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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Retiree Ken LeClaire Reminisces About Winter in Canada as State of Mind and Cultural Happening

Raised in Toronto,  Ken LeClaire  graduated from the Ontario Forest Ranger School in Dorset in 1964.  He worked for the Dept. of Lands and Forests and its successor the Ministry of Natural Resources for 30 years, being posted to Kapuskasing, Hearst, Chapleau, Cochrane, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, where he retired in 1994.

Ken worked as a scaler, timber cruiser, conservation officer, fire fighter and forest management technician before taking up duties in middle management as acting Manager of Southern Ontario nurseries.  

After reading my column on Chapleau winters, Ken contacted me to share a piece he wrote some time ago about Winter in a Ministry of Natural Resources in house publication.  He gave me permission to use it

It was in Chapleau where he met and married Beverly Yanta in 1969.  They have two children, Paul and Lisa and one grandchild Hunter.  
  
He is an active history buff with a special interest in the fur trade and its effect on the Indigeneous population of Ontario. 

 Ken and Bev live in the Soo but spend their summers at Como Lake where they built a camp in 1974.

During his years in Chapleau Ken became active with the Ministry Manglers a hockey team which won the MNR title at a tournament in 1975. He told me the Manglers are still active. WOW!

A Retiree Reminisces  About Winter in Canada

By Ken LeClaire


Canadian winter is a state of mind and a cultural happening to be at least appreciated if not enjoyed.  We use the term Canadian with poetic license: this author has never been west of Winnipeg or east of Quebec City.  He has however walked down the main street (?) of Fort Severn on a February morning going from the airstrip to the Hudson’s Bay store with the temperature at 45 below F and a strong breeze blowing in off the Bay.  We recall that morning vividly, both for the bright sun that was still low on the horizon and for the very active ball hockey game that was being played in the school yard by some Cree children.


We recall waking up at 6 am on a sleeping platform at the rear of a 16' x 14' tent on Trump Lake north of Chapleau, knowing that the fire in the Quebec heater had died around three.  Timber cruising was done in the winter in the 1960's We would fly in lumber to construct a platform and 3' walls and erect a tent over this structure.

A fly over the tent added a modest amount of extra insulation.  That particular morning stands out in our minds as when we checked in by radio with the Lawless Cecile, the Chief Ranger in Chapleau we were told that it was 52 below zero.  All that meant to us was that we needed when crossing the lake to our cruise lines.


We recall having to stop scaling once in a while to allow the tallymen, such as Rolly Larcher, Art McAuley or Tim Cecile to move around a bit to warm up their toes and fingers.  We recall starting vehicles when fuel injection wasn’t even a gleam in someone’s eye and driving those vehicles for the first few miles with tires thumping as they came back to round.


And all through those times we recall never ranting about the cold or the snow level.  Oh sure, we certainly would say “ Golly Gee Whiz (or something close to it) is it ever cold” but the colder and more snow there was just made for easier bush travel.  In mid-July on a fire line we would laugh about the contrast.  The opening of a conversation with a stranger was, and is, always made less stressful when we can talk about the Canadian winter weather.  Sportsmen, fishing, boat and golf shows all seem to be held when the weather is the opposite for those activities. 


The next time you are shoveling snow,  instead of grumbling about the pain in your lower back (because you didn’t properly warm up) try and figure out which one of the thirty names the Inuit have for the white stuff you are throwing on your neighbour’s “lawn”.  Is it Masak, wet snow, or Qannialaaq, light falling snow?  In our mind we consider the winter weather a phenomenon, a sensual event, as Webster would say.   We consider it right up there with health care, clean water and freedom all of which make us Canadians.

Thanks Ken. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Names of those in photos

Ken LeClaire

The 1975 Chapleau MNR Manglers championship team. Back Tom Richardson, Larry Mahon (trainer and beverage scout), Ray Bonnenberg, Robin (Boggie) White, Darryl Ritchie, Esher Ritchie (coach extraordinaire), John McKee, Martin Healey, Ken LeClaire Front are Gary Black, Graham Bertrand, Randy Corston, Glen Cappellani, Joe Turner, Al Harris. Courtesy Ken LeClaire



Right to left:  Jerry McAuley, Ken LeClaire, Barrie James and I think Russ Ketchabaw.  Bush lunch, cruising party, Sheppard and Morse country, 1973. 



Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chapleau winters described as 'long, cold and exhilarating" included skating parties to Mulligan's Bay

On the pond circa 1954
In the beginning, back in the Winter of 1885-86 when Chapleau was a community made up of surplus boxcars and tents, a topic of conversation was most assuredly the weather when any of the about 400 first citizens gathered to chat.

Apparently, as I wrote in my 1984 book 'Sons of Thunder ... Apostles of Love' the winter of 1885-86, was "very strenuous for the early citizens of the fledgling community."

It must have been for they had left their old way of life to build a new one from any comforts they might have known. It was a "bitterly cold winter" and disease was rampant.
Bill Atkinson outside Brownlee Block cirac 1917

How many times did I hear, and make a comment about the "bitter cold" while living in Chapleau. No idea but I got thinking about winter back home recently as another winter approaches, and several of my Facebook friends give a weather report from where they live now. I never miss reading them, as it is so typically Canadian -  the weather is a major topic of conversation no matter where we are in the country.

Even Rev. O.W. Nickle, who was Rector of St. John's Anglican Church from 1938 to 1941 seemed to enjoy Chapleau winters. He commented regularly in the Vestry Book -- "a lovely cold and very cold winter's day", a lovely cold day" and after travelling to Sultan for a service he wrote, " a most wonderful winter's day, bright, clear and  cold".



Interestingly, his next parish was in Arizona!!!
Domiinion Day 1901


However, Chapleau people were busy as winter approached not only with their work but in gathering cordwood to keep the fires burning in their wood stoves and furnaces. As a boy growing up in Chapleau as late as the 1940s, our house was primarily heated by a wood stove, and Mr. Fortin would bring a supply each Fall. My grandmother Edith Hunt also did all the cooking and baking on the wood stove.

In his book "Pioneering in Northern Ontario" Vince Crichton noted that the first big event of the winter was the opening of the skating rink --- natural ice from 1885 to 1965. "One was never too old to skate in those days..." He mentioned Walter Leigh who was still skating at 74.
Birch Street winter 1947. George Collins collection

But Vince also noted that hockey was being played on the river (Both back and front) into the evenings. That continued into the 1950s at least.

There was also organized hockey with the earliest road trip I ever found was to Sudbury in 1891 ... Chapleau lost.

I learn something all the time and never knew until I was researching this column.

Vince wrote that in the early 1920s "under the light of a full moon boys and girls would skate arm in arm in groups to Mulligan's Bay, some difficulty being encountered crossing the weedy part of the river just east of the town as the river channel was never too safe in this section."
Skating to Mulligan's Bay! Wow.  Those folks who did it joined Dr. G.E. "Ted' Young who swam from town to his family's camp on Mulligan's Bay in Chapleau folklore.

In the 1920s there was also a toboggan slide on the hill right beside the golf course clubhouse. In the 1930s a slide was located on Slaughterhouse Hill and then back to golf course hill in 1956.
Toboggan slide Slaughterhouse Hill 1930s

Vince also notes snowshoes parties were held as part of winter recreation activities.

Back to 1886. Curling was underway on a sheet of ice on Lorne Street across from the CPR shops. By 1890 Chapleau had a brass band, soccer and lacrosse and baseball teams

I have included some random photos including downtown Chapleau in the early years as well as the Dominion Day celebration in 1903.

Last word to Vince: "The winters were long, cold and exhilarating but as a general rule very pleasant." My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Thursday, November 23, 2017

'Fun to eat in the dining car' a highlight of trip on Canadian Pacific Railway passenger trains for young travellers

Back in the days when passenger trains were the major way to travel across this vast and magnificent land, a meal in the dining car, whether it was breakfast, lunch supper, or all three, was always a highlight of the trip -- at least it was for me!

I recently came across dining car menus from 'The Dominion' in 1953, and having enjoyed my own trip down memory lane, decided to share some of the results. I don't recall my first trip from Chapleau to Toronto on a Canadian Pacific Railway train but it would have been shortly after the end of World War II in 1945 with my mother Muriel (Hunt) Morris and continued for years.

