Buckingham, Quebec


Buckingham, Quebec

Buckingham, Quebec was a city located in the Outaouais region of the province of Quebec. Since January 1, 2002, it has been part of the amalgamated city of Gatineau which merged five former municipalities, including Masson-Angers, Buckingham, Hull, Aylmer and Gatineau, into a single entity. The 2006 population according to the 2006 Census is 22,078 [ [http://www12.statcan.ca/english/census06/data/popdwell/Table.cfm?T=207&CMA=505&S=0&O=A&RPP=25 Population counts, for census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations by urban core, urban fringe, rural fringe and urban areas, 2006 census - 100% data ] ]

It is located along the Du Lièvre River, one of the main tributaries of the Ottawa River, which was frequently used for the transportation of lumber during the 19th and 20th centuries. The name comes from a county located in England.

History

First years

It was in 1799, that land in this area was granted to John Robertson, a former member of a British regiment. The first people settled in Buckingham in 1823 and the first mill was built. More people would move to Buckingham in the years that followed. [http://maclaren.iquebec.com/ Historique/ History Buckingham (Québec) Canada, Maclaren Etc ] ]

The launch of the lumber industry

In 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte initiated a continental blockade which forced Great Britain to look to other sources for importing lumber. Soon, large wooded areas were discovered in Upper Canada, including the area that would become the Outaouais region. The lumber industry would be central to the region's economic development for over a century with wood pulp continuing to be important for several decades afterwards. It was only in 1837 that the first sawmill was built by the Bigelow group.

The MacLaren dynasty

Source:

Throughout its history, the city of Buckingham's economy has been dominated by the MacLaren dynasty, which controlled several spheres of activities.

The MacLaren family, who have resided in the region since 1840, have dominated the lumber industry in the Outaouais for over a century. It was in 1864, that James MacLaren launched the family's activities in Buckingham by building a sawmill. The company became J. MacLaren & Co. and later The James McLaren Company Limited. James' two brothers later acquired the company after his death in 1892 and then launched a match company in Buckingham in 1894 which was incorporated a year later. The MacLarens later gained control of the hydroelectricity market in the community and also real estate development and sports facilities. The company would build a hydro dam along the Du Lièvre River, just north of Buckingham, at the start of the Great Depression. They would later built another one near Masson during the 1950s.

In 1902, the MacLaren group added the wood pulp industry to its activities by building a mill. They would later expand there activities across the region, adding mills in Masson, Mont-Laurier and Thurso located not to far from the Du Lièvre River. The Buckingham mill would close shortly before 1960.

On October 8, 1906 in Buckingham, Quebec, two trade union leaders were murdered by agents hired by the Maclaren Company. Thomas Belanger and Francois Theriault were president and secretary treasurer of the union local which was organized at Maclaren only a few months earlier. This event is an important part of the history of the struggle of workers for their rights in the Outaouais.

During the summer of 1906 workers at the Maclaren Sawmill in Buckingham began to organize themselves into a trade union. On July 15 of that year they held their first meeting and the union was founded on the July 29. More than 300 of the 400 workers at Maclaren became members. The union presented its demands on two separate occasions to the manager of the company, John Edward Lavallee, who was also the mayor of Buckingham.

The union had three main demands:

1) recognition of the union; 2) reduction of the hours of work from 11 to 10 hours per day; 3) an increase in wages of 2.5 cents an hour (at this time the workers were paid 12.5 cents per hour).

All of the demands of the workers were immediately rejected. On September 12, 1906, the leaders of the union were fired and the company locked-out the workers. The union asked to meet with the company again for further discussion and the Quebec government sent a mediator to intervene. After some discussion with union representatives, the mediator, Felix Marois, met with the company to inform them that the union had reduced its demands so that the 2.5 cent increase would only apply to those workers making less than $1.25 per day.

Albert Maclaren replied that he would not agree to any increase in wages and furthermore he was not ready to take the workers back at their present wages. The Maclarens not only refused any further discussions but used everything at their disposal to attack the workers and their representatives. Articles appeared in the Buckingham Post and the Ottawa Citizen spreading lies and rumours and attacking the reputation of the union activists, saying that they were financed by "outside interests" and that they had "secret bank accounts."

