EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Chapleau in 1950 completing memorial arena to replace 'old rink' as Christmas arrives

As Christmas 1950 arrived, the major immediate challenge facing the community was to complete the Chapleau Memorial Arena, which was under construction replacing the "old rink" which had been located on the same site on Lorne Street across from the CPR Shops, according to the Chapleau Post.

However, the newspaper also contained other news, and after browsing through a digital copy of the December 21, 1950 edition provided to me by Doug Greig,  I decided to share some highlights. It brought back fond memories --- I was nine years old at the time. Seems like only yesterday.

Arthur Simpson was publisher and editor and Wilf Simpson, his son, was assistant editor.

To ensure the completion of the new arena, 20 local businessmen each pledged $300 to enable final material to be purchased. An  "all out" fundraising drive was being undertaken and Ross Thornton, pharmacist and proprietor of the Model Drug Store said "$1000 could be raised on Main Street alone."

It happened and the offical opening took place on February 3, 1951, and in a later edition, the Chapleau Post reported that 2,200 people attended it, cheering when Reeve B.W. 'Bubs' Zufelt crowned Betty Ann Payette, as Queen. That crowd may have been the largest ever in that arena, although some hockey games may have come close.

Other contestants included Olive Collings, Pearl Marchessault, Mary Bignucolo, Gloria Warren, Dorothy Bain, Jean Doyle and Juliette Morin.

The newspaper also reported that the Canadian Pacific Railway had agreed to supply the steam to heat the dressing rooms and lobby in the new arena. It was described as a "handsome donation" which was most appreciated as a "generous gesture" in support of the community.
Chapleau bit later than 1950 but good shot

As a matter of historical interest, the memorial arena was officially opened almost 50 years to the day from when Chapleau was incorporated as a municipality on February 1, 1901.

Meanwhile, during the week before Christmas, the Smith and Chapple choir was performing daily at one p.m. for 15 minutes singing Christmas carols. The daily concert was piped onto Main Street through speakers.

Santa Claus had also  made  a visit and 600 children met him at the Town Hall. Santa arrived at the forestry point and crowds cheered as he made his way to the Town Hall. His visit was sponsored by Branch Number 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

In other news, the municipality had been advised on December 20 from the Department of Highways that the Chapleau-Thessalon highway had been designated a "King's Highway" (129) and would be maintained by the provincial government. The highway was completed in 1949.

Wilf Simpson's Orchestra would be playing for a Christmas Night dance at the Legion Hall, while a "Monster" Moccasin Dance would be held on the ice at the curling rink on December 27. I had forgotten how popular dances on the ice and on the street were in the winter months.

Fire Chief George Collinson issued a warning about the dangers of Christmas tree fires.

Harold Kennedy had arrived as the new Ontario Provincial Police At the time it was a one officer detachment while the Chapleau police force consisted of the Chief and a part-time night constable.

Rev. H.W. Strapp of Trinity United Church; Father Romeo Gascon of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, and Rev. E. Roy Haddon, of St. John's Anglican Church, all provided Christmas messages.

In the recent municipal election, Mr. Zufelt had been returned for another term as reeve, while councillors were Ernie Lepine, George Young, J.M. Shoup and Arthur Grout.

I extend my most sincere best wishes to all readers for Christmas and the holiday season. Thanks to all, who in any way assisted me with Chapleau Moments during 2015. Very much appreciated. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Hockey Keeps Canada Together

I took a course in twentieth century European history from Dr Jacques Goutor, back in the 1960s and the first thing I learned from him was that hockey kept Canada together. Well, he didn't actually come out and say that exactly, but on the first day of class he told us about his arrival in Canada from France.

NOTE: "Hockey Keeps Canada Together" was one of my first posts on Michael J Morris Report after I founded it seven years ago

Dr Goutor told us that upon arriving in Toronto, he went out and bought the newspapers and the headlines were LEAFS WIN STANLEY CUP! It was 1967, our Centennial year as a nation, and the Toronto Maple Leafs had defeated their arch rivals the Montreal Canadiens in six games. It was to be the last time the Leafs would win Lord Stanley's mug.

Dr Jacques Goutor
All so typically Canadian for our Centennial year -- a team from the heart of English Canada wins the Stanley Cup but the focus for the celebrations of the centennial is on Montreal, the major French Canadian city which hosted Expo '67, and the cup is named after an Englishman who was Governor General at one time. Trust me on this one! It is such as this that contributes to keeping the country together and safe-- the invisible hand of Canadian compromise!

Dr Goutor, who at the time had little knowledge of hockey and its importance to Canadians, said he decided to stay here because it had to be a safe place if the headlines were about a sporting event. He was raised in France and lived through the horrors of World War II and its aftermath.

To this day, I watch the headlines of Canadian daily newspapers, and headline writers are ecstatic on those days they can proclaim victory for their local hockey team when it wins a title, and are beside themselves with joy when Canada wins internationally. But they know their audience. Hockey keeps it all together in this vast and magnificent land where we will travel great distances for a hockey game, and complain about that other great Canadian unifier, the weather.

MJM in 1978 at Chapleau Carnival
Tee Chambers, Butch Pellow, Aldee Martel, circa 1954
Our passion for hockey of course begins at the local level. I was raised in the northern Ontario town of Chapleau, where the Chapleau Huskies, in various incarnations were  the pride and joy for much longer than I have been around. Growing up there in the 1940s and 50s my hockey heroes were local, especially the late Garth ''Tee" Chambers, who to this day I believe was better than any NHL player who ever donned skates.

When I returned to Chapleau to teach, shortly thereafter I was "hired' by the 1970-71 Midgets to coach them. Yes, they actually "fired" their coach and I took over, and that is a story in itself. At that time though, the focus was on the Chapleau Junior "B" Huskies who played in a Junior league, and in 1967 won the league title, as well as NOHA title.

Chapleau Jr B Huskies 1966-67
 The coaches of the day were the late Keith 'Buddy' Swanson, Lorne Riley, who had been an outstanding goalie and Earle Freeborn, one real tough defenceman in his playing days who also served as the Mayor of Chapleau. Saturday nights were hockey night in Chapleau, and the great community unifier, especially when the Wawa Travellers were in town.

A few years later, again after receiving a visit from hockey players, the Chapleau Intermediate "A" Huskies were born and our arch rivals in the Northland Intermediate Hockey league were the Timmins Northstars. For three years it was a struggle to beat them in the league semi-finals but in our fourth year we did, and it was like we had won the Stanley Cup. We won in Timmins but soon received reports that back in Chapleau, the celebration had begun with horns honking and a party underway.

And so, from local unheated hockey rinks, many of them called barns, where rivalries among communities bring people together to cheer on their own team, to national and international championship series, Dr Goutor was right. It is a safe country in which to live

I welcome your comments. Please feel free to add them or email me at mj.morris@live.com

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