For the past three years I have been writing weekly about the life, time and people of Chapleau, but in the 23 years that I have been living in British Columbia, I had been home only once -- in 2001 for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of Chapleau as a municipality.
This time was different. I had been kindly inviited to be part of the program by the reunion committee, which I so much appreciated, and extend my most sincere thanks to them, but it is one thing to write about Chapleau from the other side of Canada and another to be on the scene.
Thomas Wolfe told us that you, and me, "can't go home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting all the time -- back home to the escapes of Time and Memory."
I know I am taking Mr. Wolfe out of context, but for me, yes, you can go home again. I just did along with hundreds of others to celebrate to have a "blast" as I wrote to a friend on Facebook when he asked me how it was going.
Perhaps it was made even better by the fact the reunion had begun by the time we reached Suidbury and we had hooked up with about 12 others from my years as a student at CHS in the 1950s, who were now living all over the place but were heading home.
Yes, once home, I saw there have been changes in the physical face of Chapleau.
However, even though I walked up and down almost all the streets of town, and some back lanes too and went on an expedition over the old bridge at the end of Cedar Street to my favourite walking place past Corston's farm and Pellow's field to the Memegos property, all that paled in comparison to the real reason that I came home.
There you were -- students I taught at CHS, guys who played on hockey teams I coached, "kids" (now mostly over 40) who acted in plays I directed, members of St. John's Anglican Church which I attended, friends of my parents Jim and Muriel (Hunt) Morris, both of whom graduated from CHS.
I also chatted with friends of my grandparents Edith and George Hunt and Lil and Harry Morris.
I am sure as I type this column from Michael and Alison's home in Ottawa before heading back to British Columbia, you, in your way had similar experiences to me.
Mr. Wolfe, you can go home again "to the escape of Time and Memory." I just did and joined hundreds of others at the 90th anniversary of Chapleau High School -- all made possible because co-chairs Nadia Huard Fortin, Graham Bertrand, both members of pioneer Chapleau families, and their committee made it possible.
Rt. Rev. Thomas Corston, now the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Moosonee, and a member of the Corston-Jardine families, both pioneer families had asked me to read one of the lessons at the wonderful ecumenical service that closed the reunion. When Tom handed me my reading, and I saw it was from the Old Testament- Ecclesiastes 1: 1-8, I looked at him and said, "Thanks Tom. You know me well."
And to all of you, thanks so much, for your kindness while I was home. Trust me. You can go home again. My email is email@example.com