EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Emile Fortin worked as carpenter and established lumber business while on CPR 'spare list'

Spending time on the Canadian Pacific Railway "spare list" in Chapleau gave Emile Fortin the opportunity to do contract work as a carpenter as well as establish a lumber company west of White River in the 1920s.

In a Chapleau Sentinel article as part of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church centennial celebration, his daughter Marguerite (Fortin) Levesque wrote that her father left home in Quebec to work in cotton mills of Fall River, Massachusetts, but then joined his brother Philias in Chapleau. Philias arrived in 1909.

He met and married Alberta, the daughter of Noel and Angela (Dollaire) Lemieux in 1913.

Their first home was on Grey Street but in 1917 they purchased a house from Desjardins and Langis General Store located where Collins Furniture is now and moved it to Aberdeen Street where it is still is. The house had been on what became the Bertrand property next to the store.

Mrs. Levesque wrote that her father became a trainman on the CPR but because he was on the "spare" list he was able to start a carpenter business.

Then, in the 1920s, with leaves from the railway he "operated a very successful lumber company" with a Mr. Allard, also of Chapleau at Mileage 18 and a half west of White River.

"We spent very interesting summer holidays at that location, sleeping in a sleep camp in bunks and having meals in the cookery."

She recalled two anecdotes from those days.

"The first was when the cook unexpectedly quit and mother took over the kitchen duties for a few days. She prepared and coooked meals for over 100 people. The clerk's wife, a 'French noblewoman' looked after seven of us along with her two children. 

"Her culinary skills were limited to excellent chocolate cake and lemonade."
Names below

She also wrote: "Still very vivid in my memory was the day one of my younger brothers (she does not reveal his name), decided to play with her caged little red fox and it escaped. The woman was beside herself and kept repeating 'Mauvais gars! Mauvais gars!!' until the whole community came running."

(In English, I think literally translated it means, "Bad boy" or "Bad guy")

Mrs. Levesque did not share if the fox was captured but I am going to assume it was.

She relates that her mother was the disciplinarian of the family -- "firm but fair, but like most large families she worked from morning until well into the night".

"It is indeed amazing to think back and remember the constant babies, the other children and washing, ironing, cleaning, sewing plus the added burden of a cow and chickens with milk, cream and butter for sale."

Her parents were members of the Catholic Women's League and Knights of Columbus respectively, and all were members of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church.

Mr. Fortin died in April 1963 at age 83, and Mrs. Fortin in 1968 at age 75  -- they would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on September 22, 1963.

The 10 children are Octave, Colombe, Marguerite, Veronique, Jean-Noel, Lorette, Raoul, Emile, Marie and Robert. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Names  1923. Chapleau men at Rideout Station. Left to right: Iver Erickson, Fireman; Fred Hands, Engineer; Jack McAdam, Conductor and Emile Fortin, Trainman, sitting on pilote. Picture made available to Chapleau Public Library by Bobby and Margaret Rose Fortin.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reflections on a year with Gus

Tempus fugit! 

The Latin for time flies came into my head as I reflect on life with Gus for the past year.

I had just returned from Orlando FL on February 10, and sent a message to my friend Michael to let him know  I had arrived back in Cranbrook safely.

He replied that was good because now I could go to the SPCA and get a new cat, something we had discussed while I was visiting in Orlando. "It is time," he said.

I replied that I would not be able to go that day as the SPCA was closed, which it was, but I was also a bit hesitant. Other than a month when I had a cat who was really quite ill and died, I had lived catless for over six years since my beloved Buckwheat died. I had him over 20 years.

Anyway, now get this. Within half an hour my friend Joel phoned to see if I was home because he had a cat for me,

His name was Gus, about six months old, and Joel's daughter was no longer able to keep him. After looking at a photo Joel sent, what could I do but say OK. The next morning, February 11, 2015, Joel, Sheila and I went to Kimberley to pick up Gus.

Life with Gus had begun and this morning, one year later I start my day with Gus the "zoomer" lying on the floor beside me. For the moment he is not zooming around the place, but any moment things can change and he will fly from chair to chair.

He also loves to play and his favourite games is to retrieve a ball, placing it right at my feet --- a game I thought was usually played with dogs.

On my latest trip to Florida in December, I brought back two new pairs of shoes. No sooner did I have my bag unpacked and Gus was pulling my Nike shoes around the living room by the laces, having  a great time with his new toy.

It took me some time to adapt to the fact that he was not Buckwheat and has his own personality. I have also called him Buckwheat, on occasion, and even "Guswheat" but have pretty well adapted I think.

One of our biggest challenges was who owned the computer chair. He thought he did and would try and occupy as much space as possible on it, I finally gave up and got another one which so far he leaves pretty much alone, Yes, I lost a round over the chair!

Now he lies on his chair, and honest,  when I am typing a message to Michael,  on occasion he will put his paws on my back and look over my shoulder. So far he has not told me what to type.

He must know though that I am writing about him right now as he is now on his chair beside me.

When he wants my attention, he simply whacks me with his paw which usually means time to play or eat.

Yesterday, to mark the anniversary, Joel came over for a photo shoot, but Gus was not in the best of moods about it. However, Joel, as always, was able to perform his magic with a camera and we got some suitable shots.

And so, living with Gus has become another adventure for me, and I thank my friends Michael and Joel for their roles in bringing him into my life, I believe there is a reason for everything, and it was time for me to have a new furry friend. Thanks guys from Gus and me! We are getting along just super.

Time to play fetch!

Joel: Gus says he will be more co-operative for the next photo shoot,

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