EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Chapleau headed for some significant moments in its history of the past 100 years starting in 2018

Chapleau will be marking several significant moments in its history of the past 100 years over the next five years.

 Remembrance Day on November 11, 1918, will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and Chapleau citizens made a significant contribution to the war effort, both on the battlefields of Europe and at home.

In our book, 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War', Michael McMullen and I produced a list of 283 volunteers, 282 men and one woman, with a Chapleau connection, who enlisted in World War I. That was more than 10 percent of the entire population of the community at the time.

We also identified 32  Chapleau boys who died in World War I, or died thereafter, due to their war related wounds/health conditions.

On the home front, citizens contributed to the war effort through the Chapleau branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society and other organizations. 

On November 4, 1918, just a week before World War ended, Lt. Lorne Nicholson of the First Chapleau Platoon of the 227th Battalion (Men O The North) was killed while on active service overseas. His parents, George and Charlotte Nicholson, both members of St. John's Anglican Church, decided to build a parish house. Mr. Nicholson, Chapleau's first reeve from 1901 to 1913, was in the lumber business while Mrs. Nicholson was one of the community's first school teachers.

The inscription on the front of the building says, "Saint John's Parish House... In memory of Lt. Lorne W. Nicholson and all those who with him voluntarily gave their lives in the Great War. Erected by his father and mother A.D. 1919''.

The parish house, which now houses Branch Number 5 (Ontario) of the Royal Canadian Legion was officially opened on April 19, 1920. It was likely in use as a parish house by late 1919.

The Legion branch was established in 1926, one year after the Canadian Legion was formed at a meeting in Winnipeg with a Chapleau delegation led by Harry Searle in attendance.

Ian Macdonald, retired Head of the Department of Architecture and Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, writing about the building, wrote in part that the Nicholson generosity "has left Chapleau with what is probably the most elegant and distinctive of all Royal Canadian Legion properties in Canada.."

Just as World War I ended, disaster struck the Roman Catholic Church members in Chapleau when just before Christmas, the church burned down.

According to an article by Father Albert Burns SJ, a Chapleau native, the first church was built in 1885, on the site of what is today Collins Hardware. This church had become too small, and a larger one was built in 1891 with its final touch in 1898 on the site of the present church.

Unfortunately it was destroyed by fire on December 18, 1918 just before Christmas. Under the guidance of Father Romeo Gascon, the parish priest,  the good people of the parish came together, and  Midnight Mass  on December 24, 1919 was celebrated in the new church built on the site where it is today. Father Burns was an altar boy at that Christmas Eve Service. The "new" church will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1919.

It struck me as I was researching this column that Chapleau was a busy place for construction in 1919 as the Parish House for the Anglicans and a new church for the Roman Catholics were both under construction about a block away from each other.

Finally, in my musings about some important moments in Chapleau history from 100 years ago, in 1922, Chapleau High School will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The first school was on Pine Street until 1966 when it relocated to a new building where it is today.

If interest in a 100th anniversary reunion can be gauged from a Facebook page established by Janice (Corston) Whitely is any indication of support for the idea, it now has 2,065 members.

 I am told by Graham Bertrand that informal chats about the possibility are underway, and hopefully a decision will be made in early 2018. Graham chaired the 90th anniversary as well as chairing and being actively involved in all major Chapleau celebrations for more than 40 years. If interested maybe chat with Graham!

As an aside, I got thinking about Chapleau houses as I have been writing, and when some of them were built. When I was home for the launch of 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War' with Michael McMullen in 2015, Ken Schroeder, my lifelong friend took me on a front street/back lane tour but we didn't establish when houses were built. Story for another day.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Alton Morse received Order of Canada for his contribution to mechanization of lumber industry in Chapleau area

Alton Morse, born in Maine in the United States, came to the Chapleau area where he became involved in the lumber business in 1913, and 70 years later he received the Order of Canada for his contribution to the mechanization of the industry.

The citation to his award reads: "His solution to the problem of' hauling logs over the rough country of northern Ontario, the use of gasoline tractors, heralded the mechanization of the lumber industry and made possible its future development. Later, he and partner (Leigh Sheppard) formed new companies in which they set an example to others of the proper care and housing of workers."