Along with the porter shining my shoes which we left out at bedtime to find sparkling clean in the morning, as we arrived in Toronto (for others Montreal), a trip to the dining car was the highlight of the trip for me.

The dining car steward would come through the train advising "First call for dinner" then second and third in due course after the train departed Chapleau for the overnight trip.

Based on the ' Dining Car Service for Young Travellers Menu" in 1953, here are the messages the CPR provided. The writer was trying to be poetic.
Ian Macdonald collection

The first message to young travellers: "It's fun to eat in the dining car as you rush along by CPR, Breakfast, lunch and supper too, Inside there's something good for you."

Breakfast: " Healthy Billy Beaver, napkin pulled in tight, Sits close to the table, eats with all his might. Juicy brick pancakes give Billy a treat, but we'll have  crisp bacon and such things to eat. The juice of an orange, milk by the glassful make you glad that so early we're up."

Lunch: "First call for lunch in the diner, the waiter announces. No news could be finer. So let's walk quickly through the train, and sit at the fresh white table again. Soup, meat, potatoes, perhaps some pie, or salad and jelly, there's lots to try."
Ian Macdonald collection

Supper: "It's lots of fun on the CPR train. That's why we eat with might and main. For supper there's always something nice. Fish or steak, tapioca or rice. And the friendly waiter is so polite as he pulls back the chair and says good night."




For breakfast on the young travellers menu cereal seemed to be the mainstay, while for lunch soup and maybe a sandwich were in order while an omelet. scrambled eggs or cold sliced chicken were main suggestions for supper. Prices ranged from a 35 cent breakfast to $1.50 for the chicken dinner for supper.

Turning to the adult dinner menus there were two -- 'Table D'Hote Dinner' and 'A La Carte'

Table D'Hote: Some items included a choice of fruit cocktail, celery with olives, cream of mushroom soup or consommé with a main course of baked Pacific coast salmon with dressing ($2.60), Roast prime rib of beef ($3.00), Sliced cold chicken and ham with potato salad ($2.70), or individual pot chicken pie ($2.70). All these meals included potatoes, vegetables, dessert and tea or coffee.
Ian Macdonald collection

A la Carte: Charcoal broiled 'red brand' small sirloin steak ($3.00), charcoal broiled fresh fish with tartar sauce ($1.25), prime ribs of beef ($1.75), and all other items were extra.

I don't recall my favourite dining car meal although it may have been chicken but I do recall vividly the outstanding service there.  I would love to hear your memories of eating there while travelling back in the day.

The CPR included the following statement on its menu: "It is with pleasure that we call attention to the desire and willingness of all our employees to give their utmost in service and special attention, and they as well as ourselves would appreciate your criticism as well as your commendations."

 They most assuredly, at least in my view, gave their utmost in service and special attention,  and I forgive them for the bad poetry!!!

Thanks to Ian Macdonald for providing photos. My email is mj.morris@live.ca





Thursday, November 16, 2017

Graham Bertrand retires as Chapleau Fire Chief after more than 40 years of service

TYLER, 'DAD' AND BRYCE
Graham Bertrand has retired as Chief of the Chapleau Volunteer Fire Department after serving in various capacities since he joined it on February 15, 1975.

He advised that his retirement was to take effect on November 12, so he would participate in the Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11 on parade with fire department members.

He was appointed as a Captain in 1997, then Deputy Chief in 2002, and Chief in 2005.

But, over the past 40 plus years, Graham has not only been contributing as a first responder to make Chapleau a safer place, but a better place for everyone to live, work and play.

My files show that Graham was a member  of the 1973 Chapleau Recreation and Festival Chapleau committees, and by 1978 he was the chair of A Taste of the North, the community's winter carnival. He later served as chair of the Chapleau Recreation Committee.

 As an aside, in 1978, another great Chapleau volunteer was honoured with Jimmy Dillon being named King of the Carnival.

Graham was also trainer in the 1970s of the Chapleau Intermediate 'A' Huskies of the Northland Intermediate Hockey League --- and actively participated in a "donkey baseball" game sponsored by the team.

