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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chapleau Public School from church to tent to home on Pine Street

First School circa 1890s
Elementary school education was made available for children in Chapleau from the earliest days of the community, according to a document prepared by the late J.M. "Jack" Shoup, the longtime principal and Grade 8 teacher at Chapleau Public School.

UPDATED ON August 5, 2014. Chapleau Public School is being demolished. Students were moved to Chapleau High School a couple of years ago.

Mr. Shoup noted that the first school was founded in 1886 in the vestry of the Roman Catholic Church and all children were welcome. Attendance ranged between 15 and 20 students who used home made desks and benches. Slates rather than exercise books were used.

In 1889 a Mr. Hager taught school in tent, but by 1893 the first organized public school was established. Miss Charlotte Weller who became the wife of G.B. Nicholson was the teacher in charge with an enrolment of 100 students. It became a two room school and with it came factory made double desks, and by 1902 a four room school was built when the staff increased to three teachers.

In 1921 a ratepayers meeting empowered a board to select a site for a new public school and it gave the decision to locate the school on the site where it is today on Pine Street.

V.T. Chapple, W.R. McAdam and George Young (the father of Dr. G.E. "Ted" Young) selected plans and a new seven room building was erected with classes beginning in it on February 19, 1923, according to Mr. Shoup's document.

It is interesting that in Chapleau's early years two school principals defined education for so many students who attended Chapleau Public School and Chapleau High School. Mr. Shoup was principal from 1927 to 1939 and then took leave of absence to serve in World War II. He had also served in World War I. He returned in 1945 and retired in 1958. He greatly influenced so many students, as did John "Mac" McClellan, who was at CHS down the street!

Mr. Shoup was also a long serving member of Chapleau council and had a particular interest in the beach area. He was actively involved in July 1 celebrations as a member of Branch Number 5 of the Royal Canaian Legion where he was also one of its presidents, and Beach Day in August as Chair of the Chapleau Recreation Committee. The recreation committee was first established in 1948.

Chapleau Public School 
On a personal basis my mother Muriel E. Morris, worked with Mr. Shoup for many years and he was a close personal friend of our family. In fact he brought the Financial Post and Sudbury Star ((for which he wrote) to our house every day for my grandmother, (Edith Hunt) and mystery novels for my Mom. Mostly Perry Mason by Erle Stanley Gardner and I read them all too!!!! He also helped many of the people on Elgin Street where he lived by shovelling snow and otherwise helping out.

After Mr. Shoup retired and Foy Wright became principal, increased enrolment caused the board to build an additional four rooms which were ready in 1964, and another four rooms including a library and gymnasium were added in 1972.


Fast forward to 1978 when Mansel Robinson was board chair and members included Anne McGoldrick, W.D. Jardine, Scott Thomson and Richad Lapp. Mr Wright was principal.

The teaching staff in 1977-78 was Wilma Schmidt, Dianne Gendron, Opal Simpson, Jeannette Gjoni, Sally Landry, Jane Ritchie, Cheryl Boucher, Mary Campbell, George Swanson, Shane Wright, Lillian Robinson, James Broomhead, Gerry Boucher and Duncan Rogerson. Louise Coulter and Lucy Boucher were the French language teachers. How many do you remember?

I include the staff from 1977-78 because I got some of the material for this column from a feature on Chapleau Public School called Chapleau's People and Places in the Chapleau Sentinel of March 9, 1978.

Just a note to thank everyone who is sending me emails at mj.morris@live.ca and special thanks to former Chapleau resident George Tremblay for sending me a copy of his book “Break at Nine.”

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Michael J Morris

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

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