The Whitson River, which runs through Chelmsford, was the scene of many sporting activities. In the summer, there was fishing, swimming or floating on makeshift rafts. In winter, after the waterways were frozen, the river became a skating rink where teams played hockey. Games were conducted between teams of villagers, or between villagers and Errington mine workers.
In the 1920s, Cyprien Castonguay trained the Chelmsford Tigers. The Tigers played against a club from Cartier and clubs from Sudbury, including the Club Saint-Louis and the club from Collège Sacré-Coeur.
During the Great Depression, a skating rink was made on Main Street in Chelmsford. The ground was leveled and water was hauled from the river in barrels. The ice was ready before Christmas…and girls were finally allowed to take part! Though the boys were already equipped with good skates, girls were hard-pressed to obtain skates of their own during the Depression years. Insisting on being part of the fun, some of the girls would skate on rusty blades discovered in lofts or wooden blades strapped to their shoes.
The Lefebvre hill was the preferred place for sledding or sliding on cardboard. Adults preferred the toboggan. Other more gentle slopes were well suited to cross-country skiing. In the 1930s, the only accepted clothing for young female skiers was a skirt and windbreaker. Fortunately, pants were allowed many years before the sport gained renewed interest in the 70s.
Material compiled from Chelmsford 1883-1983.