EMAIL mj.morris@live.ca


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Joy (Evans) Heft shares 'lasting memories of our treasured roots" in Chapleau remembering Harry 'Butch' Pellow

Butch, Joy, Sharon Swanson at 2012 CHS Reunion
NOTE: Joy (Evans) Heft captures not only memories of our mutual friend Harry 'Butch' Pellow, but also of growing up in Chapleau in the 1940s and 1950s. I vividly recall the games we played in the neighborhood, especially hockey in their back shed and of course, "going down the lake." I lived on Grey Street, just one back lane and back yard  away from Aberdeen. Joy brings back "lasting memories of our treasured roots" in Chapleau. Perhaps amazingly, many of us are still in touch all these years later.   Butch died on December 13, 2016. Thanks Joy.

And the wheel comes full circle in more ways than one. When Joy and I were both attending Chapleau High School, we collaborated on a weekly  high school column for the long gone Mid North News. My email is mj.morris@live.ca MJM

By Joy (Evans) Heft
Butch grew up at the corner of Birch (Main) and Aberdeen Streets two doors from the Evans family home on Aberdeen. In fact at one time their back yard backed onto our side yard but sometime before my recollection there was a smaller home moved to the property which was lived in by the Lapp and Moyle families and later the McEachren family. Butch was a bit younger than my brother, Jim, and a bit older than me. I remember playing with the neighbourhood children, mostly out-of-doors. Sometimes the girls and boys played together – i.e. the girls were allowed. Kick the can and hide and seek numbered among the games and I remember one fierce water pistol fight when I would have been about ten. I think I got called in by my mother likely because it seemed unbecoming.

Our back shed was a frequent venue for some of our games and the loft provided a great hiding place as well as a place to explore to discover what was stored up there. Jim and his friends used the shed more in winter when the boys were a bit older to play hockey or take shots on goal there. When I occasionally played in the Pellow home I had a terrified fascination for the bear rug in one of the rooms.

One of my memories is of a solar eclipse when our family, the Moyles and the Pellows congregated in the Moyles’ back yard early in the morning with our rolls of film through which to view the sun moving behind the moon without damaging our eyes. I think we were about ten at the time and it made a lasting impression.  Butch and I reminisced about this event during a recent visit.  
Another of our activities was going as a group to the Saturday afternoon movies.

My Aunt, Sister Gabriella, recounted an incident which she found very cute. Butch had come over to our place before some of us were heading off to the ‘show’ as we called it. Butch piped up, ‘I have Joy’s  money’. Why he had my money, a dime at the time, I think,  is anyone’s guess, but it presaged his lifelong habit of generosity  from which many of us benefited in many ways, not the least of which were the number of Chapleau parties held at his and Brigitte’s Toronto home, the most recent in October  2014.

CHS "Girl Cadets" from 1950s with CO Neil Ritchie
Another act of generosity that sticks out in my mind was a much later occasion when we returned to Southern Ontario together after a long week-end. I had gone up to Chapleau by train and Butch by car, so he invited me to accompany him  back by car with the plan that I would take the bus from Toronto to Oshawa where I was then teaching. He insisted on driving me on to Oshawa after that long trip  then himself back Toronto. He married shortly afterwards, I believe, and I attended his wedding, but our paths crossed much less frequently in the years to follow. 

Butch, Jim Evans, Doug Slievert, Roger Mizuguchi, Donna Lane, Alison McMillan, Joanne Moyle
Butch attended public school while the Evans children were at the separate school. We met up in high school, though, and once again were part of the same entourage as we dated mutual close friends. Once thing I recall, in particular, was that he loved dancing as we all did and that his favorite song was ‘Stardust’. When I think of it now, it seems like a sentimental song for a teenager, but that is another of his trademarks. I  recall his fondness of the song whenever I hear it. As most know Butch created a wonderful collection of photographs featuring many of his contemporaries in the numerous activities we participated in, a lot of them in the great outdoors  during the summer ‘down the lake’.

Butch and Roger at the Eighteen
One of those was a trip to the eighteen mile rapids for a picnic with a fairly large group. One of my own pictures from that event features Butch clutching an LP (Stardust, perhaps?) about to put it on a portable record player as we called them. 

Butch with record player, Gordon Bolduc, Mabel Doyle
Once we headed off to university we met up occasionally in Toronto – my brother Jim lived with Butch for a short time during that period - and I recall one party Butch invited me to quite a distance from the residence I was living in where the curfew was midnight; the trip to and fro on public transit took more time than we spent at the party and I was docked an hour the following week as a five minute late penalty. In retrospect I reflect upon the gracious stride with which he took the harried return trip, typical of him, really.

During ensuing years when Butch and others of us were young adults home working in Chapleau for the summer we would ‘hang out’ together enjoying our  freedom in the Northern landscape creating lasting memories of our treasured roots.

His appreciation of that youth and the personalities that enhanced it were evidenced in many ways for me not the least of which were the letters he wrote regarding some of my own family members at the time of their death  in which he recalled some of their attributes and/or idiosyncracies and the events involving them that impacted his own life. That he would take the time from his busy schedule to share these is again a mark of his enduring generosity of spirit.

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Michael J Morris

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


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