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.
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 email@example.com