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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Official opening of Chapleau-Timmins Highway 101 connection in 1962 called 'banner day' in Northern Ontario history as aerial bombs exploded everywhere

Between Chapleau and Foleyet Hwy 101 construction
The Chapleau-Timmins Highway 101 connection was officially opened on June 23, 1962, with citizens awakened by the sound of aerial bombs exploding everywhere, making it a "banner day" in the history of Northern Ontario.
Ken Encil was in charge of the explosive start to the activities while Jack Baker, president of the Chapleau Chamber of Commerce, commented that the committee had gone "to great lengths to make this a banner day in the history of Northern Ontario, as indeed (the road) is making history for this part of the country.

Monster dances had been held the previous evening with the teenage dance on Pine Street across from the old Chapleau High School which had been illuminated with coloured lights and the adult dance in the Royal Canadian Legion Hall. The very popular Jim Lane was the master of ceremonies and in charge of music for both dances, and let me tell you, it was one great night in Chapleau for everyone. I was home from university for the summer and remember it all like it was only yesterday.

At 8:30 am. Chapleau vehicles proceeded to the Shawmere River, and were directed to stop west of the river and park under the direction of the Ontario Provincial Police. The directions were very specific as Timmins vehicles were to leave that city, not later than eight a.m. to arrive at the Shawmere not later than 10 a.m. and be "parked two cars wide facing west and must stop 300 feet short of the bridge..." A warning, "Don't forget the fly dope," was issued.

At 10 a.m "sharp" there was a tug of war competition on the bridge between two teams from Timmins and two from Chapleau lumber jacks. I have no idea all these years later who won, but the Timmins Canadian Legion Band was also there playing numbers before the opening ceremonies began.

Jim Wyatt of Timmins was master of ceremonies, while W.E. Brewer, Jack Baker, and Herb Curnow, presidents of the Porcupine, Chapleau and Foleyet chambers of commerce, gave short addresses. Rheal Belisle, MPP, introduced W.J. Goodfellow, the Ontario Minister of Highways who officiated at the official ribbon cutting after which Dr. J.B. McClinton, of Timmins, a pioneer promoter of the highway unveiled an historical plaque. Two years later when I became a reporter at the Timmins Daily Press, I came to know Dr. McClinton and what a great supporter he was of the development of Northern Ontario.

The parade then proceeded to Chapleau, and upon arrival at the outskirts of town, headed by the Chapleau Town Band and with the assistance of the Timmins Legion Band, Timmins Lions Sea Cadet Band, Chapleau High School Girls Bugle Band, Chapleau Pipers, drum majorettes from Timmins, CHS Cadet Corps the procession of vehicles and floats headed into town. It ended up at the Town Hall. Charlie Law and Willard Morrison were parade marshals.

After the parade Balloon Man Ernie Holden and 101 Pennant Man Casey Nowakoski could be found at the beach area where as usual J.M. "Jack" Shoup was in charge of the activities for children. The usual activities associated with Chapleau celebrations took place with the added attraction of a fire brigade competition on Pine Street between teams from Chapleau, Timmins, Porcupine, Tisdale and Schumacher all organized by Fire Chiefs Ad Andrews of Chapleau and Stanley of Timmins.

A challenge grudge softball game was held between Chapleau council and all stars led by Reeve D.J. "Jim" Broomhead and Timmins led by Mayor Leo Del Villano.

I never seem to have the winners of competitions in Chapleau, so if anyone remembers, please feel free to let me know. If you have photos please let me know.

As I look at the program all these years later, it was a non-stop weekend in Chapleau with activities for people of all ages and it brought visitors to the community from everywhere -- or so it sure seems. The organizing committee was chaired by Arthur J. Grout assisted by Ted Demers and Jim Wyatt. Committee members came from every organization.

On the same weekend, the executive of the Sudbury and District Municipal Association held a meeting in Chapleau, and Ontario cabinet minister W.J. Spooner officially opened the Five Mile Lake Provincial Park.

On Saturday evening as soon as it was "sufficiently dark" there was a fascinating outdoor picture show on two screens organized by Yvon Martel assisted by Ted Demers and Eric Gage while near the end of an amateur show in the town hall auditorium there was a playback of a record made some 10 years earlier by Chapleau proponents of Highway 101. Speakers on it were B.W. "Bubs" Zufelt, the reeve of Chapleau in 1951, and Charles W. Collins, A.E. Evans and Mr. Grout. all citizens who in their time were devoted to the best interests of the community. I wonder if anyone still has this recording, a very important historical document.

A giant fireworks display organized by Tommy Godfrey and his crew brought the day's activities to a close

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Michael J Morris

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


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