Photos from the Album
of George Collins
George Brecken Nicholson, 1868 - 1935
George Nicholson was the first Reeve of Chapleau, elected in 1901 and re-elected by acclamation for the next twelve years.
George Nicholson was born and raised in Prince Edward Island and moved to Algoma Mills with his family in 1883 where he commenced employlment with the CPR in construction. The family moved to Biscotasing in 1884 and he became an engineman. In August of 1885 his brother R.V. Nicholson, a track foreman, was sent to Chapleau to put in a track spur for a box-car to be used as an office builing, station and dispatcher's office. This was the beginning of Chapleau.
George Nicholson, along with his parents, 2 brothers and three sisters, arrived in Chapleau shortly after and constructed the first frame house which is the building at 91 Dufferin Street. George's mother Rebecca was the first white married woman in Chapleau and she and her husband Thomas (my Great Grandparents) are interred in the Chapleau Protestant Cemetary. George Nicholson married the first public school teacher, Charlotte A. Weller.
In 1901 George Nicholson left the railway and entered into a partnership with J. McNeice Austin, a Chapleau pioneer and entrepreneur, to form a lumber company called Austin and Nicholson. Their primary product was railroad ties and in time they were the largest suppliers of ties in Canada as well as the largest lumber operation in Northern Ontario. They also produced lumber and lath which became their main product as the demand for ties waned. At different times, this company employed up to 2,000 people and had sawmills at Sultan, Devon, Nicholson Siding, Dalton Mills, Bertrand and Chapleau.
George Nicholson was very active in politics and was elected as the Conservative Member of Parliament for Algoma East three times. He, along with others was the driving force in erecting the Lady Minto Hospital in Chapleau which opened in 1913. He was also a devout Anglican and throughout his life was very involved with St. John's Church in Chapleau.
The Nicholsons had one son named Lorne who was killed in action on November 4th, 1918 in France, one week before the armistice was signed that ended world war one. This was devastating to them, but it inspired George Nicholson to erect the Memorial Hall (now the Legion Hall) in memory of Lorne and those who like him laid down their lives for their country.
Mrs. Nicholson passed away in June 1928 and in December 1929 George married Mrs. Margaret Keefer. An avid curler, he along with Tom Godfrey Sr., William (Scotty) Thomson and Frank Hamlin represented Norther Ontario at the McDonald Brier in 1929.
He retired from the lumber business in 1934 and passed away on
January 1st, 1935. He is interred in the Chapleau Protestant