EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ontario cabinet minister Rene Brunelle describes Chapleau as 'most progressive community in Northern Ontario' in 1978 at official opening of Cedar Grove Lodge

When Cedar Grove Lodge for Senior Citizens and the Chapleau Recreation Centre were officially opened in June 1978, it was also an occasion to honour some of Chapleau's distinguished citizens.
At Cedar Grove, the apartment section was named in honour of Peter Blackburn and Vince Crichton, to be known as the Blackburn-Crichton Memorial Wing and the drop-in centre as the Mrs. Agnes Freeborn Memorial Elderly Persons Centre. Mr. Blackburn and Mr. Crichton were long-time residents of Chapleau and great supporters of community life. Mrs. Freeborn was the founding president of the Chapleau Senior Citizens Club whiich held its first meeting on the lawn of the old Chapleau High School in the summer of 1973.

At the recreation centre opening on June 29, it was announced that the arena portion would be known as the Mrs. A.W. Moore Arena in honour of Mrs. Moore, who was present for the occasion. Mrs. Moore, over a period of many years, made an immense contribution to hockey, and to the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena, where she singlehandedly raised the funds for the installation of artificial ice. Her picture and a plaque were to be placed in the arena.

The home for the aged section at Cedar Grove Lodge was named the Rene Brunelle Wing, after the Ontario cabinet minister who was so incredibly supportive of the project, and in large measure made it happen. Mr. Brunelle, who died in April, 2010, was present for the occasion in 1978, and officially opened the complex. The ribbon was held by pioneer residents Mr. and Mrs. Fred Leclerc. Mr. Leclerc had served as a member of Chapleau council.

In his remarks, Mr. Brunelle, who represented Cochrane riding referred to Chapleau as "the most progressive community in Northern Ontario", according to a report in the Chapleau Sentinel. Mr. Brunelle also toured the new civic centre and recreation centre.

In a letter, Ontario Premier William Davis wrote that the decision to name part of the facility after Mr. Brunelle, was a "fitting tribute" adding that the "north has no better friend than Rene Brunelle and in the true northern spirit you have recognized this in a most meaningful way... May I extend to all who have been associated in any way with this project, my warmest best wishes."

Following the opening of Cedar Grove on June 30, the Chapleau Senior Citizens Club, with Mrs. Min Blackburn as president, served a delightful lunch while citizens also toured the facility. Tour guides were members of the Sincerity Rebekah Lodge.

Mrs. Lauretta Veit, a member of the founding board for Cedar Grove was chairperson for the official opening, and delighted those attending with the announcement that Catherine McKinnon and her husband Don Harron, "Charlie Farquharson" were present. Miss McKinnon sang 'Amazing Grace' while "Charlie" performed one of his popular dialogues. The visit was arranged by Peter Bernier, chair of the Chapleau Recreation Committee.

Back to the opening of the recreation centre, another highlight was the presentation of the Peter Blackburn Memorial Trophy to Jamie Doyle of the Chapleau Intermediate "A" Huskies as the player who made the most outstanding overall contribution to the team. Mrs. Blackburn had donated the trophy of her husband who had been an avid supporter of the Chapleau entry in the Northland Intermediate Hockey League.

In accepting the trophy, Jamie said: "Mr. Blackburn travelled many miles with our team. He was with us when we lost and when we won. It is a great honour to have won this most prestigious trophy."

Recreation director Terry Bryson was master of ceremonies for the recreation centre opening whiile it was officially declared open by Robert Eaton, MPP, on behalf of Premier William Davis. The keys to the building were presented to Peter Bernier, the chair of the Chapleau Recreation Committee.

Harry Pellow, then of Neish Owen Rowland and Roy, and a member of one of Chapleau's pioneer families, was the principal architect for Cedar Grove and the recreation centre. Eileen McCrea, executive assistant to the reeve was overall co-ordinator of the openings.

Among the dignitaries attending the recreation centre opening was Carlo Cattarello, the president of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association and an outstanding tennis player. I had challenged Carlo to a set to be played on the arena floor, and he brought his racquet and clothes all set to play. I tried to use the excuse that I had forgotten everything at home, but Tim Morin came forward and offered to let me use his racquet, shoes, shirt and shorts. Trapped!

The Chapleau Sentinel reported that it was "a great set until the reeve complained of a 'sore wrist' with the games tied 4-4. Mr. Cattarello emerged the winner 5-4".

For new readers, I was the Reeve (Mayor) of Chapleau at the time.

Thanks to all those who have been writing me. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

IN PHOTO are founding members of the board of Cedar Grove Lodge at ground breaking cereemony in 1976: From left, Michael Morris, Dr. G.E.Young, George Evans, Hon Rene Brunelle, Walter Wilson, Ernie Gilbert, Lauretta Veit, G. Ste, Marie, F.A. Card, Louise Mione and Min Blackburn.

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Michael J Morris

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


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