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100 Years Ago in Chapple - 1917



By Rilla Race, Chair, Chapple Heritage Committee


The year is 1917.  Chapple Council is:  Reeve, G. W. Hughes and councilors Terrence McGee, Frank Saunders, William McMillan and James Martin.  The Clerk of the Township is J. A. McNabb, assessor John Potter and Road Commissioner was Robert B. Angus.

The First War

World War 1 rages on in Europe and the Chapple branches of the Women’s Patriotic League, Women’s Institute and Red Cross were busy with war work.  They packed boxes for ‘our boys’ overseas and in August and September of 1917 the Women’s Patriotic League alone made and shipped thirty boxes for local soldiers.

In 1917 Chapple lost three of our own in the war:

Wesley Weston, son of our first reeve Thomas Weston and his wife Ellen, enlisted in the 94th Overseas Battalion in 1915 at age 18.  He died of wounds on August 17, 1917 in France.

John McKenzie, brother of Laughlin and Norman McKenzie also enlisted in the 94th Overseas Battalion in 1915.  His enlistment papers show him as a 40 year old, single farmer when he joined the military.  He died in France on April 24, 1917.

Harry Shaw, son of William and Ann Shaw of Dobie Township was a 43 year old single farmer when he enlisted in the 94th Battalion to go overseas.  On October 16, 1916 was granted permission to marry Louisa Spence in England.  Harry was then sent to France where he died of wounds on April 12, 1917.  His son Henry was born in England shortly after his father’s death.

In 1998 I had a visit from Henry and Grace Metz, who at that time lived in Chicago, IL.  Henry, son of Harry Shaw had taken his step-father’s name and the family had come to Canada in 1919 and then moved to U. S. in 1925.  Henry and Grace Metz were 81 at the time of their visit to Chapple.  They came in search of information about his father’s family and we were able to exchange a great deal of material which enhanced both their and the townships history.

The Sturgeon Creek Cheese and Butter Company

In 1917 the Sturgeon Creek Cheese and Butter Company land was put in a tax sale for unpaid taxes of $93.13.  The building for this company had been constructed about 1909 on one acre of land on the SW ¼ of Section 24 in the Township of Shenston on James Jackson farm.  Records from Art Ion store ledger shows that a box stove, stove pipes and elbows, a roof pipe, a roll of wire and a damper were purchased for the building on January 11, 1909 at a cost of $17.10.  The account was paid for by one share in the business ($10) and the balance in cash for a total of $16.20, with one roof saddle (90 cents) being returned.

There is record at the museum of at least another 58 shares being sold at $10 per share between April 1909 and July 1911.  The company never opened for business and at times the building was used for dances.  In 1924 William Horley purchased the building and moved it to his farm (where Peter Krahn now lives).  It was moved with horses and in order to avoid it going up Sturgeon hill it was taken across Wm. Smart’s field (later Harold Barron farm), up the east side road and across the Horley farm.  In June 1924, Alma Horley’s wedding reception and supper was held in this building.  The Sturgeon Creek Cheese and Butter factory ended its days on the Horley farm as a granary, garage, workshop and storage area.

Sturgeon Creek Cheese and Butter Co



A number of fires were reported that year.  On May 24th “On Wednesday night about 11:00 o’clock the house of Mr. William Smith was burned to the ground, the family escaping in their night garments.  Their daughter, Mrs. Stirrett, it seems had gotten up to prepare some food for her child and in some way the curtain caught fire.  None were seriously burnt, only their son Roy, while trying to get his violin out, got a few burns.”

That same week a fire broke out in the yard of Robert Beninger “in some mysterious way and but for the timely appearance of Mrs. Beninger the buildings would all probably have been burned as the fire had crept up close before being seen.

Also reported that week was “a fire broke out in Barwick by the old Prohibition Barn, which caused considerable excitement for some time, but owing to the timely arrival of the bucket brigade, assisted by Bob and George, the fire was extinguished and the town was saved.  Tom, not being able to run, puffed for the brigade while Frank looked on delighted and said it was a good thing and all towns should have fire protection.”

Photo is livery barn and smithy for the Prohibition Hotel.  It was located just behind the hotel on the lot just north of St. Paul’s Church.  The hotel, itself, faced Main Street.  It stood on the west side, across from the former Barwick Hotel.  The hotel burned down about 1912 or 1913.

Livery Stable

An additional two fires were reported in the township during 1917.  In the week of July 19th “a small blaze broke out in the sawmill owned by T. B. Wilson….and operated by Jim Jackson and Mr. Clark.  The fire was soon extinguished however as many came around with pails of water.”

The second fire reported that week says that:  “stables belonging to the Matheson Camp #6 were burnt on Sunday last.  Mr. Labelle’s horses were scorched pretty badly; also his harness.  Others had feed, etc. burned.  As the flies were bad, the men had started a smudge to keep them off and went to dinner.”  This smudge apparently led to the fire.


As there is indication that in 2017 there will  be tile drainage projects within the township, it might be of interest to know that in March 1917 Chapple Township was to raise $10,000 to aid in the construction of tile, stone and timber drains ‘pursuant to the provision of the Tile Drainage Act.  The township was to borrow on the credit of the corporation and then issue debentures in the sums of $100 each.  The bylaw stated that any applicant wishing to borrow money for construction one of these drains should be granted this in whole or in part.  Council could borrow a sum not exceeding the amount applied for and could lend the same to the applicant on the completion of the drainage work.


Chapple Heritage Committee still has copies available of the township history book ‘Between the Ripples….stories of Chapple’ at a cost of $35 plus shipping.

If you are interested in the early history of our township and some of the original settler families, please contact the township office. If your family lived in Chapple in our early years, let us know about them. You can contact either the township of Chapple office or Chapple Heritage at P. O. Box 54, Barwick, Ontario P0W 1A0. If you have photos or historic information about our township, please share it with us.