EMAIL 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

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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.
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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.
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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.

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