John "Charlie" White, a good friend who was born and raised in Chapleau, Ontario, died on March 12, 2009. David McMillan sent me the following information about a way that his wife Jean and family believe "Charlie" would like to be remembered.
On behalf of Jean and the family David wrote:
March 12 is quickly approaching meaning it will then have been one full year since we lost Charlie unexpectedly.
At that time Jean and the family had intended to set up a Trust Account for a future Scholarship Fund in Charlie’s name where individuals could make memorial donations in lieu of flowers. In speaking with Jean recently, I’ve learned that the logistics of following that intended course of action are so overwhelming that the undertaking has unfortunately had to be abandoned.
As an alternative Jean and the family feel that Charlie’s second choice would have been to have donations made in his memory to St. John’s Anglican Church in Chapleau where, in his youth, Charlie was a member of the congregation. St. John’s was also an institution with which he maintained a close tie and relationship until his untimely passing.
In response to the e-mail with an accompanying link to Charlie’s obituary that had appeared in the Thunder Bay paper I’d sent out immediately following Charlie’s passing, several of you had requested more information and detail as to where you could make a donation in Charlie’s memory and this update provides that answer.
Cheques payable to St. John’s Anglican Church can be sent to the Church at Box 756, Chapleau, ON P0M 1K0 and be assured that your contribution will be greatly appreciated by both St. John’s and Charlie’s family.
Donation acknowledgements ( EXCLUDING MONETARY CONTRIBUTION AMOUNTS ) will be forwarded to Jean by St. John’s as they are received, and formal receipts for Income Tax purposes will, regardless of the amount contributed, be mailed out to donors in January 2011.
Thanking you in advance for your attention to, and co-operation in, this matter, I remain,
Dave McMillan ( on behalf of Jean and the White family)
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Saturday, March 6, 2010
Harry Pellow recalls enthusiasm at 'critical pitch' during Chapleau road hockey games of the Fifties
|Butch at CHS Reunion 2012|
I only recall the famous strip between Birch and Cedar but I did play on the pond on the back river once or twice. Both times I froze my toes and fingers and decided that it was too cold for me.
But on Aberdeen Street it was warmer and much closer to home to play road hockey. Frequently, snow piles were pretty high; often stained with dog urine and rarely without many deep holes in them where the pucks had been lost and had been recovered either by probing sticks or urgent kicks from various team players.
Players were randomly gathered either by purposeful visits to the destination or picked up on the way by. The skill level was indeterminate but the enthusiasm was always at a critical pitch.
Frequently the more proficient and sometimes the more senior amongst us effected a team selection process which created a lop-sided weighting of skill and ability resulting in long periods hen goals were only scored from one direction. By the way, I was not one of the more senior amongst us if you know what I mean.
Sometimes the call of nature shortened the attention span but then there was always the back of Schroeder's porch, Evan's barn or Mcleod's hedge available for relief. Not infrequently if the call was more urgent there would be knocks on adjacent doors (usually Evans or Schroeder’s) asking for use of the facilities but this was rare because it could have called an end to the game if dinner was seen to be on the table.
There were several constants including Mike Morris, Bill McLeod, Ken Schroeder, Jim Evans, Butch Pellow, Charlie White and Buddy Swanson. Down the block and around the corner players would be attracted by the shouting or previously having been invited to bolster a losing run. They included Tony Telik, Joey Steen, Mansel Riley, Mark Boulard, Tommy Jordan, Tim Goodwin (yes even that far away), and Gunner Collins and and and………………
Games usually started immediately after school and lingered well after the merchant families parents arrived home from work. Some evenings that was quite late. Generally speaking though darkness imposed a limitation and there were very few lights on the street to create a safe level of illumination. Especially low in fact as I remember because once the puck was lost, it remained lost until the next morning. In the absence of a puck there were alternative missiles however including a half size can of Carnation milk, Klick or Spam cans, other similar sized items from the nearest garbage bin, frozen ice balls, horse dung in various states of compression (frozen or not) and now and then, even gloves, shoes or rubbers.
Skates were never worn, we were generally wearing pretty warm jackets and they became sweaty, only the goalies wore pads, many wore hockey gloves and as often as not the sticks were retreads or broken.
I recall MIlton Schroeder often calling ".. Kinny, get in here for dinner", Zita arranging for communication to Jim for the same purpose and I was always under threat of 'no dinner' if I didn't know enough to come in from the cold.
