|Don Swanson, Michael Bedard, Ron Larcher, Philip Pepin|
Organized baseball was being played in Chapleau shortly after the community was established with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.
So far, the earliest record I can find of a tournament was in 1889 held on July 1 as part of the Dominion Day celebrations when Peter John Nolan received a medal as the most valuable player.
A newspaper clipping with a photo of the medal says, "Herewith is a photo of a medal recording his (Nolan's) prowess on Dominion Day of that year, a day significant for sports activities in that railway town."
"Neighbouring terminals of Cartier to the east and White River and Schreiber to the west managed to get up interterminal ganes in those early days."
The clipping adds that "no record of the Chapleau team he played on to have been awarded silver medal but he was said to have been the star pitcher and equally efficient hitter."
Mr. Nolan was born in Stittsville, Ontario in 1865 and arrived in Chapleau as a car foreman with the CPR in 1887, staying until 1896. His son Earl provided the information for the news clipping and photo of the medal.
Quite likely, baseball was part of summer activities, with games played on a field in the vicinity of the present golf course, and eventually behind Chapleau Public and Chapleau High Schools on Pine Street.
In 1916, Father Romeo Gascon, parish priest at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church was coaching a team called the Young Elephants. Harry Morris, my grandfather who had arrived in Chapleau a few years earlier to work on the CPR played on it.
Chapleau teams also travelled for sports along the CPR line and so did the Chapleau Town Band. The earliest hockey road trip I have found was one a Chapleau team made to Sudbury in 1893 to open an arena there. It lost 2-1.
Fast forward to the late 1960s when Chapleau Little League Baseball was a major part of summer sports activities -- as was the Chapleau Men's Fastball League.
Margaret Costello in her column shared an end of season banquet to honour the Little League teams, players and coaches.
Margaret wrote that the young players "brought a hefty appetite with them as well as their best behaviour and made short work of the bounteous turkey dinner and all that goes with it prepared by the Ladies Auxiliary of Branch No. 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion." The mothers of the players served the meal.
Trophies were presented to teams and players for their accomplishments.
The Eldred Dickie championship trophy was presented to Philip Pepin captain of the Giants and Peter King and William Humphrey, the coaches.
The Dion Trophy was presented by its donor Marcel Dion to captain of the Braves Ron Larcher and coach Tom Edwards Jr. Coach Greg O'Connor was unable to attend. The Broomhead Trophy was presented to Michael Bedard while Ron Larcher also won the Legion Trophy presented by Jim Lane.
The Collins Tip-Top Trophy in the Junior Little League Division was presented to Don Swanson as outstanding player by Olive M. Card, chair of the Chapleau Recreation Committee and township councillor.
The Arthur Simpson Memorial Trophy, emblematic of good sportsmanship, team co-operation and outstanding behaviour was presented to Philip Pepin, captain of the Giants by Wilf Simpson. Mr. Simpson announced that small individual trophies would now be presented to winners and as this would be retroactive previous winners Bill Westerman, Jamie Doyle and Joey Babin would also receive one.
Laurie Westerman, Little League president, welcomed everyone, and told the players, "We are proud of you. You played good ball and I hope you play still better next year."
FOUR YEARS OF CHAPLEAU MOMENTS
This column marks four years of Chapleau Moments in the Chapleau Express. I extend my most sincere thanks to everyone who has assisted me with these "rough drafts" of moments in the life and times of Chapleau and its people. Your support is so much appreciated.
When Mario Lafreniere first contacted me to write the column, I really thought it may last six months at best. Four years later I realize that I have only scratched the surface, as every week I receive suggestions, comments, ideas from Chapleau folks no matter where they live now.
The column is also published on Michael J Morris Reports.
And yes, I am still following up on stories from conversations at the 90th anniversary reunion of Chapleau High School in 2012. Enjoy your summer and be safe out there! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org