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January 30, 2009

Mattawa celebrates 125 years in 2009


Mattawa is gearing up to celebrate and remember 125 years as a municipality since its incorporation in 1884.  Mattawa had a lot of history before 1884  much of which will also be remembered this year.  Mattawa has a remarkable list of great Canadians who passed through the community over the years as they traversed the Ottawa – Mattawa rivers route. Etienne Brule was there 400 years ago next year and Champlain in 1615. Native people have been there for centuries. 

Mattawa in its early days. Submitted photo


I have written about some of the recent great personalities of Mattawa in this column over the years. Artists like Gordon Dufoe and Clermont Duval and athletes John Argo and Mike Rodden are part of their history.  The Timmins brothers Henry and Noah, members of Parliament Laughren, Klock, Henri Morel, Maurice Belanger and Gilbert Parent are some that brought Mattawa recognition.  Gertrude Bernard (Anahareo) the conservationist won the Order of Canada in 1984 on Mattawa’s 100th birthday. Mattawa has some remarkable authors with the names Leo Morel, Jerry Therrien, Anahareo, Len Selle, John Novak and recently Clermont Duval come to mind. Maurice Nadon became the Commissioner of the RCMP and Dr. Firmin Monestime became Canada’s First Black Mayor in 1963. 

New Years Levee in Mattawa Council Chambers. Town Crier Wayne Reid reading Proclamation re 125th Anniversary.  Council photo

The centenary of Dr. Monestime’s birth will be celebrated this year with the naming of the Mattawa Council Chamber in his name. A biography of Dr. Monestime and his family will be published this spring. Mauice Nadon will be recognized at the Mattawa Museum with the opening of a display.  These are only a few of the names that will be remembered in 2009.  Some of the people are recognized already in the large carved statues on the streets of Mattawa including native personalities Amable du Fond and Old Suzanne. 

The Mattawa Museum will host the Voyageur Heritage Networks annual event this year. It is the coordinating group for Museums in the North. 

Mayor Dean Backer with North Bay Mayor Vic Fideli and former Mattawa Councillor Marjorie Wall and Fern Levesque in back. Council photo.

The town received a nice grant to help celebrate the 125th and it has been used to support the purchase of memorabilia and various events.  The year of celebration began with a standing room only levee in the council chambers on New Years day. (see photo). Voyageur Days will have some special talent this year from July 23-26 and some new events including a midwat for the first time. (log on to Mattawa Voyageur Days 2009 for details). 

Other anniversaries like Dr. Monestime’s 100th, the Legion’s 75th and the Museums 25th will also be recognized.  The OPP is celebrating their100th anniversary this year and there will be an event in Mattawa.  It is hoped that the long sought after recognition of the Ottawa River for Heritage Designation will take place in 2009 to lock in the protection of the river. 

You may recall an article I wrote last May about a train wreck near Mattawa in 1952. Dr. Geoffrey Kent was a medical doctor on the train who selflessly worked to help the victims of the crash. When he died last year his family provided Mattawa with funding for an award for caring citizens – sometimes called a Spirit Award – in his name. The first recipients will be announced in this anniversary year. 

This is a quick look at Mattawa’s 125th. Watch for further information and make 2009 a year to share in Mattawa’s celebration.   

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