The Legend of the Three Crosses

The story of Mattawa's three crosses is a real legend. One version of the legend has the legend has the three crosses put there by Father Nelson Duquette. It seems that one night, a movie patron went to use the outhouse at the back of the town hall. He accidentally tossed a still burning match onto the tinder dry floor, on his way out. Soon the entire building was up in flames. The steam powered water pumper, stationed at the town hall, burnt as well. Sparks falling from the sky threatened to set other buildings on fire. All of Main Street was at risk of being destroyed. Some parishioners ran to get Father Duquette for help. Father Duquette stood in the middle of Main Street and prayed. He promised that if the town would be spared from this disaster, he would erect three crosses on top of the mountain, across the Ottawa River, from the town. The town was spared and three crosses were erected in remembrance of this "miracle."

There are several historical versions of how the three crosses came to be, but the one which draws the most support is that they were first put on Explorer's Point, in 1686, by order of Sieur de Troyes during his canoe trip up the Ottawa River. He wanted to mark the place where the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers meet. He and his men placed the crosses and Father Sivie celebrated the first mass in Mattawa on the point. The crosses remained on Explorer's Point for many years.

In the summer of 1917, it was decided to place the crosses on top of the mountain, across the Ottawa River from the point, on the Quebec side, for all to see. They were built from 12 foot pine logs. Over the years, the crosses have rotted away, but each time the citizens of Mattawa have seen that they have been rebuilt.

The presence of these crosses has made Mattawa known throughout northeastern Ontario as the "town with the three crosses." They are a fitting visual representation of the Catholic faith of our St. Victor School community and of the area in which we live.