As I was browsing through a wonderful pile of Chapleau material recently received from David McMillan, it intrigued me to discover one clipping noting that D.O. (Ovide) Payette would sing "the Mass of Angels" all in Latin at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church.
I was aware of Mr. Payette's very significant role in the history of Chapleau, but did not know that he had been a soloist and choir director at Sacred Heart church.
Lucien Bouillon, who would become a Roman Catholic priest and the first to be ordained to the priesthood in Sacred Heart Church in 1965, made the observation about Mr. Payette's singing in Latin in an article in The Chapleau Sentinel marking the 100th anniversary of the parish in 1986. Lucien was serving as an altar boy in the fifties when Mgr. Romeo Gascon was the pastor.
From the time Mr. Payette arrived in Chapleau just after the beginning of the 20th Century he was involved in the life of the community and his church. I visited that fantastic resource for Chapleau material, www.chapleau.com, created and maintained by Hugh Kuttner, and discovered photos showing that Mr. Payette was playing hockey on a Chapleau team by 1905-06. As there is a trophy in one photo, it looks like his team had won a championship.
Turning to Chapleau Trails, edited and published by Dr. William R. Pellow, I found that his daughter, Margaret Rose (Payette) Fortin wrote that her father, born in Pembroke, who taught school in Golden Lake, Ontario, came to Chapleau to work in the men's wear at Smith and Chapple Ltd. By around 1930, Mr. Payette and Arthur J. Grout bought the store and started to expand its departments. Mr. Payette became president of the company.
Margaret Rose noted that it was probably one of the first "shopping centres" in Ontario, and it likely was, living up to its reputation of providing "Everything for Everybody." For those of us who grew up shopping and working at Smith and Chapple, it is hard to believe that it closed its doors 23 years ago on April 30, 1987.
During the thirties plans to start a Chapleau winter carnival were made in Mr. Payette's office. He was described as the "catalyst' for starting the winter carnivals, and his business partner Mr. Grout became the chairman.
Mr. Payette was also very active in the Chapleau Town Band and by 1952 took over leadership of it and served in that capacity for 10 years until he retired. I can recall times when Mr. Payette, and three of his sons, John, Billy and George, would all be playing in the band for the July 1 celebration.
He also served as a volunteer firefighter and was Chapleau's fire chief for a number of years as well as being manager of the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena at one time and chairman of the Chapleau High School Board.
Very involved in all aspects of life in Chapleau, Mr. Payette was a member of the Rotary Club, the golf and curling clubs, and at Sacred Heart Church, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus and a Grand Knight. After his retirement from Smith and Chapple, Mr. Payette also served as a Justice of the Peace.
Margaret Rose wrote that music was a large part of the "growing up years" in the Payette family home with both her parents involved in the Sacred Heart church choir, and "as each of us became old enough to contribute, we were part of the choir." In fact, she revealed that her parents met at the church when Mr. Payette was the choir director, and her mother, (Marie Cahill) arrived in Chapleau to become the church organist. She adds, "the rest, as they say, is history. They were married in 1923."
Mr. Payette's contribution, in his church, in business and the wider community, played an important role in the life and times of Chapleau.
Commenting on Chapleau Moments about 1976, Eugene Bouillon wrote: "omg, Michael, yes memories (of 1976). I graduated from College and of course worked with Terry (Bryson) helping plan the Celebrations. Also, travelled with Doreen (Collings) to Red Rock to pick up the Pickerel for the Fish Fry and stayed up all night working on the fire for the Beef BBQ. Yes memories."
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