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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Parades in Chapleau played major role in success of winter and summer community celebrations

CHS Band in parade circa 1956

The old saying that everyone loves a parade sure applied to Chapleau throughout its history playing a major role in celebrations from its earliest beginnings after the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.
Browsing through old photographs and "Googling" it seems that the first parades were associated with Dominion Day, now Canada Day  on July 1, but through the years, there would be other ones hosted by organizations such as the Orange Lodge, Knights of Columbus, and after 1926, Branch No. 5 of the Royal Canadian  Legion. The Legion took over the July 1 celebrations.

By 1937, with D.O. Payette, then the president of Smith and Chapple Ltd. as the "catalyst" according to a report at the time, with his business partner Arthur Grout as chairman, the Chapleau Winter Carnival was launched. Carnivals were planned in Mr. Payette's office.

Jimmy Purich leads parade
Jimmy Purich became parade marshal and would lead the parade on a white horse from the CPR station from where it formed up over the old overhead bridge to an ice palace on Main Street or across from the old old arena on Lorne Street.

B.W. Zufelt with Bev Machan 1956
After B.W. 'Bubs' Zufelt became reeve in 1948, the Chapleau Recreation Commission was formed and a Beach Day celebration on the first Monday in August was added, including a parade. The carnival queen was also a feature attraction in parades.


Jack Shoup far right
My generation will well remember J. M. 'Jack' Shoup, the principal of Chapleau Pubic School and longest serving township councillor organizing us for the parade, and later the children's races. He ran the skating races at the winter carnival too.

The Chapleau Band, first called Chapleau Brass Band, would appear to have been part of parades from about 1887 on and it even travelled to other communities to participate in their celebrations.  

Parade circa 1957
A bugle band was formed at Chapleau High School after the cadet corps was founded about 1926, and was directed by principal and teacher John 'Mac' McClellan. A parade around town was always part of the annual inspection.

Allan Ritchie
Allan Ritchie, who had moved to Chapleau from Moose Factory with his parents by canoe, proudly displayed his native heritage in Chapleau parades. His grandson Lark Ritchie, writing about him in Chapleau Trails said that he was "noted for his proud and consistent display of his native heritage at many Chapleau community events participating in parades."

Re-enactment of Cartier arrival
But parades were not limited to the streets of Chapleau, as there were at least two on the Chapleau River. In May 1934, John Burns, Edward Levesque, Hill Gagnon, Gerard Tremblay and Joe Fortier marked the 400th anniversary of the arrival of French explorer Jacques Cartier at Newfoundland by sailing on the river in a replica of Cartier's ship. 

Ernie Gilbert, MJ, Marcel Bourgeault 1976
Winter Carnival 1938
In 1976, as part of the celebration of Chapleau's 75th anniversary of incorporation as a municipality, a canoe flotilla travelled from the Ministry of Natural Resources "Point" to the beach area.

Parades started from CPR station
There may also have been sailboat parades at one time as races were held on the river in the community's early years.

I am sure everyone has their favourite parade stories, and please feel free to send them along. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Enjoy the ice fishing derby and Chapleau Winter Carnival.

1 comment:

Beverly Russell said...

Remember playing a bugle in the CHS band, still have it.

Michael J Morris

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

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