A river in Massachusetts.
(SwStr: t. 974; 1. 205'; b. 35'; dr. 6'6"; dph. 11'6")
The first Chicopee, a double-ended side wheel steamer was built by Paul Curtis, Boston, Mass.; launched i March 1863; and commissioned 7 May 1864, Commander A. D. Harell in command.
From 10 June 1864 Chicopee sailed off the coast and in the inland waters of North Carolina. She joined in the operations which led to the capture of Plymouth, N.C. hetween 29 Oetober and 1 November 1864. Later she cooperated with the Army in the expeditions to Pitch Landing and against Rainbow Bluff, N.C., of December 1864
After overhaul at Norfolk Navy Yard in early 1865, Chicopee returned to North Carolina waters, and resumed her cruising with the North Atlantic Squadron until 24 December 1865 when she arrived at Norfolk Navy Yard. She returned to Wilmington, N.C., 23 January 1866, and continued to cruise off the North Carolina coast until 3 December, sailing then for Washington, D.C. She was placed out of commission there 19 December 1866 and sold 8 October 1867.
1st Congregational Church of Chicopee History:
On May 12, 1825, the corner stone of this building, the second meeting house, was laid and on January 4, 1826, the meeting house was dedicated by a loving people to the service of God in this community.
In 1675, the sons of deacon Samuel Chapin of Springfield AKA The Puritan, were living in homes of their own in the “old parish of Springfield” as Chicopee was known back in the day. For seventy five years, their children, their children’s children and neighbors attend First Church, now at court Square in Springfield. The traveling was very difficult. So 49 men, 24 of them Chapin’s, petitioned First Church to be set off as a Fifth Parish of Springfield and planned to build a church of their own. When their petition was denied, they took their case to the Massachusetts General court which granted them the right to build on Jan 3, 1751. The very next day, 40 men advanced into the woods to cut timber. By June of that year, The first meeting house stood just south of the corner of McKinstry Ave and Chicopee St.
Mr. John McKinstry of Ellington, CT was selected to be their first minister. The young man, a 1746 graduate of Yale, had just finished his ministerial studies and was licensed to preach. After 3 months, because they liked him so much, they voted unanimously to give him a call to settle. In other words, they hired him for life. He was ordained on September 27, 1752, with his father, Rev John McKinstry I, preaching the ordination sermon. He married Eunice Smith, a great granddaughter of Japhet Chapin on Feb 20, 1760.
These early years were not a time of peace for the minister and his congregation. The French and Indian conflict was going on and took its toll. Of the eight Chapin brothers, one, Caleb, was killed fighting at Lake George, New York, and another, Elisha, was tortured to death in the sight of his wife and children. When the call to arms was called in 1775 after the shot heard round the world at Concord Bridge, Chicopee’s 1st church sent nine men to wage war in the eastern part of the state. 6 of the nine men were named Chapin.
The early Chapin’s were laid to rest not far from their church in the parish “old burying ground”.
WWLP began broadcasting on March 17, 1953 one month before rival WGGB-TV (then known as WHYN-TV). The station aired an analog signal on UHF channel 61 and was an NBC affiliate from the start. At its sign-on, WWLP had the distinction of being one of the first UHF television stations in the United States after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened the UHF band as well as Massachusetts' oldest station outside of Boston. It was founded by William L. Putnam and his company, Springfield Television. WWLP's original studios were at the transmitter site on Provin Mountain in Feeding Hills.
It switched frequencies to UHF channel 22 on July 2, 1955. The previous analog allotment would remain unused until the second WTIC-TV signed on from Hartford in 1984. From its beginnings, the Springfield–Holyoke market was designated as a "UHF island" because it was too close to Boston, Hartford–New Haven, and the Capital District of New York State for VHF analog service. As a result of technical limitations UHF stations faced in the 1950s, WWLP's signal was not viewable in much of the northern portion of the market (which at the time included Brattleboro, Vermont and Keene, New Hampshire). The station would sign on two full-time satellites to solve that problem and extend its broadcasting radius (see below). WWLP was also at a disadvantage in its early years, as UHF stations could not be viewed without the use of an expensive external converter that received UHF signals (it wasn't until the passing of the All-Channel Receiver Act in 1962 that all TVs were required to have them built in). From 1975 until 1979, the station aired nationally syndicated National Hockey League games from The NHL Network (not to be confused with the present-day cable channel of the same name).
After three decades, Putnam retired from broadcasting in 1984 by selling his company and its three stations (WWLP, KSTU-TV, and WKEF) to Adams Communications. Adams ran into financial trouble and began breaking up the Springfield Television group in 1987 with the sale of KSTU to MWT Ltd. Adams sold WKEF to KT Communications in 1989 before selling WWLP to Brisette Broadcasting in 1991. However, Brisette himself ran into trouble and merged his group with Benedek Broadcasting at the end of 1995. LIN TV Corporation acquired WWLP in 2000  by swapping KAKE-TV in Wichita, Kansas and WOWT-TV in Omaha, Nebraska to Benedek. This was a result of Chronicle Broadcasting, which owned the latter two, being liquidated. The sale could be seen as the ultimate undoing for Benedek which in 2002 declared bankruptcy and sold most of their stations (including WOWT and KAKE) to Gray Television.
In early 2000, the station's studios and offices moved to their current home in the Sandy Hill area of Chicopee. However, its transmitter remained in Feeding Hills. Shortly after the change, then-pending owner LIN TV constructed an addition at WWLP's new facilities which would serve as a master control hub for company-owned stations in the Northeast. At this location, room for future expansion was made in the event LIN TV expanded their Northeast properties. That eventually became the case with sister stations WTNH, WCTX, WPRI-TV (LIN TV flagship), and WNAC-TV having master control and some internal operations currently located at the Chicopee studios.
WWLP was well known for producing As Schools Match Wits, one of American television's earliest and longest-running high school quiz programs. The program first aired in October 1961. In September 2006, the show was canceled by the station because of the costs associated with new FCC regulations requiring all over-the-air television programming in the United States to be closed-captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing. The show returned to the air in January 2007, airing now on the area's PBS member station WGBY-TV (channel 57) and co-produced with Westfield State College.
On May 18, 2007, LIN TV announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives including the sale of the company. On March 21, 2014, Media General announced that it would purchase LIN Media and its stations, including WWLP and WFXQ-CD, in a $1.6 billion merger.  The merger was completed on December 19. 
On September 8, 2015, Media General announced that it would acquire the Meredith Corporation for $2.4 billion, with the combined group to be renamed Meredith Media General once the sale was finalized. Because Meredith already owns WGGB-TV, and the Springfield–Holyoke market does not have enough full-power television stations to legally allow a duopoly in any event (WGGB-TV and WWLP are the only full-power licenses assigned to the market), the companies would have been required to sell either WGGB-TV or WWLP to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as recent changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations that restrict sharing agreements had the sale gone through. Meredith-owned CBS affiliate WSHM-LD (channel 3) was the only one of the three stations affected by the merger that could legally be acquired by Meredith Media General, as FCC rules permit common ownership of full-power and low-power stations regardless of the number of stations within a single market.    On January 27, 2016, however, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Media General, who subsequently abandoned its plans to purchase Meredith. 
Former satellites Edit
In 1957, WRLP in Greenfield signed on as a full-time satellite of WWLP. WRLP served the northern portion of the Pioneer Valley market, where WWLP's signal was marginal at best due to the area's rugged and mountainous terrain. From a transmitter on Gunn Mountain in Winchester, New Hampshire (one of the highest points in the region), WRLP could also be seen in Springfield as well, creating a strong combined signal with over 50 percent overlap.
In 1958, Putnam purchased a defunct station in Worcester, WWOR-TV (no relation to the current Secaucus, New Jersey/Tri-State station with the same callsign), and returned it to the air as a second full-time satellite of WWLP. However, Worcester is part of the Boston market, and WWLP was forced to limit WWOR's broadcast day to only six hours in order to protect the interests of WBZ-TV, then Boston's NBC affiliate. In 1964, WWOR changed its calls to WJZB-TV and became an independent station while continuing to simulcast some programming from WWLP.
