EMAIL 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.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Alton Morse received Order of Canada for his contribution to mechanization of lumber industry in Chapleau area

Alton Morse, born in Maine in the United States, came to the Chapleau area where he became involved in the lumber business in 1913, and 70 years later he received the Order of Canada for his contribution to the mechanization of the industry.

The citation to his award reads: "His solution to the problem of' hauling logs over the rough country of northern Ontario, the use of gasoline tractors, heralded the mechanization of the lumber industry and made possible its future development. Later, he and partner (Leigh Sheppard) formed new companies in which they set an example to others of the proper care and housing of workers."

As Mr. Morse was unable to travel to Ottawa to accept his Order of Canada, his grandson Eric accepted it on his behalf in June 1983.

The Chapleau Sentinel reported that "the community was very proud to have in our midst a recipient of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest distinction".

Heather Conn, writing in the Human History of Wakami Lake noted that Mr. Morse had a Linn tractor brought to Devon in 1917 which revolutionized logging operations.

The Chapleau Sentinel article explained that before this time logging in the Chapleau area was localized and confined to stands of timber within horse drawing distance to a waterway used for moving the logs to a mill.

Mr. Morse saw what a tractor could do and one was purchased. It proved to be a great success and as a result mechanized logging became a hallmark of every lumber operation with which he was associated, the story said.

It added that Mr. Morse made a "distinguished contribution to the economic growth of the country".

Upon his arrival in Chapleau, his first job was as the secretary to the Canadian Pacific Railway superintendent but soon thereafter in 1913 he became the manager of Devon Lumber Co.

After the United States entered World War I he attempted to join its armed forces but his application was denied on the grounds that lumber business was an "essential service".

His later positions included general manager of Austin and Nicholson Lumber Co, the McNaught Lumber Co., the Wakami Lumber Co., and then Vice President and General Manager of Sheppard and Morse Ltd.

With Mr. Sheppard, he created what was described as "model village" for employees --- both at Sultan and Pineal Lake. The Order of Canada citation recognizes this effort too. 

Dr. G. E. 'Ted' Young, who was a close friend of Mr. and Mrs. Morse noted that compared to other lumber communities Sultan was the most lively. Dr. Young was the company doctor too. In fact Mr. and Mrs. Morse lived in an apartment in his building for years. He had retired in 1969.

I am the first to admit that I don't know much about the lumber industry but now having written about the Martel family, Lucien Lafreniere, Oliver Korpela and now Alton Morse, I am fascinated with it. More to come.

 I did spend time visiting with Bob and Queenie (Matheson) Halliday at both Sultan and Pineal Lake with my mother Muriel (Hunt) Morris as a kid --- and I partied at Racine Lake.   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