EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bill McLeod reflects on going to the Old Fort on a Wednesday afternoon, down the road for a washtub full of raspberries, Highway 129 and Turk Broda and the triple play

Turk Brod

After Bill McLeod read my piece about going down the lake by two rivers to reach Mulligan's Bay, he was in touch with his memories, and also shared his family's trips 'down the road' generally meaning Highway 129 and some side roads. Bill had also earlier shared an anecdote with me about the time Turk Broda brought his ball team to Chapleau in the Fifties for Beach Day, celebrated on the Civic Holiday weekend in August. It is all here!

I invited Bill, who has written three books on Chapleau and area, and has been a good friend since our childhoods -- in fact, Bill lived just down the Grey Street lane from me, although he may tell you that I lived up the Aberdeen Street lane from him -- to be a guest columnist. Bill agreed, and here he is with his memories of down the lake, down the road and the visit by Turk Broda. And thanks Bill too for giving me a vacation -- first week off in two years!!!

Also, as special bonus, see Paul Carson's great video on Mulligan's Bay. Scroll down!

By William E. "Bill McLeod
There was another bunch, including us, who also have a bit of "down the lake" history. Like some other families, we didn't have a camp. But we did have what was for the time, a state of the art boat and motor which my dad (Borden "Bordie" McLeod) inherited from John Hun. The motor was a Johnson outboard with the flywheel on top. The boat was a big Hudson's Bay square sterned freighter canoe. We used to go down the lake to picnic and swim at the "Old Fort". Usually it was on Wednesday afternoons but I have no idea why. There were often other Chapleau folks there too. My dad eventually sold the motor to Gussie Evans and the boat to George Corston, mainly because my mother didn't like either boats or the water. (Note: I think it was Wednesday afternoon because stores in Chapleau closed..mj)


Going down the road was another matter. We did it often. On Sundays we would go as far as what is now Unegam Lake. Fred and Rose Primeau had a little lunch bar and some cabins, some of which are still there and are called "Sunset View". Mrs. Primeau who was a sister of Joe Steen's mother was a fabulous cook. 

During berry season we would go to about mileage eight for blueberries and on the Nemegos road for raspberries. There was a little nameless lake off the Nemegos Road on the right before you got to the Kennedy Lake road. There were some abandoned lumber camps there and we would have our lunch in a little screened in building that had been the meathouse. I'm sure I could find the exact spot today. One time we picked a wash tub full of wild raspberries.
If we went anywhere on Saturdays we had to get off the Nemegos Road and on to 129 shortly after four in the afternoon. My dad was paranoid about the mad rush from Sultan to Chapleau on Saturdays. They blew the whistle at the mill in Sultan at five on Saturdays (six other days). The guys would dash to their cars and drive like maniacs to get to the liquor store in Chapleau before it closed at six. Sometimes they didn't make it and had to go back to Sultan and pay bootlegger prices for a week.

In the summer we would often go fishing for little brook trout at Poulin Creek. Sometimes, usually with Charlie Swanson, we would canoe up Poulin Creek to what they called the "spring hole". On one of those excursions we saw a cow moose teaching two newborn calves how to eat water lillies. When she realized we were watching she tried to chase the calves into the bush but one was too small and became stuck. So the mother crouched down on her haunches, the calf climbed on her back and away they went.

In the fall we would go partridge hunting almost every weekend. Some times we would take the Nemegos Shortcut from about Mileage 12, drop in to Mike Koski's place for coffee and come back via what was called 118. Perhaps on the same day we would walk in to Five Mile Lake where the Provincial Park would eventually locate. Sometimes we would go to Island Lake and hunt the network of lumber roads near the mill. And, late in October, we would go dip netting for whitefish on the Nebsqwashi River where it narrows near Gravel Lake. To get there you had to go first to Island Lake.
There is so much more to write about "going down the road". The dramatic change in the type of road at Horton Lake just before the road up to the fire tower in Township 9 E. That corner at Horton lake is where Tom Godfrey's efforts ended and the new piece of road built by McGuinty Construction began. The 12 miles of pavement in the middle of nowhere was built by Storm Construction under the supervision of Grant "Grizz" Henderson.

Then there was the section of road on that steep hill down to the Mississaugi River. There were a number of wrecks at the bottom of the hill where drivers had lost control and had a choice of taking the bush or the river. You can still see the "hole in the hill" where that old road started down. There was a Bailey Bridge over the Mississaugi with giant white pine logs for safety barriers. How about that flue where the logs were diverted around Aubrey Falls? And also the hairpin curves around the Mississaugi River. And the Rainer (sp?) dam that backed up the Mississaugi to form Tunnel Lake. They used the same engineering techniques used on the Hoover Dam.

The Griggs from Iron Bridge were distantly related to my mother, I think by marriage. I remember Dougall Grigg, the store and hotel owner One time I asked my dad why he was always so happy to see us. My dad laughed and told me that when we stayed at the Grigg Hotel he always had a bottle of Canadian Club in his suitcase. Mrs. Grigg wouldn't let Dougall drink. So one time they polished off the bottle of Canadian Club and decided to go to the bootlegger in Blind River to get another one. On the way back the fog rolled in and my dad had to get in the back seat, stick his head out the window, watch for the white line and keep Dougall on the right side of it. And they think we were crazy!!
(According to Greatest Hockey Legends, regarded as perhaps the best clutch goaltender of all time, Walter "Turk" Broda was "Mr. Maple Leaf" for 16 seasons, with two years lost to Canadian armed forces duty in World War II.)
My Dad was chairman of the Recreation Commission (in the 1950s) and in those days "Beach Day" was a big deal, celebrated on the Civic Holiday weekend. One year they brought in a real bunch of entertainers including some boxers from Toronto. But the highlight was Turk Broda and his Allstar softball team - sponsored by Labatts. They arrived on Train No. 3 which came in around noon.

Broda had ordered a large number of cases of beer and told my dad to have them available at the station as soon as the train pulled in. All clearly illegal of course. (Chapleau did not have licensed premises at that time.) My dad and Bubs (B.W. Zufelt, then the reeve of Chapleau) showed up in our car with the beer in the trunk and me in the back seat. The first guy they ran into was the single O.P.P. Constable in Chapleau at the time. Anyway, nothing happened and the team headed to the Boston Cafe for lunch. I was one of the lucky ones who got in for autographs.

Of course I can't tell you the names of all the players but Broda, Flem Mackell, Leo Labine and Joe Klukay were among them. I shared bat boy duties with Johnny Thornton and can distinctly remember what good ballplayers those hockey players were. They could have really beaten Chapleau but realized they were there to entertain and entertain they did! All I remember of the game was one inning when Broda's gang had a couple of guys on base and one of them hit into a double play. One of the hockey players, I think it was MacKell, jumped off second base in a phony attempt to steal third and Tommy Godfrey tagged him out. TRIPLE PLAY CHAPLEAU!! It was the only triple play I ever saw.


Raoul Lemieux said...

Good reading Mike and thank you Bill for the memoirs.

Anonymous said...

Nice Video- Shows all the four seasons. Reg. Fitzpatrick- Bracebridge, Ontario

Michael J Morris

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


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