Three White Crosses standing on the crest of the Québec Hill across the river from Mattawa have been a hallmark of the town for years.
The Three Crosses were erected at this site in 1686, according to historical records. A group of Explorers and Missionary priests during their trip up the Ottawa River stopped at Explorer’s Point , the area of land the Museum is now situated on, the original site of the Hudson’s Bay Post Co. to repair their canoes.
In commemoration and by order of Sieur de Troyes they decided to mark the place where the two rivers meet, the Ottawa and the Mattawa. Missionary priest Father Silvie then celebrated the first mass, after the crosses were hauled up to the top of the Laurentian mountains, on the Québec Side.
Over many years, the crosses have deteriorated and at various times were vandalized. In 1802, 1953 and 1975 they were either restored or replaced which meant that they would disappear temporarily. A Roman Catholic priest, Father Maurice Gaudreault from Mattawa, led one of the restoration projects. Tommy Godin and a group of local volunteers hauled new crosses up the mountain again in 1986.
In 1991, Yolande Belanger, president of “Les Femmes de la Fédération Canadiennes Françaises” received funding to restore the crosses once again. Emile Chenier, a Mattawa native, built 3 new crosses. Many local residents plus 8 students from F.J. McElligott High School helped to haul them up and erect them on metal bases. The Lions Club graciously provided the meal for all the volunteers.
A plaque was installed on the crosses and a ceremony of blessing was held. Local artist, Clermont Duval, painted a wonderful view from the crosses looking down over Mattawa. This painting can be seen in the Museum, on postcards and on the front cover of the book, ” Mattawa our Timeless Town”. In 2008 solar lights were installed on the crosses. Hopefully now, Mattawa’s traditional landmark. “The Three Crosses” will be seen brightly for many years to come.
Bill Steer, June 3, 2020 – Have you heard the story of the three crosses of Mattawa?