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We’d be in the dark without GVHS

June 4th,2024 | Opinion

We’re pretty sure that over the years, the Low Down has annoyed the good people of the Gatineau Valley Historical Society (GVHS).

“What are we going to do?” hisses the panicked editor to the publisher, realizing there’s a two-page newshole to fill on deadline. “Call the GVHS,” says the publisher (who oftentimes is also the editor). 

This is a real-life example from some years back. The always-amenable GVHS volunteers got into high gear and met our request to send over a dozen or more photos of historical buildings for a “then-and-now” photo essay on downtown Wakefield. Then we didn’t run it; not that week, not six weeks later. It was more than six months until we actually published the spread.

Then there’s the year-long series of original articles written exclusively for the Low Down highlighting local history for Canada’s 150th, all diligently researched and fact-checked by GVHS volunteers. Despite then-president Louise Schwartz’s meticulous organizational skills, we still managed to put the wrong caption underneath a few of those archival photos.

Despite such gaffes, our local historical society has always been, and continues to be, extraordinarily generous to the Low Down. (The society’s special exhibit at the Chelsea library of 40 front pages printed large for our 40th anniversary – a bittersweet milestone punctuated by the death of founder Art Mantell – won’t be forgotten anytime soon by this publisher.)

What we’re trying to say is that, while the GVHS and this newspaper share the information we collect and, at times, collaborate, it is the Low Down who is more often on the benefitting side of this long-standing relationship. Our reporters frequently call on the GVHS to fill in the blanks about an historical event or give us fulsome background on a person or institution of importance. Because – and this is the important point of this rambling column – they are the only ones regularly researching and recording the history of the Gatineau Hills.

The work of the GVHS is invaluable. Without their dedicated team of volunteers, this community would simply not know our own history. No one else is collecting, writing and publishing our stories in English, going back hundreds of years. 

This year marks the 50th edition of “Up the Gatineau!” – a gem of a publication jam-packed by local amateur historians, which always promises an interesting read. Writers range from a farmer, who wants to tell us about a box of old photos he found in the attic, to pros with impressive bylines and their own writing catalogues.

The Low Down relies on this dynamo of an organization (50 publications over 50 years, not to mention their robust image and article bank) and so does this community at large, whether they know it or not. We would all be the poorer without our GVHS. 

Go out and buy the latest copy of “Up the Gatineau!”; it’s full of great road stories (our favourite talks about mischievous youths sneaking through the Cascades Tollgate on galloping horseback). Support your local historical society and its hugely important work. 

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Support feisty, independent journalism.

 

At the Low Down, we are passionate about delivering quality local news to Gatineau Hills residents. But passion alone cannot pay the bills.

To help meet the demands of inflation and the costs of producing fact-based local news, we have introduced new pricing options. Our goal is to meet readers where they’re at, and keep our newspaper as affordable as possible.

Print + Digital Subscriptions

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