Mcleod, Evans, Schroeder and I even think Mike Morris took turns in net. Mike later took up officiating as we know. The rest of us barrelled along the snow tracks left by the sleighs and the infrequent car or truck and now and then would do our best to shovel a somewhat level playing surface that would quickly become snowed over or covered in disturbed snow bank residue after searches were made for lost pucks. To say there was no contact would be an untruth. The reality was that all of us endured pain masked by the cold, many bruises, black eyes and very sore fingers. It was fun but it was rough and it was dangerous.
Once inside of course it wasn't easy to get back out again on school nights although it was different story on weekends when the games started immediately after hockey practice on Saturday mornings and continued until it was Hockey Night in Canada. Sundays were generally a replay of Saturday with the added flare of one or other of us posing as a "best player" from last night's game or attempting to interpret Foster Hewitt's description of a play that until the late fifty's was as exciting as it could get without a picture. Even when TV arrived it was grey and snowy on Doctor Young's cable line or and we relied on Foster Hewitt or Danny Gallivan to bring it all to life.
Note: Harry "Butch" Pellow, was born and raised in Chapleau, Ontario, a member of one of the community's pioneer families. He founded Pellow + Associates Architects Inc., of Toronto, in 1978. Harry was the architect for the Chapleau General Hospital, Chapleau Recreation Centre, Chapleau Civic Centre, Cedar Grove Lodge for Senior Citizens and the golf club house in Chapleau.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Bud Swanson played in and broadcast Chapleau road hockey games at the same time but no organ on Aberdeen Street to pump up the crowd in the 50s
Although Harry "Butch" Pellow won't know it until he reads this column, the idea came for it as I was reading his recollections of a "unique life experience" in the "special small town" over about 20 years when he was growing up in Chapleau. Butch was writing in Chapleau Trails, edited and published by his older brother Dr. William R. "Bill" Pellow.
Butch tells us that hockey was a "big part" of snow season lives in Chapleau in the 1940s and 50s whether it was on the back river pond, the river behind Chapleau Public School, or on George "Ice" Sanders "wonderfully manicured" rink in the public school yard. He adds that it was a weekend event in the old wooden rink on Lorne Street or the new Chapleau Memorial Community Arena that opened on the same site in 1951. (Ironically perhaps, Butch was the architect who designed the Chapleau Recreation Centre, which includes the Mrs. A,W, Moore opened in 1978.)
He mentions that our heroes of those days were Don Card and Garth "Tee" Chambers, adding there was a period of time "when without our sticks as support we would never have made it through the morning." Butch was playing Bantam hockey in 1954 and the photo of him with coach Tee Chambers and fellow player Aldee Martel brings back so many fond memories, among them a road trip to Sudbury in our own special "private" car on the CPR to play in the Sudbury Arena. My cousin Michael McMullen reminded me that we sang, "Heart of My Heart" over and over again during the trip.
But it was his comments on road hockey that really brought back memories. Butch remembered nightly games of road hockey on Aberdeen Street with Bill Mcleod, Ken Schroeder, Jim Evans, Buddy Swanson, Charlie White, Timmy Goodwin, me and "frequently some rabble rousers from lower town, across the track or the point."
"... Let's find an empty Carnation can, a roller, or a dropping from Boucher's or Crerighton's horse and let's do it quickly before it gets dark and Milton calls Ken for dinner, Zita calls Jim in to study or Borden calls Billy because it's too dark to play. It was never too dark to play." You can read more of Butch's story in Chapleau Trails.
I decided to send out an email to see if others from those days had similar memories to share.
Bill McLeod, who has a new book coming out this year about Chapleau shared an excerpt from it: "... some very good memories and some great people come to mind. Harry Pellow, Jim Evans, Bill Cachagee, Michael Morris, Charlie White, Joe Steen, Ken Schroeder, Dawn Goldstein, myself and Bud Swanson were the regulars. As I remember, we were often joined by Jack Morris, Ron Morita, Gilles Morin and Mansel Riley.
Bill also recalled that Bud Swanson was the only person he knew who could play and broadcast the action at the same time.
"He (Bud) invented imaginary scenarios where the Toronto Maple Leafs would be playing one of the other teams in the Original Six. We would be the stars. To name a few, Max Bentley, Teeder Kennedy, Rocket Richard, Elmer Lach, Gordie Howe and Terry Sawchuk were all represented in Bud's breathless descriptions. Most of the time the Maple Leafs would win." The title of Bill's latest book is CHAPLEAU": A Retrospective on Life in a Small Isolated Northern Community".
And Bud Swanson was in touch to share some of his memories.
"Yes I recall a lot of road hockey in my young years. The "pond" off the back river was a favourite place on the weekends because there was no artificial ice back then and the old arena wasn't open much on Sundays. We often needed to shovel off a second rink when the "big boys" from Lowertown would arrive. In the spring there were short-lived natural frozen ponds from the melting snow in the Railway yards.
"I played a lot of road hockey with my friend Gilles Morin and our puck was an empty Carnation milk can. I also have fond memories of the "Evans shed Gardens" where Jimmy Evans played goal and I was the shooter and called the play a la Foster Hewitt. I did the same with Billy McLeod. The rink in the priest's yard was aways popular and I have two hockey scars as momentos of that both from the stick of "Babe" Chambers. This is one old Canadian tradition that is still alive as its popularity may have waned a bit but is still played a lot."
Bill Pellow provided the following from his brief career as a hockey player. "We had a choice in the 40s My allowance was 10 cents a week. I had choice to go to the Regent Theatre or go to the rink and play hockey on Saturday mornings. Pop Depew was the coach. I tried hockey for a few Saturdays, with Eaton's catalogues for shin pads and my skates laced up as tight as any adult around the rink would or could perform the task for me. I remember my last game, The puck was in front of me and on wobbly skates I went for it. Reggie Sonego was on the opposite team and boarded me like I was struck by lightning, my head ached, the stars came out, my body hurt and his comment, if you have the puck you will get hit. I quit.
"That didn't stop us from using horse droppings for a puck on the roads and no short supply of artificial pucks for road hockey at its best. No boarding there. Sometimes the puck just disintegrated."
From Charlie Purich who was called the "catalyst" of the hockey team in the Sixties by his classmates at Chapleau High School came this contribution: "I can recall Billy Fox and I playing on Lisgar street where we used to live. Endless hours. We would get those large rubber washers from Fink's Pop. They were about the size of a puck but with a hole in the middle. They were softer than a puck. and we could "lift" them as we used to call raising the puck "lifting." We had to move for cars and ice hauling sleighs.
"Other players would be the Pilon clan, the Chrusoskie girls and others. We probably missed our historical opportunity to have lower town play us or even the kids from the other side of the bridge. However, with our developed skills we would have cleaned up on any opposition. Can still see that rubber washer flying through the air toward the goal (which was made of two large pieces of snow about 5 feet apart.) If my memory serves me, I think I ended up with over 400 goals and Billy Fox was right behind with 399. A duo to be feared on the road!!! Them skills you don't get just anywhere!"
Charlie tells me that he still plays hockey three times a week and uses the breakaway pass that Bud Swanson taught him. But sorry Charlie, your guys would never have beaten the Aberdeen street stars.
Ken Schroeder sums it all up for us:
"WOW !!!!!GREAT.......So many fond memories....Pond, back river, weeds etc...... Street, yes, not many cars on Aberdeen St., 4 stones for posts and you are all set. Back yard, yes, sometimes with skates, but not necessary. No lifting, unless Albert and Eddie had pads. No lines, just calls by Buddy, and finally "He Shoots He Scores".
"WOW there were some dandy RINKS, all very similar to "Maple Leaf Gardens", but no organ to pump up the crowd.
Remember Evans', McLeods', Bouillions', Braumbergers ', Goldsteins' and ours. Yes, this was lower town.......Those were the days, no TVs, etc......"
My road hockey career actually resumed after I left Chapleau and had finished university. When I was a reporter at the Kingston Whig-Standard I was recruited to play on a newspaper team. It continued when I was at the Chatham Daily News. I ended my career on Beech Street with David McAdam and his buddies in front of the McAdam home after I returned to Chapleau and was teaching at Chapleau High School. I owe my road hockey career to all those many games on Aberdeen Street and outdoor rinks with my friends from those days that Ken Schroeder describes as "WOW!! GREAT!!!" They sure were. Thanks guys.
Eugene Bouillon sent along the following about my column on Rev. John Sanders: "Michael, wow, what a great history, great Canadiana. We have such great people in our History, I can't imagine, the strengh of these men, to travel those distances, the way they did. From the cold of the Winters and the heat and flies of the Summer. We should be proud, of our Heritage. Especially in these days, during the Olympics, where Canadians have found a voice to shout out, how proud they are to be Canadians." And Raoul Lemieux just back from a Mexican vacation commented about the same story, "Great history.