EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, December 7, 2013

"Therefore ... be sure, Wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, Shall yourselves find blessing."

At Cocoa Beach, Fl. Photo by Michael Pelzer
When Good King Wenceslas looked out and saw the snow with the moon shining bright in about the year 1000, he could have been describing the weather on almost any Christmas Eve in any Canadian community.

Before I go any further with King Wenceslas  as revealed in the popular carol 'Good King Wenceslas', I only recently discovered that he was not really a king, but the Duke of Bohemia, and he was looking out on the Feast of St Stephen, the day after Christmas. To me it doesn't really matter as the carol brings back fond memories and delivers a message that applies any time.

My mother Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris directed many concerts and musicals during the 32 years that she taught at Chapleau Public School, and she was also the choir director at St. John's Anglican Church for years. Music was an important part of our home, and that's how I became acquainted with King Wenceslas as a boy.

It became the carol that to me applied most to the weather at Christmas time. Looking outside before leaving for Christmas Eve service, "the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even. Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel..."

As we headed to St. John's, I would hum the carol and think to myself that all that needed to be added was the smoke going straight up into the skies, the temperature hovering at Fifty degrees below Fahrenheit and the wonderful display and music coming from Dr G.E. Young's clinic.

I have spent Christmas in other Canadian communities, and no matter where I am, it seems Good King Wenceslas is my theme song. The lyrics were published in 1853 by the English hymn writer John Mason Neale.

Now, the carol addresses a subject that I never thought about much as a child growing up in Chapleau. I had my family, friends and a community where people cared about and helped each other in times of need.

Even though there were times when I missed my father James E Morris who was killed while on active service in the RCAF in World War II, I had my mother, my grandparents George and Edith Hunt and Harry and Lil Morris as well as my aunt and uncle, Elsie (Hunt) and B.W. 'Bubs" Zufelt and my cousins, and my aunt Marion (Morris) Kennedy.

And I had my many good friends in my growing up years, and as a teenager would run between the Anglican church and the Roman Catholic church which some of my friends attended, making it an ecumenical Christmas Eve. Afterwards we all partied together no matter the church.

But as the King walks with his page, "a poor man came in sight, Gathering winter fuel." The page tells him that this man lives "underneath the mountain."

On Christmas Eve in Chapleau those many years ago, as we greeted people on the street who were going to or coming from their respective churches, I never really thought about those who may be homeless and without food--- living underneath the mountain, so to speak.

The good King took immediate action though telling his page to gather food and wine and pine logs that they would take to the peasant and see him dine, "through the rude wind's wild lament, And the bitter weather."

The page was ready to give up as the night grew darker and wind blew stronger, but the King encouraged him and they made it to their destination.

As I reflected on "Good King Wenceslas" it struck me that one of the most incredible moments when I lived in Chapleau was a telethon broadcast over Dr. Young's cable TV system in the early 1980s to raise funds for those in need, and over $20,000 was raised during the show. I was cohosting the telethon with other local "personalities", sponsored by the Chapleau Rotary Club, and as the donations poured in, I became more and more amazed at the outpouring of support.

As many of you know, especially my former students, I love metaphor and have been collecting them all my life. I hope I have not mixed them too badly as I have talked about the Good King Wenceslas.

At this Christmas time, I extend my very best wishes to my family and friends who have shared moments of their lives with me during the past year. Thank you so much and Merry Christmas.

My thoughts also turn to all those good people, who have shared some moments of their lives with me, past and present, in so many communities across our country and in the United States. Joyeux Noel!

 I leave all of you wherever you may be with the last words from 'Good King Wenceslas',

"Therefore ... be sure, Wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, Shall yourselves find blessing."

End Note: I selected 'Good King Wenceslas' by the choir of Yorkminster as I think my Mom would have enjoyed this version.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Newspapers from the North Star to Chapleau Express served community for most of its history

For most of its history, Chapleau citizens have been served by a local weekly newspaper, and what a fascinating experience it is to explore the community's life and times by browsing through their pages.

Since I started writing about Chapleau moments over four years ago now, each week I have been able to share some of the community's history, much of it from the newspapers that were published over the years.

Before I give you a short history of those newspapers, let me answer the question I have been most asked -- "Where do you get all the information?" In the beginning, much of it came from files kept by Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris, my mother, and Marion (Morris) Kennedy, my aunt. 

Over time, new sources started to send me "stuff" (as it is commonly called in the newspaper business), and never a week goes by that I do not receive at least one new story idea and or "stuff". If I tried to name all those who assisted, I would surely miss someone, but I must mention -- Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick, my cousin, who is an expert on Chapleau folks, Doug Greig, who is doing the community a great service by compiling the historical record for future generations and Hugh Kuttner who established chapleau.com

And I also thank Michael McMullen, my cousin, and Ian Macdonald and Harry 'Butch' Pellow, my long time friends, who always take time to provide assistance.

Enough already. On to the Chapleau newspapers.

The first one the North Star appeared in 1893-94 and the editor was Frank Morris (no relation) a Justice of the Peace, and it was followed by Chapleau Weekly News, printed in Sudbury from 1910 to about 1915.

The Chapleau Headlight published by the Citizens League of Chapleau was on the scene from 1915 to 1917 and it one of its mandates seemed to be keeping the community "dry" -- in other words free from alcohol.  It was also highly involved in recruiting for service in World War I.

In its first edition of December 3, 1915, Doc Hustler a local character who apparently lived in a shack and sold newspapers from a baby carriage inserted this notice: "That I Doc Hustler have gone out of the newspaper business and have taken up my tools and am now open to do all kinds of first class painting, paper hanging and graining. Anyone engaging Mr. Hustler will be assured of an A 1 job."
Doc Hustler

After the Headlight folded some years later, Roy Lavery founded the Chapleau Times which operated in 1929-30. His office was in the YMCA on Lorne Street.

Arthur Simpson who was born in England arrived in 1930 after a group of Chapleau citizens persuaded him to move there and within a year the Chapleau Post was founded, located at 17 Young Street, and it was part of the community until 1961.

It really covered Chapleau news, and I just happen to have handy the issue of December 2, 1948, send to me by Ken LeClaire. Here is what was happening: "Reeve Zufelt Re-Elected 8 Qualify for Council", "Hockey club Organize for Coming Season", "Rev. R. Gascon Elevated to Domestic Prelate", "Calgary Team Stampedes at Station", and that's just a sampler.

In 1958, Mid North News arrived with Basil Scully a Sudbury television personality as president, and Arthur Grout, Reg Thrush and J.M. Martel as directors of Chapleau News and TV Ltd. It lasted only 38 issues but Chapleau also had its own television station for a time -- CHAP TV. I got my start in journalism there.

The Chapleau Press appeared during 1961-62.

On November 19, 1964, Tom and Leah 'Bud' Welch published the first edition of the Chapleau Sentinel, and they continued to operate it until July 1977, with an article "May We Bow Out". Tom and Bud had been very active in community activities, with Tom being one of the founders of the Chapleau Junior 'B" Huskies of the International Junior "B" Hockey league in 1966-67. 

They retired and were succeeded by Rene and Diane Decosse who operated the Sentinel until 1999.

A "new kid on the block" arrived in March 1997 when Jim and Phyllis Prince arrived and launched the Chapleau Express. Jim had been a well known Timmins television personality, who I had known when I started as a daily newspaper reporter at The Daily Press there in 1964 -- wow, 50 years ago in 2014!
Jim Prince

In September 2005, Mario Lafreniere took over the Chapleau Express as publisher and editor, and he is the reason I have been writing Chapleau Moments since July 2009. I had started a blog, Mario saw it and invited me to write for his newspaper. 
Mario Lafreniere

I have just touched on the history of Chapleau newspapers here, but for me, who has been doing and teaching journalism, media and communications for so long,  it is a privilege to be able to share some of those "first rough drafts of history" from them about the people, life and times of the community. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Michael J Morris

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


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