In 2010, he was fire chief when the fire department celebrated its official 100th anniversary.

In 2005, Graham was honoured by the township for his 30 years of service and presented with a certificate of thanks and congratulations by Mayor Earle Freeborn.

 Jim Prince, the founder of the  Chapleau Express summed up the contribution of Graham and all firefighters in an article noting that they should be recognized for their work and dedication "on the front lines".

Jim's article  added that volunteering as a firefighter is rewarding and life changing experience for those who serve. They are called upon to perform extremely hard and physical work under adverse conditions.

However, Graham's significant contribution to Chapleau has not begun and ended with his service to the volunteer fire department for more than 40 years.

In 2001, when Chapleau celebrated its 100th anniversary of its incorporation as a municipality, with his late wife Rose (Connelly), he co-chaired the celebration.

 It was a huge success. I know!  It was my first trip back home after moving to British Columbia to teach at College of the Rockies. I stayed with Dr. G.E. "Ted" Young, and had a wonderful time.





Graham also headed the committee for the 90th anniversary reunion of Chapleau High School in 2012, and has advised me that now he has retired as fire chief will "need something to do" so is willing to become involved in a 100th anniversary celebration of the school in 2022.




Graham has also contributed to the life and times of Chapleau as a member of other organizations for many years. I believe that the greatest resource any community has is its people, and Graham C. Bertrand is a shining example of a person who has volunteered his time and talents to the betterment of Chapleau. Congratulations Graham, and I look forward to the 100th anniversary of Chapleau High School.    "Keep smiling Graham!" My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Unveiling of Memorial Walls highlighted Chapleau Remembrance Day service in 1978

The unveiling of Memorial Walls at the Remembrance Day service on November 11, 1978, completed the move of the cenotaph to its new location beside the Royal Canadian Legion Hall.

On June 25, 1978, a rededication ceremony had been held following the relocation of the cenotaph from between the old Town Hall and St. John's Anglican Church on Pine Street. Jack Boucher was the general contractor for the project.

The unveiling ceremony was conducted by Henry Therriault, World War II veteran, and president of Branch 5 (Ontario) of the Royal Canadian Legion. The prayer of dedication was given by Rev. William Ivey, rector of St. John's Anglican Church following the unveilings.

The unveiling of the World War I wall was done by Frank Cranston, Chapleau's last surviving veteran of World War I, and air cadet Bonnie Goheen.

In June at the official opening of the Chapleau Civic Centre, Mr. Cranston, who had also served in World War II, met and chatted with Ontario Lt. Gov. Pauline McGibbon who officially opened the civic centre.

Later the upstairs hall at the Legion was named after Mr. Cranston.

The unveiling of the World War II wall was done by Muriel  (Hunt) Morris, (my mother) and Eric Groulx.

Bernie Morris played the Last Post and Reveille, and the Act of Remembrance was read by Mr. Therriault.

The Chapleau Sentinel reported that a "unique addition" to the service was the singing of an anthem, "I Wonder Why". It was sung by Mary Beacock,  Beth Dunne, Gwen Travis and Charlie Law, accompanied by Russell Dunne on the guitar.

In our book 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War' Michael McMullen and I identified 32 Chapleau boys who died in World War I or died soon thereafter , due to their war related wounds/ health conditions.

They were: Harry Barber, William Bertrand, Joseph Bolduc, Peter Chappise, John Collings, Willard Daniels, Ambrose Evans, Percy Hall, William Hartley, Walter Haskins, James Hewitt, Albert Jeffries, Harry Kitchen, John Kuskitchu, Jacob McWatch, Simon McWatch, John Moir, Peter Moran, Alex Mortson, Loftus Muske, Lorne Nicholson, Frank Pitts, Roderick Potts, Jacob Redbreast, Alfred Therriault, Edgar Turner, John Turner, William Turner, Harry Unwin, William Unwin, Walter Valentine and Hans Wrangham.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

. 'Loss needs no learning and sorrow needs no schoolmaster' Rev. Murray McBride at Chapleau Remembrance Day 1961

Impressive Remembrance Day services at the Town Hall and cenotaph following a parade of Branch Number 5 (Ontario) Royal Canadian Legion members was held in 1961, according to a Sudbury Star report.

The Star noted that the turnout of Legion members was "higher than for some years and made a fine showing as they marched in step to music from the town band."

The Town Band was a feature at pretty well all community activities from about 1888 on when it was formed. I have included a photo circa 1922 of the band in front of the first cenotaph built after end of World War I.

After the invocation was given by Rev. J.G. M. Doolan of St. John's Anglican Church, Rev. Murray McBride of Trinity United Church delivered an address entitled 'The New War' which in many respects we find ourselves today in 2017.


Mr. McBride noted that there is "little left to be said for those left behind" as a result of war "for loss needs no learning and sorrow needs no schoolmaster."




As I was researching this column and read the above statement by Mr. McBride, I recalled a comment my mother, Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris made about Remembrance Day. I don't think she ever missed a Remembrance Day service but commented, "Every day is Remembrance Day". As most readers know, her husband, my father, Flying Officer Jim Morris was killed on active service in the RCAF during World War II.

Mr. McBride presented the argument that war and peace can not be separated in our thinking. He proceeded to outline his thinking on 'The New War'.

He said that over a span of 4000 years, the first wars were nomadic tribal wars in nature characterized by invasion, looting, pillaging and slaughter for immediate gain. These were followed by wars for territorial gain as well where the conqueror took over land an settled there.

Then World War I and World War II were wars for intangibles "for principles of freedom and liberty" as well.

He suggested that the new war is vastly different. It is "a war with an  unseen enemy which can occur without advance warning by an aggressor sitting at home and exploding bombs in his own country and count on fallout to weaken those he wishes to conquer  or destroy."

Given our deeply troubled world today with acts of terrorism globally, it seems like Mr. McBride had a crystal ball back in 1961.

In conclusion he suggested that society had "turned away from God" thus causing alienation and causing fear and mistrust in society. "It is this that would seem to have made us so ready to use discoveries for destruction rather than building a better world".

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Chapleau Curling Club holds Centennial Bonspiel in 1986

The Chapleau Curling Club celebrated its 100th anniversary with a Centennial Bonspiel to mark the historic occasion in November 1986.

Reeve Ken Russell was on hand to present incoming club president Wilma Schmidt with a plaque from the Township of Chapleau recognizing 100 years of curling in the community.

Although there appears to be very little information available on the beginnings of curling in Chapleau, in 1886, one sheet of ice enclosed by boards was located on Lorne Street where the "old old rink" was eventually built. Sheets of ice were in that rink until about 1928 when the curling rink was built on Pine Street, and there it remained until 1978 when it relocated to the Chapleau Recreation Centre.

The Chapleau Sentinel reported that 52 rinks from Chapleau, other communities in Ontario and Quebec participated in the centennial bonspiel with additional sheets of ice created in the A.W. Moore Arena.

To launch the bonspiel, two of the oldest members of the club were selected for a ceremonial throwing of the first stone. Olive Card threw it while Syd Roffey swept.

At a banquet Master of Ceremonies Albert Tremblay extended thanks to the bonspiel committee on their efforts to make it a success. Members included Margaret Rose Fortin, Monica Tremblay, Joan Longchamps, John Longchamps, Tina Cappellani, Doug Prusky, Rita Mitchell, Twyla Berry, Jim Hong, Paula Hughes and Lorna Martel. Draw master was Trevor Riley while Roy May and Peter Archambault were the ice committee. Prize committee members were Jean and Carmelle Martel.

Albert also extended thanks to the Air Cadets and the Fitness Club for operating the lunch counter, Carl Nyman and Richard Beaudoin for making the scoreboards, Roger Mizuguchi for selling tickets and the United Church Men's Breakfast Club for catering the meal

The rink travelling the farthest to participate was Paul Richardson, Denise Richardson, Diane Richardson and Harry Richardson from Ottawa and Montreal.

And the winners were!

Top honours in the A Event went to a rink skipped by Ed Rioux. Team members were Freda Rioux, John Young and Debbie Young.

