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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chapleau 1976: laughter at high school, comic athletic prowess, ball hockey squeakers and the circus tent

Jamie Thibault, who was president of the Students Council at Chapleau High School in 1976-77, reflected on the importance of laughter as part of everyday life at the school when he was attending it in the Seventies.

Writing in the souvenir newspaper for the school's 75th anniversary in 1997, Jamie says that while laughter was never really given the respect it should have received, "it was a something, a quality perhaps, that everyone possessed whether they were aware of it or not."

Reflecting on his high school days Jamie still heard laughter in the hallways, classrooms, gymnasiums, library, on the hill as students told jokes. passed along secrets, and pulled pranks amongst one another.

"I hear the comic anecdotes of Mr. (Bryan) Kuehl to drill home a point in his Biology class; I relive the hockey tales from Mr. Morris in Man and Society; I visualize the comical actions that Mr. (Alex) Babin used to illustrate the use of a verb in French class: I hear Mr. (George) Evans using comic relief to get the class through another session of Greek mythology; I hear Mr. (Ross) Hryhorchuk laughing at another display of comic athletic prowess..."

On the 1976-77 CHS Students Council with Jamie were Tom O'Shaughnessy, Willie Date, Tim Morin, Jean Doyle, Francois Tremblay, Elaine Travis, Mike Serre, Joan Payette and Anne Marie Payette.

Thanks Jamie for the memories.

Also at the high school in 1976, Guy Bazinet was the valedictorian, while recipients of the Ontario Secondary School Honour Graduation Diplomas included Gilles Babineau, Richard Barrer, Guy Bazinet, Heather Beacock, Andre Bedard, Angelo Bucciarelli, Doris Delaney, Russell Deluce, Linda Dingee, Michelina Frattaruolo, Luc Gauthier, Michelle Jacques, Guy Martel, Keith Travis and Andre Tremblay

RECREATION ACTIVITIES UNDERWAY

Meanwhile, in the Spring of 1976, recreation activities were getting underway for the summer season.

Little League Baseball was getting underway at Grinton Park, where the Chapleau Recreation Centre opened in 1978, and with repairs to the field having been completed, under the capable guidance of president Bill Chambers, Chapleau would be hosting the District Four Little League playoffs.

At the beach Paul Richardson would be returning for his second year as the swimming instructor and lifeguard.

Over at the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena, the newly formed men's ball hockey league was getting underway with four teams participating -- Chapleau Lumber, The Hustlers, Ministry of Natural Resources and the West Side Boys.

In the opening games, the Ministry of Natural Resources squeaked by Ron Larcher's Hustlers, scoring in the dying seconds to win 5-4. Chapleau Lumber built up a 3-0 lead but couldn't hold it and lost by an identical score to the West Side Boys. I remember attending the ball hockey league games and found them so relaxing after a long winter of coaching the Chapleau Intermediate "A" Huskies in their first season in the Northland Intermediate Hockey League in 1975-76. I sat in the stands and enjoyed the ball hockey games.

75th ANNIVERSARY PLANS FINALIZED

In the Spring of 1976, plans were also being finalized for Summerfest and Old Home Week to mark the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of Chapleau as a municipality to be held from July 1 to 4. Led by Festival Chapleau co-ordinator Eileen McCrea, a group of volunteers was working to finalize the activities -- and bring the circus tent to town for activities in the beach area.

Manlio Spessot and the Boy Scouts were organizing the canoe and kayak races while Dorleen Collings, who was often fondly called "Chapleau's cook" was planning the menus for the meals that would be provided. Recreation Director Terry Bryson was overseeing all the recreation activities for the celebration.

Plans were also being made for a visit to Chapleau by the Hon. Rene Brunelle, chairman of the provincial cabinet, who would participate in the sod-turning ceremony for Cedar Grove Lodge for Senior Citizens which would be located on the old separate school site on Pine Street. During Senior Citizens Week, the Chapleau Senior Citizens Club saw plans for the new complex and made their comments.

Terry Bryson announced that a picnic for senior citizens would be held during the Old Home Week, while Councillor Ernie Gilbert outlined grants for Senior Citizens centres.

CENTENNIAL MUSEUM OPENS FOR SUMMER

Robert Andras, who was the minister of Manpower and Immigration for Canada was in town in June and officially opened the Chapleau Centennial Museum for the summer season by raising a new Canadian flag on behalf of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Under the capable supervision of Dorleen Collings, The Chapleau Sentinel reported that the museum had been a "beehive of activity with flowers blossoming and the fountain "spattered with the pennies of those seeking luck." Inside many displays were being restored. The rock collection, stuffed birds and animals and the famous Rotary table were all in place.

Seems like only yesterday.

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Michael J Morris

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

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