EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Friday, October 7, 2011


Ian Macdonald, who worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway before attending university, and graduating in architecture, shares moments of railway history in this video with CPR activity as well as hostling in Cartier in the summer of 1957.

Ian became an architect and is now Professor Emeritus and retired head of the department of architecture at the University of Manitoba.

The video is a must see for railway buffs  everywhere, Please feel free  to share with  those who may be interested. Thanks Ian.

CPR Activity in the Mid-Fifties

The video begins with a shot of CP diesel locomotive 4089. This was an Alco FA-2 unit built by Montreal Locomotive Works coming into Chapleau from the east. Yard engine engine 6527 was an MLW S-2 type, which eventually wound up assigned to the Schreiber yard.

We then see eastbound passenger train Number eight slowly cruising into Chapleau. The footage was taken shortly after “the Canadian” was added to passenger service in 1955. One can see some of the CPR’s new stainless steel Budd passenger cars that began being introduced into service during 1954 and 1955. We also catch a glimpse of a young Darryl Dowsley who had just started working as a fireman that year climbing out of the GMD FP7B unit. The “Dominion” was subsequently eliminated in 1966 leaving the Canadian as Canadian Pacific’s sole transcontinental train. The Canadian unfortunately ceased operation on Canadian Pacific tracks on January 16, 1990.

Hostling in Cartier, summer 1957

CPR Firemen in those days learned their trade through working as hostlers in the shops at Chapleau and Cartier combined with experience on main line trips working the spare list when more senior running crew booked off. Steam engines required heavy maintenance at the end of each run and were brought over to the shop track where they were handed off to the hostler.

Hostlers would move the locomotives into the roundhouse where they were turned around, serviced and prepared for their return runs. Cartier was a particularly busy divisional point as it was the western terminus for rail traffic originating in North Bay, Sudbury and Mactier. While the Schreiber Division had been priorized for dieselization in the mid 1950’s, steam locomotives of every possible size and class were still being used on the subdivisions east of Cartier and eventually wound up at the Cartier shops for servicing.

In addition to a diesel consist of 2 Alco RS10 units (8572 and 8478) and Cartier yard engine No.7094; the video includes some footage of iconic CPR steam locomotive 2841. This was a Montreal Locomotive Works Hudson Type H-ic that was built in 1937 and ultimately scrapped in March 1961. These locomotives were originally assigned to CP’s high profile transcontinental passenger trains 3,4,7 and 8 but were eventually replaced with diesel power and relegated to milk-run trains 1 and 2 in the final days of steam power on the Nemegos subdivision. It was amongst the last steam locomotives operating out of Chapleau and I had the good fortune to work on one as fireman from Cartier to Chapleau with engineer Harold Dowsley.

Dr. Bill Pellow provides an interesting, albeit erotic, description of the Royal Hudson in his Overalls to Scrubs book in Chapter six, which successfully captures the essence of those beautiful machines. They were unique masterpieces of engineering design. Diesel locomotives, although built under licence in Canada, were designed and developed in the United States and simply modified to suit Canadian conditions. Canadian Pacific steam power, on the other hand, was conceived, designed and built in Canada by Canadians to meet the specific challenges faced in the Canadian environment.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chapleau High School 90th Anniversary Reunion Quiz for WEEK THREE

Chapleau from air by John Theriault
Here are the questions for WEEK THREE in the Chapleau High School 90th Anniversary Reunion Quiz and the answers for Week Two. Feel free to email me your answers: mj.morris@live.ca
1. Name the co-chairs of the Chapleau High School 60th anniversary reunion in 1982.

2. Who was the CHS Student Council president in 1976-77 school year?

3. Who was the editor of the CHS newspaper 'News and Views' in 1958-59?

Answers for Week Two

1. Robert Fife was Student Council president in 1972-73.

2. The CHS Winter Carnival King and Queen in 1973 were Richard Rioux and Helene Fortin.

3. Claude Fortin was skip of the CHS curling team in 1972-73.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Ian Macdonald, now the retired head of the department of architecture at the University of Manitoba, then a student at Chapleau High School, brings us a video of moments from the CHS Grade Nine Initiation and Field Day in 1956.

With the 90th anniversary reunion of CHS in 2012 rapidly approaching now, for me and I am sure so many others, who were CHS students in 1956, thanks for the memories Ian. I am sure we will all be viewing it over and over again until we identify everyone in it,

For those who were not with us at CHS in the 1950s, you may recognize friends and family. Ian's notes provide a glimpse, and a wonderful trip down memory lane.

Whatever, Ian has provided us with a great look at CHS as it was in those days when we were students.

Please feel free to send me comments and names of  any you can identify: mj.morris@live.ca

Here are Ian's comments:

Chapleau High School Grade Nine Initiation, September 1956

The initiation of students entering Chapleau High School in September 1956 was a mandatory rite of passage and pretty much accepted in good humour by all participants. The video begins with a group of new grade nine students on the Chapleau Post Office steps attired in specified initiation costume and paying due homage to Grade 13 student Doug Slievert.

 The grade niners included Fern Lavoie , Joey Steen, Bill Cachagee, etc. etc. The video goes on to capture the parade of students proceeding from the old High School down Pine Street led by the CHS drum and bugle band. Fred Barty and Ross Broomhead are seen bringing up the rear of the parade.

Chapleau High School Field Day 1956

A sanitized tartan running track, manicured grass and Nike gym wear were not even a remote possibility for CHS students in the fall of 1956. Blue jeans, tee shirts and/or sweatshirts were the common attire for an afternoon of various athletic events to celebrate the CHS athletic program.

The sandy 1956 Field of Dreams was more of a nightmare by to-day’s standards but nobody really thought much or cared about it. Staff members overseeing activities in the video include Clarence Fiaschetti, the first CHS grad to return as a teacher; Dr. Karl Hackstetter and a brief glimpse of Gerald Mino, who taught French and latin,  at the long jump event.

Mansel Robinson of Chapleau named to short-list for 2011 Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize, the largest in Canadian theatre

Chapleau's Mansel Robinson has made the shortlist for the 2011 Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize in Canadian Theatre, the largest prize in Canadian theatre.

BMO Financial Group, the sponsor of the prize announced that Mansel, a graduate of Chapleau High School, is one of six playwrights who have made the short-list. 
The winner will receive $100,000, of which $25,000 will be awarded to a protege or organization of the recipient's choice. The prize will be presented on November 7, 2011 at a ceremony in Toronto.

Mansel has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Arts Degree from Concordia University.
In an interview with Dan Davidson of the Klondike Sun in 1999 after he became writer-in-residence at Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon, Mansel said he had done many things including working in a lumber mill, fighting fires, running a blast furnace, working the rails and doing a lot of backstage work at theatres.

Mansel told  Davidson in the interview that, "I grew up listening to my father tell stories and his father and great uncles and stuff."

When I read this comment, I immediately recalled the time I first heard his father, Mansel Robinson, tell a story to a group, and sat in wonder as he told it. His father was an amazing storyteller.His father, a CPR railroader,  who served as chair of the Chapleau Board of Education for many years, was also not keen on having his son work on the rails. 

He also related that his father was a "history freak" adding that "his trick was to send me to the library to find some history books he hadn't read. But he had read everything..."

Mansel also gave credit to his mother, Isabel (Collinson)  for creating his interest in stories, saying, "Even as a kid I could sit and listen to my mother and her friends have a coffee and a chitchat".

However, in his own right, Mansel has achieved great success. His  plays include Bite The Hand, Scorched lce, Street Wheat, Downsizing Democracy, The Heart As It Lived, Collateral Damage and Colonial Tongues. He has won the City of Regina Writing Award, Geist Magazine's Award for Distance Writing and the Saskatchewan Writers' Guild Manuscript Award. 

He is a two-time winner of the John V. Hicks Award, most recently for Two Rooms, which also won the 2010 Uprising National Playwriting Competition.

In 2007, Picking up Chekhov was selected as one of five Canadian plays to be introduced and promoted into the German market. In 2008, Prise de Parole published Roc & Rail, Jean Marc Dalpe's French translation of Ghost Trains and Spitting Slag - the work was short-listed for the Governor General's Award for Translation.

Mansel has been writer-in-residence at the Berton House in Dawson City, Northern Light Theatre in Edmonton, the University of Windsor, the Regina Public Library and the Surrey Public Library. He is a past president of the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre and is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Writers' Union of Canada.

"The jury was thrilled with the range and quality of the work of all the playwrights nominated this year," said jury chair Maureen Labonte in a news release announcing the short-list.. "The finalists demonstrate passion and imagination in their writing, as well as extraordinary voice and vision all of which contribute to building a strong Canadian theatre scene.

"The Prize recognizes both excellence within an evolving body of work as well as innovation, exploration and risk-taking. It opens up the possibility of making a real difference in the recipient's art and help further their pursuit of creativity and excellence."

The Jury reviewed nominations of professional Canadian playwrights who have advanced Canadian theatre through a body of work achieved in recent years while influencing and inspiring younger theatre artists. The jurors assessed the nominees' originality, sense of evolution, growing maturity, continuing experimentation, impact upon audiences, and/or influence upon younger artists. They also considered whether the artists were at a point in their professional career where the recognition and resources associated with the prize would make a significant difference, allowing and encouraging the artist to go further in the pursuit of his or her craft.

The Siminovitch Prize in Theatre was introduced in 2001 and dedicated to renowned scientist Lou Siminovitch and his late wife Elinore, a playwright. Sponsored by BMO Financial Group, Canada's largest annual theatre arts award recognizes direction, playwriting and design in three-year cycles.

The other finalists of 23 nominated are Robert Chafe, Newfoundland; Jasmine Dube, Quebec; Greg MacArthur, Alberta/Quebec;  Joan MacLeod, British Columbia; Larry Tremblay, Quebec.

Congratulations Mansel and all the best. Somewhat ironically, Mansel and one of his team-mates on the 1970-71 Chapleau Midgets, Armand Ruffo,  a hockey team I coached, have both been very successful in the arts community achieving national and international recognition for their work. Nobody from the team played in the National Hockey League, but to this day, all the players, are still among my favourite people. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Barbara (Bowland) Groves enjoying Fall in Chapleau
Bill Groves has once again provided some of his amazing photos from the Chapleau area -- the awesome wonder of Chapleau in the Fall  By Bill Groves. Thanks Bill

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


click on image


Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE