EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Fond memories of Sacred Heart School in Chapleau by Leona (Downey) Murphy from World War I years

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As another school year draws to a close, I discovered excerpts from Leona  (Downey) Murphy's fond memories of Sacred Heart School, which provide insights into school life in Chapleau as World War I began in 1914. It was prepared for the 100th anniversary of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church

Although I have been retired as a faculty member at College of the Rockies for 17 years now, each June, my thoughts return to school, and so I looked for information about education in Chapleau's early years!

Leona was a daughter of Patrick and Annie Downey, a pioneer family.

 They arrived when Chapleau  was "a hamlet with one school, the public school which all students attended, no hospital, a cluster of a few businesses mostly situated near the railway and a few outlying farms. The rest was bush," according to an article by their granddaughter Joy (Evans) Heft in Chapleau Trails, edited and published by Dr. William R. Pellow.

Leona recalled her first day at Sacred Heart School "at the ripe age of five" in 1914 as if it was yesterday. In those days new classes began at Christmas, Easter and in September.

Her first teacher was a Miss Rheaume who she describes  as a "very gentle person who never raised her voice but maintained good discipline in a crowded class."
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She recalled that one day they heard a high pitched sound coming from  a coal bin. "Of course the boys had to ferret it out; it turned out to be a bat. None of us had ever seen one before. We were provided with a lesson in natural science."

During the winter months, the heat was provided from a coal furnace and the temperature was to be maintained at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. However, at one point the school was closed for a few weeks when a caretaker forgot to fire up one evening, pipes burst. "a great mess!"

The school was also closed during epidemics of diphtheria and Spanish flu.

World War I broke out in 1914, and Leona recalled students singing songs including 'Good Luck to the Boys of the Army', 'Men of the North', 'Tipperary', and 'Over There'.

There was no radio in Chapleau then and only a few phonographs, but they learned the words and tunes.

The students were also active in the Chapleau branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society making mufflers and ear tapes to be sent to Chapleau boys overseas.

"The little knitters would sit in the fire escapes with wool and knitting bags."

School principals were able to declare a picnic day or organize a snow shoe tramp.

Disaster struck on Christmas Eve, 1918, when Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church burned down and nothing was saved except the "Blessed Sacrament" which Father Romeo Gascon, the parish priest, entered the church and retrieved it.

For the next year while masses were held in the Town Hall Auditorium fund raising for a new church opened on Christmas Eve 1919 was a priority. As there were no telephones at the time in Chapleau, students became church messengers.

World War I ended before she left the school and she recalled that when the news was received that it was over, the school was closed. Again, without radio, news of the events were received at the CPR Telegraph office, and then the recipents would rush out to "Tell Everyone".

Leona also mentions an ecumenical side of life  when the separate school grades 7 and 8 hosted public school to a sleigh ride and bean supper, singing and an impromptu program".

Although I am not sure who actually sponsored it, I recall a sleigh ride when I was a kid, with many Roman Catholic friends and we sang Christmas carols, One of which was 'O Come All Ye Faithful' which Lawrence 'Ton' Comte and Raoul Lemieux taught me it  in Latin as 'Adestes Fideles'.

Leona noted that Chapleau has "always had the ecumenical spirit. It was a great place to spend our growing years."

In 1927 Leona returned to teach at the school. "I had just turned 18 and inexperienced, so it was an interesting an exhausting year --- a large class."

But it all turned out well. She didn't think that any of her pupils "went to jail" and many were successful in their professions and other walks of life."

Once again, I must acknowledge the tremendous work by the late Doug Greig for his work in digitizing and making available so much of Chapleau's history. Rest in peace my friend. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

photo information

Separate school class picnic 1917. back E. Fortin, B. Martin, A. Petrosky, C. Bouillon, H. Vezina. 2nd row H. Seymour, B. Downey, C. Martin, H. Burch, I. Mulligan, E. Perfetto. Third row L. Brunette, M. Stadnisky, E. Fortin, A. Blais, J. Stokes. Front V. Downey, L. Hertopan

Charles Mulligan takes class for sleigh ride. Charles Mulligan was a relative  of MJM

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Florence and Simon Kruger played important roles in community and Sacred Heart Church in Chapleau

Florence and Simon Kruger, who both arrived in Chapleau in 1907, played important roles in the life and times of the community and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church for many years.

Florence Fitzpatrick, born of Irish parents, and Simon Kruger who was of German-Polish descent, both from the Ottawa valley, met in Chapleau, and were married in 1911.

In 1907,  she was the teacher at the public school, while her future husband arrived to be the bookkeeper at Smith and Chapple Ltd. Both were college graduates in their respective fields. A year later Mr. Kruger accepted position as clerk to locomotive chairman at the CPR, later becoming a fireman and engineer. Mrs. Kruger became the first principal of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School.

They had four children: Rita, Lou, Joan and Helen.

From the time of their arrival they were an integral part of the life and work of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, according to an article prepared by their daughter Helen marking the 100th anniversary of the parish.

Mrs. Kruger was president of the League of the Sacred Heart and promoted its work for more than 30 years, and was a member of the Catholic Women's League for over 50 years. She was corresponding secretary of the Chapleau council, and served as president for three different terms.
click on image to enlarge

She was also instrumental in raising funds to pay off the church's debt organizing the first St. Patrick's Tag Day and tea. She also compiled  the history of the Chapleau Council from 1921 to 1964.

At the Diocesan level she served as president for three different two years terms and also as treasurer and secretary.

In 1964 it was a memorable occasion for Mrs. Kruger when at the Diocesan level she was honoured by receiving the first life membership.

Mr. Kruger was a charter member, honorary member and Grand Knight of the Msgr Gascon Council of the Knights of Columbus. He was also well known within the church for his rendition of "The Magnificat" at Sunday Vespers while a member of the church's mixed choir.

He served for many years as a trustee on the separate school board including time as secretary-treasurer and chairman, and as Roman Catholic representative on the high school board for 25 years.

He also served as chairman of the Grievance Committee for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Engineers for many years.

While researching this column it was interesting to learn that in 1911, Mr. Kruger and my grandfather Harry Morris, played on the hockey team that won the McEwen Cup, for the town championship. In an article, Mr. Kruger was described as a "rugged defenseman" for years on the CPR Shops hockey team.

 He was also an avid tennis player and was involved in implementing the gym equipment in the St John's Memorial Hall in 1920. (now the home of Branch 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion)

Mrs. Kruger was an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary to Lady Minto Hospital, the Canadian Club and the Chapleau branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society, especially during World War I and World War II.

I extend my most sincere thanks to Ann (Bedford) Midgley for her great assistance in providing me with information fro this column  about her grandparents. Much appreciated Ann. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Names for hockey team

Chapleau Hockey Team and executive in 1912. This was the days of a seven-man hockey team.
Back row left to right: Fred Leclair, Dr. J.J. Sheehan, Oliver Lesak, B.E. Lewery, Fred Knox, H.S. Meller.
Centre row left to right: Simon Kruger, Tom Thomson, Oscar Tremblay, Omar Royal, Gordon Sheppard.Front row left to right: D.O. Payette Ernie Cressey, T.H. Wolfe

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Walter Leigh 'honoured and respected' Chapleau citizen started railroading on wood burning locomotives

Ina Robinson, Charles Reid. Mr Leigh
When Walter Leigh first started railroading, "those were the days" of wood burning locomotives and a round trip between divisional points on some occasions took about a week, according to an article by Margaret "Maggie " Costello in the Sudbury Star.

Maggie was paying tribute to one of Chapleau's "long familiar figure, honoured and respected" during the 60 years he had lived in the community.

Born in Toronto in 1868, he began railroading as a fireman in 1887 in southern Ontario, moving to Chapleau in 1900. Mr. Leigh died at age 93 in 1963. He worked up to engineer retiring in 1935.

Maggie wrote that in his early days of railroading before locomotives were converted to coal, it took about three loads of coal in the tender to move  a train between divisional points, adding it sometimes took a week to make round trip.

She described Mr. Leigh as "small in stature, large in outlook, with rugged constitution from the day he established his home here he became active and constructive member of the community -- with a large circle of friends widened to include just about everyone."

He enjoyed the outdoors "and the wealth of pleasure and education it had to offer in all seasons. He was an ardent fisherman and expert paddler."

Mr. Leigh was an "expert skater" as well and in fact won a fancy skating award in one of Chapleau's early winter carnivals.
Rose House, 1912 on corner, Leigh house 1908

In 1908 when Chapleau was still centred close to the railway station and yards, he "ventured far afield" according to Maggie, when he built the first house on Pine Street on the river side of the street. The "new" St. John's Anglican Church was down the street from him.

Some of his friends felt he was moving far out into the bush... but he told them all his children could snowshoe. Imagine, in 1908, the river side of Pine Street was in the bush.  (See photo)

In due course, Mr. Leigh found the "perfect spot" for a camp at Mulligan's Bay, bought the lot and built one.

Mr. Leigh was an active member of St. John's Anglican Church, serving  on the advisory board for many years.
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Mr. and Mrs. Leigh had four children: Alvin, Frank, Elmore and Olive. His son Frank became an Anglican minister, and served as Rector of St. John's in the 1950s while his father was still alive. Frank also served in the Canadian armed forces in both World War I and II, while Elmore served in World War II, and was very active in Branch 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion after his return home.

Into his 90s Mr. Leigh still walked everywhere even on the coldest days and was known for never wearing gloves. He always had a lively interest in everything and everybody.

My thanks to Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick for her assistance. Anne knew Mr. Leigh well especially when she was a child living on Pine Street. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

photo info

CPR retirees at a reunion banquet. Likely early 1950s. Back row left to right:7) Joe Lepine, 8) F.J. (Shorty) Morris, 9) Arthur Whybray, 10) Jim Encil, 11) Clarence Darby, 12) William Brazel 13) IvorErickson, 14) John N. Burns, 15) W.H. (Scotty) Thomson, 16) Fred Hands, 17) William Card, 18) Joe Delaney, 19) George Young.
Front row left to right:1) Charles Reid, 2) Ed Murphy, 3) Ed Woodard, 4)  Walter Leigh, 5) James Q. Stanley, 6) William Somers, 6a) Robert Nixon

Ina Robinson was crowned Queen of the 1940 Chapleau Winter Caarnival shown with pioneer Charles Reid, and Walter Leigh on right. Mr Leigh skated at the carnival. Ina later married Frank Coulter. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Trinity United Church youth organizations very active as 1950s drew to a close

Youth organizations were very active at Trinity United Church with new members being initiated into Sigma-C and Explorers as the 1950s drew to a close.

In 1959, three new members, James Crichton, Peter Dowsley and Gerry Bowland were initiated into Sigma-C, a group at the United Church for teenage boys.

They had undertaken a six-week study program before being initiated into Sigma-C.

Parents, relatives and friends gathered at the church for the occasion where along with the initiation there was a program of entertainment followed by a social hour.

Under the direction of C.B. Greenlaw and general supervision by Rev. Douglas Stringer, the United Church minister at the time, Sigma-C provided a wide range of activities for boys aged 12 to 14.

Hostesses for the social part of the evening were Mrs. Joseph Crichton and Mrs. Terry Way-White.

Meanwhile, in 1960, a group of "young ladies" aged nine to 11, according to an article in the Sudbury Star "graduated" into the Explorers group at the church. Explorers was under the direction of Mrs. Adam Andrews and Mrs. A.A. Small.
Jim Crichton, Gerry Bowland, Peter Dowsley, Mr Greenlaw

Lyn Pellow was chief explorer in 1960 while Phyllis Bowland and Betty Andrews were secretary and treasurer respectively. Judy Godemair was pianist.

Prior to being graduated into Explorers the girls had been hard at work with preparations learning the Explorer hymn, purpose, prayer and projects.

To mark the occasion Rev. Leonard Warr, the minister at the church, was present to extend congratulations. He also told the girls they were a vital part of the church.

Although I was not a member of Trinity United Church, I have really enjoyed reading about the activities for youth there when I was a teenager in Chapleau during the 1950s as well as its history from the early days of the community. Once again thanks to the late Doug Greig, we have the history of the church on the Chapleau Public Library site

 I have fond memories of activities at St. John's Anglican Church, as well as those that involved friends from the United Church and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church. Those were great days my friends, and I am still in touch with many of you from them. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mary (Muske) Campbell Chapleau Public School teacher for 27 years remembered for generosity and kind-hearted ways

Mary (Muske) Campbell, who was a very popular teacher at Chapleau Public School for 27 years, and a member of one of Chapleau's pioneer families died on January 2, 2017. With another school year drawing to a close, I thought it an appropriate time to remember Mary.

My most sincere thanks to Joy (Evans) Heft for her efforts in providing me with information, and to Barbara (Muske) Seadon , Mary's sister. and Anne (Evans) Scott, one of her closest friends.

Tom Campbell, Mary's brother-in-law, spoke  at a memorial service. Here are some excerpts.

"Mary was married to my older brother, Grant Campbell. Some time ago, with help from her sister Barbara, Mary put together a brief history of her life. In it she was exceptionally modest about her accomplishments, probably in keeping with the Chapleau tradition that people should not say too much about themselves. However Mary and Barbara did recall a few charming moments from her childhood which it is my honour to share with you.

"Mary was born at the Doctor’s Hospital in Toronto in 1930.  Her mother, Madeleine asked her own father to accompany her from Chapleau to Toronto for the birth. Mary’s father, Wilfred Muske was left at home in Chapleau to look after Mary’s older sister Barbara, who was only two years old.  In Toronto, since there was no husband present and only Madeleine’s father accompanied her, it was presumed she was an unwed mother.  There were offers to adopt Mary as she was such a sweet baby—all offers were refused. 

"When Little Mary Muske got to high school, even though she was the smallest kid in the school she ran the school paper, and was in the school play and the gymnastics display. [Those who know Mary would say, of course Mary would have run everything.]