In the B Event the rink of Walter Telik, Oriette Telik, Linda Martel and Denis Martel were the winners.

C Event winners were the rink of Jack O'Connor, Doug Prusky, Tina Cappellani and Monique Landry.

Consolation winners were Paul Antoniazzi, Nadine Antoniazzi, Gordon Welch and Jill Welch.

The Chapleau Town Band, which was also first established circa 1886, was present to march the winners around the ice surface before prizes were awarded.

To conclude the bonspiel incoming club president Wilma congratulated the winners and all who were involved in making it a success.

Bishop Tom Corston was in touch responding to my column on the Algoma Dairy and the Broomhead family. Tom wrote in part: "Great story on the Broomheads. Did you know that prior to the Broomhead dairy business my Grandfather, Jack Corston, had a dairy business delivering milk to much of 'lower town'. My father (Henry 'Chicken') often talked about delivering milk with his brothers."

 I knew There was a Corston's farm but was not aware Mr. Corston had a dairy business.   Thanks Tom.

Also, Ann (Bedford) Midgley reminded me that her grandfather Simon Kruger, after retiring from the CPR worked in the Algoma Dairy convenience story. That I do recall. My email is mj.morris@live.ca





Thursday, October 19, 2017

Algoma Dairy had enviable record of milk delivery in Chapleau starting with 'pony express' in 1921

From its "pony express" which brought milk to its first customers until it ceased deliveries, the Algoma Dairy in Chapleau had an enviable record of never missing a day, according to newspaper articles about the family business that served the community for just over 75 years.

On July 4, 1921, the first delivery of milk went out to a few customers of the business established by Walter and Emily Broomhead with total assets of one cow, a cart and a Shetland pony.

The steady growth over the years was "not achieved by chance" but by the efforts of Mr. Broomhead, his wife and their three sons, Jim, Walter and Arthur, according to a newspaper report about the family business 35 years later.


In due course they eventually had a herd of 84 cattle,  a farm, where two of their grandchildren still live today, and the pony express delivery gave way to an insulated milk truck. By 1939, they had the Algoma Dairy  building at the intersection of Birch and Young Streets.

As the business had grown they dispensed with the herd of cattle and had milk shipped from the Larchwood area which was processed at the dairy. One newspaper story relates that during a Canadian Pacific Railway strike, they had a truck travel over Highway 129 daily to Blind River to pick up the milk and return to Chapleau same  day.

They kept pace with modernization, and added the latest in equipment. Sons Jim and Walter joined the business and when their younger brother Arthur did a bit later, Margaret Costello asked what he did.

Jokingly, the older brothers replied, "Well he's supposed to do as he's told but generally ends up doing what he pleases." Arthur became the last brother to be actively involved with the family business.


When Mr. Broomhead died in 1940, Mrs. Broomhead and her sons continued the business.

In 1956, Margaret Costello paid tribute to Mrs. Broomhead for her "tremendous vitality and indomitable spirit that pulled her through early struggles (including the death of her husband) -- combined with a lively sense of humour".

The story also noted that in 1956 that Algoma Dairy would be one of the oldest family owned businesses in Chapleau that had never changed hands having been established in 1921.

The Boston Café owned by the Hong family would be another. Charles W. Collins stores celebrates 90 years with the Collins name in 2018, and still operated by family members.

Arriving in Chapleau in 1912, Mr. and Mrs. Broomhead purchased property on King Street which at the time was a "mixture of bush and mud" and built the first house there.

Obtaining milk was a problem for families with young children so they bought a cow to solve it, and their neighbours who faced the same situation became their first customers and their business was started in 1921.

As government regulations increased, the dairy adapted constantly upgrading the business but still never missing a day's delivery.

Like so many Chapleau people I have such fond memories of milk being delivered to our door daily as I was growing up in our home on Grey Street, first by Jim and later by Arthur.

When I was a youngster on my way to visit my grandparents Lil (Mulligan) and Harry Morris on Elgin Street (the other side of town), quite often I would meet Jim on the milk truck. He never failed to tell me to say "hello" to my grandparents from him.

