|C A "Bill" Pellow delivers laundry circa 1910 Chapleau|
By 1886, one year after Chapleau was established at Mileage 615.1 on the transcontinental line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, tents and shacks were being replaced with permanent structures and the streets of the young community were being created replacing the forests.
At the time, Chapleau had five general stores and as well as private residences being built. The Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist (United) churches were becoming established in the community.
|Beamish and Smith later Smith and Chapple|
But life was not easy for the early citizens as a diptheria epidemic swept the community in 1888 and several, including some children died from the disease. Fires were also a threat.
Fast forward to 1901. In February, Chapleau became an organized municipality in the province of Ontario with George Brecken Nicholson as its first reeve, and in 2011, the community celebrates its 110th anniversary of incorporation.
However, Chapleau's pioneers were busy people from the moment of their arrival with the Chapleau Brass Band, curling and skating rinks, boating and social occasions and sports teams as examples, all underway before 1901.
|Chapleau football team Circa 1906|
Imagine the challenges facing Mr. Nicholson and his council when first it met in 1901. While Chapleau was a busy community in many respects, municipal services as we know them were almost non-existent,
|G B NICHOLSON|
The population had reached about 2500 people by then, a bit higher than it is today and there were a number of special, general and department stores as well as the Mageau and Leblanc Lumber mill founded about 1900. Social excursions ("Cruising down the river on a Sunday afternoon..") to Mulligan's Bay were also popular.
By 1905, Chapleau had its first power plant established by Mageau and Leblanc who sold it to James Austin who built a new one near the Ontario Provincial Police office.
Here are some of the projects completed in Chapleau between 1901 and 1915, which upon reflection really show the determination of the early citizens to carve a progressive community out of the proverbial wilderness.
The water works system was described as "thoroughly up-to-date and efficient" and there were two "modern" school buildings. The Town Hall on Pine street included a hall downstairs, a theatre with balcony, upstairs meeting room and municipal offices.
The Railway YMCA with rooms, restaurant and bowling alley was referred to as "one of the best institutions of its kind to be found anywhere in Canada".
The Lady Minto Hospital under the auspices of the Victorian Order of Nurses opened in 1914 with funds being raised by a public subscription campaign. It was, at the time, the only hospital between Sudbury and Fort William (Thunder Bay).
Although Chapleau had a volunteer fire department from its earliest days, the Chapleau Volunteer Fire Department was officially organized in 1910, and the fire hall was opened in 1915, with an apartment for the fire truck driver in it as well as the town jail in the basement.
As Chapleau enters into its 110th year as an incorporated municipality with a mayor, (formerly reeve) and council, I wanted to share a glimpse some highlights from its early history, and plan to share more moments from Chapleau, then and now in 2011.
Much credit for Chapleau's progress in the early years must go to Mr. Nicholson who was referred to by Guy Rogers as the 'real leader of life in Chapleau" and an "able man of affairs."
Thanks so much to all who have written to me and to Hugh Kuttner of http://www.chapleau.com/
and Dr. Vince Crichton. Happy New Year. My email is email@example.com