EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Friday, March 26, 2010

Louis Fortin on summers spent on CPR 'ice gang', Ken Schroeder on playing for teen town and Michel Hammond on growing up in Chapleau

Louis Fortin in 1982
When I asked Louis Fortin, one of my great Chapleau buddies from years ago to share his memories of working on the Canadian Pacific Railway ice gang, he replied, "Going that far back in the archives of my grey matter may be problematic however, I will give it a shot." You did great Louis, and thanks!

Louis noted that working on the ice gang was a great summer job for high schoolers. "My first stint was at age 15 (told a white lie) and continued over several summers until I moved over to the diesel shop and then hired on as a trainman in1962. The summer ice gang consisted mostly of high school students and a few elderly transient types.

"The ice house was located approximately 500 yards from the railway station. At the time we provided icing service for Numbers 7 & 8 (the Dominion) and a host of extra trains that were initiated for the tourist season. The extras would come thru Chapleau at all hours of the day and night and we had to be available.

"Our first job was to literally chop, saw, chisel the large blocks from the ice house and load the large steel carts in preparation for train arrival. The original blocks were approximately 3 feet high by 2 feet. We sawed the blocks in half and with the use of steel chutes sent the ice down to the platform level where it was loaded in the steel carts. At train time we met the train, opened the bunkers on the side of the passenger cars into which we loaded these blocks of ice each weighing approx. 100 lbs. This function was performed manually. We had to literally bend down below the bunker doors and slide the ice into the bunker. It goes without saying that the ice was necessary for air conditioning purposes.

"The Canadian( #’s 1 & 2) was air conditioned electrically and we were not involved in icing those trains.

"The winter ice gang consisted mostly of laid off trainmen and firemen as well as part time workers from the area. They took the ice off the Chapleau river and loaded into the ice house. I did not work on the winter gang but I can imagine that is was a wee bit breezy on the river. If my memory serves me right we were paid .70 cents/hr. We did accumulate a lot of overtime but at straight rates. Nevertheless a great summer job while having a lot of fun."

Thanks Louis for setting the scene for next week's Chapleau Moments when Dr. William R. "Bill" Pellow will share his memories from having worked cutting the ice during the winter months. Dr. Pellow, like Louis, is a member of one of Chapleau's pioneer families. He is the editor and publisher of 'Chapleau Trails' and author of 'From Overalls to Scrubs.'


Ken Schroeder, another old friend and member of one of Chapleau's founding families was in touch to provide more details on the Chapleau High School Orchestra of the Fifties.

Ken said that it started with the school with Margaret Rose Fortin and Mary Serre and Harry "Boo Boo" Hong as supporters and coaches and then teen town became the movers behind it. However, because of shortages of members and instruments it evolved into a mix of seasoned players like Wilf Simpson on sax and piano, Greg Lucas on clarinet and Robert Lemieux on trumpet and Jim Ennis or Rita Morin or Eunice Michaud on piano and Kay McFarlane singing and Ken on drums. Gordon Bolduc played accordion while Joey Steen played guitar.

"We would do the Legion Hall or Town Hall basement on certain occasions for teen town "Saturday Night Live". One year we had gig and hit the bright lights of Renabie Mines for New Year's Eve. This was before roads went that way. Train only and no Budd. Wonderful, fun times. Nobody could do "Stardust" like we could. "Beer Barrel Polka" was another special of ours."

After receiving Ken's comments out of the mothballs of memory came the thought that he was so right about 'Stardust' and the 'Beer Barrel Polka.' As dances would come to an end the polka was often played followed by 'Stardust' as the Home Waltz. For younger readers the Home Waltz was the final number of the evening where you either danced with your date, or tried to get the girl you would like to walk or drive home to dance with you.


Michel Hammond, who was born in Chapleau but moved away in 1965 whern his father was transferrred to southern Ontario by the CPR, sent me an email in which he shared some of his memories of growing up in the community.

"I have fond memories of Chapleau, picking blueberries, my Father hunting partridge and living on Queen Street. I remember the Horseshoe Bridge and what a walk that was especially as a children we were forbidden to cross the tracks. I remember my Father working at Smith & Chapple as a second job in order to feed the six of us.

"The snow piles and my Father having to wake up at early dawn to make a path for us to simply leave the house and walk to School. I attended Sacred Heart Elementary School which .. is no longer standing. (Cedar Grove Lodge is now on the site of the school.)

``I remember the five and dime and the Fox Theatre, where .35 cents would gain me access to the show, .25 cents, and a dime for a Humpty Dumpty Chip, 0.5 cents and a Roman Nougat Candy Bar .05 cents. The big hill at the end of Queen Street, does not seem so big now... Behind the hill was the Hospital where I was born, Lady Minto Hospital.

`` I remember that Chinese restaurant at the foot of the bridge in town (the Boston Cafe, now Hongers) where they seemed to have the best Boston Cream Pie around.`

Michel also advised that his father was a member of the Knights of Columbus and his mother was active in the Catholic Women`s League.

Thanks Michel for the memories.


Congratulations to Gus and Helen on the occasion of their 40th wedding anniversary! I extend my personal ``cheers and applause`` to you from out here in British Columbia, and a big hello to Nikki. I have such fond memories of hours spent in the restaurant and your awesome hospitality.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Remembering Rev. William Ivey: "Faith helped pioneers over rough spots and kept them going"

From the time of his arrival in Chapleau at Easter 1974 to become Rector of St. John's Anglican Church, William Ivey was involved in community life while also looking after his parish.

Somehow it seemed so appropriate that I received the news of William's sudden death on Monday from Tom Corston, a Chapleau boy who is now an archdeacon in the Anglican church and rector of Church of the Epiphany, Sudbury, Ontario. Tom posted the news that William had died suddenly on his Facebook page.

On June 30, 1974, at St. John's, shortly after Rev. Ivey's arrival, Tom was ordained deacon in a service conducted by Archbishop James A. Watton of the Diocese of Moosonee.

When Chapleau celebrated its 75th anniversary of incorporation as a municipality in 1976, during the time that I served as Reeve (mayor), William was greatly involved in the activities. He not only organized a Homecoming Service for St. John's but participated in the giant ecumenical service held in the circus tent by the Chapleau (Kebsquasheshing) River.

The tent service was truly a moment of Christian unity as all denominations came together along with their choirs and members to participate.

When St. John's celebrated its 90th anniversary a year earlier, Rev. Ivey wrote of the occasion: "...(it was) faith in the future of this great country that first brought men and women up here (to Chapleau). And I know that faith in God helped those pioneers over the rough spots and kept them going. Faith is still an important part of life in this community..."

In 1978, when Chapleau celebrated the opening of the new Chapleau Recreation Centre, Cedar Grove Lodge for Senior Citizens and the Chapleau Civic Centre in a flurry of ribbon cutting in three days in June, Rev. Ivey assisted at the openings. He was selected by the council to be part of the official welcoming committee to meet Her Honour Pauline McGibbon, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, who came to Chapleau to open the civic centre.

In 1982 when Chapleau High School celebrated its 60th anniversary, he organized another homecoming service attended by 225 people at St, John's. Along with Tom Corston and Canon Redfern Louttit, who had attended St. John's, Rev. Ivey participated in an ecumenical service at the Chapleau Recreation Centre.

He also served as Padre to Branch Number 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Also in 1982, Rev. Ivey organized the re-enactment of the first Christian service held in Chapleau on the river bank by Rev. John Sanders. Canon Louttit portrayed John Sanders and the service was conducted in Cree, Ojibway and English. A year later Archdeacon E. Roy Haddon played the role of Archdeacon Gowan Gillmor in another historical re-enactment organized by Rev. Ivey.

On August 28, 1983, Bishop Frank Nock announced that Rev. Ivey was being transferred to Parry Sound.

At the Harvest Thanksgiving service the parish and community gathered at St. John's to say farewell to William, his wife Bonnie and their four children. There were 298 people at the service, the largest congregation recorded to that time in the history of the parish.

William and his family returned to Chapleau after a short absence and he continued to contribute to the community, but that is a story for another day. I wanted to provide a glimpse into his work in Chapleau between 1974 and 1983 where he truly practised the words from Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, "...if one member is honoured all rejoice together.." (I Corinthians 12:16)amongst all of us who knew him.

Rest in peace William.

Note: Taken in part from my 1984 history of St. John's Church, "Sons of Thunder ... Apostles of Love"


Funeral service for William will be held at the Chapleau Pentescotal Church on Friday March 26 at eleven am. Further information can be obtained from the Gilmartin Funeral Home in Wawa at 1 705 856 7340

Monday, March 22, 2010

OTHER VOICES; Leo Ouimet on coming to complete halt but still moving

NOTE: Leo Ouimet, a friend and former student from the New Media Communications graduate program at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, BC, has agreed to help launch OTHER VOICES with his story about moving from British Columbia. I invite all visitors to contact me about contributing to OTHER VOICES, and Leo, thanks for once again being a 'pioneer' with me.... mj.morris@live.ca

By Leo Ouimet

Several years ago I headed East from Kimberley, B.C., with my truck and a U-Haul trailer containing the remnants of my life to that date. I stayed at my friends cottage in Bobcaygeon, ON., for a few months until luck and a job allowed me to find an apt., in Nov., in the town of Lindsay....just in the nick of time, after tip-toeing across the frost covered floors of the cottage.

No complaints, the cottage was a wonderful place to land and spend my first few months in my new province of choice. Actually a no-brainer, I was following my younger daughter Sarah who had moved near bye 16 months earlier.

The only reason that we pretend to perceive "Time", is so everything doesn't happen at once.

Discarding biology, everything does happen at "Once". Were was I ? Oh ya, Lindsay....a great little brain-dead town. Eight weeks ago I moved to Peterborough, where I always wanted to be in the first place. Now here's where synchronicity comes in; in '68 I was driving to Toronto and stopped in Peterborough, loved the town and years later thought of moving here after my first divorce. I chose Vancouver instead. My first real job there was on a cruise ship where I met and fell in love with a young woman from....you guessed it....Peterborough. We flew to Peterborough to be married, then back to B.C., for the next 18 years. After the divorce my ex., returned with my daughter to....Peterborough. A very wide circle with Peterborough right in the middle. Carl Jung was right....no time to explain, you'll have to look him up and connect the dots.

I am glad to report that I have entered a new stage of life; along with my move here, I have executed a life change; less vegging on the couch, less alcohol, riding my bike daily, no TV at all. Started reading again, (Now reading , Naomi Klein)

At times in our lives, we come to a complete halt yet believe that we are still moving. It takes a physical, geographical move to wake us up again. ( In my case anyway) No matter what age one is, complacency is an early death. Sing louder in the shower, dance in front of your bedroom mirror, give an extra loonie to that pan-handler, spend a few more bucks on a good shampoo.

If you have read this far, thank you and be well.


Michael J Morris

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


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE