Shortly after Margaret 'Maggie' Costello arrived in Chapleau in 1949, she started reporting on the life, times and people of the community, and as part of her experience became the first woman to travel over Highway 101 to Timmins in 1961.
For more than 25 years, Maggie as she was fondly called, became a fixture at all things Chapleau, arriving in her Volkswagen Beetle with her camera, and reporting on them first for the Sudbury Star in her Chapleau Scene column and in news stories, then with the Sault Star where she wrote Chapleau Hi-Lites and reported the news from her adopted community.
Maggie was born in Pennsylvania, and after settling in Chapleau with her husband Bill, first worked at the Chapleau Clinic and for the Township of Chapleau, but she was a newspaper reporter, first and foremost.
She had been a reporter in the United States, and was also a professional actress, something Chapleau learned when she played a leading role in the Chapleau Little Theatre's 1969 production of Kay Hill's comedy 'Three to Get Married'.
Maggie was also active as a member of the board of the Chapleau Community Credit Union, the Chapleau Chamber of Commerce and Lady Minto Hospital Auxiliary.
Doug Greig recently sent me some of Maggie's columns including the one 'Six Chapleauites ride Highway 101 to Timmins -- for first time' from December 1961.
|She wrote they were looking at a map spread out before them and "can hardly believe it happened -- but it did. Six went all the way to Timmins."|
On the expedition over the new highway with Maggie were Reeve D.J. 'Jim' Broomhead, Marcel Bourgeault, Roy May, Gilles Boisvert and F.B. 'Casey' Nowakowski, and she was most gracious in extending thanks to them for having asked her to accompany the delegation determined to see Highway 101 opened and available to all in 1961.
Commenting on being the first woman to travel over the new highway from Chapleau to Timmins, Maggie wrote, "We've never been one to shout from the housetops that we were first in anything - but we are, we are - and being the first woman that's something no one can take away from us -- we were the first woman to drive over Highway 101.
Just a note on Maggie's use of "we" when referring to herself. "We" can also refer to the group so it can be a bit confusing. Maggie came from the school of newspaper reporting and column writing where the use of "I" was not permitted. Even though I am (we are) a product of the same school of journalism, after all these years of more personal journalism, it took me a few moments to adapt to Maggie's style, although the use of "I" should still be avoided. The third person should be used, and enough already of a lesson from Journalism 101.
|Stuck in mud on Highway 101|
She added that about noon they reached the stretch of swamp and muskeg that had not been completely filled in and the ground was soft and mushy and the "wheels of the vehicle sunk in but good."
It was lunch time, she noted, but as soon as the highway crew returned, the two car caravan received all kinds of co-operation, and "after being set on more solid ground by bulldozer operator Lloyd Eaton of Foleyet, we rolled merrily the rest of the way."
A short news story about the historic trip noted that "residents of Chapleau and Timmins joined hands over a new stretch of road in jubilation. Highway 101 was finally a reality."
The official opening ceremonies of the highway took place with a huge celebration in June 1962.
About 10 years earlier, a Chapleau delegation chartered a plane and flew to Timmins for highway discussions with the Porcupine Chamber of Commerce. The flight took 52 minutes compared to a return trip of about 19 hours by train at that time. Accompanying Reeve B.W. 'Bubs' Zufelt were Arthur Grout, Albert Evans, Charles W. Collins, Gordon Bailey and Wilf Simpson.
Margaret 'Maggie' Costello, who was predeceased by her husband Bill, died in 1983. She had retired in 1977. A memorial service was held at St. John's Anglican Church.
Thanks to Doug Greig and Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org