EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chapleau Moments: 1938 Chapleau Winter Carnival featured 122 events in midst of Great Depression

1938 Carnival Parade on old horsehoe bridge
The Queen of the 1938 Chapleau Winter Carnival arrived for her coronation in true northern style on a sled pulled by husky dogs to the location in downtown Chapleau where Carnival King Charles McGregor was waiting.
Ross Kemp was the driver of the sled carrying the Queen while Chief Parade Marshal Jimmy Purich, resplendent in his uniform, headed the Queen`s procession from the CPR station over the old horsehoe bridge to Main Street, riding a pure white horse pulling another sled.

It was Chapleau's second winter carnival, and despite the effects of the Great Depression on the community, people were out for a good time.

Marie Perpete was crowned the Queen of the Carnival. The Chapleau Post reported that she was dressed in a pure white ski costume with white ski boots, white slacks, and a parka trimmed with white fur.

Ever the Chapleau booster, A.J. "Art" Grout, who had the title, Minister of Foreign Affairs, had written a letter to H.K. Kennedy, the editor of a magazine called 'The Vacationer' extending an invitation to him to come from Toronto for the carnival. I have no idea if Mr. Kennedy made the trip but Mr. Grout, super salesman that he was, extolled the wonders of Chapleau in his letter.

He wrote in part that Chapleau was a very modern town with a population of about 2,800 people well equipped with schools, hotels, and business places and "is far more modern than one would expect in a place so far in the Northern wilds." Remember that at this time in its history, Chapleau was very isolated with the CPR being primary way to get to and from town.

Talk about turning potential negatives into positives when talking about Chapleau, Mr. Grout was a real professional. Writing about Mr. Grout in Chapleau Trails, Dr. Bill Pellow, the editor and publisher, refers to him as "a staunch promoter" of the early winter carnivals. He sure was.

Mr. Grout's letter continued that "timbered forests came down to within a few hundred yards of the outskirts of the town" but the citizens were enthusiastic about winter sports and got into winter costumes to enjoy the carnival to the fullest. he also mentioned that it was common to have five feet of snow and 40 below zero temperatures at carnival time.

At the 1938 winter carnival there were 122 winter sports events spread over three days, Mr Grout wrote. One of the major events was the sled dog races with over 20 high class teams entered. There were skiing events taking place on a new 45 foot tower for jumping as well as log chopping and a curling bonspiel.

Five hockey teams made up of teams from Chapleau and surrounding camps would be playing in a tournament and there was also a turkey shoot and of course the grand dances.

A highlight of the carnival was the midnight torch light parade and snake dance down the main street.

It fascinates me to see the tremendous community spirit that was so alive in Chapleau during the Great Depression as the citizens launched an annual winter carnival. I looked in 'Break at Nine', George Tremblay's excellent book on the movies and life in Chapleau to see what he might have said about those times.

Mr. Tremblay wrote in part: "... Chapleau saw its share of hardship during the depression.There was no such thing as a food bank to help the hungry and unemployment insurance was unheard of in the 30s. However, people helped each other and when a family slipped into a desperate situation, their neighbours would organize events to help them out..." Yet they put together a carnival. Mr. Tremblay was born and raised in Chapleau.

Through the years, the Chapleau Winter Carnival brought everyone together and I will share more about them in future columns. My thanks to Doug Greig for his help with this one. My email is mj.morris@live.ca.

This feature appears in the January 16, 2009 edition of the Chapleau Express.

Friday, January 15, 2010

CAPP group heads to 'tipping point'

I've been everywhere today to borrow from a song by Stomping Tom Connors, from coast to coast to coast in this vast and magnificent land, reflecting on the display of unity being displayed among the members of the Canadians Against Proroguing Parliaament (CAPP) group on Facebook. When I last looked, the membership had passed 192,000 but it grows by the minute. On January 5, when I first wrote about it the membership was 26,000.

Quite frankly, no matter the end practical result of the efforts of the members of the group founded by Christopher White, a graduate student at the University of Alberta, to force Stephen Harper, the prime minister, to reverse his decision on proroguing Parliament until March 3, the proverbial geni is out of the bottle.

The power of the Internet to bring people from all parts of this country together in common cause on an issue is now a reality in Canadian life. At the risk of using too many metaphors, Chris White and his group are a game changer, (I taught too many English literature courses.)

To understand a little  better what's happening out there, I reviewed the statistics on my blog, Michael J  Morris reports, and while they are anecdotal, they reveal that Canadians from large and small communities, and from all regions are interested in the prorogation issue.

