For "good, clean fun, fellowship and entertainment" nothing could compare to the Revellers Ski Club, according to Vince Crichton in his book 'Pioneering in Northern Ontario'.
Founded in the Crichton home at the corner of Aberdeen and Birch streets (the three story red brick house), on the eve of the Great Depression in January 1929, it became an important part of community life until it was disbanded near the beginning of World War II in 1940.
Vince shared the names of the founding members, most of whom were members of early Chapleau families. They included: Norman Barker, Hubert Boucher, George Crichton, Grant Henderson, Borden McLeod, Hector Buncombe, Albert 'Gussie' Evans, Goldie Matheson and John 'Jiggs' Goldstein.
The first president was Norman Barker with George Crichton as secretary.
|RSC Members (Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick collection)|
No alcohol was permitted.
Vince noted that within two weeks the restricted membership was filled and there was a waiting list. In due course it was raised to 100, and eventually became unrestricted as the club's popularity increased.
|George C, Hugh McM, Grant H|
Sleigh rides and skating parties were added later.
Vince wrote that a few of the original members "chief among which was John Goldstein ... affectionately known as 'Jiggs' were very good square dancers and a social evening was not complete unless everyone joined in one or two good 'hoedowns' as they were called.
"These were danced to the toe and heel-tapping tunes played by Herb Lucas (who worked with Alf Comte in the barber shop) on a harmonica, on which he had no equal.... The ski club was responsible for the rejuvenation of square dancing in Chapleau at the time."
|What year is car? Hugh and George|
Grant Henderson won.
Wilf Simpson and his orchestra became a "vital part" of the social evenings. Wilf was a "very versatile artist playing with equal finesse the piano, banjo and saxophone". At the time the other members were Joe Perpete, Joe Petrosky, Walter Midkiff, Ken Godfrey and Winnie Nixon.
Vince wrote that it was remarkable the talent that could be found in a small town and in a small group of people.
For example it was soon discovered that the Revellers was loaded with talent and fine actors were found for three act plays. Among the actors were Jim Broomhead, Bob Halliday, Gertie Curry, Beatrice Curry and Edith Keays. Fine singers included Bessie Woodard, Clyde Fife, and Pat Poland.
Here is one delightful anecdote Vince shares: "Wilf Simpson entertained by playing the piano while blindfolded, his wrists handcuffed together, the keys covered with a blanket."
Another had Hugh McMullen simulating the playing of a violin. He would make an dignified entry on stage and go through the motions of playing the violin perfectly.
But, hidden behind the scenery on the stage in the old Town Hall auditorium was Alf Comte playing his violin!
The Revellers Ski Club went far beyond its original purpose as the talent in the group was discovered and they came to be in demand by other organizations. They appeared at the Catholic Women's League annual St. Patrick's Day concert, and did a floor show for the Girls Softball Club among other performances.
Vince noted that there was never any charge for any of the services provided by this club.
"Compensation was derived from the many happy pleasant hours of preparation and the knowledge that they were bringing some measure of happiness and enjoyment to others."
Thanks to those who asked that I write about the Revellers Ski Club, but it would likely not have been possible if Vince Crichton had not written 'Pioneering in Northern Ontario'. My email is email@example.com