EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chapleau folks share memories of the season from Christmas market in Germany to church pageant and Santa Claus at Smith and Chapple Ltd.

Lorne and Jackie Riley with Erin, Patty, Loreen, Lorne at Christmas
Lorne Riley shares memories of Christmas songs from home countries while June-Marie Charlwood remembers the crisp cold snow and Ken Schroeder plays Santa Claus. It is the Christmas season and time once again to bring you moments from here and there and indeed everywhere.

Lorne Riley writes from Dubai where he is head of corporate communications for Dubai Airports that he lived overseas for 10 years now in three different countries and, "despite this, have managed to more or less maintain a 'Canadian Christmas'. It typically means flying home for two harried weeks jam-packed with dinners, lunches and get-togethers as we struggle to see as many people as possible in a very short time frame."

However, his favourite overseas Christmas experience was in Frankfurt where "we used to have a staff party every year to celebrate Christmas in the German tradition."

Lorne explained that typically it "started in the Christmas market in Hauptwache at the centre of the city with cups of mulled, sweetened gluhwein or beer (the best in the world I might add) and snacks like bratwurst or kartofelpuffer (potato pancakes and apple sauce). It would end with a merry, multi-cultural group primed with Pils, gathered around a heavy wooden table laden with goose, rotkraut (red cabbage) and knoedel (a doughy dumpling the size of a baseball) in a smokey restaurant singing Christmas songs from our home countries."

He also recalled very fond memories of Chapleau Christmases..."ham and perogies were the tradition at Christmas Eve at the Riley household, lovingly prepared by my mother (Jackie Riley who is a great cook...hi Mom!).

"In my teenage years our gang of friends (some of us from the NOHA Midget C Champion Chapleau Huskies...John Bernier, Pat Payette, Randy Carroll, Tim Morin, Donald Swanson, Mario Lapierre, Alain Bouillon and Paul Martel to name a few) would gather at the Payettes for some Christmas cheer and a singalong."

Just to interject a bit on the champion Midget C Huskies, they won the NOHA title in 1979-80 in Blind River in a nail biting series. The coaches were Jamie Doyle and Mike Tangie, and I was there on the bench with them. Also, Lorne's father, Lorne Sr., coached the Chapleau Midgets to an NOHA title in the Sixties which led to the founding of the Chapleau Junior B Huskies. Lorne Sr was the first coach of that team which won championships in 1966-67, its first year. When Lorne became ill, Keith "Buddy" Swanson, the manager took over as coach.

And most importantly Lorne shares: "I still remember waking up Christmas day to the smell of turkey roasting, opening the treats in our Christmas sock which was pinned at the foot of the bed (a clever ploy by my parents to keep us entertained in our rooms so they could catch an extra hour or two of sleep) and looking through a thickly frosted window to see if sliding at Second Rock or on Hospital Hill was in the cards...that is if Santa brought the Krazy Karpet I had asked for....

"While I haven't made it back to Chapleau for Christmas in a very long time, and I rarely get to see my very good friends from back in the day, I'd like to send everyone back home best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and safe, healthy and Happy New Year."\

June-Marie Charlwood, a member of one of Chapleau's pioneer families wrote that the one memory she had of Christmas in Chapleau was the Christmas Pageant by the St. John's Anglican Church Sunday School and singing The Huron Carol.

June-Marie is the daughter of the late Bessie Woodard who was born and raised in Chapleau. Bessie married Maurice Charette and they lived in Chapleau in the early Fifties.

"Then we went to the Zufelts (Elsie (Hunt) and B.W. "Bubs" Zufelt lived on Beech Street at the time) and walking home in the crisp cold snow and watching the beautiful aurora borealis light up the sky....I believe I was 7 which would make it 1952..."

When June Marie mentioned 1952, it rang a bell and I went to my book 'Sons of Thunder ... Apostles of Love' to see what was happening at St. John's. I noted that at Christmas 1952 when Rev. E. Roy Haddon was the rector, the largest congregation ever recorded at a service to that time in the history of the parish was on Christmas Eve with 267 people in attendance. There were chairs in the aisle on a beautiful Winter evening.

June Marie also recalled getting a book called 'Fifty Famous Fairy Tales' that year which she still has and "read to my children and grandchildren. ....Wow Michael you have brought up some very special memories to my heart..."

When I received an email from my lifelong friend Ken Schroeder with some memories, I actually did recall when he was Santa Claus at Smith and Chapple Ltd.

Ken wrote: "I remember being a Chapleau 'Santa Claus' at Smith and Chapple one year, music was big ..nice and loud ....kids enjoyed... Jingle Bells... etc....Art Grout always was happy about these good times ....people smiling . Good times ...." They sure were great days Ken.


Vivian Edwards wrote about my article on John 'Mac' McClellan. "That article on Mr McClellan was so excellent. When I wanted a job at the Chapleau Telephone Co. I gave Mac as a reference and Mrs Delaney phoned him and he said hire her. It changed my whole life. I Joined his bugle band but he let me be in it but told me not to blow the bugle as I couldn't carry a note. I took the bugle home gees I was proud and was in the marching band but messed up as I swung my arms the same way. Poor guy he was so tolerant. When my brother Tom quit school he called my mom and said this boy was to carry on in school. Over the years I am sure he helped countless students. Great men happen only so often and he was one of them . Good job Michael."

I have been advised that the Queen's University Alumni Review will run a memorial article on Dr. G.E.Young in its Winter issue. Dr. Young graduated from Queen's in medicine in 1942.

Please feel free to send along your Christmas memories and/or photos. My email is mj.morris@live.ca
or see me on Facebook!

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