All the Broomhead family have made a significant contribution to many aspects of the life and times of Chapleau for over 100 years now. Grandchildren and great grandchildren of Emily and Walter Broomhead still do.  The Algoma Dairy closed in 1997. My email is mj.morris@live.ca



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Chapleau headed for some significant moments in its history of the past 100 years starting in 2018

Chapleau will be marking several significant moments in its history of the past 100 years over the next five years.

 Remembrance Day on November 11, 1918, will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, and Chapleau citizens made a significant contribution to the war effort, both on the battlefields of Europe and at home.

In our book, 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War', Michael McMullen and I produced a list of 283 volunteers, 282 men and one woman, with a Chapleau connection, who enlisted in World War I. That was more than 10 percent of the entire population of the community at the time.

We also identified 32  Chapleau boys who died in World War I, or died thereafter, due to their war related wounds/health conditions.

On the home front, citizens contributed to the war effort through the Chapleau branch of the Canadian Red Cross Society and other organizations. 

On November 4, 1918, just a week before World War ended, Lt. Lorne Nicholson of the First Chapleau Platoon of the 227th Battalion (Men O The North) was killed while on active service overseas. His parents, George and Charlotte Nicholson, both members of St. John's Anglican Church, decided to build a parish house. Mr. Nicholson, Chapleau's first reeve from 1901 to 1913, was in the lumber business while Mrs. Nicholson was one of the community's first school teachers.


The inscription on the front of the building says, "Saint John's Parish House... In memory of Lt. Lorne W. Nicholson and all those who with him voluntarily gave their lives in the Great War. Erected by his father and mother A.D. 1919''.

The parish house, which now houses Branch Number 5 (Ontario) of the Royal Canadian Legion was officially opened on April 19, 1920. It was likely in use as a parish house by late 1919.

The Legion branch was established in 1926, one year after the Canadian Legion was formed at a meeting in Winnipeg with a Chapleau delegation led by Harry Searle in attendance.



Ian Macdonald, retired Head of the Department of Architecture and Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, writing about the building, wrote in part that the Nicholson generosity "has left Chapleau with what is probably the most elegant and distinctive of all Royal Canadian Legion properties in Canada.."


Just as World War I ended, disaster struck the Roman Catholic Church members in Chapleau when just before Christmas, the church burned down.


According to an article by Father Albert Burns SJ, a Chapleau native, the first church was built in 1885, on the site of what is today Collins Hardware. This church had become too small, and a larger one was built in 1891 with its final touch in 1898 on the site of the present church.



Unfortunately it was destroyed by fire on December 18, 1918 just before Christmas. Under the guidance of Father Romeo Gascon, the parish priest,  the good people of the parish came together, and  Midnight Mass  on December 24, 1919 was celebrated in the new church built on the site where it is today. Father Burns was an altar boy at that Christmas Eve Service. The "new" church will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1919.

It struck me as I was researching this column that Chapleau was a busy place for construction in 1919 as the Parish House for the Anglicans and a new church for the Roman Catholics were both under construction about a block away from each other.

Finally, in my musings about some important moments in Chapleau history from 100 years ago, in 1922, Chapleau High School will celebrate its 100th anniversary. The first school was on Pine Street until 1966 when it relocated to a new building where it is today.

If interest in a 100th anniversary reunion can be gauged from a Facebook page established by Janice (Corston) Whitely is any indication of support for the idea, it now has 2,065 members.

 I am told by Graham Bertrand that informal chats about the possibility are underway, and hopefully a decision will be made in early 2018. Graham chaired the 90th anniversary as well as chairing and being actively involved in all major Chapleau celebrations for more than 40 years. If interested maybe chat with Graham!

As an aside, I got thinking about Chapleau houses as I have been writing, and when some of them were built. When I was home for the launch of 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War' with Michael McMullen in 2015, Ken Schroeder, my lifelong friend took me on a front street/back lane tour but we didn't establish when houses were built. Story for another day.

Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet

UNEEK LUXURY TOURS, ORLANDO FL

UNEEK LUXURY TOURS, ORLANDO FL
click on image

MEMORIES FROM CHILDHOOD

MEMORIES FROM CHILDHOOD
Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE