One day, George Bucciarelli, who had arrived in Chapleau in 1910 and established a grocery store on Lorne Street, decided that he wanted to do something for the less fortunate children of the community.
According to the Chapleau Post, it was exactly August 22, 1931, just as the effects of the Great Depression were beginning to be felt.
Mr. Bucciarelli made a decision, which was to become one of the most popular events for children for many years to come when he decided unfortunate children of the town needed a treat -- in the beginning he was thinking about those who were in town year in and year out without so much as a trip down the lake or highway,
"The more he pondered, the more his desire to give kids something grew," the Post reported.
Finally, he had a "brilliant idea" and at that moment, Bucciarelli's Picnic "without a doubt the biggest event" of the years for children was born.
Mr. Bucciarelli saw a group of children playing on the street in front of his store and called them aside and asked if they would like to go on a picnic down the road the next day.
"You bet your life they would," was the response.
He told them to be in front of his store at one p.m. the next day, August 23, 1931, and they would go on a picnic. He added that "Tell all your friends I'm going to make a picnic and bring them along".
All well and good but Mr. Bucciarelli didn't know what he had started.
The next day, at 12:40 p.m., he looked out the window of his store, "rubbed his eyes, looked again" and instead of the 30 to 40 expected, there were over 200 children assembled. More were arriving every moment.
He called Angelo, his son and other employees, asking "What are we going to do?", he asked. They had only prepared enough treats for a much smaller group. As a matter of interest, the Post reported that the other employees present were Frank Principe and Leslie Perfetto.
At 12:50 p.m., Mr. Bucciarellei bellowed, "OK! Fix them up!" and one headed into the candy department, another was downstairs getting more crates of oranges and extra cases of soft drinks, while Leslie managed to find a couple of nice watermelon.
By this time, the crowd has reached 275 children.
And, Mr. Bucciarelli? He was "sitting in a corner, ringing the telephone hot in a valiant last minute effort to get sufficient cars."
The result? Enough vehicles were found to accommodate all the children (quite an accomplishment in itself in 1931 Chapleau when there were not that many motor vehicles) and the procession left the store at 1:15 p.m., just 15 minutes late. The kids had a whale of a good time at his farm at Mileage 17, the Post reported.
George Bucciarelli decided that the children should have a yearly event of this kind. "I like to see the kids playing and having lost of fun."
Thus began Bucciarelli's Picnic which continued for years and evolved into Bucciarelli's Beach where many events, including the annual Chapleau High School wiener roast was held each September.
More to come on Mr. Bucciarelli in future columns. Thanks to Doug Greig for providing information.
Just another friendly reminder that you are invited to become part of the public library online history project by providing photos and stories about your family and/or community events. Please contact Doug or the library for more details. My email is email@example.com