Min Blackburn, described as a "bright light" in the life of Chapleau, for 15 years participated in the Chapleau Rotary Club's 10 mile walk for crippled children.
But, it was her role as president of the Chapleau Senior Citizens Club in 1973 that really brought her into the community spotlight, first with the establishment of a "Drop-In Centre" in the basement of Trinity United Church, and then for her support of the Cedar Grove Lodge project.
In an article about her, the Chapleau Sentinel said she arrived in Chapleau in 1960 when she married long time resident Peter Blackburn, and from that moment on she was dedicated to "brightening lives of citizens" with her "zest for life".
Born in London, England, in 1907, she came to Canada with her family in 1913 and settled in Fort William, now Thunder Bay.
In the summer of 1973, Mrs. Agnes Freeborn called a meeting, held on the lawn of the old Chapleau High School, where the Chapleau Civic Centre is now, to see if a senior citizens club could be formed. Previous efforts had failed. About 40 people showed up and the group agreed, and by the end of the meeting an executive had been elected with Mrs. Freeborn declining to accept the position of president.
|First meeting on CHS Lawn|
Min was elected president while Ernest Gilbert, who as a councillor, also represented the municipality, became first vice president and Margaret Costello second vice president. Helen Grout was elected treasurer, Charlie Swanson, assistant treasurer, Einar Pearson, secretary and Mrs. Mary Mizuguchi, assistant treasurer. Within a year Mrs. Freeborn had agreed to become a vice president.
Min knew right away that the club needed a permanent home, and space was found in the basement of Trinity United Church. She had the ability to bring people together and by December 1, 1974, the basement had been transformed into the Senior Citizens "Drop-In Centre". It had become a vital part of community life.
By 1975, plans were underway for a senior citizens complex and Min gave her full support to the project as did her executive and the club members.
In 1976 as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the incorporation of Chapleau as a municipality in 1901, Min and club members participated in groundbreaking ceremony for Cedar Grove Lodge with the Hon. Rene Brunelle, an Ontario cabinet minsister who gave great support to the project.
|MJ, Dr Young, G Evans, Rene Brunelle, W Wilson, E Gilbert, L Viet, Mrs St Pierre, F Card, L Mione, Min|
In 1978, with its completion, Min assisted with the official opening of Cedar Grove Lodge and the senior citizens moved to the Mrs. Agnes Freeborn Memorial Elderly Persons Centre, in recognition of her efforts in establishing the club. Mrs. Freeborn had died on March 3, 1977. Mrs. Freeborn was born in Chapleau, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.D. McAdam. Her father, a CPR engineer was the third reeve of Chapleau holding office from 1917 to 1919. Her husband Earle, a CPR freight agent died in office while serving as the 7th reeve in 1938. Her son Elmer served several terms on Chapleau council and another son Earle served as reeve/mayor from 1998 to 2010.
The apartment section of Cedar Grove was named the Blackburn-Crichton Wing after her husband Peter, and Vince Crichton, both contributors to Chapleau over many years.
|Jamie Doyle, Min, Peter Bernier (rec committee chair seated)|
Min had also donated a trophy to the Chapleau Intermediate "A" Huskies in memory of Peter, to be presented to the player who made the best overall contribution to the team, and she presented it to Jamie Doyle at the opening of the Chapleau Recreation Centre in 1978.
"Min Blackburn was a woman of many accomplishments and many interests with a zest for life," the Chapleau Sentinel article noted, adding, "Min liked people, young and old and won many friends wherever that happened to be." So very true. She made Chapleau a better place, not just for its senior citizens but for everybody. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org