|Click on image for Beach Panorama. Ian Macdonald collection|
School was out, and summer vacation was launched with the July 1 activities all located at the beach area between Chapleau Public School and the field behind the old Chapleau High School, except for the giant parade that wound through the streets ending up at the beech.
Such was Dominion Day for a child who had to get his costume ready and tricycle decorated for the annual July 1 parade that marked one of the highlights of the year for me so much in the years following World War II that I still recall the celebrations like they were only yesterday.
My mother, Muriel E. (Hunt) Morris, and my grandparents (Nanny and Grandpa... Edith and George Hunt) would help me get ready for the parade and off I would go for a day packed with activities for our entire community.
Leading the parade was the Legion Colour Party and the Chapleau Town Band.
J. M. Shoup, a veteran of both World Wars I and II, principal of Chapleau Public School and township councillor would get us all organized for the parade and later the children's races at the beach.
|Many will recall that each child in the parade would receive 10 cents which was quickly spent at the canteen or on the midway. More dimes could be earned by participating in the children's races.|
I was also proud to see my grandfather Harry Morris, a veteran of World War I, and one of the first group of members of Branch 5 when it was founded helping out at the activities.
Shortly after World War II, Dr G.E. Young, using his own money, had created a truly wonderful beach area on the banks of the Kebsquasheshing River, and it was the scene of swimming and canoe races, as well as canoe tilting contests. The Memegos family dominated the canoe races and canoe tilting competitions for years and William Memegos, the back packing contest. Before Willie, the winner was often Bob Mercier.
For example, at the Dominion Day celebration in 1951, in the men's doubles canoe race, Adam Memegos and Juli Quakagesik won while Joe Memegos and Baptiste Memegos were second and A. McAuley and Ray Barty third.
In the mixed doubles, Joe Memegos and Agnes Minnewesqua were first and Baptiste Memegos and Mrs. Adam Memegos second.
Mrs. Ignace Memegos and Mrs. Adam Memegos won the women's doubles with Mrs. Julie Quakagesik and Mrs. Cryer second.
Dr Young's beach was complete with change rooms, wading pools, a nicely grassed area and each year he had truckloads of beach sand brought to refresh it.
Rita Desson was named the 1951 Summer Queen with Florence Encil and Carol "Babe" Chambers as runnersup.
In the afternoon of July 1, games of chance would be underway while the Town Band would give a concert in the bandstand at the beach area, while over at the ball field there was always an exciting ball tournament.
Sometimes there would even be teams from out of town but to me the only team was the Legion on which Garth "Tee" Chambers played shortstop. Tee was my hero in both ball and hockey.
In the 1951 logsawing event the winners were Pierre Martel, W. Donivan and Paul Seguin.
The celebration ended with a dance and fireworks display at the beach area. The fireworks were really spectacular, at least they were to me as a kid, but everyone agreed and "Wow" was heard as they were set off from the golf course side of the river.
By the end of the day I would head home tired but happy looking forward to my summer vacation, cruising around Chapleau on my tricycle.
There aren't too many of those World War II vets left now, and none from World War I, who gave us the July 1 celebration, but I remember all of them fondly, for in war and peace, they made our town a better place for everyone. As I think back some 60 years to life in Chapleau at the beginning of the 1950s, it was truly a wonderful place to be growing up.
Thanks to Doug Greig, Ian Macdonald and Dr. Vince Crichton for their research assistance. My email is email@example.com and Facebook is http://facebook.com/michaeljmorris2