EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cheers to a new year -- another chance to get it right

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right." -- Oprah Winfrey

I had planned to try and write something profound today to share with you as we enter into a new year but when I came across the above statement by Oprah, she summed up  how I feel today.

For all of us, 2010 will be a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us,and to help you along your way, I share the Serenity Prayer so much used by members of  Alcoholics Anonymous:

God grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I cannot change

The Courage to change the things I can

And the Wisdom to know the Difference

Thanks so much to all of you for taking the time to share part of your lives with me over the past year.

Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hello Canada, Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens to be restored

"Hello Canada and hockey fans in the United States, this is Foster Hewitt from the gondola in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The first period is over and the Leafs are behind  6-0, but the score is no indication of the play..."

This was the voice we heard on CBC radio every Saturday night in every city, village and town across Canada and into the United States too as Foster Hewitt brought us the Toronto Maple Leafs' games from Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. No matter how far the Leafs were behind their opponents when Hewitt came on the air, the score was never any indication of the play and hope springing eternal and with Foster's help, and our cheers as we huddled by the radio, the Leafs would emerge victorious.

Sadly in those days some in my village of Chapleau, in northern Ontario, some cheered for the Montreal Canadiens, and one for the Detroit Red Wings, but mostly we were for the Leafs.

Michael McMullen, my cousin, recalled when  he lived in Chapleau. "Most of us who spent time in Northern Ontario identify MLG with Foster Hewitt and his broadcast of Leaf games on CBC. As you will remember, radio was great for the imagination. I remember when the CBC installed a repeater station somewhere near Chapleau in the early 50s and we could receive the CBC during the day and evening.

"Bee Hive corn syrup had 8x10 B/W pictures of the Leaf players available in the 40s and 50s. I remember listening to games and imagining the players that I had with Foster Hewitt's play by play. The Leafs and MLG were synonymous. As an aside, when I first saw Foster or a picture of him, he wasn't at all like I had imagined. "

To actually visit Maple Leaf Gardens and attend a game was a dream fulfilled I was very fortunate to have family in Toronto and my mother (Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris) and I would often go to Toronto for Christmas vacation and I would get to see the Leafs play. Sometimes we would stay at the Royal York Hotel another venerable Toronto landmark. Shopping at Eaton's and Simpson's now both gone was mandatory. Later Michael and I would go to games getting there on the "red rocket."

Michael recalled his first visit to the Gardens:  "It felt like a shrine and an honour to be where the greatest players in the world played. I always felt that it was a great place."

Indeed it was a great place to be. Going there was an experience with the hockey game the main attraction. You would likely see some of the retired Leaf  greats chatting with fans and signing autographs -- Ted Kennedy, Johnny Bower, Turk Broda, King Clancy, George Armstrong and Johnny Bower, among others. You might even see Conn Smythe, the owner of the team who had built the Gardens in 1931 in about six months. George Armstrong came to speak to our class at Chapleau Public School when I was in Grade 7, and the Maple Leafs fastball team played in Chapleau one year and I recall getting their autographs at the Boston Cafe.

In their opening season there the Leafs lost their first home game 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks but went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Leafs have won 11 Stanley Cups, the last one in 1967.

For a long time, notably in the 50s, the Toronto Marlboros and the St. Michael Majors, Junior A teams, played a doubleheader on Sunday afternoons at MLG. It was a great time to see the up and coming Leaf prospects. Many of these players were the backbone for the Leaf-winning teams of the 60s,  Michael recalled.

MLG also hosted the first NHL All Star game in 1947, and on April 2, 1957 Elvis Presley made his first concert appearance outside the United States. The Beatles appeared there on each of their three visits to North America. One of the most popular events at the Gardens after the Leafs was professional wrestling with  local hero Whipper Billy Watson as the star attraction.

Michael added: "I had the opportunity to play hockey at MLG. The first time was a real thrill and then it was just like any other ice surface, but the place was still unique." He also remembered  taking his son Bruce to his first game at MLG in the 1970s. Nothing had really changed in 25 years, but it was still a magical place (ticket prices had gone up significantly though)."

In 1999, the Leafs left the magical place on the northwest corner of Carlton and Church streets for the Air Canada Centre. MLG has been little used in the past 10 years.

However, on December 2, 2009, a $60-million partnership between Loblaws, Ryerson University and the federal government was announced to restore MLG. It will become a multi-function facility with a Loblaws supermarket on the ground level and an athletic centre including rink above for Ryerson University students.

"We're bringing Maple Leaf Gardens back to life," said Sheldon Levy, Ryerson president.

When the restoration is completed, scheduled for 2011, listen carefully when you are in MLG. You are sure to hear a voice from above saying, "Hello Canada and hockey fans in the United States, and from around the world, welcome back to the Gardens."

Monday, December 28, 2009

MP trying to restore passenger rail service on CPR line in Northern Ontario

Twenty years after the federal Progressive Conservative government led by prime minister Brian Mulroney, gutted the national passenger train service run by Via Rail, a member of parliament from Thunder Bay is trying to get it partially restored.

New Democratic Party MP for Thunder Bay- Superior North Bruce Hyer tabled a motion in the House of Commons last July 12, calling for passenger service to be restored to Thunder Bay and the scenic north shore of Lake Superior.

On January 15, 1990, the federal government cut Via Rail service by 55 percent, according to information on Wikipedia. The "Canadian" which had run on the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks, the nation's first transcontinental railway, built when another Conservative, John A. Macdonald was in office, was moved to the northern Canadian National Railways track -- less populated and far less scenic.

I came across a facebook group established by Alice Herculson called "Via Rail through Thunder Bay and North Shore of  Lake Superior -- we vote yes." As of December 27, it had more than 900 members. If you are on facebook, the group is open to join.

After seeing information on Mr. Hyer's motion she said in a post that her interest was "sparked" and she started the group. "I used to ride this train all the time! I would again if it was available. This is the most beautiful train ride!"

Speaking in the House, Mr. Hyer said “It was a privilege to submit a Motion on returning passenger rail service to Thunder Bay and the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior. This line was cut by the Conservative government of the late 1980’s, despite being VIA’s busiest route. Today, rail has been experiencing a renaissance because it is both environmentally friendly and efficient. This is one small step towards getting Canada back on track with passenger rail.”

Mr. Hyer, who served previously as President of the North of Superior Tourism Association (NOSTA) and on the board of directors of Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association (NOTO) told assembled MPs that “Returning VIA Rail to one of the most spectacular routes in the country - through Marathon, Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Nipigon, and Thunder Bay - will be a huge boost to those communities and to rail tourism alike.”

Of course, Mr. Hyer was speaking directly about the communities in his riding, but restoration of passenger rail service would also be a huge boost to other communities along the main line of the CPR including my hometown of Chapleau.

Eugene Bouillon, who was born and raised in Chapleau, attended college in Thunder Bay and now lives in White River wrote:  "Yes, VIA and the old "Canadian", is needed back on the North Shore, the most beautiful area in all of Canada, in my opinion. The train snakes along the Great Lake Superior, awesome view. I was born and raised in Chapleau and now live in White River, the train, is a very important part of our lives. WE NEED IT BACK."

One person on the group commented: "Everyone I knew used to take the train back and forth to college and university. It was a lot easier (and environmentally friendly) than everyone driving their kids down and back, etc. and it was FUN! and COOL! and BEAUTIFUL! I would choose the train in a minute for a relaxing adventure - no driving, you can get up up and walk around..."

I can relate to this comment. I travelled to and from Chapleau to school by train for five years as did so many from northern Ontario. And those trips are a story for another day.

Another comment:  "I think bringing the train back is a great idea! It would give us all a great alternative in travelling. I believe it will create a tourist attraction, and also bring in more jobs. It's a win win situation every way I look at it! Train rides are so peaceful with such beautiful views to offer!!"

And this one: " I am flying in to Thunder Bay, driving a borrowed car to Marathon, then driving said borrowed car to White River to put my son on the train to Sudbury - Via we need you!!!!!!!"

And:  "I am all for it, in Europe, trains are so comfortable, and enjoyable!!!! We would have less pollution, and safer roads!!! Win win situation."

I like this one:  "I also agree, it should never have been taken away.Best way for pensioners to travel."

Let's see if this grassroots group can help the MP achieve his goal.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Buckwheat feature most popular with Cranbrook boundary expansion next in TOP 10 for 2009

The feature I wrote about at my beloved cat Buckwheat on May 1 is the most popular story on my blog in 2009, according to statistics on the most popular posts compiled by Feedjit. Buckwheat died on November 7 at the age of 20 years and two months.

In second and third place are  stories I did  on the efforts of  Cranbrook mayor Scott Manjak and a majority of council to expand the city's boundaries. Cranbrook voters rejected the plan first in the use of response forms in an alternative approval process, then in a referendum. The stories were on Manjak and his council supporters being given a lesson in grassroots democracy and about the failure of council to release a growth management plan to the taxpayers. It still hasn't been released at time of writing.

A referendum related story on the Citizens  for a Livable Cranbrook Society, who led the grassroots movement against the boundary expansion, having created a defining moment in the city's history is also in the top ten.

Bill McLeod's feature on the strange disappearance at Amyot, Ontario, 50 years of two Chapleau men proved very popular.

Both features on popular nicknames in my home town of Chaplau, Ontario, are in the top ten with requests for more in 2010. Will do folks!

My Remembrance Day tribute to my father James E. Morris, is in the top 10 as is the story I did about the role of facebook in messages that I received on my birthday, then days later when Buckwheat died.

Rounding out the most popular of  the year is the story about the late Mrs. A.W. Moore, Chapleau's greatest hockey fan.

Quite an eclectic mix. Thanks for reading

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sacred Heart parish celebrates 90th anniversary in present church on Christmas Eve, while "Joyeux Noel" and "Merry Christmas" rang out on Chapleau streets

When members of Chapleau's Roman Catholic community attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve this year, they will be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the present Sacred Heart Church. The mass in 1919 was celebrated by Father Romeo Gascon.

According to an article by Father Albert Burns SJ, a Chapleau native who was an altar boy at the December 24, 1919 Midnight Mass, 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. The new church was built by Mgr Roméo Gascon, Pastor at that time. The first Mass was Midnight Mass December 24, 1919.

Father Burns added, quoting from a book by Gemma Gagnon that the Jesuit Fathers on October 19th 1911, transferred the parish to a zealous priest, who had been two years pastor of Cochrane, Father Roméo Gascon. Later made Mgr Gascon, he was pastor 47 years in Chapleau. He died on January 25th 1958.

À mes nombreux amis catholiques habitant et originaires de Chapleau, je désire transmettre mes plus sincères félicitations à l'occasion du 90e anniversaire de l'église actuelle de la Paroisse Sacré-Coeur. Pendant ma jeunesse j'ai eu l'honneur d'assister à la Messe de Minuit en votre église avec mon bon ami Louis Fortin et sa famille. Je me souviens d'une année où je faisais la navette entre votre église et celle de l'église anglicane St. John's pour pouvoir assister aux deux célébrations. À l'époque la messe était célébrée en latin et je me rappelle comme si c'était hier de la chorale qui chantait l'Adeste Fideles (O Come all Ye Faithful.) Tout au long de ces 90 années, vous êtes restés fidèles à la mission de votre église et à la communauté dans son ensemble. Je me compte plus riche du fait d'avoir connu plusieurs d'entre vous. Merci.

To my many Roman Catholic friends in and from Chapleau, I extend my most sincere congratulations to you on the 90th anniversary of the present Sacred Heart Church. As a young person in Chapleau I was privileged to attend Midnight Mass at Christmas in your church with my good friend Louis Fortin and members of his family. One year I ran between your church and St. John's Anglican Church to attend both services. The Mass was celebrated in Latin at that time, and I still vividly recall the choir singing Adestes Fideles (O Come all Ye Faithful.) For 90 years, you have been faithful to the work of your present church and the wider community. My life was made better from knowing so many of you. Thank you.

My aunt, Marion (Morris) Kennedy who died in 2007 once sent me a piece of writing she had done which captured Christmas at St. John's Anglican Church. when she was a child growing up in Chapleau. Aunt Marion wrote in part: "The bellows were worked by boys given the honour in a cupboard below the organ. There was many a tale of the organist wildly pumping the footpedals and calling for air. The boys carved or wrote their initials on the walls - one set belonging to the brother of the narrator (my father James E. Morris), and in times of refurbishing the church the initials were always left as is.

"At one of the Christmas services, a young girl sat with her mother (my grandmother, Lil (Mulligan) Morris), third pew from the chancel steps and below the pulpit, watching through her fingers, the parishioners partaking the Holy Communion Rite. So many came forward and at the end of the procession one native gentleman came slowly up the aisle on moccasined feet -- one could feel the pain,

"He was helped up the chancel steps by a choir member to the waiting respectful minister holding chalice and bread. The repast over. the gentleman made his way slowly back to his pew. The choir and congregation in awe, joined in humble reunion. As the church members exited, Christmas greetings were exchanged quietly. Everyone was moved by the devotion and faith of the native gentleman who had walked a long distance to attend." Aunt Marion added that she recalled this particular service every Christmas thereafter no matter where she was living.

I recall Christmas Eve in Chapleau so well as citizens of all denominations would meet and greet each other as they went to and from their respective churches. It was usually a bitterly cold clear night with the temperature at times reaching minus 50 below, the smoke from chimneys going straight up to the heavens, lots and lots of snow, and everyone bundled up in their Christmas finery. But people greeted each and the sounds of "Merry Christmas" and "Joyeux Noel" could be heard from all sections of the town as people took time from their other festivities to attend church.

Vince Crichton shared his memory of a Christmas Eve celebration he attended after attending St. John's midnight service. Vince recalled many of us attending "Reveillon" at the Aberdeen Street home of Mr. and Mrs. Willy Fortin, invited there by Louis, their eldest son. Vince doesn't remember all those who attended and neither do I, but he noted: "I know this much there were folks there from the Anglican Church, the United and the Roman Catholic – what was so great was that even though we were from different denominations, we were all friends." Indeed we were Vince and we still are about 50 years later. (Wow, I had to pause for a moment and do the math on that one. Imagine 50 years have gone by.)Muriele Fortin, one of Louis Fortin's sisters was in touch with me by email and shared her memories of Reveillon and visits by her grandfather who would come to Chapleau for Christmas from his home in Dorion, Quebec.

She wrote: "Reveillon was the label attached to the feast which took place after midnight mass. In true French Canadian custom Mom would have cretons, tourtieres, shortbread, Christmas cake and plenty other goodies on which we would gorge after mass. This was usually followed by the opening of the gifts. My favorite memories were of my grandpa's Christmas visit from Dorion Quebec. He traveled by train (he had a 50 year gold pass) to spend the holidays with us. As crowded as our house was with eight children we would convert the main floor den into a temporary bedroom for him. When the smell of his cigar permeated the house, we knew papere Sauve was with us. His bag of goodies included many sweets for us kids. However, it was later in life that I discovered he also 'imported' goods that attracted my Dad's brothers and other cronies to the house in great numbers. It seems Papere's 98% proof Alcool was the main attraction.

"Christmas was a time of feasting on many traditional French Canadian goodies and my mother was a super cook. Our home was popular with our friends just to get a whiff of the fresh baked goods that permeated our busy home."

Indeed your mother was a "super cook" and I so much enjoyed becoming part of your family for Reveillon and on so many other occasions throughout the year. . Attending Reveillon was one of those great examples of the things that bring us together are much more lasting than those which divide us.

Larry "Ton" Comte also shared some of his Christmas holiday memories. "A lot of memories come out of the days in Chapleau. One of my family memories was that at our house we always had Christmas Dinner with our grandparents (Mr. and Mrs. Alf Comte) who lived next door to us. After dinner we always had friends that came and visited as well as we would make the rounds and visit our relatives, our friends at their homes. I would end up with you guys, or at Joey Steen's, or at Shmo's or at Norman Wright's. We always hung around as a gang. "

Ton also recalled New Year' activities. "New Year's was always special at our grandparents. After New Year's dinner friends would come over and we would have entertainment. My grandfather (Alf) on the violin, Mr. (Herb) Lucas on the mouth organ, my aunt Julie on the piano. Louis Nunner and Joe Serre (who my dad taught guitar) would pop in. It was a great evening."

James Thibault shared memories of New Year's. " I remember my parents handing over the house (53 Devonshire) to my brothers (Rick & Ron) and I for an Annual New Year's Eve Party. My mother would help us select and prepare a menu for the evening and then leave us so that they could attend their own celebrations This was a tradition from 1972 to 1980. We kept a guest book at the door for each Party and the last year that it was held at our House there were 136 signatures. The following year we moved it to the Recreation Centre because it got just too large for the house. "

Thanks so much to all who took the time to share some of their memories of Christmas and New Year's in Chapleau from years gone by but not forgotten. To all readers, my very best wishes for Christmas and 2010 as we start the second decade of the 21st century. God bless.

This article appears in the December 19, 2001 edition of the Chapleau Express as my Chapleau Moments column. Thanks to Helene Pineau for doing the translation into French.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pioneer Cranbrook resident being honoured as founding member of Ireland's Gaelic Athletic Association

A founding member of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Ireland 125 years ago, who emigrated to Canada and started a new life in the Kootenays, will be honoured in Cranbrook on Saturday December 19. The GAA is the biggest sports organization in Ireland today.

Joseph Patrick Ryan will be remembered at a mass at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church at 11 a.m,. with a wreath laying ceremony to follow at his grave in the cemetery here. The mass will be celebrated by Father Harry Clarke and Father Conrado Beloso, and attended by civic dignitaries including Cranbrook Mayor Scott Manjak who will later place a wreath on Ryan's grave. Ryan died on March 25, 1918 in Cranbrook.

Terry Segarty of Cranbrook who is organizing the event at the local level said that members of the Knights of Columbus celebrating 125 years in Cranbrook and members of the St. Vincent De Paul Society would be attending. He noted that Ryan was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus of St. Mary`s Parish.

Segarty added that the celebration remembering Ryan's involvement with the founding of the GAA is one of the final events in the celebration of the association's founding in 1884 and will be attended by Brian Farmer, of Toronto, president of the Canadian Gaelic Athletic Association, as well as other GAA members. Other dignitaries include John Keane Rosemount, the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Seattle as well as Paul McGarry, vice president of the Seattle Gaels and Jim Cummins, chair of Seattle's Irish Immigrant Support Group.

While attending a mineral exhibition show in Chicago in 1913, Ryan wrote glowingly about his adopted country and city. He said that the minerals, `` grasped the eyes and attention of many thousands of people whom fruit and grains did not concern in the slightest and once you had them in conversation it was no trouble to preach the general doctrine that there is no country like Canada and that British Coliumbia is its jewel.``

Ninety-one years after his death. Joseph Patrick Ryan, a son of Ireland who greatly contributed to the early development of Cranbrook and British Columbia, is being honoured here by the Gaelic Athletic Association which he helped found in his homeland 125 years ago. The GAA web site says in part that at 3.00 p.m. on Saturday 1st November 1884, a small group of men ... met in the billiard-room of Miss Hayes's Commercial Hotel in Thurles, and there founded the Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of National Pastimes. Patrick Ryan was there.

In an editorial appearing in The Cranbrook Herald after Ryan died, printed between heavy black bands top and bottom, the newspaper said in part that “a gloom was cast over the city” when his death was reported calling him “Judge Ryan” who “possessed fluency of language to an unusual degree ... his Irish brogue and wit will long be remembered.” It added that as mining reporter for the Herald his place would be difficult to fill.

Ryan who was born in Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary, in April 1857 became a solicitor in Ireland before emigrating to Canada in 1899 and becoming involved in the life of British Columbia with the Board of Trade, the mining industry, as a Police Magistrate and prominent journalist.

In a memoir on Ryan's life, his son-in-law Alf MacLochlainn describes him as “a voluble, articulate life -of-the-party” person during the years he lived in Canada.

The Cranbrook Herald of March 28, 1918, gives an overview of Ryan's life in Canada. “Cranbrook lost one of its best known residents through the death of Joseph Ryan ... It is about eighteen years since Mr. Ryan came to Canada from Ireland. He settled first in the West Kootenay, where he spent some six years as a broker and doing conveyancing, his legal training in the land of his birth proving of great value... He moved to this district about twelve years ago undertaking secretarial work in connection with mining undertakings... He was Police Magistrate for several years.

“While not having practical mining experience, Mr. Ryan was a student of geology... He was always optimistic being described as the best advertising medium in the district .”

The Herald also reported on Ryan's funeral which was held in the Roman Catholic church. It reported that Mrs. J.E. Kennedy sang 'Face to face” with deep feeling while the pallbearers were N.A. Wallinger, John Miller, William Greaves, Joseph Brault, Frank Goddens and A.L. McDermott.

Ryan lived in Kimberley before moving to Cranbrook in about 1906 where he became involved in Conservative party politics, but his real interest became the Board of Trade, as his son-in-law notes that he wanted to promote the east Kootenay and Cranbrook in particular. By 1910 he had established himself as a public relations officer for the area. He was appointed to prepare a mineral exhibit relative to the mineral wealth of the St.Mary`s Valley for the Spokane Fair. He showed mineral exhibits twice there, once with his friend Noel Wallinger, and at shows in Lethbridge and Chicago.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Chapleau memorable Christmas moments fondly recalled

Dr Young's original Christmas display
Among the many wonderful memories that folks have been sharing with me about Christmas celebrations in Chapleau, two were recalled by almost everyone who contacted me for this article. However, others shared their stories about family tradition and community celebrations.

Alison (McMillan) McMullen captured the two that were most widely recalled: "The memories I have of Christmas were Dr. (G.E. "Ted") Young's fabulous displays (complete with music over loudspeakers) and also the draws at Smith & Chapples leading up to a big Christmas Eve draw. I see the marketing advantages now, but at the time I thought this was a great thing that the store was doing."

During a conversation on Facebook one afternoon, Raoul Lemieux shared his memories about Dr. Young's displays: "Dr.Young had to have the tallest tree put up at the office and decorated the whole building from top to bottom. It had all the characters from Disney. He had thousands of lights up it would light up the whole street." Mario Lafreniere, publisher of the Chapleau Express joined the conversation and recalled that Dr. Young also put Stars on his T.V. tower. He also had lights on his boathouse.

Erik Collings summed it all up during our Facebook chat: "The Post Office used to put a big tree in front of the building too...before they removed the grass and built the ramp...the town used to hang Holly and lights, not just at the intersection...but the whole downtown was lighted up...there used to be Skating parties on the river, when the town used to build a rink on the ice...i can vaguely remember when there was the town band playing Christmas music ."

Turning to the draws at Smith and Chapple Ltd. Vince Crichton wrote in an email: "Re Christmas in the old home town here is one that I fondly recall. A.J. Grout (the president of Smith and Chapple) used to have draws ... in the store and he had a podium set up in the front of the hardware section. There were numbers placed throughout the store and you had to pick your number and stand by it until he had the draws – lots of folks went to these and I recall going with my Grandmothers Crichton and Morris and your grandmother Hunt and of course my mum. Draws usually took place at about 8pm and we were out and on way home at 9. And, if it was blustery and cold it was a long walk home over the bridge. I recall all 3 grandmothers and my mum wearing fox or mink stoles around their necks – my mum had a silver fox and the others had mink."

Vince lived on Queen Street so it was a long walk home on a cold December night in Chapleau. As an aside my grandmother Edith Hunt and Vince's grandmother Helen "Nell" Crichton were sisters. My Aunt Nell lived in the big red house at Aberdeen and Birch Streets while my grandmother lived on Grey Street south.

Raoul Lemieux commented on the Smith and Chapple draws on Facebook when none of us were talking about them: " Arthur Grout. Nobody is talking about Arthur. All the Christmas decorations and the big give aways to attract customers in his store. It worked very well . Started his tv channel so the people could watch the draws on tv. Hundreds of people exmas week were on the streets.All the stores downtown were busy."

During my high school and university years I worked at Smith and Chapple Ltd. during the Christmas holidays and in the Fifties and early Sixties it was a bustling place on draw days. I recall Dr. Young's wonderful displays from childhood on. Amazing.

Barbara (Bowland) Groves joined the facebook conversation and recalled the old Santa Claus parades. "I remember Santa parades also. I remember then going to the town hall to get something from Santa and Santa knew all the kids' name. Did not know for a long time he was the milk man and delivered door to door so did indeed know lots of us." (Santa at that time was Jim Broomhead who also served as reeve of Chapleau.) Erik Collings had commented: "I have a few Christmas memories of Chapleau. I vaguely remember the old Christmas Parade that used to happen, i was just a young child... and Christmas carolers going door-to-door."

The parade would start at the CPR station and come over the old Horsehoe Bridge into the downtown area. Eugene Bouillon observed about the bridge: "I do remember the Horseshoe Bridge, what a bridge when you think back, today, most of the lumber trucks and delivery trucks would never make it. I remember many stuck at the top trying to make the corner. Memories..." Yes Eugene but the parade always made it.

In an email James Thibault recalled that a Christmas ritual on his mother's (Monique) side "was the family get-togethers at my aunt Yvette and uncle Raoul 'Cack' Fortin's place where the Fortins' and Burns' would all celebrate Xmas with the traditional French Canadian meal of "tourtiere, tarte au sucre (sugar pie) and p'tit Pate (Wild meat stew and dumplings) would be prepared by the women while the children danced and sang to the music played by the men on the fiddle and piano. Shortly before midnight everybody except a couple of the women, who would stay behind to take care of the food for the 'Reveillon' (yes more food and drink!!), would trek off to Midnight mass at the Catholic Church. We would then return and open our gifts and be home in bed by about 2 or 3 in the morning. Those times are behind us, but not forgotten."

Helen Henderson in an email recalled: "About Christmas in Chapleau.... I remember snow!!!!! and lots of it. Do you recall the really great Christmas Parties put on by the Rotary club? They were focused around the country represented by the current student exchange of the time. Dorleen Collings and her " crew" did a smashing job of researching the menus and cuisine of that country and presenting it to eager participants.

"Another thing I remember and you may not have heard about , was the MNR Christmas Parties Everyone present was anxious to see what" Santa "( Gary Thomson) brought to all the good little boys and girls from" the Point" and beyond.

