EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pellow brothers Chapleau pioneers arrive with CPR leave 'footprint' on community life

Edgar Pellow store on Birch Street
As regular readers know, I am fascinated with the pioneers of Chapleau who carved a community out of the wilderness. The Pellow brothers, including Harry Pellow's grandfather, were among them, arriving as the Canadian Pacific Railway did and started contributing to community life.Thanks "Butch" for sharing part of their story.  MJM

By Harry "Butch" Pellow

As with all stories about lives lived there is a beginning, a reality and an inevitable compass adjustment.   We read and record history to learn about our past and where we have been; and we leave a footprint for others knowing full well there is but a short time from the moment we arrive until we leave this place to others.  We hope they benefit from our experience, research and perseverance.  I am pleased to share this story of the Pellow brothers.

All of this relates to the Pellow’s ‘beginnings’ in Chapleau and with the CPR. Christopher Alexander Pellow and Jane Drake’s three sons were early pioneers arriving with the CPR and successfully establishing themselves in the community. 

They were John Henry (Harry) (1869-1918), Edgar Newton (1872-1952) and Alfred Edwin (1875-1956). Harry arrived in 1888 and was employed by the railway as an engineman. He lived in Chapleau until his death in 1918; Edwin came in 1898 and followed his railway career as a conductor in Chapleau, then Fort William, back to Chapleau, and to North Bay; Edgar arrived in 1900 and created a lasting lifetime legacy of entrepreneurial accomplishments until he died. 

Harry Pellow
Harry Pellow, our grandfather, arrived in Chapleau in 1888 at 19 from Cartier where he had worked with the CPR as a wiper. He realized the potential of employment and opportunities with the railway. 

Harry Married Annie Jane Halliday from Nipissing Junction in May 1891. They had 11 children, many of whom resided there for most of their lives.  The sons were John Osborne (aka Elgin, J.O. or Ellie), Henry, Clifford (aka Bill) and Kenneth Harry and Annie 1891  (aka Pat). The daughters were Stancil (Rose), Kathleen (Stone) (aka Cassie), Eunice (aka Tuni), Fern (Reid) (aka Bubba), Edith and Annie Pearl. An adopted daughter Mary Pellow arrived shortly after they located in Chapleau where she helped Annie raise the 11 children. Mary lived with them until she married Charlie Reid, a railroader. None of Harry’s immediate family is with us today.

After arriving in Chapleau Harry was elevated to fireman then engineer. In the day, the engineer was assigned the engine, and he was personally responsible for its care and maintenance.

Harry worked out of Chapleau on the Nemegos subdivision as a locomotive passenger engineer from the early 1890’s until his fatal hunting accident back of Ridout in 1918. It was a huge responsibility when you consider the danger, the mechanical aspects of the machine (a large boiler and many moving parts), the hand laid ties and tracks, the topography they travelled in every conceivable weather condition; and the unreliable nature of the communication that was telegraphed along the line.  
Bill Pellow, Harry's Dad on delivery
Harry built the family home on Lorne Street near the Catholic Church, later owned by Elgin and then his daughter and son in law Bill Morrison. Harry was a great organizer and when he wanted something done usually took on the big share of the work.
He was Chapleau’s “King Billy” representing the Orange Lodge in Chapleau, created the Orange Picnic grounds on what later was the Downey-Evans camp site on Pellow’s Bay. Anyone who wished was invited to attend each year.

It was the summer place of Bill and Aldythe Pellow, Stancil (Pellow) Rose, Lafalot (Bill and Aldythe’s campsite in the 30’s and later Wilf Simpson’s camp); the Picnic Grounds, Henry Pellow’s camp; and since 1953 and until recently, Pellow’s Cottages. 
 Harry was a hunter, camper, and carpenter; he logged and assisted his brother Edgar with various enterprises; with Bob Broughton prospected in the Ridout area for gold; grew food for his family, provided veterinary services and occasionally assisted with interment.  He was a religious man and  family man.   His achievements were not widely known but he was much respected.

Mr and Mrs Edgar Pellow
Edgar Pellow arrived on September 30 1900 where he became a successful businessman and contributed to the community for over 50 years. He married Maud Turnbull and they had seven children: Christopher James, Ernest Edwin, Gertrude Mary, Newton, Mildred Ethel, Helen Jane, and Elmer Edgar. We are unable to determine if any of Edgar’s children are with us today.
Undaunted by the unpredictability of survival in an undeveloped wilderness and armed with determination Edgar created a merchant supply business in Chapleau.

Without financial backing, or even a horse and means of delivery he built a business taking orders from train crews for groceries and other goods providing delivery with a wheelbarrow. He became a purveyor to the CPR. He opened “Pellow Hardware Company” later “Pellow Supply Company”, selling everything from horse collars to furniture; he amassed quite a portfolio of real estate, supplied and delivered fuel, cut and delivered cord wood, and expanded his warehousing to include coal bins, lumber and other building materials.

Harry and Brigitte Pellow 2014
He was awarded a contract to supply materials and men for the construction of the Canadian Northern Railway (CNR today) a gruelling trek to the north which he did by opening up a route through bog and forest and by water, rapids and portage from the 18 mile dam on the Kebsquasheshing River.
Edgar had a store on Birch street and later another on Lansdowne near  Cedar  where he bought fur; In 1937-38 he opened a store in Lochalsh,  run by son Newt to serve the Cline Lake Gold Mine; he bought the Algoma Hotel on Birch (later the Hublit)  and turned it into apartments.

Edgar served as Chapleau’s Reeve in 1937 and was listed in Who’s Who in Canada. He was in the Blue Book of influential Canadians. He taught Sunday school.
Edwin Pellow
Edwin Pellow arrived in Chapleau in 1898 at 23 and began his career with the CPR as a brakeman. He married Anna Sarah Lush in Burks Falls two years later. All six children were born in Chapleau. They were: Alfred Christopher, Florence Levada, Harold Reginald,  Phyllis Mary, Ray Stewart, and Laura Bethe.  In 1909 as a conductor Edwin moved to Fort William, back to Chapleau, then to North Bay where he continued  with the  CPR until retirement in 1940. None of Edwin’s children are with us today. 

After “Chapleau Trails” was published in 2008, we discovered a cousin Barbara Jean Pellow who has been carefully documenting facts related to the Pellow family history. Barbara is the grand-daughter of Edwin Pellow and daughter of his son Harold. Barbara has been a great source of enlightenment and we thank her.

My thanks to Harry and Barbara Jean Pellow for sharing this story about the Pellow brothers. I still have backlog of family stories to get done. My email is mj.morris@live.ca

ADDENDUM. Here is early history of the Pellow brothers provided by Harry. Photos are from party at Butch's home in Toronto, October 2014

The Pellow Brothers:  Three Pioneers 
Our great, great grandparents were John Pellow (1811-1889) and Maria (1811-1884); and John Robert Drake (1820-1890) and Mary Beir (1818-1898). According to the 1851 English census John and Maria Pellow lived in Bristowe, England where John’s occupation was listed as “carpenter” and at that time their six children were: William 19 (carpenter), Matilda 13, Caroline 8, Christopher Alexander 7, Harriet 5, and Maria 1.

Another daughter Mary Ann was left off the census or was not yet born. It is not known exactly when John and his family emigrated to Canada but he was in his mid-forties and by the late 1850’s seemed to be very active in a number of business ventures in Staffa, Ontario. There were two male children, William T. (1832-1916) and Christopher Alexander, our great grandfather (1845-1894).

The Hibbert Review (County of Perth) states that in 1859 John built a log hotel that was torn down in the early 1870’s at which time he also had a blacksmith shop with woodwork and wagon shop connected to it. The 1861 census lists John’s occupation as wagon maker; however, in the 1871 census he is also listed as a farmer.

Sometime in the early 1870’s John built the brick Hibbert Hotel but ran it only for a short time before he moved to Stratford Ontario. In 1968 the hotel was still standing and housed the Hibbert Cooperative Dairy Association Creamery. The 1881 census lists John’s occupation as “gentlemen”. Both John and Maria are buried in the cemetery in Staffa. 

 On the maternal side, John Robert Drake was baptised May 06 1821 as recorded in Affpuddle, Dorset England records. His parent’s home is listed as Pallington.

 Family legend states that John and Mary emigrated to Canada around 1840 via Jersey Island but there is no record of when they landed here except that John and Mary obviously spent some time in Quebec City where Jane Parker Drake our great grandmother was born.

On Jane’s baptismal record John was listed as “carpenter” and his religion as “Methodist”. They lived in Staffa for a time and probably in a large stone home built by John. The 1851 census shows John and Mary Drake with two children living in Staffa, a village 28K north-west of Stratford that officially received its name in 1870. In 2011 the population was recorded as “50”.

The Hibbert Review notes that John lived there in 1850 and until his death in 1890. John and Mary Drake are buried in the Staffa cemetery wherein John’s large tombstone reads “John R Drake died February 7 1890 aged 70 years, 2 months, and 18 days. Native of Dorsetshire England”. John Drake had a large apple orchard and grew tobacco which he subsequently dried and smoked.

 John apparently was a heavy smoker and consumer of homemade (alcoholic) apple cider from
his cider mill conveniently located on the corner of his farm next to the village.  Barbara visited the homestead in 1969 and reports that when John died in 1890 he left a sizeable estate in its day and would have been considered well off. 

All said, it appears that those of us who bear the surname Pellow and resided in Chapleau have a history in Canada and Chapleau that dates back to sometime before 1851 at which time John and Maria Pellow had established their presence in 1850 in Staffa.

Although there are records and a chronology identifying our forefathers’ strong commitment to family, labour, and community, it was not an easy life for them; and whether our great, great grandparents were blacksmiths, woodworkers, farmers, wagon makers, lumbermen, entrepreneurs, hoteliers, or just gentlemen as the censuses would show they were of English provenance, unlike some who were French, and maybe an earlier generation were; but these were English descendants who saw an opportunity in the new world and made their way as pioneers to make a mark. 

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Michael J Morris

Michael J Morris
MJ with Buckwheat (1989-2009) Photo by Leo Ouimet


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