John Chafee | Ovide Doiron | Gilles Joanette | Ken MacDonald | Viola McRae
While attending Char-Lan District High School, John quarterbacked the football team from grade ten to grade thirteen. The team’s finest hour was winning the first Char-Lan championship defeating Hawkesbury in 1959. His accuracy in completing passes earned him the nickname “John the Bomb”. In his final year in high school he started a junior football team program, to better prepare the rookies for the senior team.
His softball career started in 1954 when he played for the Summerstown Orioles. He later played in the Metro Toronto Fastball League and upon returning to Glengarry he played for Roberts Fuels in Cornwall where they won the championship in 1973. While playing in the Border Softball League for Williamstown he ruptured his achilles tendon thus ending his playing career. The Williamstown team won many championships during the 1980’s.
John devoted many years to coaching minor hockey, softball and broomball. One of his most memorable experiences was when his Char-Lan Peewee travelling team won the league championships and the Ottawa District play downs. He was named travelling team coach- of-the-year. Many players of that team went on to play Jr. B. hockey including his son Kevin.
John’s main contribution is his involvement in the organizing and managing of sporting teams and events for the youth in the community.
John was instrumental in reviving the Border League in the 1970’s as well as being on the executive of the Char-Lan Minor Softball Association. He was a charter member of the Char- Lan Minor Hockey Association and held various executive roles.
When the Char-Lan arena first opened, John organized and played on the Williamstown Old Timers Team, which is still in existence today.
In 1979 John became a charter member of the Char-Lan Jr. B. Rebels. He has served in the capacity of President, General Manager, or at times both, since 1981, and continues today to serve as G.M of the team. In 1986 the team won their first Eastern Ontario Jr. B. title. The team has enjoyed much success over the years and missed the playoffs only three times. John has been named General Manager of the year five times for the St.Lawrence Division and also received a recognition award from the Ottawa District Hockey Association for his many years of service to the O.D.H.A.
John has just recently retired, and along with his wife Julie, they enjoy watching their grandchildren as they participate in their various sporting events. John feels that the Char-Lan Jr. B. Rebels future is secure when he watches the children of former Rebels, including his two grandsons, display their skills.
In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, success continued as Ovide racked up wins and track championships at speedways such as Cornwall, Brockville, and Kingston in Ontario, Edelweiss in Quebec and Fort Covington, Frogtown, and Lafargeville in the U.S. Ovide has won races in 6 decades and 2 centuries. In 1974, Ovide approached the finishing line in Fort Covington, was tagged by a lapped car which sent him in the air backwards and across the finish line thus winning the race. This incident would get him the lasting handle of the “The Flying Frenchman”. His expertise in engine building has also earned him the reputation of being one of the best and he has made this a business, which he currently continues.
During his career, Ovide has gathered over 300 wins and 25 plus track championships. His trophy room is adorned with many rewards but those voted by the fans for being the most popular or most gentlemanly driver hold great value because the fans that have supported him throughout the years are of utmost importance. If it were up to these fans, Ovide would race forever in his well known #40 racecar.
Ovide is considered the pioneer of racing in Glengarry and takes pride in this. He continues to be a mentor for many and always maintains an open door policy to help out.
Ovide has cherished the memories of his passion of racing all these years but most importantly has made it a family outing week in and week out. This is what is most precious to him…..his family! His son Joel is now involved in racing.
He may be #40 in the program, but he’s #1 in the hearts of his family!
While in elementary school Gilles was very active in all sports, organizing games with the objective of having fun while applying all the skill possible. Before starting to skate around the age of 10, he played hockey at the school without skates.
In high school Gilles played 3 years on the football team first as a lineman and then a pass receiver. He played soccer for Glen Sandfield and joined a boxing club in Glen Sandfield where he learned many basic skills and made new friends. Also while in at Ottawa U. he became involved in judo. From all the sports he played, Gilles began to center on hockey, playing in the Alexandria Minor Hockey System starting with bantam and working his way through midget and juvenile. He was part of Father Gauthier’s Lochiel Farmers team which was known as the “LOKS”. He remembers one game against a Cornwall team being down by 5 goals but the team rallied by scoring 6 goals and won the game. Gilles got all 6 goals.
In 1956 Gilles was invited to the Junior Canadian Camp in Verdun, Quebec. His father refused to sign the permission form and insisted on education first, hockey, second.
From 1956-1960 Gilles played with the Alexandria Jr. B. team and was top scorer twice in four years. While attending Ottawa U. he was selected to play on the University hockey team. At the same time he was playing in the Dalhousie Border League. 1962 –1964 saw him playing for the Senior Lancaster Dodgers, the following years he played in the league Petite Nation in St. Bernadin and St.Isidore.
Following graduation from Ottawa U. Gilles returned to Glen Robertson to begin his teaching career at Ecole Notre Dame de L’Assomption, to Moose Creek for a one year period, returning to the Glen from 1966-1985. The years 1985-87 were spent in North Lancaster, then it was on to Ecole St.Bernard’s in Maxville where he finished his teaching career in 1996, thirty-one years as a classroom teacher and five years as a principal.
Gilles’ involvement in hockey also involved a coaching role along with his active team play. He coached beginning in 1961-62 season with the A.D.M.H.A. house league and continued to coach various teams until 1987. Observations from his coaching experiences showed Gilles there was a definite need for a basic hockey skills instructional program.
In August, 1963 the “Association Canadienne de Hockey Amateur” invited Gilles and Claude Demers from Hawkesbury and 48 other participants from the province of Quebec to participate in a 220 hour program with Dr. Gaston Marcotte at the University of Montreal. Among the topics covered, in addition to hockey skills, were how to train, what diet to follow and how to conduct a hockey school and other related subjects.
The following season Gilles wanted to apply what he had experienced with Dr. Gaston Marcotte and this was the beginning of his hockey school program. Each session began with a warm-up, followed by the teaching of a skill then a 40 min game to apply the knowledge again. The referee was the instructor, Gilles. By the third year Gilles had several competent instructors to carry on getting a program underway in St.Isidore on Sundays. He also considered this a family outing as his wife got to visit with her St.Isidore kin and their two boys skated with their father. Then it was dinner out before returning home!
In addition to the instruction of the children, Gilles followed up with a meeting with the coaches and referees to discuss any problems, and to offer special techniques. Gilles also emphasized that no child was ever turned away from his hockey school due to the lack of finances. Many “special” arrangements were made if a case came about.
Gilles continued his own learning by attending courses to obtain his National Coaching Certificate. Levels I and II were under Jacque Martin, Level III with Bob Byrnes, level III theory with Carl Turgeon at the Universite d’Ottawa, level 4 at Carleton University with Bob Byrnes, Doug Carpenter, Roger Neilson, Brian Kilrea, Jacque Martin, Brian Murray, Tom Watt, Don McAdam as instructors.
While teaching Gilles also coached his students in softball, volleyball, soccer and hockey games between schools in addition to organizing many tournaments. As these tournaments parents were always involved and the emphasis was on playing as a team and not as an individual performer. The children were taught how to win or lose gracefully!
The Glengarry Hockey School (Ecole de Hockey Glengarry) was started in 1980 with Gilles, Gaetan Giroux, and Barry Mac Donald, Yves and Pascal Joanette gradually became involved with their father, both working to obtain coaching and instructional certificates. But it was Gilles who was always the backbone of this school. At this point in time he is searching for someone to take over completely and hoping his two sons will continue in the future to run the hockey school. He pledged his assistance and support if either or both choose to do so.
Both sons have followed in their father’s footsteps by becoming teachers and also instructors in the hockey school.
In July of 1998, Gilles was invited to coach a bantam hockey team (15-16yrs) from France in Vancouver for two weeks. The France Wild Cats won the tournament; again in 1999 he coached the same team in Toronto with the France Wild Cats winning for a second year. The next month he was asked to go to France and for nine months to coach a senior team. After much thought he declined the offer – preferring to stay home and keep busy in Glengarry.
He still does some substitute teaching in Glengarry schools in addition to spending time with his family and three young grandchildren.