As Mr. Morse was unable to travel to Ottawa to accept his Order of Canada, his grandson Eric accepted it on his behalf in June 1983.

The Chapleau Sentinel reported that "the community was very proud to have in our midst a recipient of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest distinction".

Heather Conn, writing in the Human History of Wakami Lake noted that Mr. Morse had a Linn tractor brought to Devon in 1917 which revolutionized logging operations.

The Chapleau Sentinel article explained that before this time logging in the Chapleau area was localized and confined to stands of timber within horse drawing distance to a waterway used for moving the logs to a mill.

Mr. Morse saw what a tractor could do and one was purchased. It proved to be a great success and as a result mechanized logging became a hallmark of every lumber operation with which he was associated, the story said.

It added that Mr. Morse made a "distinguished contribution to the economic growth of the country".

Upon his arrival in Chapleau, his first job was as the secretary to the Canadian Pacific Railway superintendent but soon thereafter in 1913 he became the manager of Devon Lumber Co.

After the United States entered World War I he attempted to join its armed forces but his application was denied on the grounds that lumber business was an "essential service".

His later positions included general manager of Austin and Nicholson Lumber Co, the McNaught Lumber Co., the Wakami Lumber Co., and then Vice President and General Manager of Sheppard and Morse Ltd.

With Mr. Sheppard, he created what was described as "model village" for employees --- both at Sultan and Pineal Lake. The Order of Canada citation recognizes this effort too. 

Dr. G. E. 'Ted' Young, who was a close friend of Mr. and Mrs. Morse noted that compared to other lumber communities Sultan was the most lively. Dr. Young was the company doctor too. In fact Mr. and Mrs. Morse lived in an apartment in his building for years. He had retired in 1969.

I am the first to admit that I don't know much about the lumber industry but now having written about the Martel family, Lucien Lafreniere, Oliver Korpela and now Alton Morse, I am fascinated with it. More to come.

 I did spend time visiting with Bob and Queenie (Matheson) Halliday at both Sultan and Pineal Lake with my mother Muriel (Hunt) Morris as a kid --- and I partied at Racine Lake.   My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Adelard Lafrance born in Chapleau played for Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League

Adelard Lafrance, born in Chapleau in 1912, was given a five game "look" by the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League in the 1933-34 season, according to Joe Pelletier writing on his blog 'Greatest Hockey Legends.com, the Hockey History Blog'.

He was the first Chapleau born player to make the NHL. The others are: Ron Schock, Floyd Curry and Jason Ward.

Although it would not appear that the community had an official minor hockey program when he was growing up, hockey was played starting in the winter of 1885-86 on a rink on Lorne Street where the first two arenas were located until 1978 when  the Mrs. A.W. Moore Arena was opened at the Chapleau Recreation Centre.

Adelard, also called 'Adie' must have been playing on local teams to start his career as Mr. Pelletier wrote he was a "key member of the Sudbury Wolves team that won the Memorial Cup as Canada's national junior champions in 1932. He scored the overtime game winning goal against the Winnipeg Monarchs.

In  1933-34 season Adelard was given a try out by the Montreal Canadiens late in the year, according to Mr. Pelletier. He played three games in regular season and two in the Stanley Cup playoffs. No points, one minor penalty.

Interestingly, Mr. Pelletier adds that the Canadiens paid his train fare to Montreal. I recall Garth "Tee" Chambers, who was my hero as a hockey player, telling me that players wanting tryouts with professional teams usually had to pay their own expenses. As a result, many potential players never made the NHL. After the Great Depression and World War II, they simply could not afford to travel.

Here are more details on his hockey career taken from Wikipedia: He joined "Sudbury St. Louis of the Nickel Belt Hockey League in 1929-30. The following season he moved to the Sudbury Wolves in time for the playoffs and Memorial Cup play. The following season he split between the St. Louis and the Wolves and played in the Memorial Cup and Allan Cup playoffs.".. In 1933-34 he joined the professional Falconbridge team

After his tryout with the Canadiens late in that 1933-34 season, Adelard played one year with the Quebec Astors of the Can-Am league before joining the Springfield Indians for four seasons.

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