EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Calgary Stampeders bring touch of old west to Chapleau after winning Grey Cup in Toronto

Let's take a look at Chapleau as it was on the edge of its boom years of the 1950s as it appeared through the pages of the Chapleau Post.

Ken and Beverly (Yanta) LeClaire recently sent me a copy of the December 2, 1948 edition of the newspaper when Arthur Simpson was the editor, and through the advertisements and stories gives the reader a glimpse of the life and times of the community at the end of the year in which it was threatened by forest fires.

The Calgary Stampeders were in Chapleau at the CPR station on their way home from Toronto, where they had defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders, 12-7, to win the Grey Cup, after having a 12-0 win record in the regular season, the only perfect season in the history of Canadian professional football according to Wikipedia. The Post described it as a "touch of the old West" as cowboys and girls in their ten-gallon hats and fancy shoes and trousers passed through on their special train..."
Although Chapleau was not particularly football conscious, according to the Post, the Stampeder fans rolled off the train and took over and "presented a spectacular entertainment to the crowd..."
1948 Calgary Stampeders
"They bounced off the train in a flurry of ten-gallon hats  and fancy gay coloured hankerchiefs. One fan with an accordion appeared  - another with a guitar  and with a cry of YIPPEE --- they piled onto the platform and gave the locals a treat with a score of western songs".
In response to the crowd's request to see the Grey Cup, coach Les Lear himself brought it out for all to see.
Although the Post does not mention it, they also rode horses along the station platform. I was seven years old and in the crowd -- even got an autographed photo of the team arranged for me by my aunt Marion Morris, who was living in Calgary at the time.
Reeve B.W. Zufelt
In local political news, the Post reported that B.W. 'Bubs' Zufelt had been re-elected by acclamation to serve another one year term.
Joining him on the 1949 council would be J. Cahill, A.J. Grout, E.J. Lepine and W. Steed.
Another front page story said it was expected that the first car would go over Highway 129 in January, and it happened. The highway was declared officially open on a cold winter day on January 30.
C.W. Collins Store 1948
As I looked through the paper, it struck me while reading the advertisements that the only store with ownership by a member of the same family in 1948 and 2012, was Charles W. Collins Stores Ltd., now Collins Home Hardware and Collins Home Furniture, and owned by Doug Collins, the grandson of Charles W. Collins. The Collins name has been associated with ownership of a Chapleau business since 1928.
In the store's advertisement, men's and ladies' McBrine "baggage with character" was being sold at between $25 and $50. while Biltmore hat certificates were available at $5 and $10.

Customers were encouraged to visit the mezzanine for ready-to wear clothes. "Drop up to the mezzanine and see our new party dresses. Smart and stylish in velvets, bengalines and crepes. Choose your favourite frock  for your Christmas parties ahead.." Also, lovely soft fur felt bonnets were available for remarkable prices ranging from $3 to $6.

Walt Disney was popular and the store had children's dressing gowns with Mickey Mouse, or Donald Duck or Pluto on these colourful cotton chenile dressing gowns selling for $4.25 or $5.95 depending on size.

At the Regent Theatre, owned by Cecil Smith, located where the Royal Bank is now, playing was 'Sitting Pretty' starring Robert Young, Maureen O'Hara and Clifton Webb, all very popular movies stars of the day for younger readers who may not recognize the names. The Royal Bank in 1948 was located beside the Dominion grocery store near Birch and Young streets across from the Algoma, later Hublit Hotel.

My cousin Michael McMullen has confirmed that Murrays and Mulligan, a general store was located where the Dominion store later was opened circa 1886. Patrick Mulligan was our great great uncle.

As the natural ice "old old rink" on Lorne Street, and outdoor skating rinks as well as the pond on the back river would soon be in use, Morita Brothers was advertiswing that everyone should have their skates sharpened and be ready for that first workout. They were located on Lansdowne Street across from Gamma Photo Centre which was advertising Kodak products for sale. Who would have ever thought in 1948 that Kodak would ever file for bankruptcy protection as it has just done in 2012.

In 1948, Chapleau had two pharmacies -- the Model Drug store where Ross Thornton was the pharmacist and Rexall Drugs with Ed Downey as pharmacist.

At Smith and Chapple Ltd. where D.O. Payette was president and A.J. Grout vice president, their advertisement was featuring a selection of "beautiful" fur coats ranging in price from $200 to $400. They came in mouton, sable dyed muskrat, raccoon and muskrat. In 1949, Mr. Payette would retire from the firm and Mr. Grout took over.

Smith and Chapple had opened a book department just inside the entrance to its men's wear shop and Mrs. Mitchell would be in the department from 1 to 5 each afternoon to assist customers in making selections. 

Popular Presto pressure cookers were available at $16.95 and $19.95 in the hardware department while steering sleighs were on sale at $2.69 and $3.29.

To prevent frozen gas lines Pellow's Garage and Service was selling Arctic Sure Flow with guaranteed protection for 1000 miles per 75c bottle. At Pellow Supply Co. Alberta lump coal was available at $17.50 a ton.

Harold S. Cahill Men's Shoppe located in the Queens, later Sportsman Hotel, had a wide variety of men's fashions available while Vet's Taxi operated by Pete Therrien announced it now had three cars available for better service. Its motto: "We doze -- but never close." Len Perfetto had Chapleau's other taxi service at the time.

Back on the front page was a social news item announcing that a bridal shower had been held at the home of Mrs. Percy Scott in honour of Frances Jardine, who was to marry Henry Corston. After lovely gifts were opened a "dainty lunch was served by Mrs. Scott assisted by her neighbours."

At Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, a service was held with Bishop G. Landry present where he announced that Father Romeo Gascon was named domestic prelate and would now be Msgr. Gascon. In 1948, he had served as the parish priest for 40 years.

Finally, in my look at moments in life and times of Chapleau in late 1948, everyone was invited to dances at the Legion hall on Saturday nights to the music of Wilf Simpson's Orchestra. Only 50 cents admission!

The community was getting ready for its boom years.

Thanks to Ken and Beverly for the Chapleau Post. 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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