Pontiac spreads hope one rock at a time!


Alexa Barre places a rock saying “show compassion” in a location near her home.

Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – Chanelle Shea, a mother of two who lives in Campbell’s Bay, found a creative way to keep her children busy and active while respecting social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an idea that has since grown and spread to other Pontiac communities.
Shea and her two children, three-year old Maple and 18 month old Oakley, painted small rocks they found around town in various designs and colours, building on an idea she saw executed in other communities like Aylmer, her hometown. Once complete, the family took a walk and the children hid their creations around the village for other people to find. “I just thought it would give our walks more purpose, and give us something to do and look forward to,” she explained, noting she didn’t expect the idea to expand the way it has.
“Originally I just asked people to send us a picture of the rocks they found so I could show my kids. However it’s turned into several people tagging me on Facebook daily to show us all the different rocks they’ve found and/or have put out themselves with their children,” she added, noting her children found over 20 rocks painted by other people on one of their recent walks.
The trend has since spread to other communities like Shawville where 10 year-old Alexa Barre painted a number of rocks with inspirational words or phrases and left them at various locations around the village.
“I saw what Chanelle was doing in Campbell’s Bay and asked if I could use the idea. We decided to use words to spread some positivity in a time when the unknown can seem scary,” said Tammy Bretzlaff, Alexa’s mother. One of the rocks painted with the word ‘grateful’ was left at the Pontiac Community Hospital where it caught the attention of some of the staff.
“Some of the rocks were pretty big, so Alexa hauled them around town in her wagon. She said she felt like the Easter Bunny leaving surprises for everyone,”
continued Bretzlaff.
Painted rocks have also been spotted in the Mansfield, Fort-Coulonge and Bryson areas. Many residents, businesses and organizations across the region have painted rainbows in their windows as a sign of hope.
Shea said she is very heart-warmed and excited to see the idea spreading. “It’s amazing to see our communities coming together,” she concluded.