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The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the August 25, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Antiques net historical society $6,000

by Mark Burges

They crossed St. Stephen's cemetery with arm-fulls of old valuables - chairs, spinning wheels, paintings - like graveyard pillagers making a careless, midday escape. But any cause for suspicion dissolved with the sound of auctioneer Revel Stewart's frantic incantations humming between the stones from behind the church, where about 200 people were gathered for the Gatineau Valley Historical Society's (GVHS) annual auction.

Carol Martin, editor of the society's "Up the Gatineau!" publication, said the GVHS raised close to $6,000, though official figures won't be available for some time.

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R.J. Hughes holds up a chair for sale a while auctioneer Revel Stewart rhymes off the bids from his seat at the Gatineau Valley Historical Society's annual auction Aug. 22. Mark Burgess photo.

"It's a good year," she said. "We did a little better than last year in every area."

Those areas included a flea market, a bake sale and a silent auction in addition to the main draw.

This year's high bid was for a century-old silver jug made by Birk's, which earned more than $400. A wooden child's sleigh with stencilling on the side was also of note, selling for $155. The silent auction offered a range of gourmet food, vouchers for stores and restaurants and activities such as golf and skiing, as well as some creative prizes including gardening work and a romantic Gatineau River cruise.

Pontiac MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Cannon, and Mayor of Chelsea, Jean Perras, each addressed the 120 registered bidders before the auction was underway. The crowd persevered through a brief bout of rain late in the morning.

"Given the way the weather's been this summer I think it was wonderful," Martin said.

Martin said the auction provides the historical society with most of its annual operating budget. The society maintains an archive with more than 7,000 photos and microfilm of censuses and church records, as well as the Chelsea Pioneer Cemetery, which it owns.

"Now we can just go back to doing the work. Our money-raising is done for the year," Martin said.

The GVHS will host a meeting in the basement of the Chelsea Community Centre Sept. 21 at 7:30 p.m. A restoration architect will be talking about heritage buildings in Aylmer. For more information visit the society's website - www.ghvs.ca.