The Chapleau Post headline blared "WE GOT IT" in three languages on April 24, 1950 in the only Extra ever published by the local newspaper in its history.
Editor and publisher Arthur Simpson agreed to publish the Extra after chatting with Arthur Grout, of Smith and Chapple Ltd., if Chapleau was announced as being on the route of the Trans Canada Highway.
Mr. Simpson wrote that he almost cancelled the edition when the announcement was not forthcoming but Bill Collings, who happened to be listening to the popular CBC radio program "The Happy Gang" called with the news that the show had been interrupted with a news bulletin.
|Reeve Bubs Zufelt pointing out route|
Chapleau was to be included on the route from the Quebec to Manitoba borders.
The Post carried the official announcement in bold face type: " The Trans Canada Highway will follow a route east to west from the Quebec boundary, Hawkesbury to Ottawa, swinging west to Peterborough, a long swing to the northwest will take it to Parry Sound, Sudbury, Chapleau, Schreiber, Nipigon, Port Arthur, Fort William, Dryden and Kenora. It is to be a two-lane concrete paved highway. CHAPLEAU is on the Trans Canada Highway."
Mr. Simpson called it a "momentous occasion" in Chapleau's history, while Richard 'Dick' Brownlee, one of the community's first citizens commented "I've had faith in Chapleau since I settled here when construction was still in progress on the CPR here."
Schools were closed and the celebration began marking what appeared to be the end of a 20-year battle to be located on the Trans Canada Highway.
After Mr. Grout had called the water pump house and instructed the pumper to blow the fire siren, police chief Jack Angove was all set to arrest him, but when told the news about the highway, no charge was ever laid.
Reeve B.W. 'Bubs' Zufelt told The Globe and Mail that he was "jubilant" that "half the world" would be driving down Chapleau's main street. In fact, a photo of Reeve Zufelt pointing to Schreiber showing the route the highway would go, appeared in the newspaper.
Chapleau was entering into its boom years of the 1950s, and Highway 129 to Thessalon was now open. The first vehicle officially travelled it on January 28, 1949.
Tom Godfrey Senior, a Chapleau businessman and the community's second reeve from 1914 to 1916 had been one of the major backers of Highway 129, and on the very day that his dream came true, Mr. Godfrey died of a heart attack.
However, as time passed, despite Chapleau's efforts, the Trans Canada Highway took the much more expensive route along Lake Superior from Sault Ste. Marie. Hardball politics at play of course!
The failure of Chapleau to be on the Trans Canada Highway even after Welland S. Gemmell, the local MPP and cabinet minister, told 2,200 Chapleau citizens at the official opening of the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena in February 1951, that it would be "definitely located" through the community was a major disappointment.
I remember the day of the announcement vividly. Hardly ever did I walk to or from Chapleau Public School with my mother, Muriel E (Hunt) Morris, but after the school was closed to mark the occasion, we were heading home at the same time. With us were some of my neighbourhood friends, yelling "WE GOT IT!" and kinda jumping for joy -- not Mom though --- however I am not sure we really fully understand what was happening, but school was closed for the day!
Thanks to Doug Greig and to Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick for information. My email is email@example.com