EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tobogganning even on piece of cardboard or plastic garbage bag if necessary part of Chapleau Winter life

Slides are now being banned in some places. You know, even though there were some injuries on the toboggan slide and the hills, sliding was part of life in Winter when I was a kid in Chapleau,Ontario.

Sometimes I wonder about where our society is heading, but for now, let's stick to sliding.

I decided to ask my friends on Facebook for their thoughts and memories. I was totally amazed with the response. There were 21 "likes" and 141 comments, although a few of us contributed to the post more than once. Although it was not possible to include all of them, I have tried to capture a look at tobogganing and sliding in Chapleau through the words of those who participated.

You brought back so many fond memories from my growing up years in Chapleau, and I think I went sliding at every location mentioned. Thank you all so much for your participation.

Now, with only minor editing here is a glimpse at sledding and tobogganing and maybe a bit more in Chapleau.
KIM HONG: At times some of us "braved" the rock hill of the water tower across from Bujold's (and next to the horseshoe bridge). The rock jutting out along the path made it a challenge. On occasion standing up with cardboard or plastic bags on the under side of our boots - doing "moguls" ahead of our, and their time! Great feat if you made it to the other side of Elgin Street (in front of Walter and Kay Broomhead's house). Always safety factor and timing our sled and ski runs when "the coast was clear".   Kim added that "Dad-Yen recalls sliding under the bridge and ending at Zenon and Maude Rioux's door. Also down the road of the bridge." Yen also remembers the ski jump (all wood except for the nails) being constructed for the winter carnival in the 1930s.  (Walter Paradis was the carpenter)
TINA CAPPELLANI: My Cousins (Allen & Brian Ritchie) and I used to go sliding on a huge hill on the other side of the Indian Bridge behind the old sewage plant. One day I decided to take my friend Arlene Morita and her brothers and sister to this awesome hill. After trying to convince Arlene to get on the front of the toboggan, as there was a dangerous corner and if you were on the back you would fly off while going around this corner...I ended up riding the front and of course she flew off when we hit the corner! But that wasn't the worst...I flew face first into a tree! Knocked the wind out of myself and ended up with a broken nose and two black eyes! No Grade 5 school picture for me that year! Never, ever returned to that hill again!
LAURIE FORTIN: I would always love going to Dr. Young's hill with my siblings as a really young girl. We had a steel toboggan that held all four of us and it flew like a bullet! Often came home bleeding and I would get stuck under cars on the way home when whoever was pulling the toboggan would get distracted and forget that I was on it! There was also a spot behind the MNR houses and Mrs Costello's.. The other side and road by Lady Fatima was okay after Dr Young's was replaced with townhouses but not the same. I also used the sidewalk on Grey St. that turns and crosses by the Riverside motel, except I would keep going straight, off the sidewalk which ended abruptly at my uncle Octave's driveway! Usually I ended up in the Robitaille yard or in the Rioux fence but if I got it just right and had enough momentum, I would make it all the way! Good times that's for sure!
DARLENE RANGER: (commenting from Florida) I have Maurice Blais here and I as well as he remembers slaughter house hill and you had to walk through a trail. GISELE HARVEY: (Maurice's sister)  commented: Up on the hill we call Dr.Young's hill and we had a great time
BILL CARD: Slaughterhouse hill. My dad (F.A. 'Nick' Card) used to make jumps for the kids. Also Dr Young's hill that ran down towards Minto and the Dunn house and the lands and forest hill that ran down toward Maggie Costello's house.
DAN MURPHY: We used to slide at the old CPR fuel tank, sometimes grabbing onto the back of the chip truck and getting pulled up town. 

GWEN MACGILLIVRAY: We used to slide down the side of the new bridge (after they took down the old horseshoe bridge), but if they had the box cars side-lined there, we'd head over to the highschool hill or Lady Fatima. And no matter how cold it was, we stayed out there until we got called in or the street lights came on! I recall one Christmas when we all got Crazy Carpets and those things were dangerously fast. If you hit the tracks on one of those you'd carry bruises for days.

JENNIFER SWANSON DAVID: We went sliding down the hill behind Fatima. Start way up on the rocks and end up at the school...hopefully jumping off before hitting the wall (but not always!) And,  loved that road right beside Fatima, long and straight.
EARLENE CHAMBERS: We tried to slide down the slope of the car bridge onto the water plant road a few times....not good.. Blueberry hill @ Mrs. . Whitney's. Down onto dead end Queen st. And then down the other side right onto Ash st. (Onto the road). What were we thinking?????soooo much fun!  (This may also have been called Cochrane's Hill)
MELBA BOYD: Hospital Hill, Cochrane's Rock and Dr. Young 's Hill.....it depended on who you were playing with that day......yes, this talk of banning tobogganing is just another way we have lost touch with reality!!!
TOM CORSTON: What great memories...For us most of the time it was Dr. Young's hill onto Minto street before the houses were built. But, there were a few times when our parents and some of their friends (Mansel Robinson, Don Card & families) loaded up a couple of cars and we would slide at the Emerald Lake hill...from the highway right down onto the lake. Hit a few trees...flew over a few stumps...but never hurt. Loads of fun and the parents all joined in the fun as well.

