EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Petrosky family home in Chapleau built in 1912 a wonderful place to live complete with dance hall and star gazing from the rooftop

At the dawn of the 20th century more families were arriving in Chapleau as it became an increasingly important divisional point on the main transcontinental line of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
John Anthony Petrosky was born in Lithuania in June 1867, and at age 19 in 1891, arrived in Canada to work for the CPR. His twin sister Elizabeth arrived later to join him in the new country.

In 1897, John Petrosky had met and married Mary Eva Argentine Brunet in Sudbury. His wife was from St, Placide, Quebec.

They moved to Chapleau in 1898, just 13 years after it had been established at Mileage 615.1, and three years before the community was incorporated as a municipality.

Renee Cecile, one of the 14 Petrosky children wrote about her family some years ago as part of the Centennnial of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, and her son Michael kindly made it available for part of the series of moments in the lives of Chapleau families.

Mrs. Cecile wrote that when her parents met, her father could not speak French and her mother could not speak Lithuanian so they compromised and both learned English. As their children went to school, their parents learned even more English.

Mr. Petrosky's sister Elizabeth married Alfred Vezina and they had a son Alfred who married Minetta Vizena from another Chapleau pioneer family. Their children were Berniece, Eugene, Francis, John, Joseph and Clement.

In 1912, Mr. Petrosky decided to build a home for his growing family, and it was located on the corner of Cedar and Lansdowne Streets across from the former motel.

Mrs. Cecile provided a wonderful desccription of their home:

"What a wonderful place in which to spend your childhood -- back stairway in the kitchen, another in the front hall, two more in the double cellar and one going up to a large attic, two bathrooms, a large dance hall and to top it off, a trap door in the roof, with a ladder, so you could sit on the edge of the roof and see all over town.

"You could also study the stars. I still remember every constellation I learned up there."

On life in their home:

"What exciting games of hide and seek and tag we played. My poor mother had more patience than any person I've ever met. I can't ever remember her yelling or hitting us.

"As the older chidlren left there were bedrooms to spare and when empty we could choose any room we liked for a bedroom and move as ofetn as we pleased.

"We could paint our own room too with a cheap powder paint which was mixed with water.

"What beautiful shades and blends of colours we ended up splashing around..."

In 1917, Mr. Petrosky left the CPR and went to work at the town water pumphouse.

"We used to love to visit him when we brought his lunch over. He'd show us all the workings, including the trap door in the floor. When it was open, you could see a holding tank of water, with the occasional fish.

"Outside there was a neat little rail line and a trolley car on which wood, mostly slab, was carried to the big stove that kept the steam engine running.

"Part of the present bridge covers the shoreline where we used to play."

Mr. Petrosky died in 1932 and Mrs. Petrosky in 1955.

The Petrosky house eventually was owned by their granddaughter Monica and her husband Albert Tremblay.

The house is still owned by Monica, the daughter of Joseph Petrosky, and has been converted into five apartments. Her husband Alberrt has died.

The Petrosky children were Eva, Patrick, Anna, Rosalie, Aline, Agnes, John, Elizabeth, Reta, Joseph, Bertha, Isadore, Cecil and Renee

Renee married Lawless Cecile and became one of the community's most popular teachers and librarians. She was also the driving force behind the inclusion of the library in the Chapleau Civic Centre in 1978 when she was chair of the public library board. She was honoured at the official opening in June 1978 during the visit of Ontario Lieutenant Governor Pauline McGibbon.

Thanks to Michael Cecile for the information on his family, and the photos. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

BILL MCLEOD SENT ALONG THE FOLLOWING AMUSING ANECDOTE. The Petrosky home was located  across from his father Borden McLeod's motel and before that his office. Bill's grandfather William McLeod had a store on Lansdowne Street at one time.


"There is one good story that involved that rooftop lookout. During the depression the Lowertown gang used to set bush fires to make a little money. When they were pretty sure the fires were reported to the Chief Ranger they would gather around the corner of Cedar and Lansdowne and wait for the Ontario Forestry Branch truck to come along and pick them up to go to fight the fire. The lookout was Cecil "Pogie" Petrosky who would watch from the roof of the Petrosky home. When he saw the truck coming he would race down and join the "boys". One time he didn't move fast enough and the truck left without him. Ironically he became a life-long MNR employee and retired holding a fairly senior position. Only in Chapleau!"

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Michael J Morris

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


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