WRLP and WJZB eventually went off the air due to financial difficulties, with WJZB going dark in 1969 followed by WRLP in 1978. Almost immediately after WRLP left the air, its transmitter was shipped to Salt Lake City, Utah in order to launch KSTU, an independent sister station on UHF channel 20. That station eventually became a Fox affiliate on analog VHF channel 13 operating under a different owner.
WWLP-DT2 (The CW) Edit
WWLP-DT2, branded on air as The CW Springfield, is the CW+-affiliated second digital subchannel of WWLP, broadcasting in 720p high definition on VHF channel 11.2 (or virtual channel 22.2 via PSIP). On cable, the subchannel is available on Xfinity channel 5 and Spectrum channel 13 to viewers in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties.
Behind the Scenes: A look inside the vacant Uniroyal factory complex in Chicopee
Editor's note: This is the latest in a series of multimedia reports where we will take you behind the scenes of interesting places around the region. To suggest a future location, leave a comment below or email [email protected]
CHICOPEE -- Hidden behind massive blighted buildings marred with broken windows and surrounded by twisted metal is the future of the former Uniroyal property.
Several acres of land along the banks of the Chicopee River have been cleared of at least eight dilapidated, vacant factory buildings, putting on display a view of the grassy dikes and riverbanks where eagles nest and waterfowl swim behind it.
At one time cleaning up the vacant Uniroyal and Facemate properties seemed like an impossible dream, but a recent tour of the vacant Uniroyal property, which is locked behind an alarmed chain link fence, shows the remarkable progress made over the past decade.
"We want to get this cleaned and back on the tax rolls," said Michael Vedovelli, who inherited the project when he took the job as Community Development Director in 2014.
But yards away, visitors can see the city still has a long way to go in cleaning up hazardous waste at the old factory and tearing down buildings -- some of which are massive.
The cost of razing the rest of the buildings and cleaning up the soil contaminated from the nearly 100 years the property served as a tire factory is not known. Estimates often change as workers start demolition and uncover unknown problems.
"To fully abate and demolish the buildings is in the millions of dollars," Vedovelli said. "How long it takes depends of when money becomes available."
The roughly 72-acre property, located off West Main and Oak streets and along the banks of the Chicopee River, originally had 23 buildings, nearly all of which were contaminated with asbestos, lead paint, PCBs and myriad other hazardous materials. Now about half of those buildings have been cleaned of the waste, razed and the contaminated soils cleaned.
The process was never easy. Initially environmental experts discovered vats of hazardous material including solvents, acids and resins left behind on the Facemate property. After the final buildings were cleaned and razed, the city found several so-called ghost buildings, or structures that had been torn down years ago and the debris bulldozed into the foundation and buried, adding to the cost of cleaning up soils.
One parcel now houses the Rivermills Senior Center, which opened in September 2014. The city is currently in negotiations to sell a second 3.85-acre parcel east of the Rivermills Center to a private developer, City Planner Lee Pouliot said.
History of Chicopee, Massachusetts, USA
(Aldenville) (Chicopee Falls)
Visit Chicopee, Massachusetts, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and genealogy.
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Chicopee, Hampden, Massachusetts, USA
Chicopee is Indian named, the word signifying "cedar tree" or a birch bark place.
How New England Towns Received Their Names
New London, Connecticut
October 21, 1914
In 1636, William Pynchon purchased land from the Agawam Indians on the east side of the Connecticut River and moved from Roxbury to Springfield to found the first settlement in the area that comprises the territory of today's Chicopee Center (Cabotville). Both Cabotville and the Falls began as manufacturing centers (villages).
According to local historian Charles J. Seaver, the area above the falls was first settled in 1660. The land purchased from the Indians was divided into districts. Nayasett (Nipmuc for "at the small point - angle") was the name given to Chicopee Center and Chicopee Falls. kids.kiddle.co
Chicopee includes: Chicopee Falls, Fairview, Sand Hill, Willimansett, and Aldenville.
There is MUCH more to discover about Chicopee, Massachusetts, USA. Read on!
History of Chicopee - History
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History of Chicopee - History
Built by Johnson & Johnson in 1926-1927, these buildings are still in use today. They were among the first structures of their kind in their region to have indoor plumbing, electricity and hot water, and they changed the lives of the families who lived in them. What were they? A remarkable collection of homes near Gainesville, Georgia called Chicopee Village.
A street in Chicopee Village, from our archives.
In 1916, Johnson & Johnson acquired a 93-year-old company called The Chicopee Manufacturing Company – a famous textile mill that originally grew out of the Industrial Revolution and the need to make United States textile manufacturing independent of Britain. Johnson & Johnson was the largest manufacturer of sterile surgical dressings during the Nineteen Teens and was running its manufacturing lines around the clock in order to make enough dressings to treat wounded soldiers during World War I in Europe — while at the same time meeting the demand for sterile dressings from American hospitals. Johnson & Johnson acquired the Chicopee Manufacturing Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts in order to increase capacity to meet that demand.
Employees in the Johnson & Johnson Cotton Mill in 1915 stand in front of surgical dressings. From our archives.
The Chicopee Manufacturing Company was founded in 1823, making it officially the oldest operating company to join the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. (Codman & Shurtleff, founded in 1838, was the next oldest.) In the 1920s, Chicopee was expanding, and the land was purchased for the building of a modern, one-story plant near Gainesville, Georgia. Most textile mills at that time were rather dark, multi-story Victorian-era buildings with few amenities. So, of course, Johnson & Johnson set out to build the most modern, one-story, light-filled building with all of the latest modern conveniences. The new Chicopee mill in Georgia attracted a lot of attention since it looked more like a college campus building than a textile plant. It was the nation’s first modern, single-story textile mill, and it changed the way textile mills were constructed.
Photo of the brand-new Chicopee Mill in Georgia from 1927, from our archives. The building looked more like a school or a library rather than a cotton mill.
In addition, the Company constructed a village for employees of the new mill – called Chicopee Village. Chicopee Village had 250 modern houses, a school, and a medical facility.
A Chicopee VIllage house, from our archives.
Instead of being designed with identical houses (which would have been easier to build), Chicopee Village contained 31 (yes, 31) variations of modern brick homes. The houses were among the first in Northeastern Georgia to have indoor plumbing, electricity and hot water.
Interior of one of the Chicopee Village houses, showing the fireplace, from our archives.
Every house had a modern kitchen and bathroom, screens in the windows (important to keep disease-carrying insects out) and porches. In most cases, water and electricity were supplied to the residents for free. For families with cars, there were grouped garages throughout the community. For those without cars, there were buses into Gainesville. For many of the families who moved in – perhaps coming from a residence without electricity or indoor plumbing — the houses must have seemed nothing short of miraculous. One resident wrote to Johnson & Johnson: “ ‘We had a modern five-room brick house with all of the modern conveniences, and went to work in a modern mill where all was light and clean. A new life was opened for us.” [Letter from Chicopee employee to Johnson & Johnson, as quoted in Robert Wood Johnson, The Gentleman Rebel by Lawrence G. Foster, Lillian Press, 1999, p. 171]
But there’s more. Instead of being laid out in a straight grid, Chicopee Village was designed to have rolling hills and winding roads, to make it more attractive for its residents. And in an era in which many workers’ homes still fronted on unpaved streets, Chicopee Village had paved roads and sidewalks, as well as a sanitary sewer system and storm sewers. There were modern electric streetlights as well as electricity in the homes and, in a progressive and far-seeing move in 1926, all of the electrical wiring was underground – both to improve the view and prevent power outages caused by wires blowing down in storms.
“All village wiring is underground and 10 carloads of material were required to construct the conduits in which these wires are buried. When wires are run underground in this way they cannot be short-circuited or blown down by storms. Their concealment, moreover, improves the appearance of all streets and houses while the landscape architects have given every other possible consideration to the symmetry and beauty of this ideal mill community.” [Chicopee Georgia, Chicopee Manufacturing Corporation of Georgia, prepared and published by Doyle, Kitchen & McCormick, Inc., New York. Updated (1920s) hardcover book in Johnson & Johnson archives, p. 16]
The houses in Chicopee Village were within walking distance to Chicopee Mills – an important consideration in an era before everyone had a car. There was also another reason: walking was good exercise, and the Company wanted to promote good health and exercise for the mill employees and their families.
