EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Red light on top of water tower signalled call for police in Chapleau during 1950s

Red light on old water tower far left seen all over town
If you were watching police action television shows in the 1970s, it is most likely that  one of your favourites was "Startsky and Hutch" starring Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul. It ran from 1975 to 1979.
Bet you didn't know that Chapleau had its version of the popular television show in the 1950s, although in upholding law and order, their duties may not have been as exciting.
In fact, when I was a teenager in the 1950s, we had two versions of "Startsky and Hutch". One consisted of Jim Collings and Don Houghton, who out of ear shot we referred to as"Collings and Houghton", and they were local constables.
The other was Ron Lewis and John Craig,  commonly referred to as "Lewis and Craig" the two Ontario Provincial Police officers whose patrol area was vast as the surrounding communities like Sultan, Nemegos, Pineal Lake, Kormak and Island Lake were busy places.
The town police force consisted of Jim and Don, another constable, and the chief. They had one patrol car. Ron and John were the only OPP officers and had one cruiser. Neither cars were radio equipped.
If you needed the town police, you would call their office and leave a message. To let the officers know there was a call, a red light turned on, on top of the water tower.
They would proceed to the town hall office to answer the phone.
Some evenings when they had set up a speed trap usually on Mill Road, pranksters would call the number, wait until they headed to the town hall, and then zoomed to Bucciarelli's Beach. To this day, I am not going to reveal the names of those who were guilty of sending Jim and Don off to answer a fake phone call.
All in all though, as those of us growing up in Chapleau in the 1950s drove around  town pretty aimlessly, of an evening, but never too far from Main Street in case something really exciting happened, we had a pretty good relationship with both Jim and Don and Ron and John.
In fact, on occasion, they did us favours, and all these years later I remember them most fondly.
In his book "Pioneering in Northern Ontario", Vince Crichton includes a chapter on the Law in Chapleau starting in 1886.
According to Vince, Harry West was the first police officer who had come to the community and built a small hotel which eventually became known as the Sportsman. He was appointed by the province, but apparently little law enforcement was done as it would have been "detrimental to the hotel business or shall we say the bar business."
Another early officer was a Thomas Lanergan, who according to Vince was a good policeman.
"His favourite expression was 'Halt' when he wished to question or stop someone... The prevalent use of this utterance resulted in him being known by the townsfolk as 'Old Halt'"
Having served in the military during the Riel Rebellion, when on duty, he wore his uniform complete with medals, clasps and service ribbons.
Percy E. Scott, who had been working on the CPR was appointed Chief of Police, sanitary inspector, weed control officer, truant officer and other duties. Vince noted that he was a "pretty good sort of chap to the younger people of Chapleau..." Mr. Scott later became town foreman (public works superintendent), a position Jim Collings also held  some years after serving on the Chapleau ;police force.
Through much of its history, it seems that Chapleau had a chief of police and perhaps a "night constable." If my memory serves me right, the police got their first patrol car in 1952.
Previously, If the officer needed to get somewhere in a hurry, he would call a taxi.
In 1967, the Ontario Provincial Police took over all policing duties in Chapleau.
And just a few words about the town jail located for many years in the basement of the old fire hall at Lorne and Pine streets. As Vince noted, it was "something to behold". It consisted of three cells side by side "with a cold cement floor which was far from dty in the spring of the year." Each cell was about six feet long and four feet wide with a small bed made of strap iron on which there was usually a far from clean blanket."
If two or more were lodged in the same cell, one got the bed and the rest the floor.
Vince summed up the jail: " A night spent in this sin bin was equivalent to a term of incarceration of many days in other jails." This jail ceased to be in use with the completion of the OPP building in 1957.
 I had often thought through the years about the Chapleau' versions of "Startsky and Hutch" and after thumbing through Vince's book again, decided to share a bit about law and order. My email is mj.morris@live.ca 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Full agenda of activities for all ages in Chapleau during winter of 1973-74

Ann Card Morin
The 1973-74  winter sports and recreation activities seemed to start all at once prompting Margaret Costello, writing in the Sault Daily Star to quip, "Who says there is nothing to do in Chapleau?"

Maggie, as she was fondly known, pointed out that "Until fairly recent times in the younger groups the boys have had the best of the winter activities ... minor hockey."

But the times were changing, she wrote, with the formation of the Chapleau Figure Skating Club some years earlier, "with the blessing" of J.M. 'Jack' Shoup, when he was chair of the Chapleau Recreation Committee. I believe Maggie was referring to the establishment of the club, as there had been figure skating in Chapleau, at least back to the 1930s... maybe earlier!

For the 1973-74 season, the figure skating instructor was Patricia Poulin of Timmins. Miss Poulin had an impressive record including the Gold Medal for ice dancing from the Canadian Figure Skating Association.

The club had 100 members who would be working hard in preparation for the annual figure skating show.

Now, a new activity had appeared on the local scene which was beginning its first season under the direction of Lucille Pilon. The lessons included ballet, tap and other dances.

There were also dance classes held at the Mooose Hall with Giselle Mick of Timmins as the instructor.

The Chapleau Curling Club had started its season in November 1973 and the men's and mixed leagues were in full swing.
Minor hockey was underway and Maggie commented that "youngsters in hockey uniforms are becoming a familiar sight at almost any time during the day."
The Chapleau Junior "B" Huskies of the International Junior "B" Hockey League had started its ninth season with Earle Freeborn as manager and George Swanson as coach.
Steve Prusky, Glen Cappellani, Jamie Doyle win Jr B awards
Touching on skiing, Maggie noted  that although there was not enough snow yet, the club members were planning and preparing for the season, which she added "should be just around some corner or other".
Bowling was also popular in Chapleau, in fact there were so many bowlers, there was not a single open night at the alleys. Bowlers also included senior citizens.
Although Maggie doesn't mention them, there were also very active broomball and mercantile hockey leagues in Chapleau in the 1970s, as well as an Intermediate hockey team that played annually in the Northern Ontario Hockey League playoffs. The Intermediate "A" Huskies of the Northland Intermediate Hockey League were founded in 1975.
Meanwhile, the Chapleau Sentinel was reporting that renovations were underway at the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena with a Local Initiatives Program grant from the federal government led by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
The arena would also be introducing special programs for senior citizens and handicapped persons. Earle Freeborn had been named part-time arena manager earlier in 1973.
Yes, Chapleau was a very busy place in the Winter of 1973-74 -- plans were also being made for the Chapleau Winter Carnival. 
As an aside, I wrote this column about Winter activities in Chapleau from Orlando, Florida. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Monday, February 9, 2015

Raising new Canadian Flag over Chapleau Town Hall in Historic Ceremony on February 15, 1965 (VIDEO)

The new Canadian Flag was raised over the old Town Hall in Chapleau on February 15, 1965, when Lester B. Pearson was the prime minister of Canada. Mr. Pearson, represented the riding of Algoma East which included Chapleau.

Doug Greig, who made this historic video available commented: "Become lost in the memories as you watch Chapleau raise the Canadian flag for the very first time."

Doug added the following information: The 8mm flag video was originally taken by George Theriault and converted to a VHS tape. He then donated it to the museum and I found it buried in a box under a cupboard.I made it to a DVD to preserve it as it certainly is a golden keepsake.Stephen Lee put it on youtube and the quotes as well. Just wanted to let you know that George  done the original.The main thing is that we have it. Doug"

Thanks Doug!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bill Groves 'The Northern Crafter' receives international recognition on his wood crafting and carving

Bill Groves, also known as "The Northern Crafter" has received international recognition for his wood carvings mostly created from his home workshop in Chapleau.

A major publication in which Bill has been featured is 'Creative Woodwork and Craft', a craft international magazine home.

Although Bill says he has been making things since he was a "young lad", but  he devoted more time to it after retiring several years ago from a successful business career.

Bill shares part of his story: "I have been making things since I was a young lad (13/17 years old ) such as birch candle holders, a four foot train set for my young brother, two dozen full size arrows for a  bow, an 18 inch totem pole, etc ( no money to buy such things back then )."

Bill added that he "couldn't buy things for Christmas gifts so I made them. It's funny because my Mother would never let my little brother play with the train set . She put it up on his dresser so he could just look at it".

"When he  was about 45 she came to Chapleau for a visit and brought me the totem pole I had made. She had saved it for all those years !"

 Bill also had  the two dozen arrows when he moved to Chapleau  and  his boys were getting to the age of wanting to use the bow so "needless to say it wasn't long before they were pretty much trashed". I still have a few that I saved from certain death".

Although Bill continues his lifelong hobby  he admits to having slowed down now on his  crafting  and carving.

My  breathing is not what it used to be so even with a proper mask on, my wife, Barbara still gets too nervous for me to spend much time in my workshop".

 However, at his cottage, it is another story.  "I have been carving a couple of antlers for people out at the cottage during the summer when I can do them outside on  my cottage workshop deck where I can watch out over the lake and carve to my hearts content."
He cautions that carvers should take precautions so as not to affect their breathing.
Bill is also an incredibly good photographer, and has shared many of his Chapleau and area scenes.
I also extend my most sincere congratulations to Bill on having been recognized by the Township of Chapleau for his volunteer work over the years. When I was home for the 20th anniversary reunion of Chapleau High School in 2012 , it was great to see the Waterfront Development and Peace Park --- areas where I played with my friends for years especially the Big Rock.
Congrats also to all who worked with Bill on these projects.

 Bill says that those interested in seeing more of his work can add him on Facebook and his email is billgroves@sympatico.ca. 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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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE