EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Friday, December 28, 2012

Ice Fishing Derby at Chapleau sponsored by Rotary Club set for February 9, 2013 WINNERS

 Corey Young of Wawa won the $10,000 grand prize with a 4.58 pound pike. 
Charles Orton of Chapleau with a 4.33 pound pike was in second while third was won by Craig MacNeil of Sarnia with a 3.49 pound pike. 

 Paul Bernier  (2.99) and Lina Di Pasquak (2.94), both of Chapleau. won fourth and fifth places respectivelytively.

The Pike Ice Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chapleau was held Saturday February 9, 2013.

First prize is $10,000.

Advertisement courtesy of the Chapleau Express newspaper.

Thursday, December 20, 2012



TRIBUTE  1924 – 2012

By Bill McLeod

Once in a while along life’s journey most of us are fortunate to form friendships with some truly outstanding human beings.  Such was my case with JamesMcNiece “Jim” Austin.

Jim Austin died on November 2, 2012 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer and after having lived a long and generous life.  His memorial service was held at Jim’s church, St. Peter’s United in Sudbury on November 24, 2012 and his ashes were interred in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto on November 26.

Jim, as everybody knew him, was born in Chapleau, Ontario, the eldest son of Allan McNiece Austin and Alice (Dickinson) Austin.  He is survived by three brothers, John (Marjory), Allan M. “Mac” (Marg) of Toronto and Richard (Liz) of Gananoque.  He was predeceased by his wife Rosamond Ann Mills (1948) and twin daughter Rosamond Ann (1997).  Jim was the beloved father of Elizabeth “Liebes” Austin (Laurence Solsberg) of Vancouver and was dearest “Grump” to the Solsberg sisters – Emily (James Richardson), Mariel (Kelsey Louie) and Kira.  His only great-grand daughter Naomi Sparrow Richardson was born on October 12, 2012.  Also left to mourn and celebrate his life is a large extended family of cousins, nieces and nephews and their offspring.

Jim was educated at the elementary and secondary schools in ChapleauTrinity College School, Port Hope and the University of Toronto from which he graduated in 1947 with a B.A. in history.  During World War II he served as a Flight Engineer, Bomber Command, Squadron 429 (Bison).  He always enjoyed telling me about his war service - particularly flight training, life in wartime England, combat missions and especially about flying a Lancaster back to Canada from the Azores after the war in Europe was over.

Early in the last century Jim’s grandfather, a Chapleau businessman and merchant, partnered with George B. Nicholson and together they formed the Austin Nicholson Lumber Company.  Mr. Nicholson was the first reeve of Chapleau and he was also elected to the House of Commons on three separate occasions, serving the constituency of Algoma East from 1917 to 1921, 1925 to 1926 and from 1930 to 1935.  Austin Nicholson had mills scattered all along the C.P.R. lines for miles east and west of Chapleau.  The largest operations were at Nicholson and Dalton Mills.  Originally specializing in railway ties, the company branched into lumber and mining timbers and eventually became the largest supplier of ties in the British Empire.

After leaving the R.C.A.F. Jim joined the family firm and was in charge of several of its bush operations.  In 1956 the firm was sold to W.B. Plaunt and Sons of Sudbury.  Jim stayed on with Plaunt for a while before joining Eddy Forest Products in Espanola.  There he served as Assistant Woodyard Superintendent, managed Eddy’s Pineland operation at Nairn Centre and when Eddy Forest Products purchased the McChesney Company in 1976, Jim moved to Timmins as General Manager of Forestry and Mill Operations.  In 1980 he moved back to Nairn Centre and finished his distinguished career as Special Assistant to the Manager of Woods Operations supervising research and development in lumber operations and production and control of waste products.  After his official retirement in 1988, Jim put his lumber industry expertise to good use during a stint in Africa with the Canadian Executive Service Overseas. The lumber industry, particularly sawmills, was deeply embedded in Jim’s DNA.  He loved the business and he was very good at it.

Jim Austin did the research and wrote up the proposal that resulted in Alton Morse being awarded the Order of Canada for his innovative approaches to harvesting white pine timber near Chapleau.

But it was community involvement and volunteering that brought him so much affection and respect.  He was the person who oversaw the smooth transition of theNorthern Ontario Health Sciences School to Cambrian College in 1973.

Jim was a Mason, a member of the Lions Club for 52 years and belonged to the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.  Generally, he avoided the limelight and made his enormous contribution “under the radar” - volunteering for countless church, community and charitable activities.  He chaired the Lions Club committee that was responsible for the Home for the Hard of Hearing that we all see as we drive along Paris Street in Sudbury.

Jim was just as happy sharing his considerable management and organizational skills with Meals on Wheels as he was doing dishes after an Out-of-the Cold supper, selling geraniums and Hard of Hearing Home tickets or shaking a tambourine for the Salvation Army in one of the malls at Christmas time.

But it was at St. Peter’s United Church that Jim really left an indelible mark.  He served on the Sudbury Presbytery, the Mission and Service Council and numerous other church groups and committees.  He was an honorary member of the United Church Women’s group and was affectionately known by young and old as “The Candy Man”.  He never went to church without a pocket full of Werther’s candies for the kids and anyone else with a sweet tooth.

As I was sitting in St. Peter’s on that cold but sunny November morning on Grey Cup weekend a number of thoughts and memories flashed through my mind – two of them quite ironic.  In her eulogy, Jim’s daughter Elizabeth referred to his fondness for Canadian football.  On Grey Cup Day he always cheered for the team from the west.  He used to laughingly tell folks that the general Canadian wisdom held that Winnipeg was the Gateway to the Canadian West.  Jim always insisted that was wrong.  The gateway to the west, according to Jim, was really Chapleau.

The other memory that struck me that morning was that it was on the same weekend in November of 1963 that the world was in shock over the assassination of President Kennedy.  Of all that I have heard and read about that dark time, one quote still sticks out.  Asked about Kennedy’s funeral, Mary McGrory, the crusty old reporter for the Washington Post told an interviewer that John F. Kennedy would have liked his funeral.  Jim Austin would have liked his too.

Like the rest of us, Jim Austin’s life had its ups and downs.  But some of his downs were much deeper than he deserved.  The grace, courage and class with which he coped serves as an example to us all.

The McLeod and Austin families have many connections going all the way back to 1899.  My grandfather was hired to be the fur buyer for the Austin retail operation in Chapleau and my grandmother was the nanny for Jim’s father and his uncle Bill.  My mother (Georgina Emiry) was his first teacher and, in the 1950s, when I was a teenager, Jim curled with us.  My dad was the skip, Ovide Cote the third, Jim played second and I was the lowly lead.  After Sheryl and I moved to Sudbury we often saw Jim and we eventually became neighbors.  I was honored and pleased to be of some assistance in Jim’s later years when he was unable to drive and when he was managing his daily life with difficulty.

In her remarks at the memorial service, Rev. Dawn Vaneyck summed up Jim brilliantly when she said that he was both a gentleman and a gentle man.

R.I.P. Jim

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


It's beginning to look  like Christmas and the holiday season when Bill Groves of Chapleau sends along one of his wonderful series of photos for us to enjoy. Here is another outstanding selection from Bill.  Thanks so much Bill and it was so great to chat with you and Barbara at the Chapleau High School reunion.



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thanks for hockey memories from back in the day and best wishes to all for Christmas and holiday season

MJM at Cocoa Beach FL By Michael Pelzer

It's amazing the things one thinks about while relaxing in a lawn chair at Cocoa Beach, Florida, watching the sun set on the Atlantic Ocean as the last of the surfers ride the waves, a cruise ship passes by slowly, couples walk along the beach, and I end up thinking about hockey in Chapleau from 40 plus years ago.

Only I could start out intending to come up with my last Chapleau Moments column for 2012, with a focus on Christmas and the holiday season, and end up on hockey.

Anyway, my thoughts turned  to an email from Henry Byce about a "blast" from his hockey past, and a follow up from Mark Dillon, about a tournament in Senneterre, Quebec, and later "The Chiefs" hockey team on which both of them played.

In his email, Henry advised that he couldn't recall how they did in the tournament, but "I know we had fun." He also included a photo of the team, noting that I had coached and taught "most of us" in the team photo. And I had at Chapleau High School.

He added: "As a kid watching the (Chapleau Intermediate 'A') Huskies was one of the greatest memories I have, and to have two great players as our coaches was awesome".  The coaches to whom Henry refers are Pat Swanson and Paul McDonald, both of whom as he says were "great players" on the Chapleau Intermediate A Huskies of the Northland Intermediate Hockey League from 1975 to 1979, a team I also coached and managed, sharing those duties over the years with Doug Prusky who was mainly responsible for the team's on ice success.

Senneterre team See names below
In a message Mark Dillon clarified that in the Senneterre tournament "we were in the 'B' Division, which was above us,( I think we were 'C' back home) and we lost in the final to Val D'or before a packed house. We were a contact team and unaware that Quebec wasn't. After a few (french term)  'Placage' penalties we took the contact out of our game lol. Great showing by all made it very memorable for me."

Mark also commented on the 1982-83 Midget Chiefs who also played in the local town league.  "I was lucky to play with you guys since there was no midget team in minor hockey to play for that year."

Referring to a team photo, Mark added"  "I always  laugh at the picture. Jamie (Doyle) is holding my hair back after my mom complaining about the bangs in my eyes. I believe we won the regular season but lost to Swanson and the guys in the playoffs." Yes, we lost in the playoffs to a team composed mainly of former Intermediate 'A' Huskies.

Midget Chiefs 1982-83 names below
I felt really honoured that they named the team with my nickname. Let me explain for those who don't know how I came to be called Chief. It's not a name I heard too much since moving to British Columbia but at the Chapleau High School reunion, it was commonly used by those who knew me back in the day so to speak.

I got the name from the 1970-71 Chapleau Midgets with Garry Prusky as manager, who was also starring at the time as a player with the Chapleau Junior 'B' Huskies of the International Junior 'B' Hockey League with Earle Freeborn as the coach.

One day at practice, Keith McAdam called me "MJ", and having become "Mr. Morris" by virtue of now being a  teacher at Chapleau High School, I appropriately lost my temper, letting the team know I was Mr. Morris to them, and I stormed from the dressing room downstairs in the old Chapleau Memorial Community Arena. I was not a Mr. Morris during my years as a daily newspaper reporter.

Through the door I could hear the players discussing the situation when suddenly Lionel Corston spoke up. 

"I have it,"Lionel said, "we will call him the Chief. We are the Indians and he is the Chief." (I use the word Indians in the context of this anecdote.)

The players agreed, and led by team captain Jamie Doyle, they came through the dressing room door and each one in turn with a smile on his face, said "Hi Chief". What could I do? The kids had won a big one and they knew it. The name stuck.

So, sitting on the beach, with the help of Henry and Mark's messages which I looked up later for this column, out of the mothballs of memory came  memories of those most enjoyable years I spent in hockey, all thanks to Garth 'Tee' Chambers and L.D. "Don Card in the 1950s who knew I loved the game but didn't play it very well, so with their help I became a referee.

I became a coach in 1970-71 when those wonderful kids led by Jamie Doyle reached out and "hired' me which is a story for another day, but for which I shall always be grateful. 

Thanks guys for the memories that all happened years ago now in the cold winters of Northern Ontario, far from Cocoa Beach at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

And thanks to all of you who have been in touch and contributed to Chapleau Moments, and for your kind comments when I was home for the CHS reunion. My very best wishes to all for Christmas and the holiday season.  My email is mj.morris@live.ca

The 1982-83 Chiefs:  MJM, Gary Murphy, Doug Hong, David Freeborn, Jamie Doyle, Mike Payette, Jean Marie Besnier, Rory Foran, David McAdam playing out, Donald Omer Landry, Armand  Bellevance. Kneeling Shawn Russell, Mark Dillon, Shane Gilham, Barry Hong. Missing is Billy Scheer. Note Jamie and Mark's bangs. Armand was team sponsor

The Senneterre Team:  Back row (l-r)  P.Swanson(coach), D. Desbois, D. Morrison, D. Dionne, D. Lafreniere, C. Vezina, T. Broomhead, J. Rioux, A. Barsalou Middle row M. Dillon, K. Dillon, M. Houle, P. McDonald(coach) Front row A. Madore, R. Martel, M. Lingenfelter, T. Sawyer, H.Byce, J. Castonguay, D. Vandal

This post will also appear in the Chapleau Express on December 22, 2012.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

'Chapleau 2012' highlighted by 90th anniversary reunion festival of Chapleau High School

Graham speaking, MJ right back committee on left

As I have been reflecting on the year past, perhaps best simply described as 'Chapleau 2012', it struck me that it was Grant Henderson, a 1927 Chapleau High School graduate who summed up so well why so many of us went back for the school's 90th anniversary reunion.
In a poem for the 60th anniversary in 1982, Grant wrote in part, "Perhaps those days through memory's haze take on a richer hue" adding that "perhaps that's true but ... this I know. And I've wandered up and down. Were I to pick my bringin' up place. I'd choose the same old town."

Like Grant, I too have wandered up and down, spending moments and at times much more than a moment in places from Ontario to British Columbia, and in my daily newspaper reporter years, back and forth across this vast and magnificent land with side trips to the United States. In fact, I thought about this column while spending time at Cocoa Beach at Cape Canaveral, Florida, where Michael Pelzer, my good friend, and extremely talented photographer and videographer was doing a shoot.

However, from the moment I learned that  the CHS reunion festival was being planned, I knew as did Grant 30 years ago when he wrote his poem, that I would return to my "bringin' up place" for it. Grant died in 1994.

Soon afterwards I received a message from the organizing committee asking if I would serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Most kind of them to invite me to participate, and I thank them again so much.

This put me back in regular touch with George Evans, my friend, CHS colleague and member of township council when I was reeve of Chapleau in the 1970s. Like everyone, I was shocked and greatly saddened when George was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident before the reunion.

But, in his memory, Chapleau did the right thing  by naming the library after him. From the day he arrived as a young teacher at CHS, George was a staunch supporter of the public library -- and worked to improve the one at the school which when he arrived in 1961 was located in a tiny room on the second floor of the building on Pine Street.

I was delighted that so many of my growin' up in Chapleau friends also planned to attend, and once we met, it seemed like only yesterday since we  were hanging out in the Boston Cafe, or driving aimlessly around town on a summer evening, never straying far from Main Street, just in case something might happen downtown and we missed it.

It was great to go around town and end up at the Boston Cafe, now Hongers Redwood again, and visit with Yen, Jean and Jim Hong. 

We talked about school and Teen Town dances, going down the lake by one of two rivers to a bay called Mulligan's, or over the gravel road to Racine Lake to awesome get togethers at Martel's.  We reminisced about skating on a Friday night by the light of the silvery moon in the old arena and the old old one, both on Lorne Street, and yes, always so important, hockey, on the ice and on the road and on the rivers.

And the central place for the reunion was at the Chapleau Recreation Centre, opened exactly 34 years ago on June 29, 1978, as pointed out to me by co-chair Graham Bertrand. Earle Freeborn, a reunion committee member and former Chapleau mayor was the arena manager at the time. 

Tom, MJ, Olive McAdam, Bob, Marg Fife, Bill Pellow, Sonia Schmitwilke
For many of us John 'Mac' McClellan, the legendary principal of CHS, and Dr. Karl A. Hackstetter, as teacher, who a few years later returned as principal, defined CHS. We were members of 1181 Chapleau High School Cadet Corps, and for me, it was so great to see Neil Ritchie, Jim Hong, Jim Evans and Ian Macdonald, all of them officers when I was in cadets. I even finally told them how they terrified me, except for Jim Evans, who advised he preferred a "gentler touch."

Regrettably our good friend David McMillan, cadet officer, actor, hockey player and inspiration, who had looked forward so much to attending, died before the reunion.

For those of us in her CHS class, our good friend Pat (Purich) Russell made and presented each of us with a school banner. In my case, she made a special one in the old and new school colours as I had attended and taught at CHS. Much appreciated Pat and it hangs above my desk in place of honour.

While I so much enjoyed spending time with old school friends, I was so pleased to chat with  former students from my years as a teacher at CHS. And yes, we talked hockey and school plays, and "stories by MJ". Great to see all of you again and get caught up.

On a very personal basis, the most touching moments of the reunion were during the wonderful ecumenical service presided over by Rt. Rev. Thomas A. Corston, Anglican bishop of Moosonee, known to so many of us simply as "Tom". Growing up in Chapleau, Tom is the son of Frances (Jardine)  and the late Henry 'Chicken' Corston.

Sitting beside me on the stage was Robert Fife, now the CTV News Ottawa Bureau Chief, but to me simply "Bob" or more commonly "Fife".  Bob is the son of Margaret and the late Clyde Fife. 

As the service progressed, I looked out at the faces of over 400 people, all of whom defined Chapleau in one way and another from its beginnings in 1885 to the present day.

In my remarks near the end of the service I tried to capture it all when I commented that before me I saw the history of Chapleau and I did, but after relating that I had been on a morning walk to the Memegos property, my favourite walking place, I started to lose it -- one of those emotional moments -- and I thank Bishop Tom for rescuing me.

And so, Chapleau 2012, is coming to a close, but for the more than 1,000 who registered for the reunion, the precious moments of once again being home, I am sure,  will remain with us forever.  A school reunion, as my former newspaper colleague Derik Hodgson once noted, is often "the binding that holds the town book together."  This one sure contributed whether we still live there or have wandered up and down, and ended up in some other place.

Like Grant Henderson, I would not have picked another place as my home town, even if I had been given the choice. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Monday, December 3, 2012

Dr. G.E. Young annual Christmas display delighted children of all ages plus letters to Santa Claus from 1948

Harriet (Newcombe) Bouillon collection

Whenever the subject of favourite memories of Christmas arises among those of us who go back to at least the 1950s, someone, or most likely everyone, unanimously will declare, "Dr. Young's Christmas display".
It was a highlight of the season for all ages to visit a magical land right in the heart of Chapleau. As I write, I am preparing to leave for a pre-Christmas visit to Orlando, FL, where Disneyworld is located. It just struck me that we had it, thanks to Dr. Young, for many years.

Dr Young 2005 by John Theriault
After Dr. Young returned to Chapleau for "six months" in 1944 to replace Dr. Crozier, he practised medicine in the community and along the CPR line and the outlying areas for 50 years, he bought a Buick car and  the residence of G.B. Nicholson, Chapleau's first reeve, and in due course, built over it to create his medical centre and apartment complex. For almost all the rest of his life, it was his unfinished masterpiece.  

Jean Newcombe and Doc (red jacket) with friends Harriet collection
Soon after moving in to the Nicholson residence he started the annual Christmas display that delighted children of all ages for years.

When I asked him one time why he bought the Buick, he replied, "I thought I should because all the doctors I knew drove Buicks". 

Just recently, Harriet (Newcombe) Bouillon was in touch to let me know she has some photos of Dr. Young's display, and I immediately asked if I could use them. Harriet agreed, and I thank her very much for sharing some moments from Chapleau's past that were so much a part of our lives.

Harriet (Newcombe) Bouillon collection
As I reflected on my own years growing up in Chapleau, I think the display and the lights and the music were most meaningful as we walked from our home on Grey Street South on usually bitterly cold Christmas Eve's to the midnight service at St. John's Anglican Church.

Along the way, and on the way home we would meet and greet folks from Trinity United Church and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, and when I was a teenager, I would run between St. John's and Sacred Heart to attend the service there with some of my friends.

Harriet (Newcombe) Bouillon collection
All these years later, although Dr. Young leaves a legacy as a medical doctor who cared for so many of us, memories of his Christmas displays permit us as adults to enter again into a child's world. And indeed, when we do, we are homeward bound.

George Edward 'Ted' Young, M.D. died at age 95 on December 14, 2010 in Chapleau.

Let me move on to The Kiddies Corner, a popular feature in the Chapleau Post and as Christmas approached, it contained Letters to Santa. The Chapleau Santa Claus Parade was scheduled for December 11.

Harriet (Newcombe) Bouillon collection
Here are some of the letters in the December 2, 1948 issue of the newspaper.

"Hello. It's good to hear that you're coming back. We were good kids and we know you'll bring us lots of presents, candies and nuts. Also we hope to see you at the Christmas parade to shake your hand and say hello." -- Dee, Cheryl and Jack Byce

"Heard you were coming. I have not seen you in 6 years. Last time I saw you was in Toronto and I had my picture taken on your knees. Wonder if you could give me a steam engine or an electric motor for my mecanno set. I would like you very much and I would appreciate it. So long for now. Hope I'll be seeing you on December 11th." (the day of the parade in Chapleau) -- Leo Vezina

"Dear Old Santa: You will soon be here now. So long since I saw you. Four long years. Wish you would bring me a sewing machine, a sweet grass sewing basket, printing sets, story books and a game. Thanks a lot." -- Doreen Cormier

"How are you? I am looking forward to seeing you. Santa I am a pretty good boy so would you give me a pair of skis about 4 ft. long and a pistol with two cases, and a little milk truck for me. If you come to my house I will leave you some cake and tea." -- Clarence Edwards

"Would you please get me from toyland a little doll and a high chair to go with my doll. I am three years old and I like dolls very much. I do not know how you'll get in my home because it has no chimney but please get in some way. Maybe by the keyhole. Thank you Santa." -- Ginette  LeBrasseur

"I am a good little boy six years old. I would like you to bring me a box of large tinker toy or anything that runs alone. Don't forget to fill my stocking. Thank you very much." -- James Schafer 

"I'm only a little boy so my mama is writing for me. Now for Christmas I would like a tricycle. My brother Emmett would like a train and Baby Brian wants a dolly. I'll be waiting for your airplane to arrive..." -- Joe Connelly

"I would like from you a big kiss but I guess I can't get that so I want a dolly's stroller. I like you Santa and a beautiful doll bed with covers, and believe in you."  --Geraldine LeBrasseur

