Chapleau: Retrospective on Life
in an Isolated Northern Community

William E. McLeod


This book begins with updates on murders, subjects, people and events covered in the two previous books.

Included early on is an exchange of letters with David Ramsay who, in 2006, was the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources. The correspondence involved the decision by Ramsay’s Ministry to encourage Chapleau area Aboriginal to hunt moose inside the Chapleau Game Preserve.

Chapter Three is a piece about the possibility of increased eco-tourism in the Game Preserve and other economic opportunities for the Chapleau area. It is more in the nature of a pro bono consulting report based my academic and teaching background.

The Spring 2009 edition of the journal Ontario History contained an article on the Brunswick House Band and the Chapleau Game Preserve. Written by a person named David Calverly, it was so "over the top" and so riddled with errors I felt a rebuttal should appear on the public record. Because the editors of Ontario History refused to publish my rebuttal, I included it in this book.

When I first wrote about the Chapleau Game Preserve in 2004, I included an account of the Budd Car trip which runs from Sudbury to White River along the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The railway forms the western boundary of the Preserve between Chapleau and Franz. I would like to have written a similar piece about the Algoma Central Railway trip between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst but I simply ran out of time. The A.C.R. forms the northern boundary of the Preserve between Franz and Oba. I took the journey in August of 2006 and wrote it up for the CHAPLEAU: Retrospective book. The C.N.R. trip along the eastern boundary between Elsas and Oba is still on the author's "bucket list".

Chapters Seven and Eight contain sixteen anecdotes and twenty book reviews. Further information on the anecdotes and the books and their authors can be accessed by clicking on the Table of Contents page.

The chapter on curling in Chapleau describes the old Pine Street rink, building and maintaining the natural ice surface, some of the characters who curled there, the unmatched rocks, several paragraphs on the visit of Scottish curlers to Northern Ontario in 1923, bonspiels in Chapleau and elsewhere and high school curling.

The longest and most extensive chapter in the book covers the architecture of the Chapleau area from before the C.P.R. went through in 1885 - right up to the present. It was written by Ian Macdonald who spent some of his growing up years in Chapleau and who eventually became head of the School of Architecture at the University of Manitoba. Ian touches on the Hudson's Bay Company and its various posts and buildings, early C.P.R. stations, bridges, schools (including the second St. John's Indian Residential School), interesting and unique personal residences, the Y.M.C.A., the Legion Hall and the Post Office which has been designated a Federal Heritage Building. The chapter concludes with accounts of the new buildings constructed in the 1960s and 1970s. Ian's paragraphs on these buildings include commentaries by Harry Pellow, the buildings' architect, and Michael Morris and Earle Freeborn, Mayors of Chapleau during the period.

The final two chapters deal with the touchy subjects of religion and education in Chapleau - subjects that have been troubling m for most of my life. The subtitle of the religion chapter is St. John's Anglican Church: From Pervert to Pedophile. The pervert is George Prewer who was the rector of St. John's from 1899 to 1901. Prewer then became principal of the first St. John's Residential School and, for a while, the second school. Prewer was a sadist who got his kicks from beating defenseless and powerless children. The pedophile is Ken Gibbs who was the rector from 1966 to 1971. Gibbs liked little girls and was convicted of molesting a number of them while he served in Chapleau and when he was sent to Elliot Lake. Gibbs was tried in Sault Ste. Marie and, on December 2, 2009, he was sentenced to three and a half years in jail. In between Prewer and Gibbs is a series of sketches of the ministers who served during that time. They were indeed a strange bunch.

The section on religion concludes with a few paragraphs about the five pedophile priests who served at various times in the Catholic Church in Chapleau.

The chapter on education begins with a few paragraphs about the Chapleau High School building on Pine Street. Like the churches, the schools in Chapleau had some pretty strange teachers, many of whom made for interesting profiles and sketches. The most interesting person in education in that era was Wesley Tatler, the caretaker of the high school. In the late 1950s the quality of education at Chapleau High School deteriorated to the point where very few students survived Grade 13.

The book winds up with some personal reflections on the author's educational experiences after getting out of high school by the skin of his teeth.

Click Here for the Table of Contents