The OPP had an officer stationed in Chapleau for many years prior who either used part of his home as an office, or was located in buildings in the downtown area.
I still recall visiting Harold Kennedy, (my uncle) when he was the OPP officer in Chapleau in the early 1950s at his office in the building where the Northern Credit Union is today -- he lived in a small room behind the office. (Harold met and married my aunt, Marion Morris, while he was stationed in Chapleau.)
Maggie wrote that the new headquarters housed a courtroom, two offices, a cell block, two car garage, and living quarters for an officer.
The courtroom did not seem to work out too well, and was moved to the Royal Canadian Legion Hall where provincial court was held on a monthly basis for many years.
However, the cell block replaced the "town jail" located for years below the fire hall. Despite the new headquarters, the OPP did not replace the municipal police force until 1967 when it was disbanded by the council.
Ron Lewis was the officer in charge when the new headquarters was opened, being promoted to Corporal, and remaining in Chapleau until 1971. It became a two officer detachment with the arrival of John Craig. Ron finished his OPP as an inspector located in Kenora.
Although the only highway out of Chapleau in the 1950s, opened in 1949, was Highway 129, the OPP had a huge area to cover as they were responsible for the small communities near Chapleau which were becoming very busy with lumber companies establishing operations throughout the area. They would also travel by CPR to communities west of Chapleau to about White River.
At the official opening of the headquarters, Ontario Attorney General Kelso Roberts pointed out that it came at a time of major construction for the OPP in both Southern and Northern Ontario. Mr. Roberts said Chapleau was one of the "strategic locations.
It also came as Chapleau was experiencing what is often referred to as its "boom years" with expansion by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and lumber companies arriving after the huge forest fire of 1948.
Chapleau Reeve Leo Racicot took the opportunity to push for a highway to Foleyet, and on to Timmins, having a number of provincial dignitaries on hand for the opening.
"It would be a natural tourist route ... around by Timmins, and I am sure it would benefit all concerned," Mr. Racicot said.
Highway 101 to Timmins officially opened in 1962.
Participating in the opening ceremonies from Chapleau were the reeve, Father A. Marchand of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church and Rev. Frank Leigh of St. John's Anglican Church. A dinner was held catered to by the ladies of the Senior WA of St. John's with Arthur Grout as chairman. Former Chapleau resident E.D. Wilkins, who was now the Crown Attorney was also present.
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