For Gilles sports have been a passion, where he used his unending patience and ability to teach, to program, to schedule and to lead and his perseverance to spend many years to help so many young folk in the community. He’s grateful acknowledged the support and respect he has received from the members of the community. One individual he mentioned as giving great support and encouragement was a teaching partner, named Theo Oetelar. He was always there to lend that extra helping hand.
Despite the lack of formal rules, referees, or coaches the games were extremely enjoyable and intensely competitive. Disputes and arguments, were usually settled in a friendly manner by a knowledgeable older boy but other times fisticuffs were necessary to restore order! Equipment was scarce and hard to come by and every boy’s Christmas wish list and birthday request was for sporting equipment which could be used by the group. Ken remembered receiving from his older sister Diane, a leather football for his tenth birthday. This was a prize and he was the envy of the town boys. The ball carried them through the years and countless games but always looked a bit odd and was difficult to throw. Years later a gentleman from overseas pointed out that it was a “Rugby Ball”.
A powerful positive force in these formative years was a young priest by the name of Donald Bernard McDougald. Williamstown was Father McDougald’s first parish and his love of games was as infectious as his hearty laugh and singing voice. He joined the boys in cleaning off rinks on the river and in the following endless games. He drove them, at breakneck speed, after Sunday afternoon prayers, to Border league games being played in Alexandria. His was the first set of golf clubs ever seen and they could be borrowed for the asking. He coached the games, also joined in the games, built a tennis court and was the hero.
During high school, Ken played for school teams in basketball, soccer, football and track and field. In the evenings and on week-ends he played hockey. The hockey highlights included playing with the Maxville Highlander Jr. B Hockey team that won the Eastern Ontario Jr. B. Championship, which culminated in a seven game series against the Hawkesbury Juniors.
During these years he also played with Cornwall and Hawkesbury in the Central Jr. A. Hockey Loop. After high school, Ken attended Ottawa Teachers College and acquired an Ontario Teaching Diploma. The next move was to Loyola University in Montreal. During this time he played for the Loyola Warriors Varsity Hockey Team. The Warriors were, in those days, a hockey power house and were constantly ranked in the top 5 in Canada. In 1971 the team won the overall Quebec loop as well as the prestigious Christmas Hockey Canada Tournament. The event culminated at the gardens in Toronto with the Warriors defeating the University of Toronto for overall honours. That same year the team went to the finals in March for the Canadian playdowns (CIAU) which was played at Laurentian University in Sudbury. Graduation form Loyola College was in 1972.
Coaching became a love when Ken was asked to coach the Jr. B. Glens for the 1973-74 season. This was a very memorable year that was capped by a league championship to the delight of a large, hugely enthusiastic, group of fans. What was especially pleasing was the fact that every boy on the team was a Glengarrian, who had learned and played his hockey in Glengarry. This is, as far as is known, unique to this team.
Ken returned to coach the Glens from 1978-80 and later piloted the Williamstown based Char-Lan Rebels from 1984-86 and in the 1989-90 season. The 1985-86 version was an especially powerful unit who dominated the league and went on to defeat South Ottawa Junior Canadians to be crowned Eastern Ontario Jr. B. Champions. The 1989-90 Char-Lan Juniors were a spirited group of homebrews who captured league championship honours.
His coaching career was very satisfying both in terms of success on the ice but perhaps more importantly in the satisfaction derived from molding and directing young men towards a common goal. Perhaps his greatest contributions lay in instilling a “Pride of Team” and a work ethic that when harnessed to talent would pay off down the road. His association with many of these young men continues day to day and it is a constant source of satisfaction to see them develop careers, raise families and contribute to life in Glengarry.
Being a teacher summers were relatively free and were filled with fastball, touch football and golf. Fastball was played in the Border League, Alexandria men’s fastball league and for Dalhousie in a Quebec Senior Loop. Fond memories are easily recalled of these years. After evening fastball games at the Williamstown Ball Park the usual cast of characters would retire to Coach Bill Cattanach’s picnic table under an old maple tree. There cool refreshments would enliven conversations and pass away the long warm summer evenings. Never a game was lost under that old maple tree!