But there’s still more. Chicopee village had a modern school that was designed to be a model for the state of Georgia, and it had a community center. The community center was available for social gatherings such as dancing and movie nights, and it had a gymnasium for exercise and team sports. Behind the community center were a swimming pool, tennis courts and athletic fields for residents. And behind that was a beautifully landscaped park. (By now, readers may be asking themselves “When can I move in?”)
There were also public playgrounds in Chicopee Village, as well as a store for residents that sold fresh vegetables and other foods. (By now, readers would be forgiven for demanding to be able to move in.)
Interior detail of Chicopee Mill in Georgia, showing white enameled tile on walls. From our archives.
Health, safety, and well-being were primary concerns. (A book in our archives about Chicopee in Georgia has chapter headings titled Safety, Health, and Happiness.) Not only did the mill have the latest safety standards and equipment (including automatic fire sprinklers), but the village had a telephone relay system for residents to report any kind of emergency. A water filtration plant was built to provide pure, filtered water to the community. Chicopee Village also had a trained nurse in residence.
Johnson & Johnson had some precedent for building employee housing. Just a few decades earlier, the Company bought and renovated houses for employees in New Brunswick, on Morrell Street. Chicopee Village was of special interest to General Robert Wood Johnson, and he put his beliefs about the social responsibilities of business into its planning and construction. With Chicopee Village, Johnson & Johnson put into practice its emphasis on health, safety, hygiene, and quality of life for employees (and by extension, their families), and created a model community that’s still talked about today by the descendants of those who lived there.
Chicopee Genealogy (in Hampden County, MA)
NOTE: Additional records that apply to Chicopee are also found through the Hampden County and Massachusetts pages.
Chicopee Birth Records
Massachusetts, Birth Records, 1926-present Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
Chicopee Cemetery Records
Calvary Cemetery Billion Graves
Fairview Cemetery Billion Graves
Saint Patrick Cemetery Billion Graves
Saint Stanislaus Billion Graves
Chicopee Census Records
United States Federal Census, 1790-1940 Family Search
Chicopee Church Records
Annals of Chicopee Street : records and reminiscences of an old New England parish for a period of two hundred years Internet Archive
Cabotville Church Book (lists of contributors) 1840 Internet Archive
Chicopee City Directories
Chicopee City Directories 1875-1931 Chicopee Public Library
Springfield and Chicopee almanac, directory, and business advertiser 1849 Internet Archive
Springfield and Chicopee directory and almanac 1853-1854 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1923 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1924 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1925 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1946 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1948 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1949 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1952 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1953 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1954 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1955 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1956 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1957 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1958 Internet Archive
Springfield, West Springfield, Chicopee and Longmeadow directory 1960 Internet Archive
Chicopee Death Records
Massachusetts, Death Records, 1926-present Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
In 1925 approximately 90 families decided to move from Holyoke and Chicopee to the Willimansett section of Chicopee. They discussed the possibility of starting their own parish and being able to celebrate mass in their native language, polish. Many of these families came from either Mater Dolorosa Parish in Holyoke and St Stanislaus in Chicopee. Rev. Stephen Musielak was appointed to the task. He immediately went to work enrolling new members and soliciting funds. Through the generous cooperation of Rev. L.A. Simard, provisions were made to conduct services in the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Willimansett.
The group of people petitioned Bishop Thomas O’Leary to allow them to form a new parish. Bishop O’Leary consented and asked the Conventual Franciscan Friars of the St. Anthony of Padua Province to find a suitable location for the new church. Fourteen acres were purchased between Senecal Street (now St. Anthony Street) and Enright Street (now Celestine Street) for $9,500 from the Leo Senecal estate. Shortly thereafter, plans for a building were drawn up and St. Anthony of Padua was begun as a parish. The first mass was of the newly organized parish was held on August 9, 1925. The following year, the first parish building was constructed. Built with the intention of opening a parish school, the original structure was, essentially, a school building. But economic times were hard and the school never came into being. Parishioners decided to convert the second floor of the structure into their place of worship.
