|David McMillan collection|
In fact Chapleau seemed to be a beehive of activity as the second half of the 20th century got underway with the new sewage plant and system, a new arena, post office, housing and the Smith and Chapple expansion on the "other side" of Main Street, either completed or underway.
In the next 10 years there was most assuredly a spirit of optimism about the future of the community.
The Chapleau Winter Carnivals were revived shortly after the memorial arena was opened in 1951.
|New Houses on KIng Street Ian Macdonald collectii|
Following the disastrous 1948 forest fire, new lumber companies arrived in the area, including J.E. Martels and Sons Lumber Ltd.and A and L Lafreniere Ltd and others.
Chapleau also expected to be on the Trans Canada Highway, and Highway 129 had been completed to Thessalon in 1949.
A delegation from Chapleau led by Reeve B.W. 'Bubs' Zufelt including members of the Chapleau Board of Trade had even chartered a plane for trip to Timmins to discuss the highway between the two communities.
The CPR was spending more than $250,000, a very significant investment in 1950 dollars to renovate the shops to create a diesel maintenance centre.
Ian Macdonald has noted that during the transition between diesel and steam power Chapleau was well positioned as a major maintenance centre.
|Cubs 1949. Ted Demers, MJM, Dave McMillan, Jim Ennis|
The Chapleau Post story explained that once the renovations were completed to meet the requirements of dieselization
they would be major service centre between North Bay and the Lakehead.
"Three large power shovels were at work on the job moving rubble made by the smashing down of walls and unloading gravel for cement work," as part of the shop renovations the Chapleau Post reported.
It added that come the next winter, only passenger trains would be using steam power, ending at least in part, complaints by Chapleau citizens about the "smoke nuisance".
Before dryers became common in homes, clothes were put on a line outside to dry, and often, or so it seemed, as soon as they were hung to dry, a layer of soot would cover them from the CPR operations.
Ian, who attended Chapleau Public and Chapleau High schools has noted that the first diesel locomotive through Chapleau arrived at 11:50 am on Monday, December 05, 1949 powering transcontinental Train No.3 (The Dominion) from Toronto to Vancouver.
School adjourned early to allow students of all ages to join the large crowd of citizens viewing this important event. It seemed like everybody in town was there, and maybe they were.
However, by 1960 when total dieselization of the CPR system had been completed unfortunately the need for the Chapleau maintenance facilities ended, and workers were transferred to other areas, although some remained in Chapleau and took up other occupations.
|Who are they? CLICK TO ENLARGE (Ian's collection)|
Those were really great years to be growing up in Chapleau. Just to jog memories I have included a photo of the 1950-51 Grades 5 and 6 class at Chapleau Public School taught by my mother Muriel E (Hunt) Morris, from the Ian Macdonald collection. I know some of the folks in it, but how about sending me an email identifying them. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Dillon contacted me to advise that his father Jimmy Dillon, who I wrote was a veteran of World War II was "too young" to join the armed forces. It was his brother Robert. Sorry for the error and thanks Mark for the correction. Mark's father Jimmy, was instrumental though in reviving winter carnivals.