"I am a little girl five years old and I would like you to bring me a nice big doll, a pair of skis, an umbrella, doll clothes, plastic sets and a paint book." -- Jo Ann Moyle

"Will you please send me a cap gun and two boxes of caps please and a belt for the guns. Will you please send me a truck. Bye-bye, hope I see you at the parade." --Bobby Pountney

"I heard you were coming to Chapleau. I hope you won't forget to bring me something and also to my two sisters: May, three years old and Lauraine, two years. As you know Devon is not far from Chapleau." -- Helene Gionet, Devon

Thanks to Harriet (Newcombe) Bouillon and Ken Leclaire who sent me the Chapleau Post. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Harry 'Butch' Pellow recalls Chapleau in Winter and Hockey on its Rivers about entertaining ourselves, laughter, being out of doors, pushing limits, building relationships

See names at end.Click image to enlarge
Harry 'Butch' Pellow is one of my oldest friends and recently I sent him an email asking if he had any memories of us playing hockey on the front river as opposed to the 'pond' on the back river. As he notes in the following reply, not too long ago we had chatted about hockey on the pond. Now he takes us to the front river.
Imagine how wonderful it was to grow up in a place with two rivers on which you could play hockey, and you could go "down the lake" by either one to a bay called Mulligan's. In Chapleau, you could go from your home as Butch notes through other people's back yards, up or down back lanes as the case may be, across lanes to that place simply called "the arena" or if you were old enough to recall, the old old arena was "the rink".
Harry is a member of one of Chapleau's early pioneer families, and was the architect for the Chapleau Civic Centre, Chapleau Recreation Centre, Cedar Grove Lodge, Chapleau General Hospital, the golf club house and the Trinity United Church. He is also a great storyteller.
Here is Butch with Chapleau in Winter and Hockey on its Rivers. Thanks Butch for the memories.
Chapleau in Winter and Hockey on its Rivers
By Harry 'Butch' Pellow
Not that long ago we chatted about hockey on the pond over the old wooden bridge and across the back river, over a hillock and north of the old sewage treatment plant. Who can forget it when your best recollection was that your hands were blue, your laces were frozen (maybe from Saturday morning’s practice) and your skates unrelentingly accepted your now almost frozen foot. But it had its moments and the braver amongst us endured. I have said before I was not one of the brave.
Harry Pellow 2012
But there was another venue too and it was on the front river just west of the concrete swimming pier where so many gathered this past July during the Chapleau High School 90th Anniversary Reunion to celebrate the homecoming and watch the fireworks. 
Like the pond, it arrived when the ice did but it was far more accessible, and collecting a group required far less planning and organization to pull together enough players for shinny. It was often after school and on weekends and as you recall surfaced one Christmas holiday and maybe because “Ice” Sanders was unable to make a rink on the ‘clinker’ surface of the public school grounds. 
Pickup included anyone who could get enough equipment together to make it worthwhile and at the same time wear warm clothes. Warm clothes because the west wind, however mildly blowing, was cold on that open river front and by the end of a school day or an early winter weekend evening the sky was grey, sunless and foreboding; and, had it not been for wild enthusiasm why would anyone choose the river over The Boston Café?
Harry 'Boo' Hong, Roger Mizuguchi, Butch
Well the Hong brothers did as you and I did Mike, and what greater motivation should there have been than that?
What made river hockey exciting was its spontaneity, the boundlessness of the perimeters of the playing surface, the almost undefined roll of scraped-off snow and ice along the edges; and that you always had to watch out for the ripples that had been created in the surface by the last breezes that sculpted the ice before it froze.
Boo and Butch 1947
Think of that slap shot by Hong, Hong, Hong, or one of the really big guys when it accelerated over the ice ridges and soared away out over the river; or at you directly, then veered away as it embraced the ripples. Can you recall the sound of the skates cutting through the crisp surface as they raced for the puck, can you recall the whack, slap, and clicking of sticks on each other and on the ice? 
What about the yelling and chanting and the code words that defined the play. “..over here” “…pass it, pass it”; “…go, go go”; “he scores!” etc….; wild enthusiasm and true abandonment because it would be dark very soon and there were very few lights to mark the way home.
Tee Chambers, Butch, Aldee Martel 1954
There was a collective enthusiasm to make the most of every minute and everyone was in sync.
Remember how difficult it was to take a breath in the cold air, how your breath made fog as you skated up the ice or paused for ‘a breather’? Wow! Your eyes were often half frozen shut and the ice crystals on your mitts made it impossible to swipe your nose. Never to be forgotten.
Do you remember how the Hongs played hockey and skated? Yen sprinted, was light on his feet, very fast and dipsy-doodled like no one else (except maybe Max Bentley). He even bore the nickname “Ziggy”. Jim was a powerful steady and fast upright skater and a great stick handler as I recall; and our friend Boo skated low, took long steady deliberate strides and always made skating fast look easy; he also had his skates rockered so there wasn’t more than a couple of inches touching the surface.
Butch and Boo
When you think of the sound of skates on natural ice, you can’t help imagine these really great players doing their stuff can you? Wouldn’t it be great to experience it all again?
I recall one other particularly relevant experience on the front river Mike and that was when I was in grade seven or eight. There had been a fast freeze, the ice was smooth and crystalline, there was no snow, and along with a few others including Tiny Martin, Charlie White, maybe Boo and you too, we all ventured onto the ice oblivious of the danger. It was the beginning of an event that could have been catastrophic if one of us had walked too close to the edge and what a sad night that might have been.
I vividly recall Vern Goldstein clambering down through the snow from the Town Hall office where he had seen us from the Clerk’s north-eastern window and then called us off the ice and sent us home. I knew we had done something wrong but it was the threat of Police Chief JackAngove calling my home that gave it meaning. This was an experience I have never forgotten and the beginning of a long list of confrontations with nature that have caused me to be very respectful of it, and the dangers that lurk in its beauty. 
When I got home that evening Wilf Simpson had called my mom, Jack Angove had called my mom, and she was prepared for me when I arrived very cold, very afraid and very apologetic. I’m pretty sure that was a Friday evening because I have a vague recollection of being told “no more hockey unless..” as I dressed for practice the next morning before making my trek in the dark through Evans' backyard, through McKnight’s, down Lansdowne, through Therriault’s, and to the front door of the old unheated arena for a much different experience.
The wonderful thing about river hockey in Chapleau that I think we all need to think about a lot as we get into the season of joy and remembrances is that it had no religious, racial, language or nationalistic perimeters; there were no upper town or lower town distinctions and I don’t recall there being good players or bad players; albeit there were little ones and big ones too. We were all players and it was a game, a spontaneous moment, a gleeful opportunity to engage in role playing and in doing what northern boys and girls and their parents had done for decades before us. It was about entertaining ourselves, laughter, being out of doors, pushing the limits and building relationships.
Was it Joseph Conrad who said
“youth…. the glory of it!”?
A few names who might have been on the river ice at any time: Jim Evans, Boo, Jimmy, Yen, Ian Macdonald, Dave McMillan, Gilles Morin, You, Me, Jack Poynter, Terry Shannon, Tony Telik, Leo Vizena, Charlie White, and more.

(Note: Likely all the players on the 1956 CHS hockey team in photo, at one time or another)

A highlight of the year for the Chapleau High School team of 1956 was a trip to Terrace Bay. Back row from left: David McMillan, Doug Sleivert, Stan Barty,Thane Crozier, Clarence Fiaschetti (teacher and coach), George Lemon (principal) Second row: Doug Espaniel, Roger Mizuguchi, Bill Cachagee . Front are Jim Hong, Bert Lemon, Harry Pellow, Ken Schroeder, Robbie Pellow (Mascot) Marc Boulard, Harry Hong, Jim Machan, Ron Morris. Most would have played river hockey.
Thanks for the memories Butch. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

BUTCH ON ROAD HOCKEY  http://michaeljmorrisreports.blogspot.ca/2010/03/harry-pellow-recalls-enthusiasm-at.html

BUTCH WITH MEMORIES OF 'THE BIG ROCK' http://michaeljmorrisreports.blogspot.ca/2012/11/harry-pellow-shares-memories-of.html

Monday, November 19, 2012

Moment of childhood ecstasy for Neil Morris riding in steam engine cab with his Uncle Nick as engineer

When Neil Morris was 11-years-old, he took his first ride on steam engine with his uncle F.A. 'Nick' Card, a Canadian Pacific Railway engineer in Chapleau.

Years later, Neil, no relation to me, a reporter at The London Free Press, wrote 'Moment of Childhood Ecstasy' after his uncle had retired from the CPR in 1978. It appeared in the Chapleau Sentinel, and is a wonderful heartwarming story about a child's trips in the cab of steam and diesel engines with his Uncle Nick as the engineer.

Neil wrote that his uncle to him as "a giant of a man."

"His engineer's cap shoved shoved back on his prematurely balding head he'd toss that enormous plumber's tool box that was really his next 24 hour's meals onto to the steel doorway. Then he was up the ladder and through the doorway."

Then it was time for Neil to join him.

"Up you come fella," his uncle would say "with a grin, arms reaching down to me when what I really needed wasn't a help up the ladder but something to hold a kid's pounding heart from exploding."

Nick Card was born in Lady Minto Hospital in Chapleau in 1914, and served the community as a councillor and reeve as well as being active in other community organizations throughout his life. He attended Chapleau Public School and graduated from Chapleau High School in 1934. His father, William Card, also had served on Chapleau council.

Neil continues: "Inside the warm cabin with its throbbing steam guages, his fireman smiled my way while swinging huge shovelfuls of coal into the gaping firebox.

"The engine lurched as my uncle's gloved hand eased the throttle lever open. Steam blasted from the cylinders behind the cowcatchers. We were moving."

Neil explained that for an 11-year-old it was a moment never to be forgotten, "a thrill relived every time I see a huge steam locomotive on display for a new generation of children to stand in awe over, albeit never to ride."

I contacted Ian Macdonald, now professor emeritus and retired head of the department of architecture at the University of Manitoba and a great railway buff to ask if he knew the type of engines being used by the CPR when Nick was an engineer. Ian also worked on the CPR and received training on both steam and diesel engines.

As always, Ian was back to me quickly: "Steam engine 5433 was actually a Winnipeg locomotive but this locomotive type was the dominant locomotive type on the Schreiber Division during the time Nick was on the road.  This is what makes it the  most appropriate locomotive to preserve. Kudos to Art Grout."

Steam engine 5433 has been on display in Chapleau Centennial Park since 1964 when Mr. Grout, the president of Smith and Chapple Ltd.,  arranged to get it from the CPR. N.R. Crump, then CPR president, was on hand for the ceremony.

As a matter of historical interest, when 5433 was being moved to the site on a temporary track, J.M. 'Bud' Park was the engineer and Earle Freeborn was engineer on the yard engine.

Back to Neil's story. Although he wasn't there  when that "giant of an uncle" retired, others were, nephews like himself who had "enjoyed their moment of glory in one of his engines in their childhood. Each in his turn had climbed that ladder first of steam engines then later of those diesels with their strangely different sounds and smells."

He explained that the diesels were never like the steamers with their familiar pant, hissing jets of steam and huge clouds of smoke billowing upward as they strained to tug a long freight" out of Chapleau.

Referring to his uncle's retirement:

"Gone are the days when an engineer's heart was in his mouth as his own headlight reflected back at him of a snow-covered evergreen on a curve  - his moment of  terror that he was meeting another engine head on.

"Gone are the days when he climbed back into an engine, his coveralls ice coated after a water tender spout took a crazy turn and drenched him in freezing  January weather.

"And gone are the nights of the 'call boy' shouting at the front door that he was called for this train and that.

His Uncle Nick would be home for Christmas when Neil wrote his article and would not have to leave when his 'call' arrived just as the aroma of turkey was starting to emerge from the oven.

"And then he would be gone into the snow without a grumble - just a grinning wish for a happy Christmas for all"

Neil noted this was the railroad life and his uncle loved it adding he hoped other uncles or dads would continue to slip a son or daughter, a nephew or niece onto one of those big diesels for Their "moment of childhood ecstasy."  I don't know if it would be possible today but Neil's story sure brings back memories of train travel.

Neil concluded: "To me, my uncle was a close kin to Santa Claus. Perhaps, in away, he was the spirit of what Santa Claus is all about. And not too surprisingly his name just happens to be Nick."

F.A. 'Nick' Card died in 1986.

Ian sent me other photos and explained: "There are two types of Alco locomotives.  Both were of the earliest type used on the CPR in the 1950's and 60's.  The two road engine consist is pulling a freight train over the trestle into Chapleau. The other more typical locomotive onsist is sitting outside the Chapleau shops.

"2841 is a classic Hudson locomotive was used mainly on the transcontinental trains before they were replaced by diesels. 2841 was relegated to freight service in the late 1950's before being scrapped.

"I include an image of the GM demonstrator locomotives which were the first through Chapleau in 1949.  I include the image because it shows the complete train including the dynamometer car immediately behind the locomotives that monitored locomotive performance. I attach another image of the same GM type in CP paint sitting outside the Chapleau shops."

Thanks Ian as always for your assistance. I received the Neil Morris story from the late David McMillan, who gave it to me when he came to visit me in Cranbrook.  My email is mj.morris@live.ca

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