EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Friday, August 29, 2014

Rope swinging into swimming pool to mark 50 years in journalism

Dane, MJ, Zach. Jessica, Louis
When I was a kid I loved rope swinging into the muddy waters of the Humber River in Toronto while on Summer vacation there with my Mom.

Update already on Aug 29. Charlie Purich reminded me that I used to rope swing from the old CPR trestle into the Chapleau River. Indeed I did but had totally forgotten. Thanks Charlie

For more than three years now, I spend time almost daily at the swimming pool, aka Cranbrook Aquatic Centre.  UPDATE: In 2016 it is five years that I have been swimming daily at the Cranbrook pool

One of the activities I have most enjoyed watching is the youngsters rope swinging, and I conduct my own contest selecting a boy and girl winner.. Of course, I don't announce the winners to anyone, but many of them are darn good at it.

Anyway, I guess I mentioned my prowess as a "rope swinger",  more or less 60 years ago. one too many times to the lifeguards, because a few weeks ago, Dane Ries told me, "We'll make it happen" He meant I was going to be able to get up on the diving platform and swing out into the pool, just like it was yesterday I last did it.

My training began mostly under the direction Jessica Portsmouth, Zach Smith and Louis Gauer and Dane.

I had to get used to wearing a life jacket, and they had me roll around in it. Great fun really. I passed their tests I guess because the date was set for the rope swing. In the interests of full disclosure I use a noodle while swimming, but I have a feeling, those days may now be numbered.

Dane advised me that the swing would take place on August 27 at six p.m. Jessica followed up with an email in the morning: "The rope swing is still happening at 6, we are all looking forward to it."

I arrived at the pool a bit earlier than usual and Dane was just completing his shift, and suggested that I do some warmup laps. When I looked over at the lifeguard room, it was more crowded than usual, and it struck me that the rope swing team were all off duty and were showing up to help with my rope swing attempt.

Trust me folks. These lifeguards are super, and have made me feel safe and secure since the first day I started going to the pool after returning from a trip to Florida where I swam every day.

I was so touched that they would give up personal time for me to repeat something I did as a kid.

It was time to do it, and I headed to the diving platform with Dane, Jessica and my friend Joel Vinge who had come to take some photos.

Although, I had told Dane  that I didn't think it was necessary to have lifeguards in the water, two of them were, just in case, and Louis even had his underwater camera.

Jessica positioned herself on the diving board while Dane and Zach got me into my life jacket and gave me instructions.

Up I went onto the platform with a boost from the guys, who were joined by at least one other lifeguard who was just off shift.

I grabbed the rope, edged close to the edge, and for the first time said to myself, "you crazy fool, what do you think you're doing?"

The moment passed, I waved at Joel, and said "Let's do it!" And away I went helped on by a little shove from Dane and Zach, not exactly soaring like the kids, but the next thing I knew I was in the pool. WOW!

Sometimes in this life time stops for a moment, and then for much much more than a moment, and then continues on its merry way. For me, that's the way it was for me, as I looked around me in the pool, and saw the smiles on the faces of the rope swing team.

Jessica summed it all up in an email later with "YOUR BIG DAY" in the subject line.  Indeed it was, thanks to more than a little help from my friends who made it possible. Thank you so much! And thanks to Joel for being there and my friend Michael Pelzer for suggesting I start swimming again.

As an aside, never in my wildest imaginings did I think that I would be marking the 50th anniversary of my first job as a daily newspaper reporter with a story about me swinging on a rope into a swimming pool. But as Tom Brokaw, the longtime anchor of NBC Nightly News once said, "It's all storytelling, you know. That's what journalism is all about."  My email is mj.morris@live.ca 

The Rope Swing Team from Left Dane Ries. MJM, Zach Smith, Jessica Portsmouth, Louis Gauer. Photos by Jessica

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chapleau Queen's Hotel plate found at Quebec antique market

Finding a plate from Chapleau at an antique market in Quebec puts a new twist on the old adage of taking boy or girl out of Chapleau, and so on.

Joan (Warren) Jones, who was born and raised in Chapleau, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Morley Warren, found a plate with "Queen's Hotel Chapleau" engraved on it.

Her brother Donald advised  "not certain how the plate ended up in Quebec but was found in St Lazare antiques market."

Thus a new adage has been created, "You can take the plate out of Chapleau but you can't take Chapleau out of the plate."

The original Queen's Hotel was built in Chapleau in 1887, two years after the community was established, with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, according to 'Pioneering in Northern Ontario' by Vince Crichton.


Over the years it had a number of owners, but in 1958 Nicholas Gionet who had bought it in 1945, sold it to Matt Castonguay.

It underwent extensive renovations and emerged as the Sportsman Hotel by 1960. The bar opened on November 29.

It was destroyed by a fire in 2003.

Thanks Donald and Joan. If anyone has further information on the Queen's Hotel, enjoy hearing from you. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Michael J Morris

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


click on image


Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE