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Friday, May 25, 2012
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Chapleau water tank buckles inward creating fear of collapse before it could be properly demolished in 1977
When the old water tank buckled inwards in April 1977, it created quite a scare for Chapleau citizens who were justifiably concerned that the landmark might completely collapse before it could be properly demolished.
The Chapleau Sentinel reported that it was brought to my attention as reeve that dents had appeared in the water tank that was no longer used after the opening of the new water treatment plant, so it sat empty on the hill bounded by Monk, Ash and Elgin streets. Had it completely collapsed, the damage would have been devastating.
I recall calling Councillor Ernie Gilbert, the chair of the public works committee, who I am positive was on duty as a councillor 24/7, and off we went to survey the situation.
There was no doubt we had a potentially serious situation. At the time, engineers from SWR Engineering Ltd. were in Chapleau doing preparatory work on the Lisgar Street extension, so we contacted them for a professional opinion. It was decided pretty quickly that the tank in its condition presented a potential danger and immediate measures must be taken to ensure the safety of citizens. The municipal solicitor agreed.
The Chapleau Sentinel reported that Monk, Ash and Elgin streets were closed to traffic and the pedestrian overpass, located right beside the water tank was also closed.
With the co-operation of Bourgeault Bus Lines a bus service was introduced. Residents in the immediate area as well as the CPR were advised of the situation. To the best of my memory nobody was evacuated.
As the demolition was the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment, it was contacted and within a day consulting engineers employed by the ministry and the contractor responsible for the demolition were in Chapleau.
|First water tank and CPR station circa 1915|
They attached wires to the tank to ensure its stability and advised the municipality that the immediate danger of collapse had passed and demolition would begin the next week. However, citizens were warned to be extremely careful when walking or driving in the area of the water tank while demolition was underway.
All went well during the demolition, and the crisis passed. In and interview with The Sentinel, I said that "I was very pleased with the excellent co-operation" received from everyone. "The main thing was to ensure the safety of the citizens of Chapleau and that required prompt action. There was no way of knowing for sure if the tank would collapse and when the possibility of danger existed, the best thing to do was to take every precaution".
So, what caused it to buckle?
The engineers were not positive but believed that because it buckled inwards, a large piece of ice on top of the inside of the tank dropping to the bottom forced air out and not enough returned to replace it, caused the buckling.
After reading the news reports of the crisis some 35 years later, I recall, as I am sure most Chapleau citizens did at the time, asking myself several times a day, "What if it collapses?" But it didn't and I also recalled another use for the water tank starting in the 1950s.
As Chapleau grew so did its police department and it had one patrol car. In the evening the two officers on duty, usually Jim Collings and Don Houghton, were not able to receive telephone calls, so it was decided to put a red light on top of the water tank. When someone called the police it would turn on and the officers would go to the Town Hall to get the message.
Now, some young people liked to come down the old overhead bridge in their cars onto Monk Street and speed to Bucciarelli Beach, but the police often set up a speed trap which slowed them down. The solution was to have someone phone the police, the red light would go on and as soon as the officers arrived at the Town Hall, the Monk Street Speedway would open. Or so I was told. My email is email@example.com
Sunday, May 20, 2012
As the 90th anniversary reunion rapidly approaches, we will be posting more photos and stories about the life and times of Chapleau High School, 1922 -2012. Your participation is most welcome.
Just send photos and/or high school favourite moments to firstname.lastname@example.org
CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE!
CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE!