In an article 'Oldest Citizen Sees District fromAir', it says that it took "some coaxing" to get Chapleau's oldest citizen, at least in terms of residency, to take his first plane ride from the community to the new white pine saw mill and timber limits of Sheppard and Morse Co.
As a young man, with his first barber shop a tent, where he also lived, located near the site of the Lady Minto Hospital in "Old Chapleau", Mr. Brownlee had seen every great improvement "in both the living conditions and the methods of transportation from 1886 to 1949." By late 1886, his barber shop was relocated to the present Main Street as a lean- to attached to Austin's store. Later he located further down further down the street in what became known as the Brownlee Block.
In another article in his papers, it is noted that when he died in 1951 at age 83, he was the last of the real pioneers who arrived in Chapleau who arrived in Chapleau as the Canadian Pacific Railway did. He was following the railway and first had a barber shop at Biscotasing.
That article also said that he "... could tell many stories of the first days of Chapleau when he did business in a tent, and when the main street was a jackpine swamp and the property (later) claimed by schools and public buildings on the lakeshore (Kebsquasheshing River) was nothing but a maze of alders. He lived through the progressive days of the town and saw the old boardwalks replaced by modern concrete sidewalks, the old well being replaced by an up-to-date pumping station and the pumping station and the kerosene lamp go into the discard in favour of electric power."
|Main Street circa 1915|
The article notes that in his younger days the only method of travelling around the area was by canoe. Within the community, dog teams were used for delivery, and later horses appeared.
Although Mr. Brownlee had one of the first boats and cars in Chapleau, he had never been for an airplane ride.
However, he was on hand shortly after the end of World War I, when the first airplane landed at Chapleau. Apparently it was an "old Army type flying boat piloted by a Capt. Williams". As an aside if anyone anyone has photo of this plane. would be great to see it.
Mr. Brownlee, along with everyone else was delighted to see this new form of transportation. In 1949, the first helicopter arrived and he was there for the occasion.
How did he enjoy his first airplane ride? He was "delighted ... although the air was a bit bumpy" and the thing that amazed him most was the marvellous view he got and the large number of rivers and lakes to be seen on every hand." He had travelled the district by canoe in his younger days but this was a totally new experience.
|Chapleau from air circa 1949-50|
Upon landing at the Sheppard and Morse mill, he was keenly interested in the operation. They were sawing white pine logs and he was "amazed."
However, instead of returning to Chapleau by plane, he was given the opportunity to return over the company's private road. He was shown a new piece of equipment called 'The Logger's Dream'. It was described as a powerful winch that hauled great logs through rubble "up and down hill and valley", and could even load the logs on trucks.
In his lifetime, Mr. Brownlee had seen amazing changes and the article about his plane ride concludes with "... he always loved this country and he is delighted to see it open up as it has in the past few years." Richard Brownlee, a link in the historic past of Chapleau died in August 1951 at age 83.
I continue to be amazed as I go through the Richard Brownlee Papers so kindly loaned to me by Margaret Rose (Payette) and Bobby Fortin. My email is email@example.com