|(Ludie O'Hearn photo)|
But, seriously, "Why live in Chapleau?", George Evans asked in an article he wrote in one of his Snapshots of Chapleau's Past series, all of which are available online at the Chapleau Public Library site.
As I followed the Chapleau Refugee Project, headed by Father Sebastien Groleau of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church on Facebook and in the Chapleau Express, I really wondered if the community would pull it off, but suddenly there was the headline in the paper, 'Chapleau has done it again!'
And, Chapleau's newest family of mother, father and six children arrived to a wonderful welcome in the Lucien Pilon Hall at Sacred Heart church. How did I know so quickly about the welcome? I followed it moment by moment on Facebook where photos were posted on an ongoing basis. My thanks to Ludie O'Hearn for giving me permission to use some of her photos.
George Evans would not have doubted for a moment that Chapleau did it again. As many will recall, George arrived in Chapleau in 1961 to teach at Chapleau High School where he was also assistant principal until he retired in 1989. He moved from the community returning regularly and in due course returned to live in Chapleau permanently.
He wrote his article about why live in Chapleau after his return. I decided to share some of his comments because, even though I have been away now more than 25 years, Chapleau is still home. and George captured the essence of the community so well.
George wrote that "on a Spring day, there is a view from the overpass that takes the breath away. The eye ... follows the Kebsquahseshing River past the town, into the green wilderness of the Canadian Shield. You know that the water in this river flows into James Bay. The river was once, in the days of the 'gentlemen and traders of the Hudson's Bay Company, the only way in and out of this place. It has always been a distant, challenging place."
Chapleau's newest family. Father Sebastien Groleau on left. (Photo courtesy of Ludie O'Hearn)
He mentions the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the lumber industry, the highways, and 'public assets" including the hospital, recreation centre, the schools, the civic centre with public library, one of his favourite places,and the water treatment plant and sewage system.
Then he proceeds to answer his own question "Why live in Chapleau?" and moves beyond the natural beauty of the location. It is here, in my view, that he captures the essence of Chapleau -- its people, as the community's greatest resource.
The drummer broke down communication barrier. All children love drums. (Photo courtesy of Ludie O'Hearn)
George wrote: Chapleau's underlying sense of community attracts and holds the affection of its citizens. The town is still a town of very self-reliant people who care about each other," and if I might add, those in need in the wider community of the world like the newest family, refugees from another place.
When the first citizens arrived in 1885 and following, they were not called "refugees" but they came seeking a better life for themselves and their families and carved a community out of the wilderness. Some of the descendants of those people have been assisting with the refugee project!''
He mentions the importance of volunteers in all aspects of community life, and pays special attention to the first Relay for LIfe in 2008, calling it a "spectacular instance" of the town rallying together to remember victims of cancer and to celebrate survivors.
"It is good to live on the solid granite base of the Canadian Shield among the lakes and forests and it is the people of Chapleau who make it so," George wrote.
|See names below|
If George was still with us I am sure he would have been involved in the refugee project, and have added it to his list of "spectacular" instances in the life and times of the community. I sure do. George died in a motor vehicle accident in 2012, just before the 90th anniversary reunion of Chapleau High School, which he was helping to organize.
One of my favourite quotes is by Stephen Grellet, a Quaker missionary: “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good things, therefore, that I can do, any good kindness that I can show a fellow being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again” The refugee project is a shining example of Grellet's comment. Congratulations and welcome to Chapleau's newest family! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo info George was deputy reeve of Chapleau in 1978 when the Chapleau Civic Centre was opened. He was MC for the occasion. From left are Lt. Gov. Pauline McGibbon, her husband Donald, George at podium, MJM and aide to the L-G. In back are Mrs. Ernie Gilbert and Rev. William Ivey.