The first mass in the new building was celebrated by Fr. Celestine Rozewicz on Palm Sunday, April 10 1927. The cornerstone of the new church-school building was blessed on May 29, 1927 by his Excellency the Most Rev. Thomas M. O’Leary. The success of the parish only grew in leaps and bounds.
In 1968 under the urgency of his Excellency Christopher J. Weldon to Fr. Raphael Wisniewski the consideration of a new parish building was brought forward. After a vote, the Parish Council decided in favor of the new Parish. For the next year, work on the church was continuous. At 7 o’clock on Saturday morning, July 7 1971 Father Raphael, in solemn procession, transferred the Blessed Sacrament from the old church into the new church for the first mass. The old church building soon became the newly renovated social center.
More renovations were to come with the guidance of Fr. Placid Kaczorek, an extremely motivated pastor who brought much energy to our parish. Rooms in the social center were renovated into classrooms and CCD classes were moved from Chapin School to our Social Center under the direction of the newly appointed DRE Edward Potyrala. In 1997 we were blessed with the arrival of Fr. Benedict Fagone who has guided our parish for over 14 years. It was through his spiritual guidance when he was approached by Fr. James Ahern, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Holyoke, to begin a new era for St. Anthony of Padua Parish by welcoming the Spanish Catholics of the Chicopee area and by starting mass on a monthly basis which turned into, with growth, to a weekly Saturday 6:00 pm mass. St. Anthony of Padua welcomed our brethren with open arms.
Bishop Timothy McDonnell requested all parishes to look within themselves. In 2009 Pastoral Planning was underway. On August 29th 2009 it was announced by His Excellency Bishop Timothy McDonnell that the church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Mary of the Assumption in the Willimansett section of Chicopee were to be merged with St. Anthony of Padua forming the new territorial parish for the Willimansett Section of Chicopee. Since that time our parish has seen a growth in spiritual and social activities. Ensuring the future of St. Anthony’s for generations to come.
1960-1969: Decade in Transition
- Chicopee Board proposed $16,000 land purchase.
- 1962 First, First aid post, to help injured.
- GVCA becomes new Land Owners.
- 1966 First year of snow making ability.
- 1968 Artificial pond dug out and constructed.
- 1968 First T-bar on North Hill ( 1,200 skiers per hr).
- 1968 Nancy Green Ski League Racing.
- New ski runs, rope tows, improved lighting.
- First Management team, ski rentals, and catering.
- 1969 Construction of new Ski Chalet ($190,500).
During the 1950s, Kitchener's suburbs had gradually expanded eastward towards the Chicopee Hill. As early as 1955, developers had submitted plans to the City outlining future housing subdivisions for the area. In the late 1950s, a gravel company began small-scale digging on a plot near the site of the present chalet to test the land for quarrying potential. If the Chicopee Ski Club were to survive, let alone expand or develop, the issue of property ownership had to be resolved.
The Chicopee Hill area covered in excess of 150 acres which was rented from four landowners. If one of these owners were ever to sell the property for development, the future of the Club would be jeopardized. An earlier attempt by the Club to purchase approximately 62 acres of the Chicopee Hill from Lewis Bakeries of London had proven unsuccessful. In 1958, eight Club members (Clare Duffus, Jake Baetz, H. M. Henderson, A. Lockhart, J. A. Martin, Dave Schneider, Fred Schneider, and Norman Schneider) had each offered $1,000 to purchase the land for the Club. Unfortunately, the owners of the land wanted $16,000 and a deal could not be reached. At the same time land prices in the Chicopee area had begun to rise significantly, and the Club realized that it did not possess the means to purchase the hill. In response to the ever-growing threat of development, Chicopee members rallied to prevent their Club from being assimilated into Kitchener's urban sprawl.
The Club's Board of Directors formed the Chicopee Park Land Committee during the 1959/1960 season with Ernie Grundy as Chairman. Members of this committee, including Jack Halliwell, Bob Petznick, Norman Schneider and Lorne Winkler, approached the Kitchener-Waterloo and Suburban Planning Boards, the Waterloo Township-Planning Board and the GVCA (Grand Valley Conservation Authority). Their goal was to convince these organizations of the need to protect the Chicopee Hill as a parkland and recreational area. Since the ski hill lay within both the Kitchener and Waterloo Township boundaries, and served the population of the entire region, the municipalities and the township all had an interest in the issue. The GVCA was willing to turn the land into a conservation area but lacked the funds to purchase the property on its own.
