|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, and I will give you details on how you may remember him below.
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, who served in the Third Anti Tank Regiment of the Royal Canadian Army in World War II, shares much more of life in Chapleau and I encourage you to read it in Chapleau Trails but now I want to switch to remembering his nephew John "Charlie" White.
I received a message from David McMillan, who now lives in Selkirk, Manitoba about a way in which we can remember Charlie.
David wrote that when Charlie died, Jean, his wife, and the family had intended to set up a Trust Account for a future Scholarship Fund in Charlie’s name where individuals could make memorial donations in lieu of flowers. "In speaking with Jean recently, I’ve learned that the logistics of following that intended course of action are so overwhelming that the undertaking has unfortunately had to be abandoned.
"As an alternative Jean and the family feel that Charlie’s second choice would have been to have donations made in his memory to St. John’s Anglican Church in Chapleau where, in his youth, Charlie was a member of the congregation. St. John’s was also an institution with which he maintained a close tie and relationship until his untimely passing."
Cheques payable to St. John’s Anglican Church can be sent to the Church at Box 756, Chapleau, ON P0M 1K0 and be assured that your contribution will be greatly appreciated by both St. John’s and Charlie’s family, David advised.
Donation acknowledgements ( EXCLUDING MONETARY CONTRIBUTION AMOUNTS ) will be forwarded to Jean by St. John’s as they are received, and formal receipts for Income Tax purposes will, regardless of the amount contributed, be mailed out to donors in January 2011.
Thanks to Ian White, a member of one of Chapleau's pioneer families for sharing their story to give me a context to write about remembering Charlie, who I always thought was the star on the hockey team, to whom I once passed the puck and he scored, and who once told me during a road hockey game on the outdoor rink beside his home on Aberdeen Street, "You're pretty good."
For information on Chapleau Trails email Dr. William R. Pellow at firstname.lastname@example.org