MARY-ANN MERRICK: I remember sliding down Dr Young's hill just behind our house and down the street. There were always big bumps that made you fly off the toboggan. If you made it to the bottom, you hoped no cars were coming as you crossed the road and went into the swamp. It was AWESOME! It was also really COLD! All were dressed in skidoo suits and skidoo boots. What a time.

BRUCE MCCARTHY: Down the sidewalk on the horseshoe bridge (when we thought we could get away with it)

CHANTAL SINOTTE: We used to to toboggan on Dr. Young's hill ...  And we used to cross the river and ski at the golf course on flying saucers... I also remember tobogganing by the old hospital .. near Marie Tremblay's home... .

LINDA TEBBUTT KUTCHAW: Dr. Young's hill that ended up on Cherry st and into Susanne Crawford Kerr's yard, and the other side of Dr.Young's hill that ended up into the wall of Sacre Coeur, and dead man's run ( Minto street) that was "ruined" with the placement of the town houses. Oh! And the hill between Mrs. Costello's house and Crawfords. There were also many snow piles at the point that we would slide down.  Linda added for Kevin Walker: I am so Chapleau, I didn't need a toboggan. I would use a piece of cardboard or a plastic garbage bag if that was the only thing available.
JIM LAPP: Same as Linda Tebbutt; both sides of Dr Young's hill. One came down where the catholic school is now and the west side before Gerry Garms and Manlio Spessot  put houses. Potts house was at the top.  ROBERT LAPP also commented.

LEAH CYR: Sometime even with a little flask! Imagine....we are still here to take about it. I think the recent events in the news about cities/communities banning tobogganing is absolutely ridiculous. Our children don't spend enough time outside and this move takes away an activity that everyone loves. Ban or no ban, the kids will find somewhere to to sliding!

CINDY MAHON: The hill across from the (Nemeg osenda)trailer park that led to the river. Not a really safe place considering if you didn't stop on tine you either ended up in the river or in the brick building that used to house the generating station for the dam!

LUDIE O'HEARN: The 1st. Time I tobogganed was at the big rock on the side of the old Lady Minto Hospital, I got so excited and let go and flew across the lane way, resulting in multiple soreness and bruising! Ah--- the memories!

PAULETTE MACLEOD: That place on King st S not sure of it's name but my children called it suicide hill and they as well went down the hill on a toboggan that sat four, I did go to the high school hill and Dr Young's hill on a six seater where there were five of us/
and KELLY HAZEN added: Paulette it was suicide on one side an dead man's on the other. (We) were there all the time.

DIRINDA DINDY HAMMERSGTEDT: on the small hill across from the old laundrymat on Lorne street, across the lake on the hill closest to the road by Dr.  Young's boat house, on the side of the bridge by Shirley Goheen's house

 HUGH McGOLDRICK:  I recall my folks taking us down the Wawa highway. There was a sand pit on the west side about half-way between the Hwy 129 turn-off and the Golden Route. I think other people may have gone there.

EVELYN LEMIEUX: I used to go to Dr Young's hill before the houses. I also went to one across the river.

JAMIE THIBAULT: On the other side of the tracks we had '1st Rock' and '2nd Rock' which were behind the old Little League Baseball Field at the end of Elgin (now the Chapleau Recreation Centre) Though the neighborhood favourite without a doubt was 'Hospital Hill' so aptly called because it was beside the Old Lady Minto Hospital. But as we no doubt can all recall we would toboggan practically on any type of snow pile we could find. Yup! Did my "Crash Test Dummy" routine at Blueberry Hill quite often as well! Cuts, scrapes, bruises and the odd bitten bleeding tongue were part of the price to pay to be a kid with un-tethered freedom

BOB LEWIS: We went to First Rock (just behind the arena) then we slid at Second Rock back behind First and there wasn't much more than a trail to slide down on that hill, plus we skied back there, trees everywhere and no one got hurt. We also used the old hospital hill where we would tobaggan over a wall along a laneway crossing the road into another yard and still here to write this for you. We had fun as kids then.

My Mom and Dad circa 1936 at the hill
EUGENE BOUILLON: OMG... so many good stories and locations, nothing for me to bring, Jamie Thibault covered most of it... 1st rock, small hill, 2nd Rock, and trail, like BOB LEWIS  mentioned (my mother told me never to go there, too dangerous), and if I remember well... some of us kids, may have hit tree or 2. Someone did bang his head pretty bad, can't remember who it was, might have even been Jamie trying to hang with older kids...lol.... and who can forget the Hospital Hill.... was the best... you could even hear Mrs. Bouillon calling.... "Eugene... Eugene..."... was time to go home... for either dinner or it was getting dark.... lol
And, the last word goes to MARIO LAFRENIERE. publisher of the Chapleau Express: "Can't toboggan, can't have a hockey rink in the front yard, can't maintain our identity!" Many readers will recall that Mario and family at one time lived on Cherry Street and just had to go out the back door and up the hill.  My email is mj.morris@live.ca

There were 31 more commentors that I was unable to include, but thanks to all of you for your participation.

Photos from the toboggan slide built in the 1930s are from the John Futhey Collection at the Chapleau Public Library and the one from CHS slide from Ian Macdonald Collection

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Michael J Morris

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


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