Eventually a complex arrangement was created the GVCA would become owner of the land and convert it into a year-round conservation facility which the Chicopee Ski Club could rent during the winter months. The hill had been saved for the Club and, in the process, was on its way to becoming a year-round recreational facility for the community. An amicable relationship was quickly established between the GRCA and the Chicopee Ski Club.
The Club was permitted to use the hill for skiing as before and maintained ownership of the Halliwell House, the rope tows and all other equipment. In return, any physical alterations to the hill or new additions to the chalet had to be approved by the GRCA. The GRCA also arranged for hydro and water facilities to be supplied, but informed the Club that it could only offer financial assistance in the future if new plans had year-round potential. In return for using the land, the Club took on the responsibility of paying the municipal taxes on the hill. In 1965 the Club signed a ten-year agreement with the GRCA for the use of the land. This lease was renegotiated four years later when the GRCA stated that it "was desirous of providing skiing facilities for the Kitchener-Waterloo area and has agreed to give the Ski Club the concession to operate a ski area."
To attract the public during the summer, the GRCA installed picnic and hiking facilities and encouraged camping on the land. In 1968, an ambitious plan was started when a nearby stream was dammed to create an artificial pond north-east of the present chalet. This development required a re-routing of Morrison road. The new pond was designed for swimming in the summer and skating during the winter. These plans complimented the operation of the Chicopee Ski Club.
The largest project undertaken by the GRCA and the Club was the construction in 1969 of a ski chalet. The Club had grown to such a size that the Halliwell House and the small Ski Patrol shed nearby were no longer sufficient for its growing membership, let alone the non-skiers who came to take part in Chicopee's social life.
Since the Club itself did not have the funds to construct a new chalet, the Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo, the GRCA and the Province of Ontario once again worked together for a solution. The chalet, designed for year-round use, was completed in 1970 and won several architectural awards. The total cost for this new chalet was $190,500, with Kitchener providing $65,000, Waterloo $20,000, the GRCA $10,000 and the conservation branch of the Ontario government $95,500.
Thanks to the tireless work of Club members, the Chicopee Hill area was preserved and the Club guaranteed its use. With the hill secured, membership continued to grow and the Club opened new ski runs, added new tow ropes, improved lighting for night skiing, and introduced snow-making equipment.
With all of the Club’s new and exciting changes, the Club was looking to attract more skiers. As a result, skiing hours were increased from weekends only to Wednesday afternoons and evenings and Friday evenings as well. The Club also began offering family membership. During the 1963/64 season, The Club hoped that this type of membership would bring more families to Chicopee and help maintain the ‘homey’ atmosphere upon which the Club had been built $50 for the 1963/1964 season covered two adults (seniors) and any number of children (juniors).
Between 1960 and 1965, the Club added three new rope tows to accelerate the movement of skiers to the top of Chicopee Hill. In addition to the junior tow built to the west of the Sumac run in 1960, the Front Hill tow rope was constructed in 1962, and the Cradle rope tow was rebuilt for the 1963/1964 season. Skiers no longer had to suffer the long lineups which had forced some to walk up the hills instead. The Club also upgraded both the North and Cradle Hills.
The focus on re-establishing membership was so successful that membership reached 932 during the 1962/1963 season. However, between 1960 and 1965, the total days and nights of skiing ranged from an annual low of only 22 to a high of 51. While the Club relied on pre-season memberships, a poor season for snow had long term implications for both membership and development.
While the Club advanced technologically and grew in membership, it was faced with a variety of pressures pushing it towards professional management. Riordans Sporting Goods obtained the first ski rental concession from the Club in 1960, making skiing much more accessible for both the first-time skier and the enthusiast who could not afford their own ski equipment. Catering services were also granted food concessions on a yearly basis.