Golf was a game that Ken learned in his early 20’s at the Glengarry Golf Club. This sport, along with hockey, were games that he loved most passionately. Over the years he has derived hundreds of hours of leisurely enjoyment and intense competition from the game. His handicap presently hovers around a 7 but has been as low as 3. The most notable achievements would include 3 Alexandria Open Championships and 3 A Class Club Championships at 3 different courses. Glengarry Golf Club in the 70’s, Summer Heights Golf Club in the 80’s and Cornwall Golf Club in the 90’s. In addition over the years, he has represented these clubs in various leagues and competitions at golf courses ranging from Kingston to Montreal and down into New York State. He also ran and instructed at the junior golf program at Summer Heights for several years.
For the past 28 years, Ken has been teaching at the elementary level. He completed courses at Queen’s University and Ottawa U. towards a supervisor’s certificate in Health and Physical Education. He naturally took a keen interest in school athletics and has organized and coached the school sports teams at St. Andrews for the past quarter century.
In 1969, Ken married the former Norma MacCuaig. Norma is a graduate of G.D.H.S. and also enjoys sports and excelled in track and field. Norma has been very supportive and patient (as you can well imagine) of his passion for the games over their 30 years of marriage. Ken and Norma have raised two children, Walter (Wally) and Julie, both of whom have been active and successful in the Glengarry sporting scene.
After graduating from high school she married Menzies McRae (no relation) and moved to the family farm, which they operated until their second son took over the dairy operation. There they raised a family of 6 sons and 1 daughter.
In the late 50’s, Viola served as sec-treasurer for the Roxborough Junior Farmers. Their centennial project was to bring library service to Moose Creek, Avonmore and Monkland, and by 1968 a branch library was in existence in Moose Creek.
As president of the Stormont Junior Farmers in 1965 their centennial project was to provide Centennial signs to all farms in the county that had been in the same family for 100 years. Her husband’s farm has been in the family since 1839.
Viola believes that the Junior Farmers organization was responsible for her gradual return to softball and other sports as she played in the county softball team during the 60’s.
In 1991 Viola joined the Toyota Dealership in Maxville as business manager as well as doing income tax returns at home; she remained there until 2000. She now cares for her 2 grandchildren.
In the early 70’s Viola became serious about softball and played for Moose Creek in a fastball league. She won a trophy for ability and sportsmanship along with one for the highest batting averages in the league. She also played for the “Midnite Stars” in Alexandria. Later the team became the Roadrunners, Jette’s Hillbillies, Ray’s, Roy’s Garage and finally in 2000 the Atlantic Hotel She accumulated many honours and was the team MVP in 1971,75,76,78,83,86,91,93,96,97 and 2001. She was the “A” league playoff MVP in 1994 and 2001 and the “B” league play-offs MVP in 1988 and 1996 and was the league season MVP in the Alexandria Ladies League in 2001.
The winter of the 70’s saw Viola playing goal for the Moose Creek Wild Cats in the Rideau Hockey League. later she was playing center on a recreational hockey team along with daughter Laurie. Money to finance the hockey teams came from ball tournaments which she helped to organize in the summer. The league began changing from fast pitch to slow pitch due to a lack of pitchers and it was harder to find teams to enter the tournaments.
In the 80’s Viola played ball hockey in the summer and sponge puck in the winter in Alexandria with many of the same players from the fast ball team. She was also playing broomball for the Ottawa Hotel team in Alexandria and for the Avonmore team in Finch.
In 1989 Viola was MVP in the Cornwall ladies commercial league and also won the Reg Campbell Memorial Award for the most dedicated player in 1994.
In the mid 90’s found Viola playing organized women’s recreational hockey and she continues to play weekly in Williamstown. She has played on winning and losing teams throughout her career. She does not worry too much about the win or the loss column, but she still has that competitive spirit when she takes to the mound.
Viola will continue to play ball as long as she can help the team. She admits she is the oldest player in the present league but sees nothing unique in the fact she’s still playing softball at the age of 65.
Viola and Menzies now have 11 grandchildren and most are involved in a sport of some sort. She sometimes wonders as she looks back how they ever got the farm work done, children fed and off to school, but credits it to team work!
As is evident Viola has led a very active community and family life and she has more than “lived life to the fullest”. As yet she shows ‘no sign of slowing down’