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Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Such was Dominion Day for a child who had to get his costume ready and tricycle decorated for the annual July 1 parade that marked one of the highlights of the year for me in the years following World War II that I still recall the celebrations like they were only yesterday.
Mom and my grandparents (Nanny and Grandpa... Edith and George Hunt) would help me get ready for the parade and off I would go for a day packed with activities for our entire community.
Leading the parade of course was the Legion Colour Party and the Chapleau Town Band that has actually been in existence over 100 years now. Mr J. M. Shoup, a veteran of both World War I and II, principal of Chapleau Public School and township councillor would get us all organized for the parade and later the children's races at the beach. I was also proud to see my grandfather Harry Morris, a veteran of World War I, and one of the first group of members of Branch 5 helping out at the activities. (See Mr. Shoup in photo.)
Shortly after the war, Dr G.E. Young, using his own money, had created a truly wonderful beach area on the banks of the Kebsquasheshing River, and it was the scene of swimming and canoe races, as well as canoe tilting contests. The Memegos boys dominated the canoe races and canoe tilting competitions for years and William Memegos, the back packing contest.
Dr Young's beach was complete with change rooms, wading pools, a nicely grassed area and each year he had truckloads of beach sand brought to refresh it. A Chapleau boy, Dr Young practised medicine for over 50 years in his home town and at 95 is living there in retirement. As an aside, Dr Young, in my view, should be named Chapleau's Most Outstanding Citizen.
In the afternoon of July 1, games of chance would be underway while the Town Band would give a concert in the bandstand at the beach area, while over at the ball field there was always an exciting ball tournament. Sometimes there would even be teams from out of town but to me the only team was the Legion on which Tee Chambers played shortstop. Tee was my hero in both ball and hockey.
The celebration ended with a dance and fireworks display at the beach area.
By the end of the day I would head home tired but happy looking forward to my summer vacation, cruising around Chapleau on my tricycle.
There aren't too many of those World War II vets left now, and none from World War I, but I remember all of them fondly, for in war and peace, they made our town a better place for everyone.