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Wednesday, April 4, 2012
GEORGE EVANS: "When Chapleau's high school celebrates, the whole community celebrates. The high school is the place where the community comes together":
|Photo by John Theriault|
As the news spread on March 28 that George had been killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 129, many kind words have been said about him, and rightly so. My first thought was to write about George based on how I came to know him during my years at Chapleau High School and as a member of the township council for four years while I was reeve, and as my friend.
However, I decided to share some of George's own words that he used in an article he wrote entitled "Why Live in Chapleau" and another for the souvenir newspaper marking the 75th anniversary of Chapleau High School, called "Chapleau's high school, 1922-1997".
To me, at least, they contain messages for all of us who call Chapleau home whether we still live there or not, and his words about the 75th anniversary are as appropriate for the 90th as they were 15 years ago when George returned home for the celebration. Retiring in 1989, George was not a full-time resident for some years but then returned.
It always has seemed to me that from the day he arrived in 1961 to start teaching at the old CHS, home for George was Chapleau.
First, here are some excerpts from 'Why Live in Chapleau'.
"On a spring day, there is a view from the overpass that takes the breath away. The eye looks eastwards and follows the Kebsquasheshing River past the town, into the green wilderness of the Canadian Shield. You know that the water in this river will flow into James Bay. This river was once, in the days of the 'gentlemen and traders' of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the only way in and out of this place. It has always been a distant, challenging place...
"Over a century ago, the railroad that lies beneath the overpass was built to stitch together sparsely populated pockets of North America that had, for one reason or another, escaped the “Manifest Destiny” of the ambitious Republic to the south. At the place where river and railway intersect, people settled and the place got a name: Chapleau...
"But, seriously, why live in Chapleau? Let’s return to the view from the overpass. To its permanent residents and to visitors, a major attraction of Chapleau is its immediate access to the pre-Cambrian wilderness of boulders, lakes, forests, and a huge Game Reserve. Even in the town the call of the loon is heard and occasionally an unwelcome black bear ambles through backyards. Summer smog-alerts are not announced in these parts: the air is always breathable. Even in deepest winter, skis, snowshoes, and, most recently, snow-mobiles, make the wilderness a handy playground....
"More than the natural beauty that laps at its edges, Chapleau’s underlying sense of community attracts and holds the affection of its citizens... the town is still a town of very self-reliant people who care about each other...
"It is good to live on the solid granite base of the Canadian Shield among the lakes and forests and it is the people of Chapleau who make it so.
You can read all of 'Why Live in Chapleau' along with other articles George wrote in his 'Snapshots of Chapleau's Past' series at http://chapleaulibrary.com/gevans/index.html
Let's turn to George's article about the 75th anniversary of CHS and perhaps reflect on it as the 90th anniversary rapidly approaches.
George wrote in part:
"Over the years, this unique school has changed its location, its colours and its name. It has been there for generations of students and teachers passing through on their way to destinies all over the world...
"There will be much reaching out to strangers who were once best friends. Some lies will be told. Some comfortable truths will emerge. Each of us, after all, a former teenager with much we would like to forget and much still to learn..,
"What will draw us to Chapleau is not a building with classrooms. The great magnet pulling us home is the hope of seeing the people who, at a pivotal time in our lives. made up our small intense world. In our lucid moments. we will be aware that we are paying homage to the fate that placed us in Chapleau so that we could be part of that world...
"When Chapleau's high school celebrates, the whole community celebrates. The high school is the place where the community comes together.
"It is the possession of everyone, regardless of mother tongue, religion or ethnic origin. It is, in its best moments, the expression of Chapleau at its best. This is the truth that sets Chapleau's high school apart from all the others."
A memorial service for George was held at Trinity United Church, Chapleau, at eleven a.m. on Thursday April 5. Donations to the Rotary Club of Chapleau, will be appreciated.
Thank you George for being the person you were, and may you rest in peace now, or as you may have said, "Requiescat In Pace". My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, April 2, 2012
Who is leading the race at a Chapleau High School Field Day circa 1963. Hint: He later played big role at Chapleau Public School. (Lark Ritchie Photo)