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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."

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Michael J Morris

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

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