EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alfred and Georgina Leclerc, pioneers in life of Chapleau Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church included replacing rectory veranda after horses went wild and pulled it down

Georgina and Alfred Leclerc
Although Alfred Leclerc recalled the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church that was destroyed by fire in 1918, he was very much involved in the life of the parish after a new church was built, including the replacement of the rectory veranda after his horses "went wild" and pulled it down.
Born in Cartier on November 21, 1892, Mr. Leclerc also lived for a time on the family farm in Bic, Quebec.

He arrived in Chapleau in 1915 and became employed by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a fireman. In 1942, Mr. Leclerc was promoted to engineer and he retired in 1957. An article prepared for the Sacred Heart Centennial notes that Mr. Leclerc was called 'The Engineer' or the 'Iron Duke', "with love and respect" by CPR employees long after he retired.

On January 23, 1929, Mr. Leclerc married Georgina Beaupre from Thunder Bay who was working in the Rexall Pharmacy. They had six children.

RC church on Lorne St destroyed by fire, 1918
Mr. Leclerc related his involvement with the building of the present Sacred Heart Church, a remarkable accomplishment, considering that the old church was destroyed by fire on December 18, 1918, and the new one opened with Christmas Eve Mass on December 24, 1919, conducted by Father Romeo Gascon.

"I helped build that church," he said in the church centennial article. "Also I brought cord wood to heat it up. The tennis court (later located on the rectory grounds) was full of wood for the rectory and then church. This was very hard work.

"I also painted the whole church inside with my painters. I reaired what needed repairing, dug the basement, built and 'rebuilt' whenever necessary."

Throughout his long involvement with the parish Mr. Leclerc was always there when needed -- with his sons, his tools, his skills and his willingness.

He also shovelled snow for many years, and I can still recall him cleaning the steps and walk at the church as I passed by on my way to school.

Many will also remember that Mr. Leclerc rode around town on his bicycle and was still doing so in his nineties. The Centennial article noted that, "Sometimes he huffs and puffs, breaks a few knuckles but always makes it back on the right track."

Chapleau Circa 1915
He said that he and his wife Georgie respected all the priests and some became excellent friends with some of them.

"They used to come and visit us often for wonderful evenings of fun and heated conversation."

But Father Gascon was in a "horrible mood" one day when he came out and saw that the rectory veranda was gone.

Mr. Leclerc related that he "was delivering wood for the church when "my horses went wild and somehow the wagon they were pulling grabbed the veranda pillars and the whole rectory veranda fell down.

"Can you imagine that! It was an awful sight!"

Father Gascon came out and said, according to Mr. Leclerc: "Well, Fred Leclerc, look what your horses did. What are you going to do about that?" He added that Father Gascon was in a "terrible mood" and he told him,"Never mind. What my horses break I repair and I fixed the whole veranda. Monsiegneur Gascon was relieved."

Mr. Leclerc also served as a member of Chapleau Township council for five years. In June 1978, Mr. and Mrs. Leclerc assisted Hon. Rene Brunelle, who was chairman of the Ontario cabinet, at the official opening of Cedar Grove Lodge.

Referring to the importance of the church, Mr. Leclerc commented, "Our parish meant a lot to Georgie and I ... Sharing and giving is what a parishioner must do. This reflects on the whole family. It reflected on ours."

Once again thanks to all those who have been contacting me with Chapleau moments. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chapleau Trappers of 1949 supported by Mrs. A.W. Moore but local hockey team made road trip to Sudbury in 1893

The Chapleau Trappers of 1949 were primarily sponsored by Mrs. A.W. "Mrs Hockey" Moore, after whom the arena in the Chapleau Recreation Centre is named.

Most of the players were from some of Chapleau's oldest families, and many had returned home after serving in the Canadian forces in World War II.

But Chapleau had hockey teams long before 1949.. I have just learned that a Chapleau team travelled to Sudbury in 1893 and played  in the city's first enclosed skating facility in the area, Martin's Rink, built in 1892 and during that year, a group of men formed teams for the first game of hockey in Sudbury during the winter carnival.

The first inter-town hockey game played in Sudbury was on March 13, 1893 against Chapleau. Sudbury won the match with a score of 2-1.

The early hockey games were much different than today's style. The first games were played by teams of seven with no player substitutions. Instead of three periods, there were two halves and scoring a goal was called "taking a game". There were no linesmen and only one referee, an amateur who knew the basic rules of the game and volunteered for the task.

The first indoor rink in Sudbury was nothing like what we are accustomed to today. These were unheated, wooden buildings that were numbingly cold in the winter. There was no artificial ice, which meant that in the spring, the ice would turn to slush, making it almost impossible to play hockey (although efforts were still made).  Brings back memories of Chapleau winter carnivals when thaw would hit before artificial arrived -- which Mrs. Moore in large part made possible.

I am looking for Chapleau hockey stories. If you played, coached, managed, refereed, served on executive, or have simply supported hockey in Chapleau between 1885 and now, I would like to hear from you, and if you have photos, super bonus.

My email is mj.morris@live.ca or contact me on Twitter at michaeljmo or on Facebook at michaeljmorris2


Michael J Morris

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


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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE