|Louis Fortin in 1982|
Louis noted that working on the ice gang was a great summer job for high schoolers. "My first stint was at age 15 (told a white lie) and continued over several summers until I moved over to the diesel shop and then hired on as a trainman in1962. The summer ice gang consisted mostly of high school students and a few elderly transient types.
"The ice house was located approximately 500 yards from the railway station. At the time we provided icing service for Numbers 7 & 8 (the Dominion) and a host of extra trains that were initiated for the tourist season. The extras would come thru Chapleau at all hours of the day and night and we had to be available.
"Our first job was to literally chop, saw, chisel the large blocks from the ice house and load the large steel carts in preparation for train arrival. The original blocks were approximately 3 feet high by 2 feet. We sawed the blocks in half and with the use of steel chutes sent the ice down to the platform level where it was loaded in the steel carts. At train time we met the train, opened the bunkers on the side of the passenger cars into which we loaded these blocks of ice each weighing approx. 100 lbs. This function was performed manually. We had to literally bend down below the bunker doors and slide the ice into the bunker. It goes without saying that the ice was necessary for air conditioning purposes.
"The Canadian( #’s 1 & 2) was air conditioned electrically and we were not involved in icing those trains.
"The winter ice gang consisted mostly of laid off trainmen and firemen as well as part time workers from the area. They took the ice off the Chapleau river and loaded into the ice house. I did not work on the winter gang but I can imagine that is was a wee bit breezy on the river. If my memory serves me right we were paid .70 cents/hr. We did accumulate a lot of overtime but at straight rates. Nevertheless a great summer job while having a lot of fun."
Thanks Louis for setting the scene for next week's Chapleau Moments when Dr. William R. "Bill" Pellow will share his memories from having worked cutting the ice during the winter months. Dr. Pellow, like Louis, is a member of one of Chapleau's pioneer families. He is the editor and publisher of 'Chapleau Trails' and author of 'From Overalls to Scrubs.'
KEN SCHROEDER ON THE CHS ORCHESTRA
Ken Schroeder, another old friend and member of one of Chapleau's founding families was in touch to provide more details on the Chapleau High School Orchestra of the Fifties.
Ken said that it started with the school with Margaret Rose Fortin and Mary Serre and Harry "Boo Boo" Hong as supporters and coaches and then teen town became the movers behind it. However, because of shortages of members and instruments it evolved into a mix of seasoned players like Wilf Simpson on sax and piano, Greg Lucas on clarinet and Robert Lemieux on trumpet and Jim Ennis or Rita Morin or Eunice Michaud on piano and Kay McFarlane singing and Ken on drums. Gordon Bolduc played accordion while Joey Steen played guitar.
"We would do the Legion Hall or Town Hall basement on certain occasions for teen town "Saturday Night Live". One year we had gig and hit the bright lights of Renabie Mines for New Year's Eve. This was before roads went that way. Train only and no Budd. Wonderful, fun times. Nobody could do "Stardust" like we could. "Beer Barrel Polka" was another special of ours."
After receiving Ken's comments out of the mothballs of memory came the thought that he was so right about 'Stardust' and the 'Beer Barrel Polka.' As dances would come to an end the polka was often played followed by 'Stardust' as the Home Waltz. For younger readers the Home Waltz was the final number of the evening where you either danced with your date, or tried to get the girl you would like to walk or drive home to dance with you.
MICHEL HAMMOND ON GROWING UP IN CHAPLEAU
Michel Hammond, who was born in Chapleau but moved away in 1965 whern his father was transferrred to southern Ontario by the CPR, sent me an email in which he shared some of his memories of growing up in the community.
"I have fond memories of Chapleau, picking blueberries, my Father hunting partridge and living on Queen Street. I remember the Horseshoe Bridge and what a walk that was especially as a children we were forbidden to cross the tracks. I remember my Father working at Smith & Chapple as a second job in order to feed the six of us.
"The snow piles and my Father having to wake up at early dawn to make a path for us to simply leave the house and walk to School. I attended Sacred Heart Elementary School which .. is no longer standing. (Cedar Grove Lodge is now on the site of the school.)
``I remember the five and dime and the Fox Theatre, where .35 cents would gain me access to the show, .25 cents, and a dime for a Humpty Dumpty Chip, 0.5 cents and a Roman Nougat Candy Bar .05 cents. The big hill at the end of Queen Street, does not seem so big now... Behind the hill was the Hospital where I was born, Lady Minto Hospital.
`` I remember that Chinese restaurant at the foot of the bridge in town (the Boston Cafe, now Hongers) where they seemed to have the best Boston Cream Pie around.`
Michel also advised that his father was a member of the Knights of Columbus and his mother was active in the Catholic Women`s League.
Thanks Michel for the memories.
CONGRATS TO GUS AND HELEN KATSENOS
Congratulations to Gus and Helen on the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary! I extend my personal ``cheers and applause`` to you from out here in British Columbia, and a big hello to Nikki. I have such fond memories of hours spent in the restaurant and your awesome hospitality.