EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fond memories of Sacred Heart School in Chapleau by Leona (Downey) Murphy from World War I years

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As another school year draws to a close, I discovered excerpts from Leona  (Downey) Murphy's fond memories of Sacred Heart School, which provide insights into school life in Chapleau as World War I began in 1914. It was prepared for the 100th anniversary of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church

Although I have been retired as a faculty member at College of the Rockies for 17 years now, each June, my thoughts return to school, and so I looked for information about education in Chapleau's early years!

Leona was a daughter of Patrick and Annie Downey, a pioneer family.

 They arrived when Chapleau  was "a hamlet with one school, the public school which all students attended, no hospital, a cluster of a few businesses mostly situated near the railway and a few outlying farms. The rest was bush," according to an article by their granddaughter Joy (Evans) Heft in Chapleau Trails, edited and published by Dr. William R. Pellow.

Leona recalled her first day at Sacred Heart School "at the ripe age of five" in 1914 as if it was yesterday. In those days new classes began at Christmas, Easter and in September.

Her first teacher was a Miss Rheaume who she describes  as a "very gentle person who never raised her voice but maintained good discipline in a crowded class."
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She recalled that one day they heard a high pitched sound coming from  a coal bin. "Of course the boys had to ferret it out; it turned out to be a bat. None of us had ever seen one before. We were provided with a lesson in natural science."

During the winter months, the heat was provided from a coal furnace and the temperature was to be maintained at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. However, at one point the school was closed for a few weeks when a caretaker forgot to fire up one evening, pipes burst. "a great mess!"

The school was also closed during epidemics of diphtheria and Spanish flu.

World War I broke out in 1914, and Leona recalled students singing songs including 'Good Luck to the Boys of the Army', 'Men of the North', 'Tipperary', and 'Over There'.

There was no radio in Chapleau then and only a few phonographs, but they learned the words and tunes.

The students were also active in the Chapleau branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society making mufflers and ear tapes to be sent to Chapleau boys overseas.

"The little knitters would sit in the fire escapes with wool and knitting bags."

School principals were able to declare a picnic day or organize a snow shoe tramp.

Disaster struck on Christmas Eve, 1918, when Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church burned down and nothing was saved except the "Blessed Sacrament" which Father Romeo Gascon, the parish priest, entered the church and retrieved it.

For the next year while masses were held in the Town Hall Auditorium fund raising for a new church opened on Christmas Eve 1919 was a priority. As there were no telephones at the time in Chapleau, students became church messengers.

World War I ended before she left the school and she recalled that when the news was received that it was over, the school was closed. Again, without radio, news of the events were received at the CPR Telegraph office, and then the recipents would rush out to "Tell Everyone".

Leona also mentions an ecumenical side of life  when the separate school grades 7 and 8 hosted public school to a sleigh ride and bean supper, singing and an impromptu program".

Although I am not sure who actually sponsored it, I recall a sleigh ride when I was a kid, with many Roman Catholic friends and we sang Christmas carols, One of which was 'O Come All Ye Faithful' which Lawrence 'Ton' Comte and Raoul Lemieux taught me it  in Latin as 'Adestes Fideles'.

Leona noted that Chapleau has "always had the ecumenical spirit. It was a great place to spend our growing years."

In 1927 Leona returned to teach at the school. "I had just turned 18 and inexperienced, so it was an interesting an exhausting year --- a large class."

But it all turned out well. She didn't think that any of her pupils "went to jail" and many were successful in their professions and other walks of life."

Once again, I must acknowledge the tremendous work by the late Doug Greig for his work in digitizing and making available so much of Chapleau's history. Rest in peace my friend. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

photo information

Separate school class picnic 1917. back E. Fortin, B. Martin, A. Petrosky, C. Bouillon, H. Vezina. 2nd row H. Seymour, B. Downey, C. Martin, H. Burch, I. Mulligan, E. Perfetto. Third row L. Brunette, M. Stadnisky, E. Fortin, A. Blais, J. Stokes. Front V. Downey, L. Hertopan

Charles Mulligan takes class for sleigh ride. Charles Mulligan was a relative  of MJM

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Florence and Simon Kruger played important roles in community and Sacred Heart Church in Chapleau

Florence and Simon Kruger, who both arrived in Chapleau in 1907, played important roles in the life and times of the community and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church for many years.

Florence Fitzpatrick, born of Irish parents, and Simon Kruger who was of German-Polish descent, both from the Ottawa valley, met in Chapleau, and were married in 1911.

In 1907,  she was the teacher at the public school, while her future husband arrived to be the bookkeeper at Smith and Chapple Ltd. Both were college graduates in their respective fields. A year later Mr. Kruger accepted position as clerk to locomotive chairman at the CPR, later becoming a fireman and engineer. Mrs. Kruger became the first principal of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School.

They had four children: Rita, Lou, Joan and Helen.

From the time of their arrival they were an integral part of the life and work of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, according to an article prepared by their daughter Helen marking the 100th anniversary of the parish.

Mrs. Kruger was president of the League of the Sacred Heart and promoted its work for more than 30 years, and was a member of the Catholic Women's League for over 50 years. She was corresponding secretary of the Chapleau council, and served as president for three different terms.
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She was also instrumental in raising funds to pay off the church's debt organizing the first St. Patrick's Tag Day and tea. She also compiled  the history of the Chapleau Council from 1921 to 1964.

