural development can be found.
Now (May 2010), the City has decided to change the name from Chemin du Lac-Leamy to Chemin Atawe, in order to honour the Algonquin. Sadly, in a misplaced exercise of good will towards the Algonquin, the City will erase an historical road which the pre-eminent pioneer family originally used to build this city. Misplaced because there is no archaeological evidence that supports any presence of Algonquins in the immediate area on the north side of Leamy Lake. Archaeological digs have shown that the Algonquins used the area where Jacque-Cartier park now sits, as well as at the base of the Chaudière Falls as summer encampments for several millennia. There is no evidence that the Algonquin ever had a permanent settlement in the area and they likely used the area for the purpose of first, trading with other aboriginal tribes and later, for the fur trade with Europeans. The name Atawe means 'trading place' in Algonquin (hence, the anglicised version, Ottawa) but there is no evidence of aboriginal settlement or trade taking place on the north side of Leamy Lake.
So, although it is quite appropriate to celebrate the Algonquin presence in the area, it cannot be argued that it is appropriate to erase the history of our first settlers to do so.
Please take a look at this link to an article in Le Droit (in French). It would appear that the company Bathurst is planning a development in the area, as well. According to the article, a couple of councillors are ''worried that Bathurst's plans will impede on the beautiful natural character'' of the area.
The article makes no mention of the history of the area - no one remembers, it seems, not even the custodians of the city, our civil servants or councillors.