"From then on, into the New Year just about everyone was involved in preparing for the Winter Carnival."

Erik Collings also recalled a family tradition: "Our tradition was a big dinner, that would rotate between family every year... between Francis and Chicken (Corston) , Doug and Cecile (Jardine), Olive and Bert (McAdam), Elsie and Pat (Pellow), Monique and Andre (Thibault)The best memory was one year when my mother did the party, naturally the best feast...she would cook three types of meat, goose, beef and veal, with all the fixings...the best part was called Dupe Gruta...she would mix all the roasted juices together add a bit of flavouring, reduce the stock, then we would all gather around the tureen and dip homemade rye bread and eat...it a traditions Swedish holiday appetizer...

"Besides that tradition, I remember countless holiday dinners, sitting in the Legion Kitchen, peeling potatoes...while my mother and the Legion ladies cooked."

Many of us will recall the fantastic meals that Erik's mother Dorleen Collings cooked for us at banquets and community festivals That is a story in itself.

Let's give the last word on great Chapleau Christmas moments for this week to Linda (Tebbutt) Kutchaw, Helen's daughter who joined the Facebook conversation: "Wow! I love hearing all these stories. Although I am younger than all of you that have posted so far, but not by much I must add, I do vaguely remember the decorations at Dr. Young's and the post office. As for Christmas memories: getting a Christmas turkey from the Martel family every year, our family would go to the Encil's or the Plouffe's and or the Martel's for Christmas night or Boxing day. Mrs Encil and Mrs. Plouffe sure did serve some yummy treats! I think the visiting between houses went on all Christmas holiday actually. After the kids showed each other what gifts we received, our parents would be visiting for what seemed like forever.. and I would be desparately trying to stay awake in the corner. As for Santa Claus, Mr O'Shaughnessy would be the one I remember at the kids MNR parties and the Anglican church. Graham Bertrand was also Santa CLaus, for the MNR if I remember correctly.

"I was just talking to my brother (Dan) about this recently. I remember the two of us going out to the airport to pick out and chop down a tree. Oh ya.. the size of the Encil's and the Plouffe's trees were huge!! I have many fond memories."

My sincere thanks to all who contributed to great moments at Christmas in Chapleau. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

This article appears in the December 12, 2009 edition of the Chapleau Express.

Michael J Morris


Friday, December 4, 2009

Closing post offices in rural Canada is turning back the clock move

NOTE: While the focus of this article is the post office in Chapleau, Ontario, it is an issue facing many communities in rural Canada today as post offices are being closed. I invite your comments at mj.morris@live.ca

For almost 60 years now the Federal Building in Chapleau, commonly referred to as "the post office" has been a focal point of community life, a daily meeting place for citizens to not only pick up and send out mail, but to pass the time of day with friends and neighbours. In reality the post office is the centre of Chapleau, and to read in the Chapleau Express that it may be closed, bothered me immensely, even though I have not lived there for more than 20 years.

I believe that I speak for many of us who have moved from Chapleau, but still consider it home that the post office is much more than the handling of the mail in a small town, with all respect to the people who work there. It is the heart and soul of the community, the daily meeting place, if you will, and all efforts must be made to convince Canada Post and the federal government that it must stay open. I sure lend my voice to the efforts to keep the Chapleau post office right where it is!

Just prior to World War II plans had been made to undertake a federal building in Chapleau at the corner of Birch and Lorne streets and I recall as a youngster that the site had been excavated but nothing happened until 1949. In the 1920s my grandfather George Hunt had a jewelry and watch repair business on the site. I recall telling people as a youngster when we would walk by the partially excavated site in the 1940s, "My grandfather's store used to be there."

Let me turn back the clock for a moment to 1885 when the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived and Chapleau was created as a divisional point out of the wilderness of Northern Ontario. For help in putting it all into perspective for you, I turned to my cousin Michael McMullen, who has written a family history of William and May (Mulligan) McMullen, his grandparents and my great aunt and uncle. My grandmother Lil (Mulligan) Morris and his grandmother were sisters.

Our family was very much involved in the early days of the Chapleau post office with two members having held the position of postmaster.

The first post office in Chapleau was established in the store of T.A. Austin who was the first postmaster from 1886 to 1890. He was followed in the position by J.M Austin, from 1890 to 1892 and then by H. Nicholson from 1892 to 1896. The post office was housed in various locations during this time in stores.

According to Michael's family history, Patrick A. Mulligan, our great-great uncle arrived in Chapleau in late 1885, and built a store called Murrays and Mulligan at the northwest corner of Birch and Young Streets which opened in 1886. He became Chapleau's fourth postmaster in 1896 and served until 1913. Michael noted that while serving as postmaster Patrick Mulligan built a small post office which became part of the Boston Cafe.

William McMullen, Michael's grandfather, arrived in Chapleau in 1898 and worked for the CPR whose employ he left in 1913 to become Chapleau's fifth postmaster following the death of Patrick Mulligan, his wife May's uncle, who had served for 17 years. William was postmaster until mid-1918 when he returned to the CPR and Mrs. George Collinson, the assistant postmaster took over until her husband took over the position upon his return from serving in Canadian forces overseas in World War I. Mr. Collinson was postmaster until 1955 when he retired.

One other location for the post office was in an Austin and Nicholson store on Birch Street. In 1927 the post office moved to a red brick building at 14 Young Street where it remained until the new federal building was opened in 1950. This building was originally a branch of the Traders Bank established in Chapleau in 1909 which amalgamated with the Royal Bank of Canada in 1910, giving RBC a presence in Chapleau for 100 years.

The Chapleau Post of May 5, 1949, reported that Hill Clarke and Francis had been given a contract for the construction of a federal building in Chapleau which J.O. (Ovide) Cote, the secretary treasurer of the Chapleau Liberal Association unofficially confirmed. It was to be built at a total cost of $165,000 and would have the post office on ground floor and department of Indian Affairs office upstairs. At the time much credit was given to Lester B. Pearson, the member of parliament for Algoma East. Mr. Pearson later became prime minister of Canada.

Opened in 1950, a really modern building for the time, the post office, quickly became an important part of daily community life, as it remains so today. It is also a federal heritage building. Ironically perhaps, in the 21st century the powers that be are putting post offices back in retail stores where they were more than 100 years ago. However, in communities like Chapleau, to close it means that a sense of place is lost that is vital for the citizens and all the number crunchers and politicians in the land will never replace it. Turning back the clock is not the answer.

My sincere thanks to Michael McMullen for providing the historical content for this column. The opinions expressed are mine. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Monday, November 30, 2009

Facebook messages totally overwhelming in happiness and sadness

In November 2009 after my birthday and then the death of my beloved cat Buckwheat, I really was totally overwhelmed by the messages I received from friends on Facebook. Today as I mark my 69th birthday a year later, I am at a loss for words -- imagine me at a loss for words -- to express my most sincere thanks for all the best wishes I have received. So, I decided to send out last year's message with this new introduction. Thanks to all of you for being the wonderful people you are. God bless.


Twice in November I have  been totally overwhelmed by messages received from friends on Facebook, the popular social networking site. Since about 1994 when I was researching the first course I taught called Writing for New Media at College of the Rockies, I have been making fearless predictions that the internet was bringing about the biggest societal changes in communication since the days of Gutenberg and his printing press.

I have seen so many examples of those changes in the past 15 years but none affected me as personally as the messages I received on Facebook, where most of my friends are former students from Chapleau High School, with a few old friends joining over the past year.

First, it was my birthday on November 3, and Facebook notifies your friends of the date a few days prior to it. I received a few birthday greetings in the days before and thought that was very nice of people, never expecting the number I would receive on my actual birthday and for the following few days. I never counted the total but it was overwhelming, particularly  when they came mainly from people I have not seen in more than 20 years. Obviously I was deeply touched that so many would take the time from their busy lives to wish me happy birthday.

On November 7, because so many were aware of my beloved cat Buckwheat and his place in my life, sadly I had to post on Facebook that he had died at the age of 20 years and two months exactly. This time the messages came like a flood as friends shared my sadness and told me stories about their pets. Trust me on this one -- those messages helped me through a very difficult time and I shall never forget all of you who wrote me.

I also received email messages from friends on both occasions which I deeply appreciated, and  my friend Danny chatted with me on instant messenger from his home in Miami, Florida and gave me the link to http://www.petloss.com/ where I learned all about the Rainbow Bridge.

And my best friend Mike and I talked on the telephone and IM on both occasions and I am particularly thankful to him for talking with me daily on the day Buckwheat died and in the days following. Thanks Mike.

Fifteen years ago Howard Rheingold, a pioneer in virtual communities, now more popularly called social networking sites, speaking at a conference in Vancouver I attended, said that a tremendous powershift was underway -- and it was about people and their ability to connect with each other in new ways. He was right. Those new ways are here now... Here is link to my post on Rheingold: http://michaeljmorrisreports.blogspot.com/2009/02/on-staying-connected.html

Finally as November ends, thank you for making my story about Buckwheat and my Remembrance Day tribute to my father James E. Morris the most popular on my blog.

Thanks to all of you for being the wonderful people you are. God bless.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mrs. A.W. Moore: Chapleau's Greatest Hockey Fan

Without any doubt, Mrs. A.W. Moore was one of the greatest hockey fans in the history of Chapleau. Fondly referred to as "Mrs. Artificial Ice Moore", and "Mrs. Hockey Moore", she played a huge role in having artificial ice installed in the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena.

After the memorial arena was officially opened on February 3, 1951, sportsminded people in Chapleau started to think about installing artificial ice, but it was Mrs. Moore who made the commitment to really turn the idea into a reality. For 15 years she sold tickets, and without her efforts, the project would likely not have been completed.

In a write-up published when the artificial ice was completed, it was noted that from the opening of the memorial arena in 1951, "Mrs. Moore was determined to see artificial ice installed in our arena, even if she had to raise the necessary funds herself. Through her untiring efforts and sheer determination, this grand lady, virtually by herself, raised the unbelievable sum of over $12,000. Without this amount the plant would not be installed...So it is with deep an sincere appreciation we say: Thank You Mrs. Artificial Ice Moore."

Mrs. Moore also donated to a public address system and to the painting of the memorial arena.

Mrs. Moore was named "Chapleau's Greatest Hockey Fan" by the members of the Chapleau Trappers hockey team which she supported for many years. After the Trappers won the town championship in 1949, a dinner was held where they honoured Mrs. Moore.

"... Mrs. Moore has so generously devoted her time, winter after winter in the interest of our hockey club," a tribute read. "She has shown this interest in various ways, by the selling of hockey pools, putting on bean suppers, mending hockey sweaters and socks, knitting an too many other things too numerous to mention."

The tribute also noted that when referring to the sport of hockey (back in the 1940s), it was generally thought of as being connected with a group of men with women being spectators. "Would it not be a more wise and profitable sport if we had more women like Mrs. Moore?" the tribute writer asked.

"Without a doubt she is the backbone of our hockey club. Whether we win or lose a hockey match she is right behind us cheering all the way. Her faith in us as a hockey team is truly unfaltering. Her heart and soul belongs to the Trappers, each and every time we play a game...."

The 1949 Trappers team which won the town championship included: Harvey Fortunato, Rev. Howard Strapp, Basil Collings, Mason McAdam, Cecil McAdam, Ed Swanson, Roy May, Tom Godfrey, Jim Dillon, Frank Lucky, Toddy Collinson, Roger Longchamps. "Daddle" Swanson, Garth "Tee" Chambers, Alton "Dudie" Chambers, Romeo Morin, Yvon Morin and Rollie Burns.

Mrs. Moore remained an avid hockey fan through the years attending games of the Chapleau Junior "B" Huskies who were the first great beneficiaries of her efforts in getting artificial ice, through the years to those of the Chapleau Intermediate "A" Huskies in the memorial arena and the Mrs. A.W. Moore Arena in the Chapleau Recreation Centre opened in 1978.

At the official opening of the recreation centre which Mrs. Moore was able to attend, it was announced that council had decided to name the arena, the Mrs. A.W. Moore Arena in recognition of her outstanding contribution over many years.

Mrs. Moore died in 1979 and it was very fitting that members of the Intermediate "A" Huskies who were carrying on the hockey tradition in Chapleau acted as pallbearers. Chapleau hockey players were always her "boys."

The next time you visit the recreation centre, and enter the Mrs. A.W. Moore Arena, pause for a moment and think about this wonderful lady who contributed so much to hockey in Chapleau, and was truly one of the commuunity's most outstanding citizens. My email is mj.morris@live.ca.

This article first appeared in my Chapleau Moments column in the Chapleau Express.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Real challenge begins now for Cranbrook mayor Scott Manjak and his council supporters

Now that the referendum to extend the boundaries of the city of Cranbrook is over, and voters have said No to the proposal backed by mayor Scott Manjak and a majority of council members, they now face their real challenge after suffering two defeats on this issue during the first year of a three-year term.

After attempting to gain approval for the boundary extension to the area called the East Hill through an alternative approval process, and seeing that plan soundly defeated when the grassroots Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society led by president Sharon Cross obtained more than twice as many response forms from voters as were required to stop this process, council approved the referendum.

Despite the support of the local chamber of commerce, three former mayors and several councillors, a massive advertising campaign by a Yes side group reported to have cost more than $100,000, plus advertising by the city and the efforts of Manjak and  councillors Denise Pallesen, Jim Wavrecan, Angus Davis, Diana Scott, and Liz Schatschneider to sway Cranbrook citizens to vote Yes, they lost.

Following a recount, 2616 voters had said No, while 2581 voted Yes. There were 5228 ballots cast and 31 were rejected.

The CLC Society reports that it spent less than $5,000 on its No campaign. Councillor Bob Whetham supported the No side and voted against the alternative approval process and the referendum at council. His courageous position has now been vindicated by the voters of Cranbrook, and it is something his council colleagues need to recognize as they face the real challenges before them in the next two years of their term. He represents the wishes of the majority of voters in the referendum.

Simply put with a nod to Bob Dylan, the times they are a changing in Cranbrook, and it is now time for Manjak and his council supporters to accept the new reality and move forward with plans to address the many issues facing the city as it is,  without thinking about creating a second city on a hill.

When I moved to Cranbrook just over 20 years ago, it was referred to as the "pothole capital of Canada." It still is in many respects and citizens have been complaining for 20 years or more. Instead of simply paying lip service to the issue, Manjak and council could start to address it seriously and present the citizens with a proposal to fix the roads.

Council needs to get serious about  the need for an overpass (or underpass) over the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks, a problem that has been ignored since Cranbrook was founded over 100 years ago. It is time to meet this real challenge now.

Obviously, there are challenges facing Cranbrook centred on the provision of proper environmental services for the future.

There are challenges to be met to address the needs of the homeless and to provide affordable housing for those who need it, and a proper home for the supporters of arts and culture. Cranbrook needs to attract new industries.

Most importantly, this mayor who promised an open and transparent administration and his supporters on the council hopefully will now realize that the greatest resource a community has is its people, with talents and abilities and good will, just waiting to be used to make Cranbrook a better place for everyone.

Ultimately, the real challenge  is to open the doors of communication and enter into a dialogue with the citizens, so that in the future the YES factor will dominate public discourse in this city with a focus on the things that bring us together, rather than those which divide us.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

BULLETIN: Cranbrook votes "NO" in East Hill Boundary Expansion referendum giving mayor Scott Manjak and council majority second defeat on this issue

Cranbrook voters rejected a proposal put forward by Mayor Scott Manjak and majority of council to expand the city's boundaries in a referendum held here Saturday November 14.

Following a recount, 2616 voters had said No, while 2581 voted Yes. There were 5228 ballots cast and 31 were rejected.

City council decided to proceed with a referendum after its attempt to use an alternative approval process to expand the boundaries in the East Hill area was resoundingly defeated when a grassroots group Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society, led by Sharon Cross, got more than twice as many response forms from citizens as necessary to stop the process.

Manjak and Councillors Denise Pallesen, Angus Davis, Jim Wavrecan, Diana Scott and Liz Schatschneider supported extending the boundaries. Councillor Bob Whetham opposed the plan.

More to come!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

To hear the other side rejected by anonymous yellow flyer producers in Cranbrook boundary expansion

 I had just calmed down from Cranbrook mayor Scott Manjak`s totally unacceptable offer to remove submitted response forms from citizens who may change their minds during an alternative approval process, and accepted the reality that this council has no intention of releasing a $500,000 taxpayer paid for growth management plan before a November 14 referendum on boundary expansion, and I receive an anonymously produced yellow flyer in a local newspaper.

The yellow flyer, obviously distributed by supporters of boundary expansion contains the broad sweeping generalizations with no supporting facts about the future of Cranbrook if boundary expansion is defeated which characterizes most of the material produced by the self proclaimed official Yes side, but it is a nameless, faceless piece of yellow paper. The choice of colour is appropriate.

However, it is point number nine in the anonymously produced  yellow flyer that deeply disturbs me. It says: ``It`s fun to criticize democracy when it doesn`t go your way and it`s a much better idea to waste taxpayer dollars on a ridiculous and costly referendum.``

From the outset of this sad, sorry tale in the political life of this small city in the southeastern corner of British Columbia, which has now received national attention, the supporters of boundary expansion, including a majority of the council, have attempted to marginalize those who would dare to oppose them as being less than democratic. On the contrary,  the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society, a non-profit society, with the names of its directors available, has been totally democratic in its actions since council tried to use the alternative approval process to expand the boundaries.

The government of the province of British Columbia enacted legislation to permit a municipality under certain conditions to use an alternative approval process rather than go directly to a referendum. Cranbrook council exercised its right under the provincial legislation to go this route in the first instance, and the citizens of the city were able to exercise their democratic right under the same legislation to oppose the council action by submitting a response form indicating they did not approve.

The council received a lesson in the power of grassroots democracy when over 3000 eligible voters submitted response forms basically telling the mayor and his council supporters that if they wanted to expand the boundaries, they must call a referendum as prescribed again by provincial legislation when  ten percent of the eligible voters submit forms under the alternative approval process. (1475 were needed.)

The citizens of Cranbrook, close to 4000 of them strong, although not all were counted, were not criticizing democracy by openly signing their  names to the form, as the anonymous yellow flyer supporters of boundary expansion would like us to believe, they were exercising their democratic right as provided under provincial law to be heard. It is insulting to them to be criticized by council members and others for exercising their democratic right to be heard.

If taxpayer dollars have been wasted on a ``ridiculous and costly referendum`` as the anonymous yellow flyer producers suggest, then theitr argument is with the government of the province of British Columbia who put the process in place.

The citizens of Cranbrook who moved the process to the referendum stage have clearly demonstrated that famous axiom in countries based on the English common law system ``audi alterem partem.`` (Hear the other side.) They have not been criticizing democracy; they have been practising it!!!


Monday, November 2, 2009

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old"

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

from "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

James E. Morris
On July 16, 1943, a Wellington bomber took off from an air force base in England. It was to be a short test flight around the airfield only.

The last entry in the pilot's log book written later by the squadron's wing commander was, "Aircraft exploded in air."

The usual telegram was sent by the war office, expressing regret that Flying Officer James E. Morris was killed while on active service in the Royal Canadian Air Force, July 16,1943. Similar messages would have been sent to the families of my father's crew who were on the flight with him.

The messages of condolences from the King and Queen, the government of Canada and others would come later, full of words like "a grateful nation," "supreme sacrifice," "for King and country."

Although I didn't know it at the time, July 16, 1943, was destined to be the most significant turning point in my life, and I wasn't even two years old when my father's plane exploded in air and crashed over the English countryside during World War II.

Muriel and Jim Morris
In fact, that date had a profound effect on my entire family. Nobody was ever quite the same again. Of course, in 1943, I wasn't really aware of what life was like for my mother, Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris, my grandparents Harry and Lil Morris and George and Edith Hunt, my father's sister Marion, and the close relationship they all had. When my father was killed we were in Chapleau living with Mom's sister Elsie and her husband B.W. Zufelt and their children. Part of the time we would be at my grandparents.

My grandmother Hunt was in England at the time working as a war nurse and my father had visited her the weekend before he was killed. She attended his funeral and burial in Ripon Cemetery, Yorkshire, England. Grandpa Hunt was with us in Chapleau.

My father, like so many who joined Canada's armed forces during World War II was an ordinary Canadian from a small town, in his case, Chapleau, Ontario where he was born and raised, called upon to perform the exceptional. There was absolutely no doubt in their minds whatsoever that it was the right thing for them to do.

After his death, The Evening Telegram of Toronto reported that my father took to flying in his early teens and became associated with several of Canada's early bush pilots who were operating in the Chapleau area. Actually he was going down to the waterfront and getting rides and learning to fly planes, thinking that my grandmother didn't know what was going on. But she did. Mothers always know!  He earned his first pilot's license at the Fort William Flying Club.

In 1940 my father enlisted in the RCAF at Moncton, New Brunswick. He became a flying instructor and was posted to No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School at Mount Hope. He was among the first instructors in the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. In 1942 he went overseas.

Flying Officer Jim Morris in England

My mother who likely never missed a Remembrance Day service in Chapleau, once told me that "Every day is remembrance day."

 I received an email from Stephen Hayter, executive director, of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum in Brandon, Manitoba. Mr. Hayter wrote in part:
"The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum would be honoured to welcome your father's RCAF material into our collection.
"It is your father's story that we wish to preserve for future generations. I am so glad that you discovered us...
"Your father's name is also listed in our memorial book "They Shall Grow Not Old" which also states that he was part of #432 Leaside Squadron (Saevitir Ad Lucem), and that his Wellington aircraft #JA 119 crashed one and one half miles west of Malton, Yorkshire."  (http://www.airmuseum.ca/)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left have grown older. We will always remember them!

My email is mj.morris@live.ca
Please feel free to write me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Chapleau nicknames from Chicken to Sparrow, Tiny to Gunner, Buddy, Boxcar, Picket, Tar, Pappy, Beanie and the Chief too

Let's return to more ever popular Chapleau nicknames. Since the first column on nicknames I have received several email contributions from readers of Chapleau Moments and my blog so thanks to everyone for writing --- especially Frances (Jardine) Corston-Lundquist, Bill Wilson, with recognition to Lindsey Wilson (Bill's assistant), Kyle Cachagee and Russell "Rusty" Dunne. The following is another nickname sampler from all the names provided.

Several have wondered how Henry Corston became "Chicken" and Frances clears up the mystery:

"Hi Michael,,as we always called you,,,Chicken was originally Chick from Hen(ry), from playing with kids of his age as they used to taunt him with the old nursery rhyme,,,,"Henny Penny the sky is falling down"...Later years he got Chicken.

Frances also shared how Lloyd McDonald, who later worked many years for Canadian Press got his nickname "Sparrow." Apparently he was coming down the lane from Sunday school and tripped and fell. His neighbour Mr. Wilson said, "God sees the little sparrow fall," and from that day he was known as Sparrow. Thanks Frances. (Robert Jardine has a video clip of a television interview I did with "Sparrow" at the 60th anniversary of Chapleau High School.)

Now to let you know how Lindsey Wilson, Bill's son, also became his assistant. Lindsey wrote in an email, "I am sending you this e-mail on behalf of Bill Wilson (my father)." Lindsey advised that at the time Bill was on holidays but wanted to respond to my article in the Express regarding nicknames with ones he remembered.

Bill recalled that Fred Burrows was called "Bunt" while Philip "Tiny" Martin's sister Shirley was "Torchy" and Ed Bignucolo was "Psyche". I would add that his brother Ernest was "Sonny" who along with their other brother Albert "Al" were all outstanding goaltenders with the Chapleau Huskies.

Ted Collins was nicknamed "Gunner", his sister Marie was called "Flash" while Lorene was "Toots." Douglas Swanson was "Sonny" while Terry Shanoon was "Boots" and Gerald Pilon was "Tonto", Lorne Riley was "Fats" and Raymond Burns went by "Butch."

Wow. As I go through all these names they sure bring back fond memories of life in Chapleau, as I am sure it does for you too.

Bill also reminds us that Keith Swanson is "Buddy", who devoted so many years to hockey in Chapleau and until recently was a member of the Chapleau council. Let me just add here that his brothers Michael and Frederick are "Pat" and "Ted" respectively.

Estelle Morin was "Pootch" and Pat Purich "Pappy" while Henry "Hank" Therriault's younger brother Arthur was always called "Babe."

Thanks Lindsey for helping out your Dad and I hope he had a great vacation.

Kyle Cachagee wrote to reveal that his late grandfather Charles William was sometimes called "Boxcar" but the nickname used most of the time was "Tony." His grandmother Kathleen is "Kitty" or "Nanny." to her grandchildren. Kyle also recalled that Jean Longtin was called "Fireman" as he always wore a red plastic fireman's hat around town.

Russell "Rusty" Dunne moves us to another generation of nicknames but started his message remembering some members of his family. Garth "Tee" Chambers who delivered groceries for Dominion and Viet's supermarket as well as Sears and was the Post Office Custodian for many years. Keith "Sonny" Chambers, Railroad employee war vet. "Doody" Chambers brother of Tee and Sonny, all my cousins because my grandmother (the late Mrs. Agnes Freeborn) and their mother were sisters.

"Other people I grew up with had names like David "Picket" Doig, Robert "Tar" Doyle, Gerry "Beanie" Gionet, Donald "Saints" St.Germain, Richard "Ben" Lacroix, Gerard "Moose" Bernier, Glenn "Esposito" Cappellani, Gary "Hoss" Legros, Angelo "Butch" Bucciarelli , Gary "Hippie" Korpela, Charles "Buddy" Collings, Donald "Wibble" Collings, Robert "Barney" Bromley, to name a few that I can remember off the top of my head."

Rusty added "Some I went to school or worked with and others I was related to. All in all Nicknames are part of our lives. We grew up with them and recognize them easier than proper names." Most importantly he noted that there was never anything bad or derogatory meant when the nickname was given. It was just something that was said and stuck to you.

"My name is Russell Dunne and I have been called Rusty Dunne all my life by family and friends and 99% of people who know me remember my name as "Rusty" instead of Russell.

"I also remember my history/economics teacher being referred to as "Chief" at one time, but it does make you think back and wonder "how did I get that name " or where it came from?, Who knows, maybe its would help to talk to old friends and family and find out."

Thanks Rusty and let me wrap this up with an explanation of how I came to be nicknamed "Chief." In 1970, I was "hired" by Jamie Doyle and his buddy Keith McAdam to coach their Chapleau Midgets hockey team. (Yes, I was hired by them but that's another story.) Shortly after becoming coach, at a practice, one of the players called out, "Heh, MJ..." and before he got any further, in no uncertain terms, in my best Dr. Karl A. Hackstetter voice, I told him that I was Mr. Morris to him and all the players and not to forget it.

I stormed from the dressing room, slammed the door shut, stood outside and lit a cigarette waiting to learn my fate. There was silence, then the late Lionel Corston spoke up and said, "It doesn't sound right to call him Mr. Morris. He is the Chief and we are the Indians..." The team agreed unanimously on my new name, and out they came headed to the ice in the old Chapleau Memorial Community Arena. As each player passed me, he said with the mischievous smile that can only come from kids when they know they have won a big one: "Hi Chief." What could I say. The name stuck. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ecole Secondaire Chapleau High School students received standing ovations for performances in World War II production for Remembrance Day in 1987


Just recently I received a message on Facebook from Derek Lafreniere recalling "You'll Get Used To It ... The War Show", by Peter Colley, a play about World War II that I directed at Ecole Secondaire Chapleau High School just prior to Remembrance Day in 1987.

 Derek was a student in my drama course and played a leading role in the production. He later served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Derek wrote: "I remember the Army play you directed that I was in. It was such a great experience. In addition, we put on one hell of a show if I may say so. If I remember correctly it was a fairly large production,singing, dancing etc..."

It sure was all that you write about it Derek and after a successful run in Chapleau we took it to Wawa for a presentation at Michipicoten High School.

As Remembrance Day on November 11 approaches it seemed a good time to bring back the moment that ESCHS students, staff and community members were involved in the production of Peter Colley's play. Colley noted that his play looked at Canada at war through the eyes of the soldiers themselves, adding that if at times it seemed they did not take the war as seriously as some people would think, "it must be remembered that our soldiers didn't take it that seriously either." When they weren't actually fighting, they took a break from the war.

This play was produced in conjunction with Branch Number 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Chapleau.

I directed many plays during my years at CHS/ESCHS, and each one was very special to me, but this one really challenged the cast as it combined many dramatic techniques including mime, music and dance into a play set in a time period which was not even a distant memory to them.

When I first read the play I was studying drama at the Faculty of Education at the University of Toronto, and it was a play I knew I had to direct for two reasons: it would place new demands on my students to reach beyond the ordinary in playing the respective roles, and because of the tribute it paid to Canada's ordinary soldiers in the ranks, including many from Chapleau. But they were not ordinary at all. They were the exceptional generation who left loved ones at home to serve. Some returned. Some, like my father, James E. "Jim" Morris, and other Chapleauites did not.

Twenty-two years after "You'll Get Used To It: The War Show" brought audiences to their feet in rousing standing ovations from the packed houses, I remember it like it was yesterday, and I am still in touch with some of the cast.

Writing in The Daily Press, reviewer George Evans, said that a "wonderful thing" happened at ESCHS. "For the older people there was bittersweet nostalgia for the years of World War II, and for the younger folk there was the impact of seeing war as it really was for the 1939 generation of teenagers. From oldest to youngest, the audience was caught up in the banality, the humor, and ultimately, the irreversible waste of war."

The outstanding company included Marcel Morin, Michel Sylvestre, Derek Lafreniere, Dean Harvey, Jeremy Comte, Christopher Ivey, Tara Leigh O'Hearn, Anita Hoffren, Andre Bourgeault, Kyle St. Amand, Gerry Servais, Kyle Videto, Laurianne Martel, Desmond Larocque, Donna Old, Annalisa Meyer, Michelle Meyer and Lori Brunette.

Margaret Rose Fortin, of the ESCHS teaching staff, did an incredible job as the music director, with Mrs. Ruth Godemair as the pianist. Members of the ESCHS Chorus included Gabriela Dell, Carolyn Hryhorchuk, Gerard Lalonde, Juliette Payette, Dave Fagan, Yvette Joyal, Desmond Larocque, Mike Holgate and Alison Wedekamm. George noted in his review that it was "impossible to overestimate" the contribution of the chorus to the emotional impact of the production.

Also greatly contributing to the success of the production was the awesome use of sound and lighting particularly in the battle scenes in the very capable hands of William Mitchell, Sylvain Bernier and Scott Keech. Video was done by Derek Woods. Costumes and makeup were looked after most capably by Yvette Joyal and Lisa Martel, and I must add that Mrs. Joyal pitched in to help with every aspect of the production. She was always available to help.

Set design was by Roxane Duhaim, while official photographer was Michael Heintz, prompter was Yvonne Ranger, and properties and stage assistant was Allison Berry. Rick Dell and Crystal Collins produced the program.

Production co-ordinator was Ross Hryhorchuk who noted that on the day before Remembrance Day there was also a special ceremony at the school to honour the members and veterans of Harry Searle Branch Number 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion as a simple thank you to them.

Thanks again to all of you for making the last play I directed at CHS/ESCHS among my most memorable moments from the years I spent at the school. My email is mj.morris@live.ca.

I am also on facebook.

This article appeared originally in my Chapleau Moments column in the Chapleau Express of October 17, 2009.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Family reunited on Thanksgiving weekend after more than 20 years with help from facebook

This is truly a wonderful story about a family being reunited after more than 20 years with some help from the social networking site facebook and a decision by the province of Ontario to open adoption records.

I received a message today from a dear friend who said, "I thought that I would share this with you since we have spoken in the past about how amazing facebook is for reconnecting."

Here is her story although names have not been used and location is not given to protect everyone's privacy. Otherwise it is my friend's story.

She wrote: "June 2009 the adoption registry in Ontario opened, this basically means that anyone who was adopted, or who gave someone up for adoption, or siblings could apply for 'Post Adoptive Information'.

"This is what I did as (my child's) birth mother in June 2009. On October 1, 2009 I received two Statements of Live Birth, the original one that I submitted and the revised one which was submitted after ... adoption was finalized. On this paperwork was... adoptive name.

"My oldest daughter ... was here when I opened the letter, after our initial crying spree, she put ... name into facebook and found that there was only one (person with that name and where the person lived)

"After looking at ... pictures we were both positive that it was the right young (person) and the birthdays matched, so she sent ... a friend request and an email asking ... if ... was adopted.

"When my other daughter ... came through the door she proceeded to do the same thing. We waited and waited for what seemed like an eternity for a reply, and on October 7th ... went on her facebook and screamed 'Mom, ... added me!!!' She checked her email and sure enough ... had answered it that yes ... had been adopted.

"... checked and he was online so she said hi .... wrote back, 'so what is this all about'....she said 'my mom is your mom', needless to say there was a
lot of excitement and chatter, and we got... phone number... and called.... I was on the phone... for about 2 1/2 hours that night and have spoken... every evening since. Our trip to meet (where the person lives on Thanksgiving Weekend) was a huge success.

"It is funny, 4 children, 3 raised together and 1 not and still you would swear that they had all been raised under the same roof. They finish each others sentences and they have the same sense of humor, it is crazy.

"Well, that is my "WHY I LOVE FACEBOOK" story.

"I hope that you have a truly tremendous day, I know I will!!!"

Thank you my friend for sharing this story with me and for granting permission to share it with the visitors to my blog. What a wonderful Thanksgiving story. God bless all of you.

Please send any comments to me at mj.morris@live.ca and indicate if I may share them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Did you attend the "new" Chapleau High School?

The "new" Chapleau High School was opened in 1966 but one of the first discoveries was that an addition was needed.

CHAPLEAU HIGH SCHOOL CELEBRATES ITS 90th ANNIVERSARY IN 2012 HERE IS LINK http://michaeljmorrisreports.blogspot.com/2010/11/chapleau-high-school-reunion-dates-set.html

Writing about the new school in a souvenir newspaper marking the 60th anniversary of Chapleau High School in 1982, George Evans, the longtime vice principal and history teacher at CHS, noted that a "new era" was beginning.

"The new era began in September 1966 when the high school moved to its new home on top of the hill. For a couple of trying months we shared the building with the contractors who were still working to finish it. Then we had it all to ourselves, the bright classrooms, the spacious gym, and the library," George wrote.

The original new school consisted of a gymnasium, library, two shops, two science laboratories, five classrooms, one typing room, an office and staff lounge.

The school replaced the original CHS located on Pine Street where the Chapleau Civic Centre is now. On June 22, 1922, the municipal council passed a by-law making Chapleau a high school district. Max Brunette was the reeve at the time. In 1925 a wooden building on the site was renovated and the larger building was encased in brick, which became home to high school students for 41 years. (Information taken from Pioneering in Northern Ontario by Vince Crichton Sr .)

At the official opening of the new school on November 5, 1966, D.J. "Jim" Broomhead, the master of ceremonies for the occasion said, "Today we feel we have done something for Chapleau." Jim, a former CHS student, now a member of the school board also served as reeve of Chapleau.

L.T. "Len" Harris, the school board chair, accepted the key to the building from architect John Shaw. Mr. Harris, also a former student, expresed his gratitude to everyone who had made the day possible. He observed with satisfaction that Chapleau students would now have the same educational opportunities as other students in Ontario.

Other board members were George Collins, Paul Belair, Frank Braumberger and R.A. "Ricky" Selin. Board secretary was Mrs. R. Deluce.

At the official opening, Rev. Murray Arnill of Trinity United Church gave the invocation and benediction while representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 5, Chapleau, presented the colours to the school.

William Mair was the principal, and for the benefit of those of you who were students in 1966-67, here are the teachers. How many do you remember? They were George Evans, Annalee Barg, Gertrude Caffet, Rheo Courchesne, Ora Devine, Ruth Doig, Georgette Harris, Lloyd Hulton, Robert J. Lemieux, Casey Roznik, Terrence Spratt, John Symons, Marie Tremblay and Bruce Watt.

Within three years an addition was added to the original school as the baby boomers were arriving in full force. As an aside I got there just as construction was to get underway on the addition.

Shortly after the new school opened, Elmer Freeborn arrived as the business administrator for the newly created Chapleau Board of Education, a position he held until his retirement in 1992. Elmer died recently and I extend my most sincere sympathy to Margaret, his daughter and all the Freeborn family on the loss of a father, brother and uncle who in his lifetime contributed immensely to the betterment of Chapleau and its people. On a very personal basis I so much appreciated all Elmer did for me over the years that I taught at CHS.

Not only did Elmer make an immense contribution to education in Chapleau but he also served on the municipal council, the hospital board and with other groups in the community. Elmer is from a family where duty and service have been part of their daily lives for many years. His father served as reeve of Chapleau; his mother was president of the Ladies Auxiliary to Branch Number 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion and founding president of the Chapleau Senior Citizens Club and the drop-in centre at Cedar Grove Lodge was named after her, and his brother Earle is currently the mayor of Chapleau. Thank you Elmer. Rest in peace.

My email is mj.morris@live.ca

This post appeared originally in my Chapleau Moments column in the Chapleau Express.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cranbrook growth management plan essential to citizen decision making

Let's assume for a moment that you are a shareholder in a publicly traded company that has been experiencing significant growth over the past few years. The former CEO went to the board of directors in early 2008 and recommended that it approve a growth management plan study to assist the company in making wise decisions for its long term future.

The board thought this was a good idea, and approved a $500,000 study in early 2008. The previous CEO told them that by starting the study early in 2008, the plan should be completed by the end of the year, or early 2009. His successor told the board it should be available by the summer of 2009.

Meanwhile, the company was presented with a huge opportunity to expand, and before it received the $500,000 plan it proceeded with plans to expand the company's operations under the new CEO.

Shareholders were irate when they heard the news that the company was planning a huge expansion before it received a plan for which they, in effect, had paid $500,000. They launched a campaign, and succeeded in obtaining enough proxy votes to call a special shareholders' meeting.

At the meeting the new CEO said the company planned to proceed with the expansion, and the growth management plan was not available.

The shareholders called for a vote, and the story ends with the ouster of the CEO and the board of directors.

Sound familiar?

Well, here in Cranbrook, British Columbia, first term Mayor Scott Manjak and a majority of the city council have approved a referendum set for November 14, 2009, which if approved will more than double the size of this small city in the southeast corner of the province. And it is proceeding with the referendum before a growth management plan has been made available to the citizens to assist them with their decision.

Doesn't make sense to me! Why would anyone approve a $500,000 expenditure to create a plan, which was done by the last council, and then proceed with a referendum without taking the plan's recommendations into consideration. An incredible waste of taxpayer dollars.

Manjak, who took office less than a year ago, and promised an open and transparent administration, told the Cranbrook Daily Townsman on January 22, 2009: "A growth management plan focusing on the East Hill boundary expansion should be ready by summer (of 2009)." Most recently he has said it will not be available before the referendum. Apparently it is undergoing some kind of "technical review" by city staff.

Nonsense! If it is undergoing some kind of review, that's a lame excuse not to make it available to the citizens of Cranbrook now. Tell the staff to make it a priority and get it done and make it available before the referendum. To do so would be in keeping with Manjak's promise to the people who elected him that he would run an open and transparent administration.

The minutes of the mayor's brown bag lunch session of August 18, 2009 quote him as saying the plan was being "vetted" by city staff. As I write it is September 25. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for October 5, 2009.

Manjak admits that the plan is focusing on the East Hill, the very area that voters are being asked to bring into the city limits.

Former mayor Ross Priest, commenting on the study while he was still in office, told the Townsman on January 23, 2008, that by starting in early February last year "the growth management study should be completed by the end of 2008, or very early in 2009."

The referendum is being held because a grassroots group here gave the mayor and majority of council a huge setback when it tried to use an alternative approval process to get the boundaries expanded. The group got over 3000 signatures on elector response forms to stop that move, getting more than double the 1475 signatures required.

Notwithstanding the referendum, and the campaign currently being waged pro and con, the whereabouts of the $500,000 growth management plan, and the real reasons for the stalling in releasing it to the citizens who paid for it, should be of great concern to all. I hope all of you will contact the mayor and councillors and insist it be released now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Citizens for Livable Cranbrook Society create defining moment for city

The Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society has created a defining moment in the history of this small city in the southeastern corner of British Columbia as citizens now prepare to vote in a referendum on a boundary expansion proposal supported by Mayor Scott Manjak and the majority of the council.

City council decided on September 14 to hold a referendum after its effort to gain approval for the boundary expansion using an alternative approval process, supported by first term Mayor Scott Manjak and the majority of council went down to a resounding defeat when the grassroots group obtained more than 3000 signatures opposing the council's action. The group received more than twice as many as the 1475 required to halt the council decision. The referendum is scheduled for November 14, 2009.

Manjak and Councillors Denise Pallesen, Liz Schatschneider, Angus Davis, Jim Wavrecan and Diana J. Scott, who voted for the AAP totally misread the citizens they represent, but upon reflection, it may have been a good thing for Cranbrook in the long term as citizens pro and con the boundary expansion are now energized and involved in the local political scene. This mayor and council were elected almost a year ago by about 30% of the eligible voters who turned out on election day. Councillor Bob Whetham opposed the AAP.

There can be little doubt that no matter the referendum result, the next municipal election campaign, although just over two years from now, will be already underway, and a major issue will be the type of community the citizens want, and the people they want to lead it. The defining moment for Cranbrook will continue for some time, and that's good.

The lines are now being drawn as the boundary expansion campaigns get underway with a "yes vote" group of "concerned citizens" setting up a campaign office, hiring a campaign manager, launching a web site, running a full page ad in local newspapers, handing out yes buttons and holding a "catered lunch" to launch its campaign. That's in the first week. A co-chair of the group is Brian Sims, who announced that he has taken a leave of absence from his duties as president of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce to be involved.

If I owned the land in question, I would be absolutely delighted to have a group of "concerned" citizens launching such an aggressive campaign really on my behalf. And I am sure everyone would love to have a city council that spends taxpayer dollars on advertisements urging the people it represents, even those opposed to its decision, to vote yes in the referendum, do the same for their pet projects. After all, the whole boundary expansion issue has arisen as result of an application from companies that own the land.

Had the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society not opposed the AAP, the mayor in one of his advertisements would not have offered to remove submitted forms from those who changed their minds, I would never have become interested in the issue. Obviously British Columbia law is not clear on this one, and it should be and that is matter for the legislature.

At the council meeting of September 14, speaking in favour of a motion to proceed to a referendum, Manjak referred to the local chamber of commerce as "our community partner", which represented the community's "business leaders." I have nothing against a chamber of commerce, but I am concerned about a mayor referring to it as a "partner" in effect giving it special status. As a result I visited the local chamber's web site and discovered that the city's chief administrative officer is a member of an "advisory" group to the board of directors and attends its meetings. Councillors Schatschneider and Pallesen are also listed there although the latter is noted as representing "DBA" which is the Downtown Business Association.

Apparently the chamber is supporting the council's boundary expansion decision, but according to a recent letter in the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, all members are not happy with that decision.

I would respectfully suggest to the mayor and council that it move to strictly an arm's length relationship with the chamber of commerce, as they really only have one partner. It is the citizens of Cranbrook that elected them to office, not any organization within the city that may or may not always have the same interests as a council must have in serving all the people.

Had the grassroots group not taken action, I would not have been looking around. I received an email from a reporter this past week who had been reading my blog, and it said in part that my "journalistic juices" must be flowing. Indeed they are.

Most importantly though, I hope the citizens of Cranbrook will stay energized at this defining moment in the life of their community.

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