At the Diocesan level she served as president for three different two years terms and also as treasurer and secretary.

In 1964 it was a memorable occasion for Mrs. Kruger when at the Diocesan level she was honoured by receiving the first life membership.

Mr. Kruger was a charter member, honorary member and Grand Knight of the Msgr Gascon Council of the Knights of Columbus. He was also well known within the church for his rendition of "The Magnificat" at Sunday Vespers while a member of the church's mixed choir.

He served for many years as a trustee on the separate school board including time as secretary-treasurer and chairman, and as Roman Catholic representative on the high school board for 25 years.

He also served as chairman of the Grievance Committee for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Engineers for many years.

While researching this column it was interesting to learn that in 1911, Mr. Kruger and my grandfather Harry Morris, played on the hockey team that won the McEwen Cup, for the town championship. In an article, Mr. Kruger was described as a "rugged defenseman" for years on the CPR Shops hockey team.

 He was also an avid tennis player and was involved in implementing the gym equipment in the St John's Memorial Hall in 1920. (now the home of Branch 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion)

Mrs. Kruger was an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary to Lady Minto Hospital, the Canadian Club and the Chapleau branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society, especially during World War I and World War II.

I extend my most sincere thanks to Ann (Bedford) Midgley for her great assistance in providing me with information fro this column  about her grandparents. Much appreciated Ann. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Names for hockey team

Chapleau Hockey Team and executive in 1912. This was the days of a seven-man hockey team.
Back row left to right: Fred Leclair, Dr. J.J. Sheehan, Oliver Lesak, B.E. Lewery, Fred Knox, H.S. Meller.
Centre row left to right: Simon Kruger, Tom Thomson, Oscar Tremblay, Omar Royal, Gordon Sheppard.Front row left to right: D.O. Payette Ernie Cressey, T.H. Wolfe

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Walter Leigh 'honoured and respected' Chapleau citizen started railroading on wood burning locomotives

Ina Robinson, Charles Reid. Mr Leigh
When Walter Leigh first started railroading, "those were the days" of wood burning locomotives and a round trip between divisional points on some occasions took about a week, according to an article by Margaret "Maggie " Costello in the Sudbury Star.

Maggie was paying tribute to one of Chapleau's "long familiar figure, honoured and respected" during the 60 years he had lived in the community.

Born in Toronto in 1868, he began railroading as a fireman in 1887 in southern Ontario, moving to Chapleau in 1900. Mr. Leigh died at age 93 in 1963. He worked up to engineer retiring in 1935.

Maggie wrote that in his early days of railroading before locomotives were converted to coal, it took about three loads of coal in the tender to move  a train between divisional points, adding it sometimes took a week to make round trip.

She described Mr. Leigh as "small in stature, large in outlook, with rugged constitution from the day he established his home here he became active and constructive member of the community -- with a large circle of friends widened to include just about everyone."

He enjoyed the outdoors "and the wealth of pleasure and education it had to offer in all seasons. He was an ardent fisherman and expert paddler."

Mr. Leigh was an "expert skater" as well and in fact won a fancy skating award in one of Chapleau's early winter carnivals.
Rose House, 1912 on corner, Leigh house 1908

In 1908 when Chapleau was still centred close to the railway station and yards, he "ventured far afield" according to Maggie, when he built the first house on Pine Street on the river side of the street. The "new" St. John's Anglican Church was down the street from him.

Some of his friends felt he was moving far out into the bush... but he told them all his children could snowshoe. Imagine, in 1908, the river side of Pine Street was in the bush.  (See photo)

In due course, Mr. Leigh found the "perfect spot" for a camp at Mulligan's Bay, bought the lot and built one.

Mr. Leigh was an active member of St. John's Anglican Church, serving  on the advisory board for many years.
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Mr. and Mrs. Leigh had four children: Alvin, Frank, Elmore and Olive. His son Frank became an Anglican minister, and served as Rector of St. John's in the 1950s while his father was still alive. Frank also served in the Canadian armed forces in both World War I and II, while Elmore served in World War II, and was very active in Branch 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion after his return home.

Into his 90s Mr. Leigh still walked everywhere even on the coldest days and was known for never wearing gloves. He always had a lively interest in everything and everybody.

My thanks to Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick for her assistance. Anne knew Mr. Leigh well especially when she was a child living on Pine Street. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

photo info

CPR retirees at a reunion banquet. Likely early 1950s. Back row left to right:7) Joe Lepine, 8) F.J. (Shorty) Morris, 9) Arthur Whybray, 10) Jim Encil, 11) Clarence Darby, 12) William Brazel 13) IvorErickson, 14) John N. Burns, 15) W.H. (Scotty) Thomson, 16) Fred Hands, 17) William Card, 18) Joe Delaney, 19) George Young.
Front row left to right:1) Charles Reid, 2) Ed Murphy, 3) Ed Woodard, 4)  Walter Leigh, 5) James Q. Stanley, 6) William Somers, 6a) Robert Nixon

Ina Robinson was crowned Queen of the 1940 Chapleau Winter Caarnival shown with pioneer Charles Reid, and Walter Leigh on right. Mr Leigh skated at the carnival. Ina later married Frank Coulter. 

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE