EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Friday, October 22, 2010

Chapleau World War I and II veterans urged to become involved in community life as Legion members elected to township council in 1947

Two years after the end of World War II, as those who served in Canada's armed forces returned home to Chapleau, they were being urged to take more of an interest in community and municipal affairs.
Both J.M. Shoup, president of Branch No."5" of the Legion, and Harry Searle, after whom the Chapleau branch came to be named, urged the World War II veterans to be more involved in community life. Mr. Shoup, who had served in World Wars I and II and Mr. Searle, who served in World War I, and worked tirelessly for benefits for veterans were speaking at the annual Legion Armistice Day Banquet and Dance held in the Town Hall in 1947.

Mr. Searle proposed a toast to the branch and talked about the founding of the Legion and those from across Canada who were responsible. He stressed that it was with no thought of personal gain that the Legion was founded. Mr. Searle was present at the meeting in Winnipeg in 1925 where the Legion was founded and Chapleau received its Charter in 1926 as Branch No. 5 and was later named in his honour and is now known as Harry Searle (Ont. No. 5) Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, according to information on the Chapleau community portal.

J.L Whitney proposed the toast to the memory of those who did not come back while Mrs. L. Montgomery outlined the work of the ladies during the war both in the forces and at home. She said that although the war was over there was still a fight against poverty to be won.

J.M. Shoup
In his remarks Mr. Shoup gave an outline of the work of the branch during the past year and what had been accomplished at the hall. He said that the hall was becoming more and more a community centre every day and that more and more facilities would be added for the benefit of both the general public and veterans.

Over 240 members and guests were present for the turkey banquet which was enjoyed by all. World War II veteran Henry Therriault was chairman for the evening while J. Thomson played the Last Post. After dinner they moved to the Town Hall auditorium where an hour of excellent humorous entertainment was provided under the direction of Ted Soucie. Dancing followed in the basement to the music of Wilf Simpson and his orchestra.

About a month later, Mr. Shoup was returned as branch president for another term at the branch's annual election of officers. Henry Therriault was elected first vice president, A.R "Rene" Acquin, second vice president, with George Collinson as secretary and Fred Matters as treasurer. Auditors were Mr. Searle, Mr. Collinson and Steve Therriault. The executive committee consisted of Mr. Searle, Mr. (Steve) Therriault, Ovide Cote, W. Morrison and Walter Steed. Interestingly two members of the Legion executive were elected to Chapleau township council in the 1947 election: Mr. Steed and Mr. Shoup. In that same election Mrs. F.M (Maud) Hands, who had been a nurse in England during World War I, became the first woman ever elected to Chapleau council.

When I discovered the articles about the 1947 activities that appeared in the Chapleau Post, it seemed appropriate to use them  as it marked the beginning of changes in Chapleau that would continue for many years. The veterans of World War II heeded the comments of Mr. Shoup and Mr. Searle to become involved in community life, and they were involved in every aspect of it in the years to come.

As I wrote in my 1984 book, "Sons of Thunder... Apostles of Love" the veterans returned home, resumed their employment, married and started to raise their families. .. These veterans, having experienced the bitterness of war and having lived through the Great Depression were determined to build a better community for their children.

I added: They became involved in local organizations, sat on the municipal council and school boards, and were active in their church. Chapleau was beginning to change. The barriers of isolation were being removed.

As I reflect today on the Chapleau where I was raised, attended school and later returned to teach at the high school, I recall the names of so many of our community's veterans who rose to the occasion not only in time of war, but in time of peace to create a better place for us all.

At a Remembrance Day service in St. John's Anglican Church one year later in 1948, Rev. Canon H.A. Sims said in part, "We must make peace by working hard at overcoming ugliness with beauty; overcoming meanness with generosity; overcoming lies with truth, and by overcoming evil with good." The service was to dedicate a prayer desk in memory of my father. Flying Officer James E. Morris, who was kiilled on active service in the RCAF in 1943.

Those who did come home understood so clearly the words of Canon Sims, and gave so much to our community. Thank you. To those who did not return, they shall grow not old because we will always remember them. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

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Michael J Morris

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


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