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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1181 Chapleau High School Cadet Corps performance described as "excellent" at annual inspection in 1946

Art Broomhead, Mike Mione, Arnold Moore, Bill Ritchie

On a beautiful sunny day in May 1946, Captain R.Q. Sims, described the performance of 1181 Chapleau High School Cadet Corps as "excellent" during its first inspection following the end of World War II.

The inspecting officer delivered his remarks to the corps which the Chapleau Post described as "well earned praise following weeks of training" to company commander Foster Collings, platoon commanders John Thomson, Barbara Muske, Frances Hamlin, bugle band leader Janet Thomson, chief instructor and school principal John McClellan and corps members on the field behind the old high school on Pine Street.

The CHS cadet corps was established on November 14, 1924, just two years after a high school was established in Chapleau and was disbanded on January 1, 1963, and for 39 years was an integral and important part of school life.

Alton Henderson, Jack Rose, Lorne Wilkinson, Elbert Collinson, Wesley Morse
One year after World War II had ended, thoughts would surely have turned to the more than 300 Chapleau citizens who had served in Canada's armed forces, including 17 CHS students who were killed on active service, and had been members of the cadet corps just a few years earlier. Two who were killed on active service were Alton Henderson and Jack Rose, pictured above.

As well as the actual inspection,  demonstrations  in signals, first aid, knots and lashes, girls PT, pyramids, rifle and precision drills were included in the day's activities. 

Following the inspection, led by the Girls Bugle Band, the corps would march around the community, before members would head home to prepare for the annual Cadet  Dance, always part of the day's activities. 

For some reason, I had  assumed that the cadet corps always had a girls band, but once again I got a lesson in "never assume" as I have been researching the history of 1181 Cadet Corps. For example, I have discovered that in the 1934-35 school year it was called the Boys Bugle Band, and this may have continued until at least 1943 when student Milton O'Brien was the band leader. However, by 1946 it was a Girls Bugle Band led by Janet Thomson.  It is also quite likely that it was a boys band prior to 1934, and as my pieces, as I have written before are really a very rough draft of history, I hope more information will be forthcoming so the complete story of the corps can be told.

Also, girls were not officially permitted to be cadets but at CHS they were involved and were part of the inspection. They were later approved.

After World War II, King George VI, granted the title "Royal" and they became the Royal Canadian Army Cadets. One of the more famous highlights in the history of the CHS cadet corps was the Royal Visit to Canada by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939. The story goes that while the Royals were not scheduled to make an appearance in Chapleau as the Royal Train was passing through the community at two a.m.

However, Chapleau reeve George Fife, the grandfather of CTV News Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife, sent a message that he wanted to meet the King. So, the King was roused in the middle of the night to meet Mr. Fife, and according to Jim Austin, who was then a member of the CHS cadet corps, got off the train and conducted an inspection. 

Many CHS cadets over the years attended Cadet camps, and 1946 was no exception. Thirteen members of the corps attended camp at Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, which considering that CHS had about 100 students struck me as amazing. The Chapleau Post reported that those attending were Arthur Broomhead, Desmond Collins, Ross Hamlin, Coulton Henderon, Mike Mione, Arnold Moore, William Pellow, Lorne Riley, Douglas Swanson, Lawrence Tremblay, Bill Ritchie, Pat Serre and Reggie Sonego.

John McClellan, wife in background
No cadet inspection day was complete without the  dance held in 1946 in the Legion Hall which was decorated with white apple blossoms, the red, white and green school colours and crossed rifles on the wall panels, all "well deserving of praise" according to the Chapleau Post reporter. Lunch was served by a committee of staff members and parents headed by Mrs. McClellan, the wife of the principal.

Music was provided by 'The Modernes' in its first and only appearance even though  the Chapleau Post reporter was gushing in praise of the orchestra, writing that it was "music played the way you love to hear it played" and predicting a great future for it. It folded as some members left Chapleau. Members were Marion Wedge, piano; George Payette and Jim Hands, trumpet; Greg Lucas, clarinet; Norman Cohrs, trombone; Bill Austin, saxophone; Jack Welch, electric guitar and Yen Hong, drums.

For almost 40 years of its history, 1181 Chapleau high School Cadet Corps played its important role. For some reason, I still recall the command "General Salute. Present Arms", the inspection by the army officer in attendance and the march past in review order as the Bugle Band played when I was a student at CHS in the 1950s. As the 90th anniversary reunion of CHS draws closer, I am sure there will be many revisions to the rough drafts of the school's history. 

Thanks to Doug Greig and Louise Cooper. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

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Michael J Morris

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


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