Mulligan's Bay, "Chapleau's beautiful summer resort" was the scene of "most enjoyable" Surprise Party on Wednesday August 26, 1931, to honour Mr. and Mrs. Richard Brownlee, according to the Chapleau Post.
The occasion was an "At Home" to all the campers at Mulligan's Bay hosted by Mrs. Merrick and sons Herb and George, to honour Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee, who had decided t o sell their summer home on Brownlee Island.
The Chapleau Post reported that it was being sold to Mr. and Mrs. William Card "that they might enjoy to the full, with their family, the beauty, grandeur and refreshing vigour that only such a life can give." It became known as Card Island.
The Brownlees seemed to be the first to open and the last to close their cottage and all were welcome on their island, the report said.
The party was held at the Merrick's "Log Cabin" which is still in their family and used yearly by Merrick Goldstein. Growing up in Chapleau, I spent wonderful times at the Log Cabin with the Goldstein family.
Mrs. Merrick had invited Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee for tea that day and "not a whisper" was heard until the "Log Cabin" was set up for the party, and the guests started to arrive.
A little later, lanterns were lighted among the trees and "with the moon peeping out of the clouds made a charming background for the happy faces that were to visit and enjoy a few hours together".
The orchestra was Alf Comte and his son along with Herb Lucas . (Mr. Comte took over Mr. Brownlee's barber shop when he retired in 1931, the same year he sold the island. Mr. Lucas worked in it for many years.)
The guests "tripped the light fantastic" until the wee small hours" at which time D.O. Payette "called the company to order" and a presentation was made to Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee. J.B. Dexter read a letter to them.
It read in part: " It was with great surprise and sincere regret that we, the campers of Mulligan's Bay and surrounding district heard that you had disposed of your beautiful island and summer home. It is hard to realize that you are not to remain members of our little community for you are the pioneer campers in this neighbourhood and have always been an inspiration to others who have followed your example."
The letter noted that at one time the Brownlee yacht was the only gasoline powered boat, and "you sure were kind-hearted and generous in taking people... down the lake or to the island for a picnic."
They also put out flags and markers in the bay . lights on the island and a gramophone with a very loud speaker played music "the source of much pleasure to your neighbours..."
"To you then as pioneers, is the credit due for the pleasure we enjoy at our summer homes.." A gift was then presented to them. The letter was signed by Mr. Payette and Mr. Dexter on behalf of all the campers.
Mr. Brownlee arrived in Chapleau on February 4, 1886, and two days later, established a barber shop in a tent on the site where the Lady Minto Hospital would be located in 1914, at the corner of Elm and Queen Streets.
Within a short time, he had relocated to Birch Street, in a lean-to attached to the T.A. Austin store. Later he bought the Brownlee Block.
In 1887, he married and he brought his wife Ellen to Chapleau. She was one of the few women there at the time. Both were 19. Mrs. Brownlee died in 1936, and in 1938 he married Marie Jeanne Leclerc.
Richard Brownlee died at age 83 on August 8, 1951, and his funeral, conducted by Rev. E Roy Haddon, was held at St. John's Anglican Church.
My most sincere thanks to Margaret Rose (Payette) and Bobby Fortin, for lending me the Richard Brownlee papers. It was also great to have a visit with you when I was home. My email is email@example.com