At the same time the company hired "detectives" from the Thiel Detective Service Company who were secretly sworn in as members of the local police force. Police officers were also hired by the Maclarens from Ottawa and this entire force was armed and let loose on the town to harass and terrorize the workers and their families. Workers were followed around and treated like criminals and raids were carried out at the workers' homes.

On October 8, 1906 the Maclarens organized 13 strike breakers to clear some logs from the river near the Landing. This was an organized provocation with all the police forces armed to the teeth who were also at the Landing. Led by Thomas Belanger, about 200 men marched towards the Landing to ask that the work be stopped. Belanger, first vice-president of the union, spoke to the company representatives who dismissed the union demands and as the workers began to march the command was clearly heard: "Shoot them!" As the company goons fired on the unarmed workers, Belanger and Theriault were killed on the spot and dozens of others were injured. Enraged by this unprovoked attack the workers chased away the company goons and returned to pick up the bodies of their fallen comrades and treat the wounded. At this time the workers also discovered that the murder of the union leaders was premeditated. Several of the "detectives" caught by the workers after the shooting had pictures of Thomas Belanger in their pockets and it was clear from their wounds that the union leaders had been specifically targeted.

On the same day around midnight, 117 soldiers were brought to Buckingham to protect the property of the company. On October 10, 38 mounted soldiers from the Royal Canadian Dragoons of St. Jean were also added. The military occupation of Buckingham continued until October 23, 1906.

The attack against the workers continued even after the military occupation ended. On the orders of the Maclaren family the city of Buckingham was forced to rewrite its history. All the events which had just taken place were to be forgotten. The minutes of the city council did not mention a word about the strike or the lock-out, nor was there any mention of a military occupation. The Maclarens also interfered in the judicial proceedings which followed. Coroners and juries were replaced if they did not favour the company and the Maclarens used the offices of the Premier of Quebec, Lomer Gouin, to make sure that the company and the "detectives" were exonerated of all blame while the workers and their supporters were found guilty of participating in a riot and sentenced to two months imprisonment.

The Maclarens also blacklisted all the members of the union and enforced it with such vindictiveness that none of the 262 workers involved in the union were allowed to work. As well, the black list was maintained for several generations and was officially enforced until 1944 when the union was finally certified both at Maclaren and at the Electric Reduction Company (ERCO). During this period the population of Buckingham went from 4,425 to 3,850, as many workers had to move to Cobalt, Fassett, Bathurst and other towns to be able to work.

In their struggle against the Maclaren capitalists, the workers had the support of the vast majority of the population of Buckingham. On the day of the funerals of Belanger and Theriault, businesses closed in mourning and people lined the route to pay their respects to the workers who marched to Saint Gregoire church. The church was unable to hold all the people who had marched along with the workers. After the funeral, a monument was erected at the graves of Belanger and Theriault to honour their ultimate sacrifice for the cause of the workers.

Letters were received from all corners of Quebec, Canada and the U.S. expressing solidarity with the struggle of the workers in Buckingham. Since that time the workers at Maclaren have continued their struggle against the poor working and living conditions imposed by the company and one important element of their struggle has always been to keep alive the memory of those heroes who laid down their lives and brought honour to the working class.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, the MacLaren companies began their decline, selling some assets to Noranda Inc. in the early 1980s.In 2000, the company sold its remaining assets to Nexfor a Toronto-based institution.

Today, the MacLaren dynasty still retains its legacy, with a street and a park named after them. However, because of the 1906 labour dispute and incidents, union groups such as the FTQ demanded that the city change the name of the street to Rue du 8 octobre 1906 (October 8, 1906 street) in honour of the victims of the shooting. Many citizens were opposed to the change and launched a petition of their own to prevent the change. [ cite news | author = Le Droit | title = Pétition pour renommer la rue Maclaren (petition for renaming MacLaren Street) | publisher = Le Droit | date = 2006-12-08 | page = 9] [ cite news | author = Le Droit | title = Pétition pour la rue Maclaren (Petition for MacLaren Street) | date = 2006-12-19 | page = 6 ]

Former Amalgamation

From 1975 to 1980 the township of Buckingham, Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette, L'Ange-Gardien, Buckingham-Sud-Est, Buckingham-Ouest, Angers, and Masson were amalgamated.

Development

Population growth has been relatively slow because of its location about 30 kilometres away from downtown Ottawa. However, due to suburban growth and amalgamation of the town in 2002, several residential developments were created and the population increased. Buckingham is becoming more of a suburban town while still keeping its traditional characteristics in the centre-town area.

Amalgamation with the city of Gatineau

On January 1, 2002, the city of Buckingham with its 12,000 residents became part of the new city of Gatineau. This was part of a massive merger movement created by the Parti Québécois' Bill 180, which was introduced in 2000 by Municipal Affairs Minister Louise Harel after studies conducted by public agents.

In 2003, the Quebec Liberal Party, with Jean Charest as the leader won the 2003 provincial elections and promised a referendum would be held for the possibility of demerging municipalities. The referendum was held on June 20, 2004, but the majority of the population voted against the demerger and Buckingham thus remained part of the city of Gatineau.

Chateau dairy

The dairy industry was also a major economy asset in the community with Le Chateau having some of its operations in Buckingham. However, in 2006, Agrodor, a Saguenay-based company which owns the Chateau brand announced the shut-down of its operations in the Outaouais. The local business sector had launched measures to save the company which has operated in the region since 1943. [ cite news | author = Le Droit | title = Un plan B pour la relance de la laiterie Château (Plan B for relaunch of dairy company) | publisher= Le Droit | date = 2006-12-23 | page = 5 ] [ cite news | author = Le Droit | title = Soixante-trois ans d'histoire (sixty-three years of history) | publisher = Le Droit | date = 2006-12-29 | page = 3 ]

Buckingham en Fete

Each year since 1991, during the month of July, the Buckingham sector hosts Buckingham en Fete, its biggest annual event, which is held in the town's MacLaren Park. Several well-known artists in Quebec and in Canada including Eric Lapointe, Marjo, Jean Leloup La Chicane, Amanda Marshall and April Wine have performed over the years at the festival. However, due to financial difficulties, the festival nearly disappeared. According to the festival's website the 17th edition in 2007 is still expected to go underway as planned. [ cite news | author = Verner, Stephanie | title = Buckingham en Fête : plus en vie que jamais! | publisher = Le Bulletin de la Lievre (Buckingham) | date = 2006-11-12 | page = 3 ]

Over its history, the festival has received numerous distinctions and awards both regionally and provincially.

Other facts

* Public Transit is provided by the Société de transport de l'Outaouais with an interzone route (Route 98) serving from the community towards Ottawa and another regular that serves from Masson-Angers to Les Promenades de l'Outaouais via Buckingham (Route 96). While, previously service was very limited outside peak hours, it was improved during weekdays, evenings and even there is Sunday service.

* Most of the commercial zone is located along its main street Avenue de Bukingham (formerly rue Principale) which is also Route 315 (previously Route 309). However, the Larose outdoor/indoor market located in the Masson-Angers sector is the most popular shopping and commercial area for Buckingham residents.

* Buckingham is home to one high-school École secondaire Hormidas-Gamelin and one hospital, the Centre hospitalier du Vallee de la Lievre.

* Buckingham is part of the provincial riding of Papineau (as it is located near the Papineau region and the federal riding of Pontiac.

* The city of Gatineau conducted major construction projects in order to revitalize Avenue de Buckingham and the centretown area as well as the sector's only bridge, the Brady bridge.

* In 2005, the Quebec government started the Autoroute 50 expansion project towards Lachute. The first phase was a Buckingham by-pass and connects a relocated Route 309 to the new Autoroute segment.

* Buckingham Post of the Canadian Legion is linked with the Royal British Legion Branch in the town or Chesham in Buckinghamshire county in England

ee also

*Gatineau, Quebec
* Municipal reorganization in Quebec
*Gatineau

External links

* [http://maclaren.iquebec.com/ History of Buckingham, Quebec]
* [http://www.buckinghamenfete.qc.ca/fr/intro.asp Site of Buckingham en Fete]

References


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