EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Crosswalk shows people of the village in a different light

Rev F Lewis, J Aasland, Rev Y Woensdregt, L Siemens
I took a different kind of walk on Good Friday joining the 10th annual Crosswalk through the heart of downtown Cranbrook.

On my usual walks in the area, I am thinking about empty buildings and ways to revitalize the city's downtown core but this was a different kind of experience.

Crosswalk was organized by Rev. Yme Woensdregt, incumbent of Christ Church Anglican, who was assisted by Rev. Frank Lewis, minister of Cranbrook United Church; Laird Siemens, chaplain at East Kootenay Regional Hospital and Joyce Aasland, lay minister at Christ Church.

At each stop, one of them gave a short talk and offered a prayer.

About 40 people braved the rain and cold wind to participate in the walk which started at the Clock Tower on Baker Street with different people carrying a large wooden cross to each point along the way.

As I walked along, my first thought was that we are all people of the village when all is said and done, and I recalled the words of the Spanish philosopher Cervantes, "There is more harm done in the village than was ever dreamt of."

Yes, there is, but on this Good Friday morning, I saw Cranbrook and its people in a much different light. At each stop along the Crosswalk, we witnessed an example of how people could focus on those things that can bring us together rather than divide us.

For example, the Clock Tower was built primarily by the Rotary Club of Cranbrook and is a wonderful showpiece in the downtown.

The first stop along the way was in front of Cranbrook City Hall, the seat of local government, and the place ideally where the people we elect to serve as mayor and councilors will devote all their efforts to make Cranbrook a better place for all citizens to live, work and play -- and hold activities like the Crosswalk in a free and democratic society

Next stop was in Rotary Park at the War Memorial where each in his or her own way remembered those who served in Canada's forces and those who did not come home. At Spirit Square, I could not help but think of  the ways it contributes to bringing the community together, especially with music events in the summer months.

At the Law Courts building we were reminded of the justice system and all those involved in it - judges, lawyers, police officers, corrections officers, court workers, victims of crime -- and yes, those who commit crimes too.

We moved along to the Canadian Mental Health Association and were reminded of the work it does in the community and area. At the Community Connections Society building which houses the Women's Resource Centre, again, we were reminded of its work and the challenges it faces.

In a final prayer outside Christ Church Anglican before going into the church hall for refreshments, just as Rev. Frank Lewis was beginning, the sun peaked through the clouds, prompting him to comment, "God is shining down on us."

Yes, we are all people of Cervantes' village, but one simple walk through Cranbrook's downtown following along behind those who were carrying the cross, helped me see it all quite differently. Thank you all, and most especially the organizers for the experience, and thanks to my friend Joel Vinge for taking the photo. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Revellers Ski Club members brought happiness and enjoyment to others in Chapleau during 1930s

names unknown
For "good, clean fun, fellowship and entertainment" nothing could compare to the Revellers Ski Club, according to Vince Crichton in his book 'Pioneering in Northern Ontario'.

Founded in the Crichton home at the corner of Aberdeen and Birch streets (the three story red brick house), on the eve of the Great Depression in January 1929, it became an important part of community life until it was disbanded near the beginning of World War II in 1940.

Vince shared the names of the founding members, most of whom were members of early Chapleau families. They included: Norman Barker, Hubert Boucher, George Crichton, Grant Henderson, Borden McLeod, Hector Buncombe, Albert 'Gussie' Evans, Goldie Matheson and John 'Jiggs' Goldstein.

Within a week, Elaine Bowles, Georgina Boucher, Marnie Godfrey, Freda Jarrett, Queenie Matheson, Ida Stevens, Allie Barker, John Doig and Bill Chandler joined.

The first president was Norman Barker with George Crichton as secretary.

RSC Members (Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick collection)
Simple rules prevailed. At first membership was limited to fifty and yearly membership was one dollar. During the winter a ski-hike was held each Friday night with a social or dance to follow at Perpete's Hall on Elm Street (about where the Pentecostal Church is today) to follow. The cost was 10 cents per member.

No alcohol was permitted.

Vince noted that within two weeks the restricted membership was filled and there was a waiting list. In due course it was raised to 100, and eventually became unrestricted as the club's popularity increased.

George C, Hugh McM, Grant H
Each Friday afternoon a ski trail was broken by members and the hike was usually about an hour.

Sleigh rides and skating parties were added later.

Vince wrote that a few of the original members "chief among which was John Goldstein ... affectionately known as 'Jiggs' were very good square dancers and a social evening was not complete unless everyone joined in one or two good 'hoedowns' as they were called.

"These were danced to the toe and heel-tapping tunes played by Herb Lucas (who worked with Alf Comte in the barber shop) on a harmonica, on which he had no equal.... The ski club was responsible for the rejuvenation of square dancing in Chapleau at the time."

What year is car? Hugh and George
In 1933, the election campaign for club president was amazing. Candidates stood on the upper verandah of the Algoma Hotel (later the Hublit) delivering election speeches, another strung a large banner across Main Street, and signs could be seen at street corners urging members to vote for one candidate or another.

Grant Henderson won.

Wilf Simpson and his orchestra became a "vital part" of the social evenings. Wilf was a "very versatile artist playing with equal finesse the piano, banjo and saxophone". At the time the other members were Joe Perpete, Joe Petrosky, Walter Midkiff, Ken Godfrey and Winnie Nixon.

Vince wrote that it was remarkable the talent that could be found in a small town and in a small group of people.

For example it was soon discovered that the Revellers was loaded with talent and fine actors were found for three act plays. Among the actors were Jim Broomhead, Bob Halliday, Gertie Curry, Beatrice Curry and Edith Keays.  Fine singers included Bessie Woodard, Clyde Fife, and Pat Poland.

Here is one delightful anecdote Vince shares: "Wilf Simpson entertained by playing the piano while blindfolded, his wrists handcuffed together, the keys covered with a blanket."

Another had Hugh McMullen simulating the playing of a violin. He would make an dignified entry on stage and go through the motions of playing the violin perfectly.

But, hidden behind the scenery on the stage in the old Town Hall auditorium was Alf Comte playing his violin!

The Revellers Ski Club went far beyond its original purpose as the talent in the group was discovered and they came to be in demand by other organizations. They appeared at the Catholic Women's League annual St. Patrick's Day concert, and did a floor show for the Girls Softball Club among other performances.

Vince noted that there was never any charge for any of the services provided by this club.

"Compensation was derived from the many happy pleasant hours of preparation and the knowledge that they were bringing some measure of happiness and enjoyment to others."

Thanks to those who asked that I write about the Revellers Ski Club, but it would likely not have been possible if Vince Crichton had not written 'Pioneering in Northern Ontario'.  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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