"Mary attended teachers college and taught in Chapleau for twenty seven years. Early in her career Mary went back to University of Toronto for a year in residence and then for a number of years took weekend extension courses while carrying on her full time teaching job. She earned her Bachelor’s degree and one year towards her Master’s degree, all with top marks. This is not an easy way to receive an education and people who manage this kind of achievement always have my highest respect.

"I would like now to share a few personal memories of Mary. The first thought that comes to mind when I think of Mary and Grant as a couple, is their kindness and concern for others. I‘ll mention just a few of many possible examples.  Very early Grant and Mary agreed that Grant would give up his seniority on the Canadian Pacific Railroad in favour of a friend who had four children and who needed more steady work.

"That kindness turned out to be a blessing in disguise since Grant then got into trucking, road building, and the construction of longer railroad sidings, outdoor and technical work which he enjoyed. This came about as part of the long term trend in railroading to longer and more efficient trains which can now be over four kilometers long, all of which unfortunately has reduced employment in places like Chapleau.

"Another example of Mary and Grant’s kindness occurred at the time of the world’s fair,  Expo 67 which was held in Montreal to celebrate Canada’ Centennial in 1967. Expo was an outstanding success and became a symbol for Canada’s emergence as, what most Canadians believe it to be, simply the best place to live in the world. People who were there still remember it as a magic time for our country.

"Mary and Grant stayed with our sister Bernice and her husband who lived in Montreal and brought with them from Chapleau three young boys whom Mary had taught and who for various reasons would not have the opportunity otherwise to attend Expo 67. The boys were typical of our home town. One was French Canadian, one was First Nations and one was English. Mary and Grant and the three kids did the rounds of Expo 67 until they were exhausted each night and fell into bed.

"My sister Bernice believed that the boys had never before been away from the very small and isolated town of Chapleau located a hundred and fifty kilometers North of Lake Superior. She said that the children were wide eyed with the experience, which even for adults was a world of wonders.

"One of those boys grew up to be extremely successful and well known and is thought of today as one of the leaders in his field. 

"Mary continued to teach in Chapleau for her entire career and helped and influenced generations of young students. A few years ago my wife and I attended a reunion in Chapleau which Mary Campbell also attended.

"While I knew only a handful of people from my school years, it was charming to see the outstandingly warm reception that Mary received from such large numbers of her former students. It was almost as though she was holding court and there were lineups to talk to her. It was a lovely tribute to the warm appreciation and affection in which she was held in the community of Chapleau.

Mary’s loss is a sad time for all who knew her.  Mary loved life and her friends and wished good things for everyone. She wanted not only her students, but all of us to be the best we can be. In addition to sadness, we must also remember to celebrate Mary’s life. In the words of Leonard Cohen’s poem, “Ring out the bells that still can ring!”

"Mary, at heart, loved tradition. In her camp on the beautiful shore of Lake Windermere at Healy where she kindly welcomed so many, she had hung a large framed hand tinted portrait of Queen Victoria which perfectly fit the time period of the cottage. So I would like to close with a traditional blessing from that same Victorian period, which was widely used when friends were parting in former days:  “Farewell Mary, we hope that you always have a calm sea and a prosperous and pleasant voyage!”

Jim Scott, the son of Anne (Evans) Scott also spoke on behalf of his mother and others who cointributed:

"I remember being up at Healy when Mary had quite a few guests up to visit.  After a fishing trip, dinner and evening sauna most of the folks went off to bed.One of the guests though decided to stay up and had a bonfire on the beach.

"It was a really good fire!  Unfortunately he didn’t realize that he hadburned up all of Mary’s driftwood that she had been collecting all year forsome kind of a project.  Early the next morning Mary discovered what hadhappened and posted on brown parchment paper on the wall outside the cabindoor; ‘$500 Reward, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person or persons unknown who unlawfully confiscated and burned valuabledriftwood collection.  Signed Mary Campbell, Mayor of Healy’.  Everyone had a great laugh and the person responsible was definitely red-faced.  Thelast time I visited Healy, that wanted poster still hung in the camp….a part of the long history of good times.

"One of Mary’s stories I recall was of a school trip from Chapleau toToronto to visit various points of interest.  In preparation for the tripamongst other things each child was to bring a set amount of money so thatthey could go to the royal York Hotel for a roast beef luncheon beforeboarding the return train to Chapleau.  On the last day of the trip, withall the children dressed in their Sunday best  they went to the Royal York, only to be denied service by the head waiter.

"Nothing Mary said would convince this man to let the children eat there.  Unsatisfied with this
outcome, Mary approached the Hotel’s Maitre d’.  Initially the Maitre d’ was unmoved by Mary’s request to have Lunch in his Hotel. Finally Mary said; This group of school children from a small northern town had worked long and hard to save their money for the chance to eat at Canada’s
foremost hotel.

