When Bill Groves arrived in Chapleau on the Canadian Pacific Railway passenger train one Fall morning in 1958, he was directed to go over the horseshoe bridge to the hotel.
Bill arrived as a young manager in training for the Stedman Store Company.
After getting off the train Bill says he asked "the gentleman behind the wicket" in the ticket office if there was a cab he could get to take him to a hotel.
"All I got was a loud laugh and directions over the horseshoe bridge and down the street to the hotel." That would have been the Queen's Hotel, later the Sportsman.
It was closed so off he went looking for another one ending up at the YMCA on Lorne Street where the liquor store is now.
"Sadie, everyone in those days knew Sadie, came out of the back with a cup of coffee. That and a cigarette got me through till the Stedman Store opened at 9am . I was a young manager in training for the Stedman Store Company."
Bill related that in those day Trainees were not allowed to frequent pool halls, beer parlors, own a car, or date staff members.
However, it was at the Chapleau Stedman's store that he met Barbara Bowland, a part- time high school student who worked at the store.
Despite the rules they started dating, and even after a few months she still called him "Mr. Groves" at the store as staff were not allowed to be called by first names.
"In any case I received a transfer to Gravenhurst, Parry Sound, Blind River, Simcoe, all the while writing a lengthy letter to each other every day . Didn't use phones much way back then."
Bill added that "Eventually I received my first managing postition in Seaforth, Ontario and asked Barb's parents for her hand ." Barbara's parents were the late Reginald and Annie (Cochrane) Bowland.
"One week later we were married In the old (Trinity) United Church (in Chapleau) on October 26, 1961 and on our way to a long and wonderful life together !
Fifty-three years later, Bill and Barbara have been " living and loving it in Chapleau for over 35 years ! There's a lot more to this story but that will be for another day ."
However, although Bill says there is a lot more to his story, let me just add that he has been real busy in retirement.
For example, for some years he coordinated the annual Chapleau Ice Fishing Derby and greatly contributed to having the community named the 2011 World Fishing Network Ultimate Fishing Town in Canada. His volunteerism also included time as chair of the community waterfront committee.
Bill responded to a request I made earlier for folks to share their favourite Chapleau Moments, and I extend my thanks to him for his participation.
For sure there is much more to Bill and Barbara's story, but as he says "that will be for another day". My email is email@example.com
All photos are from the Bill Groves Collection