|Chapleau Seniors in the Park 1973|
The enthusiastic response to the week long round of activities during Senior Citizens Week in 1973 resulted in the formation of the Chapleau Senior Citizens Club.
Mrs. Agnes Freeborn was the organizing force behind the formation of the club, and acted as president until an executive could be formed. Mrs. Freeborn called a meeting at the senior citizens park on the site of the old Chapleau High School which was attended by about 40 senior citizens. She gave an outline of what she felt the club could accomplish, adding she felt it was time to "get the ball rolling" and not let the opportunity pass as it had on previous occasions.
The group agreed, and by the end of the meeting an executive had been elected with Mrs. Freeborn declining to accept the position of president.
Mrs. Min Blackburn was elected president while Ernest Gilbert became first vice president and Margaret Costello second vice president. Helen Grout was elected treasurer, Charlie Swanson, assistant treasurer, Einar Pearson, secretary and Mrs. Mary Mizuguchi, assistant treasurer. Within a year Mrs. Freeborn had become one of the vice presidents.
Two meetings a month were planned, one for business and one for social activities.
Writing in the Sault Star about Senior Citizens Week, Maggie Costello noted that senior citizens had held the spotlight with events that included a bowling evening, a talent show, an evening of cards, a dance, the official opening of the park and a bus trip to Dubreuilville for mass.
Maggie wrote that at the tea, the talent show and the dance, the generation gap just about disappeared which was nice to see. She made special note of the work done by Eileen McCrea and Joan Warren, the coordinators of the week's activities, saying they "did an outstanding job of seeing that their guests were comfortable and happy. They were a busy crew".
Maggie concluded that the dance was the "highlight of the week when the young, the over 40s and the 60s and over mingled gaily and happily and shook a mean foot for all the dances.
"The music provided by the Rhythmaires was a most welcome departure from what we are subjected to most of the time. With everyone well dressed, the young hostesses looking like a bunch of bright flowers, and all out for a merry evening, there prevailed an atmosphere ... of 'the good old days' and missing for some time past."
Through the organizational efforts of Mrs. Freeborn, the club was founded and continued where previous efforts had failed. Active in many aspects of Chapleau life, Mrs. Freeborn was born in Chapleau, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.D. McAdam. Her father, a CPR engineer was the third reeve of Chapleau holding office from 1917 to 1919. Her husband Earle, a CPR freight agent died in office while serving as the 7th reeve in 1938. Her son Elmer served several terms on Chapleau council and another son Earle served as reeve/mayor from 1998 to 2010. On December 1, 1974, the Chapleau Senior Citizens Club played host to the people of Chapleau in their newly renovated Drop In Centre in the basement of Trinity United Church.
Guests were welcomed by Mrs. Freeborn, Mrs. Blackburn, Mrs. Gwen Clegg and Mrs. S. Marcel. The head table was "gaily decorated in a Christmas decor" according to the Chapleau Sentinel.
Presiding at the head table pouring tea were Miss Helen Grout and Mrs. M. Murray. Waiting on tables were Mrs. M. Rioux, Mrs. Ed Riley, Mrs. J. Brownlee, Mrs. Zita Evans, Mrs. F. Lucas and Mrs. Mary Mizuguchi.
A major highlight of the opening was when the men took over the serving duties. Pouring tea were Willie Fortin and Louis Longchamps while A. Emond, L. Rioux and Peter Blackburn waited on tables.
The kitchen was managed by Mrs. L. Thibault, Mrs. O. Brunette, Mrs. C. Law, Mrs. Rose Ritchie and Mrs. M. O'Hearn.
Rev. William Ivey brought greetings from St. John's Anglican Church while Rev. D. Maclean of Trinity United Church said he was pleased the Seniors were using the building.
Councillors Dr. G.E. Young, Walter Wilson and Ernie Gilbert were there, and I was too. In 1973 I was a councillor and chairman of the Chapleau Recreation Committee; in 1974, it was my first year as Reeve.
The finishing touch to the occasion was the music by Eunice Michaud and her electric piano which was enjoyed by all.
In 1976, club members participated in groundbreaking ceremony for Cedar Grove Lodge, and in 1978, with its completion, the senior citizens moved to the Mrs. Agnes Freeborn Memorial Elderly Persons Centre, in recognition of her efforts in establishing the club. Mrs. Freeborn died on March 3, 1977. My email is email@example.com