|Ann Card Morin|
The 1973-74 winter sports and recreation activities seemed to start all at once prompting Margaret Costello, writing in the Sault Daily Star to quip, "Who says there is nothing to do in Chapleau?"
Maggie, as she was fondly known, pointed out that "Until fairly recent times in the younger groups the boys have had the best of the winter activities ... minor hockey."
But the times were changing, she wrote, with the formation of the Chapleau Figure Skating Club some years earlier, "with the blessing" of J.M. 'Jack' Shoup, when he was chair of the Chapleau Recreation Committee. I believe Maggie was referring to the establishment of the club, as there had been figure skating in Chapleau, at least back to the 1930s... maybe earlier!
For the 1973-74 season, the figure skating instructor was Patricia Poulin of Timmins. Miss Poulin had an impressive record including the Gold Medal for ice dancing from the Canadian Figure Skating Association.
The club had 100 members who would be working hard in preparation for the annual figure skating show.
Now, a new activity had appeared on the local scene which was beginning its first season under the direction of Lucille Pilon. The lessons included ballet, tap and other dances.
There were also dance classes held at the Mooose Hall with Giselle Mick of Timmins as the instructor.
The Chapleau Curling Club had started its season in November 1973 and the men's and mixed leagues were in full swing.
Minor hockey was underway and Maggie commented that "youngsters in hockey uniforms are becoming a familiar sight at almost any time during the day."
The Chapleau Junior "B" Huskies of the International Junior "B" Hockey League had started its ninth season with Earle Freeborn as manager and George Swanson as coach.
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Touching on skiing, Maggie noted that although there was not enough snow yet, the club members were planning and preparing for the season, which she added "should be just around some corner or other".
Bowling was also popular in Chapleau, in fact there were so many bowlers, there was not a single open night at the alleys. Bowlers also included senior citizens.
Although Maggie doesn't mention them, there were also very active broomball and mercantile hockey leagues in Chapleau in the 1970s, as well as an Intermediate hockey team that played annually in the Northern Ontario Hockey League playoffs. The Intermediate "A" Huskies of the Northland Intermediate Hockey League were founded in 1975.
Meanwhile, the Chapleau Sentinel was reporting that renovations were underway at the Chapleau Memorial Community Arena with a Local Initiatives Program grant from the federal government led by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
The arena would also be introducing special programs for senior citizens and handicapped persons. Earle Freeborn had been named part-time arena manager earlier in 1973.
Yes, Chapleau was a very busy place in the Winter of 1973-74 -- plans were also being made for the Chapleau Winter Carnival.
As an aside, I wrote this column about Winter activities in Chapleau from Orlando, Florida. My email is email@example.com