"Some of these children were from poor families and livedin tar-paper shacks, others were the sons of lumber barons but each had come a very long way to meet great disappointment.  The Maitre d’ relentedand had the head waiter set a large table for the entire group who all enjoyed their roast beef lunch.  Mary may have embellished the facts alittle when she spoke to the Maitre d’, but she got the best for the children , which is what was important to her.

"All of Mary’s stories stood on their own for entertainment and were told by Mary with imitated voices and gestures.  Many of these stories and Mary’s life experiences underscore her generosity and kind hearted ways."

Let me close with a personal anecdote about Mary, which was so much appreciated by Muriel E (Hunt) Morris, my mother, when she retired as a teacher from Chapleau Public School in 1970. Mary was responsible for preparing a book which had the names of all my mother's students, the year and grade during the 32 years she taught at the school.

A huge undertaking but it enabled Mom to make notes in the margins about her former students for years afterward. It became one of her most cherished possessions. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lucien Lafreniere of Chapleau first in Northern Ontario to receive Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner's Citation in 1975

Lucien Lafreniere of Chapleau became the first person in Northern Ontario to receive the Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner's Citation at a ceremony on June 4, 1975.

Mr. Lafreniere of A and L Lafreniere Lumber Ltd,, was presented with a medallion and scroll by OPP Commissioner Harold Graham for "rendering his time, aircraft, manpower and equipment to various police investigations and searches" throughout the area.

Sgt. Jack Travis and most members of the Chapleau detachment, as well as Chief Inspector of Community Services Fred Blucher, District 13 Superintendent Sam Whitehouse of Sudbury, and District 14 Superintendent Ed Schroeder of Sault Ste. Marie were present for the historic occasion.

Councillor Dr G.E. 'Ted' Young and I represented the Township of Chapleau at the luncheon ceremony held at the Golden Route.

In his remarks Commissioner Graham noted that Mr. Lafreniere gave "freely" of his time and resources, including a helicopter, to assist the OPP in "all manner of searches and investigations."

Mr. Lafreniere arrived in Chapleau in 1949. Writing in Snapshots of Chapleau' Past, his son Mario Lafreniere, now the publisher of the Chapleau Express, provides details about their first sawmill of A and L Lafreniere at Racine Lake.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I did not consult with Mario, before writing this column. I have wanted to recognize his father's very significant contribution and the honour he received from the OPP for a long time, and due to the work of Doug Greig more information became available. However, after receiving column, Mario kindly provided much better photos than I had.)

Mario wrote that in the month of October 1949, Atchez (father), Lucien and Andre (brother) accompanied by Edouard Pilote, Arsene Gagne (father of Roger Gagne of Chapleau) and Paul Tremblay arrived in Racine Lake  in order to establish a sawmill to salvage timber from a forest fire. Edouard Demers and a few others came a few weeks later.
first Lafreniere sawmill at Racine Lake

He added that after building a small temporary sawmill to produce lumber to build the main mill and buildings, Lucien got the first job as sawer. All lumber produced was for the necessary building for the fast approaching winter -- "a cookery". They spent that first winter living in a half tent - half wood bunkhouse.

From this beginning Lucien Lafreniere and family began their very significant contribution to Chapleau and area until 1992 when they sold their operations.

The late Doug Greig writing in Chapleau Trails edited and published by Dr William R. Pellow, noted that they "brought with them determination and knowledge to make a sawmill work."

Doug added that they made a "major contribution to the economy of Chapleau with steady employment and increasing number of employees."

And, as  OPP Commissioner Graham noted in honouring Mr. Lafreniere, he gave "freely" of his time and resources, to provide assistance as required. .... as have other members of his family over their years in Chapleau. My email is mj.morris@live.ca 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Playing golf at Kebsquasheshing Golf Club in Chapleau officially launched at organization meeting on May 15,1924

names below
Playing golf in Chapleau became official at a meeting in the St John's Memorial Hall, now the home of Branch No 5 (Ontario) of the Royal Canadian Legion on May 15, 1924.

According to the handwritten minutes, now available on the Chapleau Public Library site, the meeting was held "for the purpose of organizing a golf club' to be called the "Kebsquasheshing Golf Club".

The golf course was located where it remains to this day on land that appeared to have been provided by V.T. Chapple and G.B. Nicholson, under a lease agreement. The club house had been the summer home of Mr. Nicholson.

The first executive consisted of president H.C. Nelson; vice president Dr. J.J. Sheahan, and secretary-treasurer A. McNiece Austin. To get organized, the club used a constitution from the Woodstock Golf Club. A lease for use of the land between the club and Mr. Chapple and Mr. Nicholson for the year 1925 was also on the agenda. Terms of the lease were not in the minutes.
info below

The meeting decided that the annual fee "for gentlemen be $15 and that for ladies $5" with an initiation fee of $25 for "gentlemen" and $12.50 for ladies decided upon at a later meeting.

