|Sam Chappise with N.R. Crump|
His parents, James and Rebeckah Chappise, with their family, were among the Cree First Nation people who made the arduous canoe trip from James Bay to Chapleau around the beginning of the 20th century.
Wilf Simpson, writing in his history of Chapleau and area published in the 1970s noted that Sam Chappise had an excellent memory of the trip and told stories of the portages, the fishing and wildlife, "for in those days, the food that could be carried in a birch bark canoe, with a family, was of necessity limited and it was necessary to live off the land. Everyone had a direct hand on a trip of this magnitude and Sam recalled his chore of collecting the wood for cooking fires."
Mr. Chappise's parents were expert crafters building birch bark canoes, according to Ian White writing in Chapleau Trails, and after they set up home in Chapleau, at least two canoes were in production at amy time and could be viewed in their yard.
In Wilf Simpson's story he writes that Mr. Chappise noted that in the early days of birch bark canoe construction, the gunwales of the canoe were made solid and he watched his father empty any water in the canoe at every portage. Due to the solid gunwhale there was always water that could not be dumped out.
"Sam remembered this and in later years developed the gunwhale in use today with openings in the gunwhale to permit all the water to be dumped out." This may sound like a minor detail but it sure wasn't to people whose only way of travel was by canoe.
Wilf relates the story that Mr. Chappise told of making the transition from "wilderness to civilization" after his family had completed the trip from the James Bay area and at first settled in the area of Nicholson, about 20 miles west of Chapleau on the CPR line.
"He (Mr. Chappise) recalled that for the first weeks after settling there, every time a train whistled, he would race to the shelter of the forest, throw himself down and peer through the underbrush as the iron monster, belching smoke and sparks steamed by. Needless to say, Sam had never heard of, let alone seen a railway engine. for the Ontario Northland, now serving Moosonee, was not even a dream in those far off days."
In fact, as I wrote in my book Sons of Thunder... Apostles of Love, at about this time in the early 20th century, Robert J. Renison, later an Archbishop in the Anglican church noted that Chapleau on the CPR main line was "the only window on the outside world" for the church's Diocese of Moosonee. Chapleau had a railway station, telegraph office and post office.
The engine had actually worked on the CPR line through Chapleau, while Mr. Crump had worked for the CPR in Chapleau some years earlier.
In 1967, Canada's Centennial, Mr. Chappise returned to the CPR station for "one of great thrills of his life" according to Wilf, to sound the 'O Canada' whistle when the Centennial Caravan train arrived in Chapleau.
Mr. Chappise's brother Peter served in Canadian Forces in World War I. He was killed in action on June 23, 1916, and is buried at Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial, Belgium. He was 22.
Samuel Chappise served in World War I with the 227th Battalion, Canadian Forces.
Samuel and Dina Chappise stand out among the pioneers of Chapleau who established the community in its early years and made a contribution to its life for many years. Their son Richard Robert Chappise, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II, became a Flying Officer and became part of Number 99 RAF Squadron in the Pacific area of the war. He was killed in action on June 5, 1945, after the war in Europe had ended but Japan had not yet surrendered.
Richard is honoured on the Singapore Memorial along with over 24000 who have no known grave who were involved in operations over the whole of southern and eastern Asia and surrounding seas and oceans. Richard Chappise was 20.
Let us never forget the good people of Chapleau who have done so much for their community and the world beyond home. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
FORMER CHAPLEAU RESIDENT GERRY BOWLAND SENT THE FOLLOWING. GERRY RUNS THE N.R. CRUMP CENTRE AT SAIT IN CALGARY
It is good that some of these stories are getting told. A lot of history is getting lost and it appears that some of the next generation do not value the past to the same degree as we do.
In a strange quirk….. I actually run the N.R. ' Buck Crump' Centre for Rail Training and Technology here at Southern Alberta Institute of Technogy. (SAIT). We actually have a bust of him in the foyer and also have a “lathe” that he highly valued and that he gave to the centre in his last will. When the centre was originally set up, CPR training and development was co-located in the building. They moved from here back onto CPR property last December as SAIT needed the space.
I look forward to your “blogs” as they certainly set up a trip down memory lane.