EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Diane Dowsley wins 1958 Chapleau Winter Carnival Queen Contest as crowd roars approval

Margaret Costello told us there was "hardly time to breathe" as the tempo and speed picked up on the second day of the 1958 Chapleau Winter Carnival as crowds gathered from "noon until well after midnight" to enjoy all the activities.

Writing in the Sudbury Star, "Maggie" as she was so affectionately known, said that the activities got started on January 30th, 52 years ago, with the giant parade from the CPR station to the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena.

"Led by the colorful and spirited Chapleau High School Band the procession got underway ... as the floats, clowns, and gaily costumed marchers followed the royal conveyance carrying Carnival King Paul Bedard and the queen contestants.... The sidewalks were jammed." Other bands were the Chapleau Town Band and the Sudbury Sea Cadets.

Parade organizers were Elmore 'Sparky' Leigh and Ron 'Shorty' Morris while James Purich and Jim Dillon organized the Queen Crowning Ceremony. D. O. Payette and Charles Cobb were members of the Queen Contest committee. Mr. Purich, along with Charles Mckee organized the dances. It was interesting to note that Mr. Purich was also an active member of the carnival committee in the 1930s when they were first started in Chapleau.

Upon arriving at the Ice Palace a roar of approval and applause went up when Diane Dowsley, the Chapleau High School candidate was announced as the 1958 Chapleau Winter Carnival Queen. Maggie noted that CHS students were out in force to cheer for Diane, and I can confirm that one for sure. I was there cheering along with almost every CHS student when it was announced that she was the winner.

"The King beamed happily, pleased with the popular selection and watched with a big smile as she donned her royal attire."

The 1958 carnival brings back so many fond memories to me as it marked my first involvement in Chapleau activities. At the time I was president of the CHS Students Council, and carnival chairman Jim Dillon had appointed me to the committee. My major duty was to make sure high school students were involved in activities but I also arranged to bring Leo Fletcher of Sudbury to town to referee the games for the Ernest 'Sonny' Bignucolo Trophy. Leo was one of the top referees at the time in the Northern Ontario Hockey Association.

Joan, Elise and Chris Whitney walked off with all three costume prizes while Raymond Roffey, Bruce Pellow, John 'Charlie' White, Gary Brunette and Elizabeth Pellow won the skating races. Winter and summer, J.M. Shoup, the longtime principal of Chapleau Public School was in charge of races.

Ed McCarthy had arranged for Sault Ste. Marie Pipers to make appearances throughout the carnival weekend.

On the opening day of the carnival minor hockey teams, "The Stars of Tomorrow" played games at the arena while in the evening the giant carnival entertainment show featuring local talent was held in the theatre at the Town Hall. Hiram 'Hank' McEachren was the master of ceremonies. Admission was 50 cents. Hank was also the master of ceremonies for arena events. Minor hockey was organized by Garth 'Tee' Chambers, L.D. 'Don' Card, Henry 'Hank' Therriault (also the carnival committee vice chairman), Charlie Cobb, R.J. Morin and Kenneth Hamelin.

The Torch Light Parade and Dance, a Chapleau carnival tradition was held on opening night as well as a Moccasin Dance at the arena on opening night. On Friday night the Grand Carnival ball was held at the Town Hall. "Trot out your best togs and swing and sway, rock 'n roll and have a wonderful time... You might even walk off with one of those spot dance prizes," the carnival program noted. Admission was $1.00 per person.

On Friday night the Chapleau Midgets played the Sudbury Sea Cadets in hockey and defeated them 5-2. If my memory serves me right, I was one of the referees having ended my playing career at Bantam! In those days we wore v-neck white sweaters with white shirt and black tie in a two referee system.

Skiing competitions were on tap Saturday morning at the ski hills and it only cost 75 cents to take a taxi from the taxi stand downtown to the hill. Walter Broomhead and Albert Martin were the directors of the ski events. Later, the always popular outdoor events organized by Bob Mercier and Lawless Cecile were held across from the arena. Figure skating events were held at the arena at various times throughout the carnival under the direction of Mrs. George McCallum.

There was also a midway at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall directed by Ron Morris and George Collinson, who also also one of the carnival treasurers along with Verne Gates. Des Delaney, Gene Bernier and Larry Ribout were responsible for the carnival bingo.

Inside the arena, Mary and Frank Braumberger had a large supply of hot dogs, coffee and refreshments, all good filler uppers and warmer uppers.

The secretary of the carnival committee was Mrs. Kathleen Broomhead while Joseph Shilliday was responsible for trophy presentations and N.W. 'Newt' Pellow was on the prize committee. Decorations were the responsibility of Joseph Shilliday and Dave King.

The major sports feature was the hockey tournament for the 'Sonny' Bignucolo Memorial Trophy and in 1958 the four teams were the Chapleau Huskies, Sudbury Co-Op Dairy, Windsor Flyers and Sacred Heart College (Sudbury). The visiting teams all came to Chapleau by train.

Maggie Costello reported that the first game on Friday night between Sudbury Co-Ops and the Huskies was "fast and furious" from start to finish and ended in a 3-3 tie in regulation time. It took two overtime periods to decide, but finally Sudbury emerged the winner.

In a message in the carnival program the township of Chapleau noted that all revenue derived from the carnival helped to liquidate the debenture and other expenses on the arena thus removing any burden on the ratepayers. Leo Racicot was the reeve, and councillors were Len Green, Alfred Leclerc, D.J. 'Jim' Broomhead and F.A. 'Nick' Card. Jim and Nick also served as reeves of Chapleau.

Those were the days my friends, and honestly I hoped they would never end as I was growing up in Chapleau. We had fantastic times at the winter carnivals which brought us together as a community.My email is mj.morris@live.ca

This article also appears in the Chapleau Express of January 30, 2010.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Father Romeo Gascon 'a whirlwind' coached Young Elephants baseball team in Chapleau in 1916

Romeo Gascon, who served as the pastor of Sacred Heart Church for 47 years was active in Chapleau life far beyond his duties to the Roman Catholic community.

Father Gascon, was elevated to Monsignor in a service at Sacred Heart Church on February 9, 1949 by His Excellency Most Rev. George Leo Landry, Bishop of the Diocese of Hearst. His Holiness Pope Pius XII had made him Monsignor on September 11, 1948, and this was the official induction ceremony conducted by the Bishop.

Referring to research by Gemma Gagnon, Father Albert Burns SJ, noted 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. He died on January 25, 1958.

By 1916 he had become involved in Chapleau sports and was the coach of the Young Elephants, a baseball team that played on a ballfield located at about the present site of the golf course. My grandfather Harry Morris was a member of the team.

In his book "Waking Nanabijou: Uncovering a Secret Past", Jim Poling Sr. notes that he was a "miniature whirlwind" interested and active in everything from architecture to painting to golf as well as hunting and fishing. Mr. Poling, who was at one time the general manager of the Canadian Press came to know about the Chapleau priest as he was researching a history of his family.

He also enjoyed woodworking and had a printing press in the rectory.

Just before Christmas, on December 18, 1918, Sacred Heart Church was destroyed by fire, but Father Gascon went to work right away and within a year a new beautiful church had been built on the same location and its 90th anniversary was celebrated on December 24, 2009 at Christmas Midnight Mass. Father Gascon had sketched out the design for the new church and celebrated the first mass in it.

He was also president of the Kebsquasheshing Gold Club at one time, and enjoyed playing a round of golf with his friends from all denominations, including his good friend George Fife, the manager of the Chapleau Electric Light and Power Company who was also reeve of Chapleau from 1938 to 1942. I can recall saying good morning to both of them as they visited either on the front verandah of the Fife home on Lorne Street or the steps of the power company office on the site of the present Bargain Shop.

As an aside Mr. Fife was the grandfather of Robert Fife, now the Ottawa Bureau Chief of CTV News.

At the service elevating him to Monsignor, the Chapleau Post reported that most of the priests in the Diocese of Hearst attended with the bishop to offer their congratulations. The church was filled to capacity for the occasion, followed by a Civic Reception at the Town Hall which was also packed with wellwishers.

The Chapleau Post also noted that never before in the history of Chapleau had so many priests been present at the same time. Everyone wanted to show their appreciation of the work of Monsignor Gascon in Chapleau and of his work as advisor and counsellor to various bishops and his friendship to every priest in the diocese. Father Regent Marchand of Sacred Heart parish organized the event.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hugh McGoldrick from Ottawa CAPP rally: Harper awakens 'sleeping giant'

 NOTE: Hugh McGoldrick provided us with this first person report from Saturday's Anti-prorogation rally in Ottawa. Thanks Hugh.... mjm

By Hugh McGoldrick

Yesterday Joyce (his wife) and I attended the Anti-prorogation rally in Ottawa. There was a sea of people, all with one thing on their mind: let's tell Parliament to get back to work. Of course it was really Harper we were speaking to. And, even though the event was organized by some teenagers it was attended by all the leaders of all political parties except of course the Cons. Duceppe was not there preferring instead to speak at the rally in Montreal. However they did send a lesser representative of the caucus to speak. We also heard from the Sierra Club, PSAC (my union) and veterans associations and pensioners groups and many more.

The common message was, that in proroguing the House, Harper had left much important business on the table. The real message was that Harper needs to realize that Parliament was an institution of the people and he should do our business in an open parliament and not focus on his political business. He said he would have "open government" and we said, ok then open the doors of parliament. Jack Layton referred to a previous English king (Charles) who tried to prorogue parliament and eventually lost his head as a result. Of course Jack assured the crowd that he was not suggesting that anyone remove Harper's head but he did remind everyone that we can remove Harper at election time. But alas there was very little mention of an election or the bringing down of government, rather the political party leaders seemed more intent on reassuring the crowd that once they were back in parliament they would work to push through a law against prorogation and begin to address some of the important bills that have been ignored by the governing party. During the speeches the crowd chanting louder than the politicians, asking that Harper get back to work.

The Ottawa Chapter of the Raging Grannies were there in their usual style along with a member of the Arrogant Worms...each adapting their songs to the issue of prorogation, and each receiving the full approval of the almost 5000 people at the rally.

Afterward, over beers at Darcy McGee's we all agreed that Harper may have now awakened a sleeping giant. Sadly we will all have to wait 'til the Liberals feel supported in the polls, at least enough to take out this self-serving government. But we all agreed, it may not be much longer for that to occur.

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