Upon his arrival in Canada in 1902 from Italy, George Bucciarelli first worked at various jobs in several locations for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
By 1910, he was working in Chapleau and became fed up, so he caught a train for Sudbury, planning to return home to Italy. However, while in Sudbury, he decided to look at the price of lumber, bought a carload and had it shipped to Chapleau.
He used it to start his store on Lorne Street but for a time it was only open early in the morning and in the evening as Mr. Bucciarelli went back to work for the CPR in the shops.
The town was installing the municipal waterworks system, and he had built several rooms on his store which he rented to workers on the project. He also worked on that project.
In 1911, Mrs. Bucciarelli and their son Angelo arrived and Chapleau became home for them.
In due course, he improved the store and built a house and for a time had a second location in the uptown area.
By 1935, celebrating 25 years in business, Angelo had become the store manager, and they had become wholesale tobacconists and the agent for Canadian Oils Limited, supplying gasoline for the motor vehicles that were beginning to appear in Chapleau.
Mr. Bucciarelli was spending a lot of his time at the farm he established on the Chapleau highway, and the picnics for children were started in 1931. The area later became known as Bucciarelliville.
The picnics also included a show by "The Clowns" who were young men of Chapleau all attired for their role in entertaining the children.
In 1935, as a matter of interest, those working for Mr. Bucciarelli included Fred Barty, who the Chapleau Post described as the "1st Lieutenant", Emmett Brazel, Irene Godbout who later worked as head cashier at the Dominion store, Gertrude Roffey, Leslie Perfetto, Pat Frawley and John Ciuffreda.
According to the Chapleau Post, John looked after the "beverage" or "refreshment" room advising him that the writer would soon be there calling for "Two big jugs John!"
But Mr. Bucciarelli did not retire and pursue his own interests entirely. In fact, during the 1940s, he developed "Bucciarelli's Beach" for which he is likely best remembered by many Chapleauites.
After my column on the children's picnics, I received an email from Frank Bucciarelli, who arrived in Chapleau with his parents in 1953.
Frank included the photos of his Uncle George and the beach area, likely taken in the summer of 1949 as the area was being completed.
Frank wrote: "The back of the pictures that I sent you are stamped January 16, 1950. I believe that this is when they were printed in Sudbury; the pictures were taken in the summer time. When we came to Canada in 1953 the beach, as far as I remember had been completed just a few years before."
The "beach" had four small cottages, a dance hall with a juke box, and a small confectionery store open in the summer. It was also a great place to swim, complete with sandy area and diving boardand became very popular. Frank also noted there was great blueberry picking in the bush near the beach.
Chapleau High School held its annual wiener roast there to end the Grade Nine initiation each September, and dances were held in the hall on Summer weekends.
Ian Macdonald advised that he once did an Elvis Presley impersonation at one dance, but he couldn't find the picture. Keep looking Ian. That would be priceless.
Beverley (Swanson) Hamilton in an email reminded me that the only place where white cream soda was available in Chapleau, was at the beach confectionery store. I recalled it right away.
Former Chapleau resident Garry Remus wrote, "One of the things I liked about Bucciarelli's Beach was the opportunity, after swimming, to wander into the bush where there was a grand display of mayflowers. I have not found another chance to appreciate these beautiful growths since."
Writing in his book, "Pioneering in Northern Ontario" Vince Crichton noted that Mr. Bucciarelli's "best friends were the children of Chapleau". On November 2, 1947, Mr. Bucciarelli was asked to attend at his property and was greeted by a large group of citizens and the Town Band.
A letter to Mr. Bucciarelli, signed by Reeve Frank Edwards expressed the community's sincere appreciation of the many improvements he had undertaken in Chapleau and for the spirit of citizenship that prompted him to make them available for the public pleasure and enjoyment. Particular tribute was paid for Bucciarelliville.
"We thank you Mr. Bucciarelli. We know that you desire much satisfaction in seeing the enjoyment the people -- particularly the young folk -- find in visiting your grounds", the letter said in part.
George Bucciarelli died on January 6, 1967 at age 88.
My most sincere thanks to Frank Bucciarelli for making the photos available. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org