Visitors to my blog since January 5 when I started tracking the CAPP story have come from 58 regions in 21 countries but 91 per cent are from Canada, and from 371 different cities, over 90 percent in Canada. In the same time period, 83 percent of site visitors came from Facebook.

According to my stats compiled by web-stat.com, the top 10 regions in order are Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta, California, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. Yes, California!

The top 10 cities are Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Sudbury, Montreal, Victoria, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Hamilton and London - reasonably close reflection of Canada's largest population centres. Interestingly, Calgary is not in the top ten.

Back to Stomping Tom and I've been everywhere for a moment. I was most interested in the reuslts from smaller communities so here are some randomly selected communities where people are interested in the prorogation issue and have visited my blog: Yellowknife, Nanaimo, Trail, Vernon, Victoria, Kelowna, Prince George, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Okotoks, Red Deer, Spruce Grove, Regina, Saskatoon, Meadow Lake, Selkirk, White River, Omemee, Barrie, Timmins, Minden, Flesherton, Whitby, Kitchener, Kingston, Quebec City, Pincourt, Gatineau, Repentigny, Fredericton, Moncton, Miramichi, Sydney, Halifax, Dartmouth, Charlottetown, St. John's and Burin. Just a sampler. They also came from about another 300 Canadian communities.

Five of the top 10 posts on my blog are related to the prorogation issue.

Of course, all the above is strictly anecdotal in nature but it sure shows the interest when Canadians from coast to coast to coast will take the time to visit one small web site, not associated with any major media group in the country.

And these Canadians are communicating with each other, on the CAPP facebook group, sharing ideas and information one with the other, 24/7, in one huge national talking place. It is amazing to behold.

Malcolm Gladwell tells us that the "tipping point"  happens when momentum for change becomes unstoppable.

If CAPP continues its momentum, can the tipping point be far away?

Email me at mj.morris@live.ca

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chattering class spreads across Canada while Christopher White emerges as political game changer

As Tony Clement, the Harper government industry minister, became the elite spokesperson for the chattering class of Ontario's cottage country, Tom Flanagan, Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, was distancing himself from his former boss, "I hope nobody thinks I'm a Harper stooge anymore."

Meanwhile, while Harper was chattering away about the economy, Jim Flaherty, his finance minister, contradicted his boss's comments, giving a different chatter line. But today is the day that Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who the Harperites have tried to muzzle by reducing his budget, releases his report.

Also this week, Christopher White, a University of Alberta graduate student, has become the game changer in Canadian politics, as the facebook group Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament passed 178,000 members. On January 5, it had about 26,000 members. Unquestionably, the way politics is done in Canada is undergoing a huge change no matter the end result of the members on this facebook group.

Largely ignored by professional politicians and the media when he started it, Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament has now become a reference point for media types daily. For example, Jane Taber referred to it in her Globe and Mail piece this morning right there with her insights into the Kevin Page pending report.

After Clement, who represents a riding in Ontario cottage country, tried to pass off mounting criticism across Canada of  the decision to prorogue Parliament as merely comments from the elite of the chattering class, it was Flanagan who really broke ranks with the Harper gang.

Flanagan told Evan Solomon on the CBC¨Power and Politics show that prorogation was done to shut down the Afghan inquiry, but the government came up with childish talking points adding his comment about no .longer being a Harper stooge. Wow. Talk about distancing yourself from your former boss.

A big test for the anti-prorogation movement will come on January 23 with rallies planned for at least 40 communities all across the country.

As an aside, Michael J Morris reports has experienced a huge surge in traffic over the past week and my statistics show visitors are coming from every region of Canada and from large and small communities. The highest number of hits by story are on the prorogation issue. So, the chattering class of elites is spread far and wide in Canada.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Helen Forsey on Ten Constitutional Fairy Tales

Helen Forsey, the daughter of the late Eugene Forsey, a senator, expert on the Canadian constitution and most distinguished Canadian, refers to her father's work in writing about Ten Constitutional Fairy Tales, originally advanced by her father.

Ms Forsey's article in http://historywire.ca/ begins as follows:
"As we contemplate the pathetic spectacle of Parliament's return after its prorogation in December, the name Eugene Forsey is once again being invoked by thoughtful Canadians. And well it should be. At no time in recent history has the need for my father's constitutional and historical expertise been more acute."

I most assuredly agree and here is the link to the complete article which is a must read for all Canadians:


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