EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Chapleau Brass Band greets Governor General of Canada with 'Yankee Doodle' in 1889

names below
Shortly after a Mr. Garneau arrived in Chapleau and had  been appointed bandmaster for the Chapleau Brass Band in 1889, the Governor General of Canada's train was to pass through the community on its way to western Canada. 

"The band was requested to play at the station was the train was being serviced Mr. Garneau who was not well posted on patriotic music on this side of the Atlantic had the band play, 'Yankee Doodle" as this was one of the pieces they played best," according to Vince Crichton in his book 'Pioneering in Northern Ontario'.

Mr Garneau came from France.  Vince noted that this anecdote was later told by J.B. Dexter one of the community's earliest citizens to D.O. Payette, who arrived in 1904.

The Governor General, the Earl of Minto, appointed by Queen Victoria, was familiar with Canada though having served in the military here during the Northwest Rebellion. There is no mention of his reaction, if any to the playing of 'Yankee Doodle'. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

D.O. Payette jokingly referred to business partner Arthur Grout having first dime from memorable moment when they took took over Smith and Chapple Ltd. in 930

After being involved in "active business" in Chapleau for 44 years, D.O. Payette decided to retire as president of Smith and Chapple Ltd. on January 28, 1949.

In an article prepared for the Chapleau Post, Mr. Payette begins with a joking reference to his business partner "Art Grout has the first dime Smith and Chapple took in that memorable morning of January 29, 1930, when we took over from V.T. Chapple."

In an article prepared for the Chapleau Post, Mr. Payette begins with a joking reference to his business partner "Art Grout has the first dime Smith and Chapple took in that memorable morning of January 29, 1930, when we took over from V.T. Chapple."
Mr Grout
Apparently that first dime was set on a card bearing an appropriate description and kept by Mr. Grout. I wonder where it is today, some 88 years later!

Mr. Payette became president and Mr. Grout vice president.
Mr Payette

He relates that when they first took over the store business was "good" but as the "grim hand" Great Depression took hold  in Canada, Chapleau did not escape.

Railroad workers with 25 years experience lost their jobs, and the "lumbering industry practically ceased to exist".

The partners needed to find new customers quickly. At about this time, gold claims started to open, and "considerable propserity" was being achieved. They decided to do their best to get  business from this source.

Aircraft were landing at Chapleau on their sway to and from claims.

Mr. Payette relates that one morning when a plane landed on the Kebsquasheshing River at Chapleau, Mr. Grout raced to the waterfront and assisted with the landing, then brought all the passengers to the store. He told them "If we haven't got what you want, we'll get it."

In due course several flight services operated out of Chapleau, and their store started taking deliveries by canoe and  delivering  byplane to the mining camps filling orders from prospectors.

Let me digress for a moment. In 1930 my father Jim Morris was attending Chapleau High School, and would go and help the pilots load and unload planes. My grandfather Harry Morris told me that he was also learning to fly planes, but did not tell my grandmother Lil (Mulligan) Morris. Nonethelesss she knew he was taking flying lessons from the bush pilots. Mothers always know!

Mr. Payette said that despite adversity ''sweating blood, hiding our fears" by 1937 business started to improve.

By the start of World War II in 1939, they were adding a two story building to the east side of the men's wear department to include a meat and grocery department, two apartments, and snack bar. 

Mr. Payette wrote that business was good during the war years, and by 1945 they had paid off Mr. Chapple.

In 1949. he told Mr. Grout that he wanted to retire. Mr. Grout at started at the store at age 14, and noiw would become the owner.

A period of "real expansion" started after Mr. Grout took over as president.

Mr. Payette explained that up until then main street had been essentially one-sided with most businesses on the north side with only the Algoma Dairy at Birch and Young street and the Regent Theatre at Birch and Lorne. In between was a high board fence and behind it were CPR cottages facing the shops.

The new building housed various departments of Smith and Chapple over the years.

In conclusion Mr. Payette pays a trubute to Arthur Grout as "a man of inestimable ability and energy. Our partnership traversed the years with harmony and good fellowship."

Mr. Payette was not only involved with Smith and Chapple over the years, but was very active in community activities. By 1906, he appears in a photo of a Chapleau hockey team and he later managed teams. He also played in the Town Band and was bandmaster. In the 1930s, he was referred to as "the catalyst" behind the founding of Chapleau winter carnivals. 

He also served as fire chief, member and chairman of the high school board, manager of the Chapleau Memorial Arena, member of the Knights of Columbus, choirmaster at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church member of the Chapleau Rotary Club, and he also golfed and curled..

I am an alumnus of Smith and Chapple Ltd. having worked in various departments while attending Chapleau High School and Waterloo Lutheran University now Wilfrid Laurier University. It was a great place to work. My mail is mj.morris@live.ca

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Reflections on Legion Hall in Chapleau as Branch Number Five undertake major renovation program

As the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I approaches on November 11, 2018, and the centennial of Chapleau's Legion Hall nears in 2020, it is very appropriate that Branch Number Five (Ontario) of the Royal Canadian Legion is planning major renovations to one of the community's last historic public buildings.

After receiving a copy of the letter that the branch sent out to its members regarding the planned renovations, I contacted Nellie Mitchell, the branch president, for an update on the plan. Nellie replied that the branch had " good productive meeting" and it would now proceed with getting the renovationds underway.

I could not help but reflect on the amazing role the "Legion Hall" and the members of the "Legion" have played in the life and times of Chapleau since it was opened officially in 1920 as St John's Parish house.
Opening of hall 1920

After World War I, Harry Searle a veteran, led a Chapleau delegation to Winnipeg for the founding convention of the Legion, and the branch received its charter in 1926 -- Number Five in Ontario, quite an accomplishment for a small community. On a personal note I have always been proud that Harry Morris, my grandfather, a World War I veteran was part of the Chapleau delegation.

But, "the Legion", was not home to the branch in the beginning. Mr. and Mrs. G.B. Nicholson had it built in memory of their son Lorne and his friends who were killed in action during World War I. It  was the parish house of St John's Anglican Church.

The late George Evans, former teacher and assistant principal at Chapleau High School wrote in a column that "It is significant that the donors of the building did not put their names on the monumental inscription: they were content that the world remembers them as the father and mother of Lieutenant Lorne W. Nicholson."

George added that on the carved transom above the front door is an inscription. It reads: "St 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".

In our book, 'The Chapleau Boys Go To War' Michael McMullen and I identified a list of 283 volunteers with a Chapleau connection, not all of whom returned home. Thirty-two lost their lives.

St. John's was unable to maintain the building during the Great Depression and  in due course the municipality took it over, and Branch Five rented it, then by 1955 when B.W. 'Bubs' Zufelt was reeve, it was bought by the branch. Mr. Zufelt (who in the interests of full disclosure was my uncle) was given a life membership for his efforts.

Michael and I identified 418 enlistments with a Chapleau connection in World War II, 29 of whom, including my father Flying Officer James Morris, did not return home.

Those who returned and made their homes in Chapleau, like the World War I veterans became very active in community affairs. In 1947, when J.M. 'Jack' Shoup, who had served in World War I and II. was branch president, said they had "a duty to serve" they did in all as aspects of community life with the "Legion Hall" as their central place.
Tee Chambers, Butch Pellow, Aldee Martel 1954

As I reflected on my growing up years in Chapleau I was a fan of Legion hockey and baseball teams with mostly veterans on them. I would hardly ever miss one of their games and Garth 'Tee' Chambers, a veteran, was my personal hero and friend. 

The Legion and its members became very involved in community coaching and sponsoring teams, holding annual poster and essay contests, assisting veterans and their families in need, serving  on local boards, committees and council, providing colour parties for local events, and much much more towards making Chapleau a better place for all.
Back Baisel, Mike McMullen, Mrs Broomhead, Dave McMillan, Richard Pilon, Tim Goodwin, Front Charlie White, Ken Schroeder, Boo Hong

I also went looking for photos and decided to share one of Baisel Collings, who coached the 1954 Chapleau Bantams, posing with the team. After World War II, Baisel played on Legion teams but like many he also coached. 

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross along with three other Chapleau boys: Willard Bolduc, Donald Freeborn and Lloyd 'Sparrow' McDonald.

His citation reads: "Warrant Officer Collings has at all times displayed outstanding ability and a strong sense of duty, and he holds a fine record of achievement on the squadron. His untiring devotion to duty in moments of danger has been largely responsible for the successful completion of his crew's many sorties, and by his example of cheerful courage has maintained a very high standard of morale, not only for his crew members, but the squadron in general."

To me, Baisel's citation could have been written for any Chapleau person who served in World War I or 2, and then came home and contributed to the community. They sure followed Mr. Shoup's dictum "a duty to serve."

Not too many veterans of World War II remain now, but it is great to see that members of Branch Number Five  are carrying on the good works of those who served before, and they have undertaken major renovations to "the Legion". Congratulations and thank you.

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