One of the first issues raised was the matter of playing golf on Sundays, and after some discussion over a couple of meetings the "playing of Sunday golf on the links be prohibited and that any member violating this rule be expelled from the club". Father Romeo Gascon who was very active in the golf club made the motion.

However, in reading the minutes, it seems that over the years, while the ban was not completely lifted, Sunday golf may have been permitted on the back holes -- which gave me a chuckle. I did not discover date when Sunday golf was officially permitted but into the 1970s the Lord's Day Act governing Sunday sports was in effect in Ontario.
info below

Ladies were asked to wear flat heeled shoes while men had to wear rubber soled shoes.

Although ladies were permitted as members from the beginning, if my memory serves me right,  there was a "Ladies' Day" each week which was one afternoon. I mention it because my grandmother Lil (Mulligan) Morris was a golfer and I recall being her caddy in the late 1940s... which meant I carried one club. I don't recall if she and her friends Mrs. George Fife and Mrs. Elsie Wilkinson played on other days.

By 1925 the clubhouse had undergone some renovations and a lawnmower had been purchased. The House Committee was composed of ladies only.

The club also decided that "all male visitors, transients or temporary residents be charged annual fee of $25 for the use of the course for the season payable in advance" but it did not entitle them to any of the privileges of full members, only use of the golf course and clubhouse facilities.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Awakening 'enormous sleeping potential' of Chapleau to 'make awesome things happen'

NOTE: When Jason Rioux contacted me about the possibility of an article on Chapleau's "enormous sleeping potential" I immediately agreed to be part of the supporting cast along with Bishop Tom Corston, Tanya Keech, and others. As Jason notes, "This is our Chapleau, let’s make awesome things happen together." I hope you will share your ideas with Jason. His email is jason.rioux@gmail.com. Mine is mj.morris@live.ca

By Jason Rioux
The town of Chapleau has strong roots in entrepreneurship and pioneering….enabled and inspired by a special mix of ingredients: the long standing First Nations communities and the wisdom of their Elders, the Hudson’s Bay Trading Post that opened trade and export potential, the Canadian Pacific Railway with its army of railroaders and nation-building transport, the forestry industry with the strengths of its loggers and biomass exports, and the broad mix of small businesses that started, flourished, and retired over the last 100+ years.

 Chapleau's first entrepreneurs were likely T.A. Austin who opened the first general store in December 1885 and Richard Brownlee who established a barbershop in a tent in February 1886.  This mix was the essence of economic growth that established Chapleau for what it is today.
1886 T. A. Austin store and Richard Brownlee barbershop

We all have memories of special times, places, and experiences that were enabled by our early settlers, current and past business men and women, and community leaders, big and small, that took the initiative to start or do something new, that people wanted or needed, for the betterment of everyone in Chapleau, and for those that were lucky enough to visit.
Young Street Chapleau early 1900s from Birch. 

Chapleau has enormous sleeping potential for new small businesses to start and grow.  Everyone has something they are gifted with…something they love to do…something from which people could enjoy and benefit.  Perhaps even something that we can export.  There has never been a time so needed, so encouraged, and so enabled for  you to give something a shot.  That something is for you to determine.

If you are reading this and thinking, “surely, this is targeted at other people”, then think again.  Whether you make the best sugar pie in town, have a passion to teach arts, or can play the fiddle like a wannabe Ashley MacIsaac, there is now a place for you to share and benefit from this talent, and here’s how!

“The Rustic Bear Den”, in the transformed lower level of St. John’s church, is now set up as a community hub, with a café and artisan marketplace.  This is a flexible rustic space that accommodates dozens of small entrepreneurs to co-exist and show off their talents.  Think of it as Chapleau’s new Trading Post!  The commercial kitchen is available for preparing and baking your special foods (like your sugar pies), for sale both outside and inside the café.

The flexible space can be used to display and sell your homemade artisan products, or even better, use it as your workshop to make your products on site and add to the buzz.  Dream up your special event and host it there too, nothing is too wild, you’d be surprised.  Pitch your ideas to Tanya (Longpre) Keech for anything in this space, she is your go-to person.  tanya.keech@gmail.com

The upstairs of the church is also open to new ideas.  Certainly the priority is ensuring that any new ideas are fully compatible with the Anglican Church proceedings that take place on Sunday mornings.  For those that have not seen the upstairs of St. John’s, it is a very special space that is completely original and full of wonderful character.  It can accommodate over 250 people, kept warm year-round, and most importantly it has “acoustics” that are second to none.

Whether you are budding local musicians looking for jam space or a recording studio, vocalists looking to host acapella competitions, or the organizer of special events of any kind, this special space is available to be experienced and enjoyed by the whole community.  

And last, but not least, the parking lot behind the church and the vacant 2 acres of waterfront land where the old public school once was, are also open to entrepreneurship potential.  Farmers markets, large annual festivals, community gardens, and other tourism and waterfront related services could all be pursued while longer term development plans are being worked on for the land.  If you have a passion for anything that could flourish outdoors, you can lead the charge and make something happen.

Pitch your ideas for the upstairs and outside spaces to Jason Rioux directly at jason.rioux@gmail.com.

New ideas can be pitched at anytime.  This is an open door opportunity for the whole community.  No idea is too silly or crazy.  We are looking for people with “fire in the belly” and the initiative to try something new.

This is our Chapleau, let’s make awesome things happen together.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Pioneer citizen Elizabeth Holding a 'vital part' of Chapleau development for over 50 years

Elizabeth Holding was "a vital part of the development" of Chapleau for more than 50 years, according to a tribute in the Sudbury Star after she died in 1959.

Although the writer is not named I assume it was Margaret Costello who was writing for the newspaper in 1959 as Chapleau correspondent.

The story notes that St. John's Anglican Church was "blanked with flowers and filled with friends to pay final tribute to one of Chapleau's earliest and well loved residents." The funeral service was conducted by Rev. J.G.M. Doolan, the church's Rector.

Born in England, the daughter of Robert and Louisa Holding, the family arrived in Chapleau in 1890. For the first six weeks until their belongings arrived, "wooden boxes served as tables and chairs while the floor served as beds."

 Her first schooling was in a tent located beside the present Trinity United Church, and continued in the first school house on Pine Street beside the Anglican church rectory. Her teacher there was Miss Charlotte Weller, who would become the wife of G.B. Nicholson, Chapleau's first reeve, and prominent businessman, later a Member of Parliament.

Apparently she was an excellent student as the article notes that "her keen mind absorbed readily what she was taught" and "her school work bore the stamp of care, order and attention " that were evident through the years in her daily living.

Her father, Robert Holding, built a house on Beech Street calling it the Crusoe House, recalling a seafaring experience he had when he was marooned on an island.

On July 1, 1900, she married Charles Frederick Vice, who was an engineer on the CPR. They lived in Crusoe House.

"During the early years of the railroad wrecks were not uncommon. Survivors were brought to Crusoe House for food, shelter and care. There was always room for those in need of help."

Now Mrs. Vice, she started to become active in community affairs and when Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson built St. John's Parish House in 1919  in memory of their son Lorne and his friends who were killed in World War I, (now the Royal Canadian Legion Hall),she and her husband became its supervisors. She also became the librarian.  The building was officially opened in 1920.

Very active in the life of St. John's Church, she sang in the choir, taught Sunday School, and was active in the Women's Auxiliary and member of the Nicholson Bible Class. This class was taught by Mr. Nicholson for more than 25 years, assisted by Mr. P.J. Collins, the father of Charles W. Collins.

In the wider community, Mrs. Vice was a charter member of the Ladies of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the Orange Lodge, the Canadian Club and other organizations.

Her father, along with other business ventures, was a prospector with great faith in the future of Chapleau and area and his daughter showed public   spirit and great interest in the growth of the community, the article noted.

Frederick James Annand, a friend of her husband's arrived on the scene, and he and Mr. Vice worked on the construction of some of Chapleau's oldest buildings. Mr. Vice was a stonemason by trade.

Mr. and Mrs. Vice somewhat later moved to Swayze for a for a  time, and a newspaper reporter covering the gold mine story interviewed them. Mr. Annand who had left the area saw it and got back in touch.

In 1942, Mr. Vice died and Mr. Annand once again saw the story. He got in and in 1947, he and Mrs. Vice were married, and moved to the United States, but her life always remained "entwined with Chapleau's development."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Chapleau fire brigade holds fundraisers for dress uniforms in 1962 along with arrival of new fire truck

Margaret Costello was "drifting across town", likely in her Volkswagen, one evening in early 1962, heading for a council meeting which  had been postponed, but discovered a bingo game underway in the Town Hall basement.

Better known as "Maggie" she was the local reporter for the Sudbury Star, and later the Sault Daily Star for many years.

The bingo game in progress downstairs had more people playing then she had seen in a long time, so she went to find out what it was all about.

She asked C.O. 'Olie' Carlson, the township clerk and fire truck driver, "Whose bingo is this?," she asked.

"The fire brigade's", he replied, Margaret wrote in her Sudbury Star column. Just a quick aside. For many years, the township clerk was also the fire truck driver and lived in an apartment above the old fire hall on Pine Street. T.R. Serre and Vern Goldstein, two of the previous township clerks had lived in the apartment.

Margaret chatted with Fire Chief Adam Andrews to find out why the fire brigade was holding a bingo.

