EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Anne Ruffo and friends fill "manpower shortage" at Metagama during World War II

During World War II, a "manpower shortage" hit Metagama just like it did other communities, but according to the Toronto Star, "...the town's total population of 22 has carried on, and you can give the girls credit for it."


 The Star reported from the community,  located on the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Spanish river area between Chapleau and Sudbury in 1945 as the war was ending.

The Star explained: "For instance, there's attractive 19-year-old Anne Ruffo who 'guides' for Michael Urban Bates, unofficial mayor of the town, and operator of a string of hunting and fishing camps.  And Gwen and Marian McKee, aged 18 and 16 respectively, who have been acting as 'towermen' for the Provincial Department of Lands and Forests."

In 1941, the distinguished New York Times photographer Herb Foster visited Metagama, and took photos of Anne, which appeared in that newspaper.

Anne had been living in Metagama for 10 years, moving there from Pogamasing  a "rival community which has a population of seven and lots of hopes."

She attended school at Metagama where the school car which stopped one week in every five to give the children  four weeks' homework, the Star reported.

"But to get down to guiding, Anne can sling a canoe and a pack on her back and shoulders and hike right along with the rest of them. She meets an occasional bear along the bush trails but finds "if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone.'"

Asked if she had any pet peeves, Anne told the newspaper that she didn't have any even though "plenty of brawny men leave her to carry canoes and packs, but 'that's my job'".

Mike Bates, veteran guide, hunter and wild life conservationist commented that she does all right. "She killed a bear just a while ago," he related.

With regard to the McKee girls, they had been working as forest fire spotters from two of the 85-foot towers for the past two years. With binoculars, during summer months they watched for smoke and should they see any, they immediately contacted the chief tower at Biscotasing.

"Sure we like it.. It's swell," they chorused to the Star reporter.

Anne Ruffo was born in Sudbury to Vincenzo and Rosaria Ruffo, Italian immigrants who came to Canada in 1924, and settled in Metagama. Mr. Ruffo was a section foreman on the CPR and retired after 45 years of service. Her brothers were Armand, who settled in Chapleau and Rocco in Sudbury.

In 1947, Anne married Lawrence McGoldrick of Chapleau, who worked for the CPR and they had three children Frances and twin girls Joan and Joyce.  Joan kindly provided all the material and photos for this column.

Joan described life in Metagama: "We were taught to fish and hunt at a very ear ly age and loved it. Mom used to take us for rides in our cedar strip boat. We would go swimming, picking blueberries, ice skating in winter. We loved Mike Bates, especially when he took us to the one and only store in Metagama and gave us a chocolate bar.

"For excitement we would go the Metagama train station to greet the train and see who was getting on or off and to wave at the passengers."

When they reached school age they moved to Chapleau where at one point her mother Anne worked at Stedman's store. Joan pointed out that her father's brother Mike and his wife Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick lived in Chapleau.

But, even after moving to Sudbury, Joan relates that they retained ties to Metagama. "In the fall my Mom and I would take the train to go hunting for the day in Metagama. We would walk the trails. She knew them all, and we always got our limit of partridge. She was my best friend and we did everything together, canoeing, hunting, camping, ice fishing, drinking and partying!!!. We had a Sportspal caneo and a 2hp Johnson motor that has been everywhere."

Joan's mother Anne died on September 22, 2010 at the age of 84. "She was a trooper to the end..." Joan wrote.
Thanks so much Joan for sharing your mother's story. It is sure to bring back fond memories. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

Friday, August 22, 2014

A duty to serve and participate as elections approach

More than 25 years ago now I was discussing with my friend Frank Coulter, the number of years he had served on the local school board. Frank told me he had been a member for 18 years.

"Why so long?, I asked him.

"Because Mr. Shoup told us we had a duty to serve," Frank replied. J. M. Shoup, a veteran of both World War 1 and World War 2 had been the elementary school principal and a long time member of the town council.

With a municipal election coming in some provinces, where both council and board of education will be elected,  and a federal election slated for 2015, it might do us well to ponder our duty to serve and participate in the political process.

Let me just clarify duty to serve as I see it before going any further. I came across a quote from Tim Fargo recently, the author of Alphabet Success: Keeping it Simple that seemed to sum it up: "Leadership is service not position".

The emphasis is on service! Today, at least at the national level it seems more like the maxim is in tune with Lord Acton's dictum that "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

At the federal level in the riding of Kootenay-Columbia, where I now live, it has been a Conservative (Reform, Canadian Alliance) stronghold for about 20 years, but hopefully this time around, the Liberals and New Democrats will field strong candidates.

What about us, who choose not to be a candidate? Are we going to become active and openly support a candidate  in the municipal, board of education and federal election? Are we even going to bother to vote?

When I was a boy, growing up in the Northern Ontario town of Chapleau, people took their politics seriously. And often they exposed themselves to great risk if they happened to support the party that lost. They could lose their jobs. And many did, not only in my own community, but in others across this vast and magnificent land.

However, they saw it as their duty to serve and participate, and they did. They accepted the sometimes high risks associated with political involvement. And you may think politics is brutal today. It is, no question and at the national level is permeated with "hate".

In Saskatchewan, as a young newspaper reporter in the 1960s, it seemed that everyone saw it as their sacred duty to be involved. At the time, the province was the home of two of the giants of Canadian politics, John Diefenbaker and T.C. 'Tommy' Douglas.

Mr. Diefenbaker, a Progressive Conservative, served as prime minister of Canada and Mr. Douglas as CCF-NDP premier of the province. Both were outstanding examples of persons who clearly saw it as their duty to serve and participate in the affairs of their nation.

And so, what about us in these times. As has been said by others including Tommy Douglas -- we have learned to fly through the air like a bird, swim under the sea like a fish, burrow beneath the earth like a mole. If only we could learn to walk  our nation as real people, seeing and accepting our duty to serve and to participate focused on things which bring us together rather than those which divide us, without hate and the politics of division -- what a paradise our nation would be!

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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Following the American Dream from Chapleau. CLICK ON IMAGE