EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ed Swanson chairs Chapleau's first Summerfest while Lise Lafreniere wins Queen contest and Malaysians entertain with dances and songs in 1973

Chapleau's first Summerfest, a three-day carnival held on the Civic Holiday weekend in August was termed an "outstanding success", with a varied program offering something for everybody, young and old, and in between, according to Margaret Costello in the Sault Star.

Although Chapleau had celebrated Beach Day for many years, in 1973, the program was expanded running from Friday night until the "last dance" at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall on Monday night.

Ed Swanson was the first chairman of Summerfest which eventually became part of Festival Chapleau, and he was ably assisted by secretary-treasurer Margaret Rose (Payette) Fortin. Chatting with Donald Swanson, Ed's son,  at the Chapleau High School Reunion, he recalled, "There were sure lots of meetings around our kitchen table" as plans were made for the weekend.

The committee included Annie Bowland, Peter Elliott, Earle Freeborn, Manlio Spessot, Greg Lucas, Raoul Lemieux Jr, Jim Mulligan, George Travis, Graham Bertrand, Wally Clarke, Janet Tokarchuk, Ken LeClaire, Bill Ritchie, Mark Mizuguchi, Denis Ladouceur and Richard Ladouceur.

Orville Robinson was the Master of ceremonies for the Talent Show and Crowning of the Summerfest Queen Program held in the Chapleau Public School gymnasium on opening night.

High in interest was the selection of the Summerfest Queen from three contestants for that honour. Lise Lafreniere was crowned with "due ceremony" by chairman Ed Swanson. The other contestants were Catherine Welch and Maureen Lavoie.

Maggie wrote that contributing to the success of the talent show were the Malaysians who were spending the summer in Chapleau as part of a Canada World Youth program. "With their colourful and beautiful costumes, graceful and charming dances and songs" they were an "opening gun" for the weekend.

Also on the talent show program were local favourites Leslie Andrews and Jody Theriault, accomplished young pianists; Heather Scott and Nelson Wright, Mary Whitney and Eleanor Creighton, songs with guitar accompaniment; James Henry, songs and guitar. After the show, the first dance of the weekend was held in the town hall basement. 

An outdoor beer garden was held behind the town hall with dancing in the basement while bingo players had their "innings and winnings" at the Legion hall on Saturday.

The  highly polished and trained Levack-Onaping Pipe Band gave a concert in the public school gymnasium which was a "rare treat" for those who loved the pipes.

Matt's Track was the place to be on Sunday for the motorcycle races with contestants from Chapleau, Timmins, Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury. Back in town there were volleyball and basketball games at the public school gymnasium for the youth.

Monday was the big day, all day, starting with "one of the biggest and best parades seen around here in many a day," according to Maggie Costello. "Bands, boy scouts, bright costumes galore, decorated bikes and baby carriages, floats -- on they came all around the town." Margaret Rose (Payette) Fortin chaired the parade subcommittee. The Chapleau Town Band and the Levack-Onaping Pipe Band were also in the parade

Prize winners in the parade were Sean Sweeney, Andy Mahan, Shelley Joly. Tate and Chad Westerman, Myrna Fortin, Dean Fortin and Tina Tangie. Judges were Colombe Champion, Jim Walsh and Cpl. Jack Hatch.

The Malaysian Wedding and Chapleau Recreation Committee were float winners.

During the parade, when the convertible carrying the Summerfest Queen Lise Lafreniere and runnersup broke down in the middle of the route, they were quickly transferred to the back of a fire truck, and the parade went on with little disruption.

Baby carriages filled the area around Renison Hall at St John's Anglican Church as mothers brought their offspring to enter the Baby Show. The show was run by Eva Lester, director of nursing at Lady Minto Hospital, assisted by Alice Martin of the nursing staff. Winner in the birth to six month old category was Shelley Fortier, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Renald Fortier. In the six month to one year category Angela Bazinet, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bazinet won, while Nancy Tremblay, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Girard Tremblay, was the winner in the 12-18 month age group.

In the all day fastball tournament on the field behind the old Chapleau High School, a Chapleau team came off the winner against Wawa. 

There were also other activities at the Beach area including swimming races, water bombing, and the ever popular children's races and games of chance. 

Beginning at nine p.m. to close the three-day weekend was a dance at the Legion featuring the Rhythmaires.

Looking at the program for the weekend, there were 54 businesses and individuals who contributed prizes to Summerfest activities with a sincere vote of appreciation to J..E. Martel and Sons Lumber Ltd., A and L Lafreniere Lumber Company, Chapleau Lumber Company, the Redwood Dining Room and the Bridgeview Motel for their "special contributions" toward the success of Summerfest.

Also assisting the committee were the Opportunities for Youth, "Summer Chapleau' participants Jamie Doyle, Maurice Blais, Richard Desbiens, Catherine Welch, Michael Paquette, Peter Freistatter, and Robert Petrunka as well as the recreation committee summer staff of Eileen McCrea, Joan Warren, Denis Foran, Patricia Fortin, William Brady, Keith McAdam and Mary Lou Futhey.

The Summerfest Committee slogan was "Support us in '73 to bring you more in '74". And they did! 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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