EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


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.

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