|Donald and Ian White|
That's exactly what contributed to a population increase to the fledgling community on the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway as First Nations families made the journey and the opportunity for gainful employment.
Writing in Chapleau Trails, edited by Dr. William R. Pellow, Ian White mentions many of these families who migrated, but I will just share some of his story in this column. Mr. White is the uncle of John "Charlie" White born and raised in Chapleau, who died on March 12, 2009.
Mr. White writes in Chapleau Trails that his grandparents Stephen and Jane Potts left Moose Factory in 1900, stopped for the winter in Mattice and then stayed at the Brunswick House Reserve on Missanabie Lake before arriving in Chapleau. His mother was nine years old at the time and with her older sister Barbara walked most of the journey by following the shoreline.
He explains that this was necessary because his grandfather had only two canoes and room for three people in each vessel along with the possessions they brought with them. In Chapleau they built a house on Aberdeen Street.
After settling in Chapleau, Mr. White notes that the Elders of the community became devout members of St. John's Anglican Church, but as some could not get out to attend services at the church, they gathered at homes for prayer and enlightenment. He notes that Esther (Sanders) Swanson was their self taught organist and choir leader on Sunday afternoons, and "their joy of singing could be heard in the neighbourhood."
At age seven Mr. White joined the choir of St. John's with Terry and John Way-White, David and Elbert Collinson, Lorne and John Woodard, Edwin Good, Jim and Keith Searle with Reginald Thrush as choirmaster. "I remember my first morning, it was Easter Sunday 1927 and my grandpa was sitting near the entrance when we entered the church. I can still see his smile of approval..."
Mr. White also writes about the "Lower Town" hockey team and some of the famous First Nations players from the early years. "Bob Turner was the noted goalie. Tony Cachagee a fast skating forward. Mickey Linklater was called to play for Glace Bay of the Maritime League and Joe Wolotco, not of the First Nation but a member of the team was called to play for the Windsor Bulldogs of the Ontario Hockey League."
He also notes that his older brothers Donald and John (Charlie's father) and a cousin Oliver "Doc" Potts and the Corston boys and Mickey and Farmer Linklater competed in the town softball league, adding that Jack Shoup and "Bunt" Burrows shared umpire duties, "both of whom sometimes bore the brunt of sharp criticism."
Mr. White, served in the Third Anti Tank Regiment of the Royal Canadian Army in World War II.
His brother Donald, who lives at Chapleau Cree First Nation also served in World War II. Ian lives in London, Ontario
For information on Chapleau Trails email Dr. William R. Pellow at email@example.com