The fire chief explained that the bingo, along with  other activities, was to raise funds to provide the firefighters with dress uniforms.

She wrote they would add "distinction to our already outstanding fire brigade by providing members with uniforms, smart and individually tailored."

But, they were not for fighting fires but for special occasions in which they participated. From this beginning in 1962, the fire department members, have been present at so many special occasions and functions in Chapleau, the most recent being the ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War II on April 9. Thanks to Pat (Purich) Russell for providing me with photos from the Chapleau ceremony at the cenotaph.

In talking with Maggie, the fire chief commented, "And it's not costing the taxpayer a cent", as fundraisers were being held.

Maggie pointed out that the chief had good reason to be proud of the work of this brigade and of the acquisition of a new fire truck which would also mean a saving to taxpayers in the form of lower insurance with better equipment to fight fires.

She complimented the fire brigade on it promptness and efficient performance.

Chapleau township council had approved a new truck and "this monster" arrived by December 1961.

The truck carried a 500 gallon tank, a 625 gallon per minute pump for where water was available, breathing apparatus, hoses, ladders and equipment for firefighters. They spent two days training in the use of the new equipment.

In 1958, Chapleau saw a great improvement in its fire alarm system. The boxes found on many street corners were replaced with a new system installed in the old pumphouse by Bell Telephone. Apparently it was the first in Northern Ontario.

A special phone was installed in the home of all fire brigade members. When the pumper received a call, he went to a special booth and placed call, and provided exact information on the location of the fire. It also determined how many firefighters were available. Also in 1958, Adam Andrews succeeded George Collinson as fire chief.

ERRATA: In my recent column about Prime Minister  Lester Pearson sending telegram to Chapleau telephone operators extending congratulations on their work during the forest fire of 1965, the gremlins were at work. I wrote that acting chief operator was Mrs. Mary "Bowles". Not so! It was Mrs. Mary Bowes, and I apologize for the error. Thanks to her son Bob Bowes, for his email. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Prime Minister Lester Pearson extended congratulations to Chapleau telephone operators, 'unsung heroes' of 1965 forest fire

Prime Minister Lester B Pearson sent a telegram of congratulations to Chapleau telephone operators on their efforts during the forest fire that threatened the community in 1965.

Mr. Pearson, who also served as Member of Parliament for Algoma East which included Chapleau, wrote in the telegram to Mrs. Mary Bowes, acting chief operator, "I shared in the relief I know all of you must have felt when the winds shifted and the rains finally came averting the destruction of Chapleau.

"May I congratulate you personally and the members of your staff for your coolness and bravery.

"You have every reason to be proud of your role in a situation which proved the fortitude of the citizens of Chapleau."

While many Chapleau citizens were being evacuated, the telephone operators remained and were working 24/7 handling a record number of calls on the system which had been in use since 1951 when operator assisted calls replaced the dial system.

The Chapleau Sentinel reported that the telephone operators were "unsung heroes" throughout the fire that ravaged the area and seriously threatened the town.
Operators busy during fire

In turns they "took an hour off here and an hour off there and grabbed something to eat whenever they could" and then rushed back to work.

Mrs. Bowes, who was replacing chief operator Mrs Myrtle Delaney who happened to be out of town on business commented  that the operators "seemed to realize there was a crisis and it must be met".

The newspaper reported statistics for the weekend showing that ordinarily the system would handle about 3000 local calls --- they rose to a "staggering 32159" within the community.

Outgoing  long distance calls would usually be less than 500 on a weekend but rose to 3695 with almost the same number incoming during the forest fire threat.

However, the days of the operator assisted system were numbered as construction was being completed on a new facility at the corner of Pine and Young streets and the community would be returning to a dial system, although long distance operators would still be on duty. The operators worked out of a building on Pine Street at one time the Orange Hall and later the by-law office.
Marcel Bourgeault on left Bonnie (Babin) Desbois shows new equipment

After midnight on December 4, 1965 a switch was thrown and the new system went into effect.

At the official opening Councillor Marcel Bourgeault, the acting reeve, brought greetings and extended congratulations to Bell on the new system and facility.

I have been receiving messages since my column  last week from folks sharing their telephone numbers, and from operators and family members who worked in Chapleau during the 1950s and 1960s. Thank you all so much.

The telegram from Prime Minister Pearson pointed out the importance of the telephone operators during a major crisis in Chapleau. In fact, on a personal basis, their efforts to keep lines of communication open, affected me too. I was working as a newspaper reporter In Toronto, but my mother Muriel E (Hunt) Morris and my grandmothers Edythe Hunt and Lil Morris were in Chapleau. I was able to get through to Mom, and even though they did not evacuate, I was able to stay in touch by phone.

All these years later, I am able to share the story of the "unsung heroes" -- the telephone operators in Chapleau! HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!!  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