The headline read: "They weren't going anywhere, just waiting for Charlie."
"Charlie" was W.D. Collings, who was being welcomed as he made his last run in 1962 -- after 49 years and seven months service with the Canadian Pacific Railway.
"Foremost in the gathering were Mrs. Collings and sons and daughters, railway officials and a host of friends, all eager to extend their congratulations and good wishes to this popular citizen and Chapleau councillor."
I was browsing through the Chapleau and the CPR section on the Chapleau Public Library, and came across the article about Mr. Collings --- and there is an outstanding collection of newspaper stories about CPR employees. Again Doug Greig deserves credit for his efforts to put this section together.
However, I selected Mr. Collings to show once again how small the world it really is as I renewed my personal connection with the Collings family at the swimming pool in Cranbrook. Stay with me.
After the station welcome, a family dinner was held in Renison Hall at St. John's Anglican Church, a place Mrs. Collings knew well as president of the Senior WA during those years when it catered in a major way to banquets, including the weekly meeting of the Chapleau Rotary Club. Mrs. Collings was also president of the Ladies Auxiliary to Branch No. 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion in 1948-49.
After the dinner, an open house was held at their home at 15 Pine Street.
Maggie noted that "About everyone in town knows 'Charlie' Collings, and about everybody dropped in during the evening to wish him many happy years of free time and a good life."
Born In Chelmsford, his family moved to Biscotasing, and in 1911, he arrived in Chapleau. Maggie relates that in 1912 he entered the service of the CPR as a railboy, and by 1915 he had joined the operating department as a a trainman, and since 1941, a conductor.
Mr. Collings took a leave during World War I and saw service in the Seventh Railroad Battalion for three years.
In 1921 he married Anna Eggert of Pembroke, and they made their home in Chapleau. Their children were Charles, Violet, Freda, Harvey and James.
He became commonly known as 'Charlie' up and down the CPR line.
Mr. Collings told Maggie that he was looking forward to having more time at his disposal to devote to his office as councillor. He was deeply interested in municipal affairs and any measure that would improve the community.
Also fond of outdoor pursuits and travel, "within the next few weeks when the roads are once again in good shape, he and Mrs. Collings will be off on a well earned holiday," Maggie wrote.
Now back to the small world and Chapleau!
As many readers will know, for over five years now, I go swimming every day at the Cranbrook Aquatic Centre, or at the pool wherever I may be. A few months ago, as I was entering the pool area, one of the lifeguards said, "You are from Chapleau."
I was amazed -- in over 27 years here, nobody had identified me so directly with Chapleau.
I stopped to chat with the lifeguard, Cody Collings, who turned out to be a great grandson of Mr. and Mrs. W.D. 'Charlie' Collings. His grandfather was Charles, and his father Allen Collings, who had worked for the CPR at Chapleau. I had not known Cody's surname until that night.
In fact, his father Allen has just recently retired from the CPR. They have been living in Cranbrook for some years now, and I have seen Allen periodically, but I did not know his children.
A short time later, Cody told me his father was coming swimming that night, and we had a great reunion chatting about old times and the small world that it really is.
Thanks to Doug Greig and Anne (Zufelt) McGoldrick for research assistance. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org