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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ina Robinson crowned Queen of Chapleau Winter Carnival at the Ice Palace with Dr. J.J. Sheahan as King in 1940

Dr J J Sheahan, Ina Coulter
In 1940, Ina Robinson was crowned Queen of the fourth annual Chapleau Winter Carnival by Dr. J.J. Sheahan at the Ice Palace located on the south side of Birch "Main" Street across from Alf Comte's Barber Shop.


Dr. Sheahan, who had graduated in medicine from McGill University in 1906, interned in Ottawa, arrived in Chapleau in 1907, fell in love with the North and established a medical practice in Chapleau. Dr. Sheahan, a very popular Chapleau citizen, was King of the Carnival in 1940. He died in 1942.

In 1921, the citizens of Chapleau presented Dr. Sheahan with a car in appreciation of his work. Although he held office hours, Dr Sheahan made house calls and spent part of his day at the Lady Minto Hospital.

The Ice Palace was built with blocks of ice hauled from the location on the Chapleau River near the old water pump house where Canadian Pacific Railway crews cut ice to use to air condition its passenger trains in the summer months.

The crowning of the Carnival Queen ceremony would take place following the parade which in those days would start at the CPR station and come over the old horseshoe bridge to the downtown area and "old" arena on Lorne Street.


Unidentified, Ina, Charles Reid, Walter Leigh
Shelley (Coulter) Bernier, recalled the gift that Dr. Sheahan gave her mother: "Dr. Sheahan gave my mother a gold signet ring for being his queen. For that day and age I'm sure it was quite the prized possession. I still have it."

Shelley also shared that "Up until the time of his death, Charlie McKee always referred to my mom as 'The Queen'. After he moved to Toronto, he'd call every so often and ask for the queen. His parcels were always addressed that way as well."

Charlie was one of Chapleau's outstanding track and field and tennis stars in his time, and a great friend of Shelley's family.

Ina married Frank Coulter, a member of another Chapleau pioneer family in 1946 and they had five children -- Gary, Gail, Doug, Allen and Shelley. Frank worked for Charles W. Collins Stores Ltd, and served on the public school board and volunteer fire department as well as in other community groups.

As an aside, it was in 1940 the store where Frank worked for so many years became Charles W. Collins Stores Ltd, a change from Collins and Matters. The store always participated in community events and still does, now owned by Doug Collins, a grandson of Charles W. Collins. Doug's grandfather first became involved in the store at the intersection of Birch and Lorne streets in 1928 and it became known as Wolfe and Collins.

Ina was the daughter of Eva (Greenshields) Robinson and Alexander Robinson. Mr. Robinson was killed in a train accident.

At Chapleau winter carnivals there was a wide range of events including the Strong Man Contest. Bob Mercier was recognized as holding the title as he had carried 575 pounds on his back from in front of the old Dominion store at the corner of Birch and Young streets to the Regent Theatre near Birch and Lorne streets. In later years, Willie Memegos dominated this event.


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Figure skating was also popular and some of those who would be participating were Shirley Matheson, Elise Depew, Marion Morris and Sally Hugo.

Chapleau winter carnivals started in 1937 with D.O. Payette as the catalyst and his business partner at Smith and Chapple Ltd., Arthur Grout as carnival general manager.

The previous carnival kings and queens respectively were: 1937, Fred Depew and Winona McAdam; 1938, C.J. McGregor and Marie Perpete and 1939, Dan Jessup and Rita Crichton.

Shelley provided excellent photos from the 1940 Winter Carnival, and we have done our best to identify the people in them. However, not all could be, so please if you can help, my email is mj.morris@live.ca

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Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
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