The 1965/1966 season marked a turning point for the Chicopee Ski Club. Because Chicopee experienced an unusually mild winter and a drop to 555 members, it decided that for continued expansion and development it would require snow-making facilities. Since the GVCA had secured the Chicopee Hill for skiing purposes, the Club felt confident to act. During the fall of 1965, 30 Club members co-signed a $22,000 loan from the Bank of Montreal. The funds were used for the purchase and installation of snow-making equipment and the building of a compressor and pump house. The first snow was produced late in the evening of January 6, 1966.
The addition of snow-making equipment substantially lengthened the ski season and assured potential skiers that there would be snow at Chicopee even if it could not be provided by Mother Nature. Membership for the 1966/1967 season more than doubled from the previous year, while the days available for skiing increased to 79 from 39. This technological advance, combined with the GVCA's purchase of the Chicopee Hill allowed the Club to pursue a more aggressive course of expansion. It also hastened the professionalization of the Chicopee Ski Club. The Club also extended its hours of operation once again by adding Tuesday and Thursday evening skiing. To entice potential skiers further, Thursday evenings were designated 'Buck Nights' where non-members could ski for only one dollar: 50 cents off the regular price.
A loan from the Bank of Montreal allowed the Club to continue its expansion plans. The North Hill was upgraded and two new snow-making compressors were added, more than doubling snow-making capabilities for the 1968/1969 season. The senior ski jump was also rebuilt, allowing skiers to jump as far as 150 feet - 25 feet farther than before. Improvements to the senior jump complimented the rebuilding of the junior jump which had been accomplished two years earlier. In 1968, a T-bar was constructed on the North Hill. The T-bar was one of the first in the area and transported 1,200 skiers an hour up the hill, nearly twice as many as the previous rope tows.
The improved facilities resulted in a substantial increase in membership and daily lift ticket revenues. By 1970, it was one of the most technologically advanced yet most affordable ski clubs in Ontario. The Southern Ontario Ski Association judged the Chicopee Ski Club the least expensive club in the province.
The successes which Chicopee enjoyed during the second half of the 1960s were not without some setbacks. As the Club continued to grow, members knew fewer of their fellow skiers. Careless skiing was also a problem. Vandalism and theft were also a concern during the late 1960s. The growing number of skiers made it easier for ski equipment to anonymously disappear. Parking, too, became a serious problem. In 1968, a new parking lot was built north of the current chalet.
An earlier attempt to alleviate the parking problem was initiated by Club member Ed Moscoe. For the 1967/1968 season he had arranged to have a bus run from Kitchener and Waterloo to the Club. In the past, ski equipment had been forbidden on local buses. This special bus carried ski equipment and stopped in Kitchener and Waterloo each Saturday and Sunday morning, returning the same afternoon.
Chicopee hosted the Southern Ontario Zone Instructors’ Course for the first time in December 1966, and the Western Ontario Ski Zone Instructors’ Course the following year. Chicopee also played host to a number of area, provincial and national racing and jumping competitions during the late 1960s.
The most dramatic change for Chicopee during the 1960s was its transformation from a small club to a large, professionally run organization. By 1970, Chicopee had become a full-time business, complete with rules and regulations to ensure the sporting fun of all who gathered there to ski.
Responsibilities held by the volunteers who had run the Club gradually became too time-consuming. For the 1967/1968 season, the Club hired its first full-time paid employees.
As skiing became increasingly popular during the 1960s, so too did competitive racing and jumping at both the senior and junior levels. Chicopee's commitment to junior membership, made during the 1950s, produced several accomplished competitive skiers by the early 1960s. The Club's attention to junior racing increased significantly with the introduction of snow-making facilities in 1966 and the creation of the Nancy Greene Ski League in 1968. By the 1970s, junior racing at Chicopee had produced a number of successful Zone, provincial and national competitors. Chicopee’s aspiring junior skiers also attended racing or jumping camps both at Blue Mountain and in Huntsville. In November 1961, the Board of Directors decided, after much discussion, to fund junior skiers attending these training events. In return, junior skiers were expected to become more actively involved in Club activities.
By the late 1960s, the Chicopee Board of Directors had redoubled their efforts to developing a quality training program for junior racers and jumpers. Artificial snow and improved facilities allowed Chicopee to host specialized coaching, racing and jumping training sessions such as the Southern Ontario Ski Zone jumping school and the Southern Ontario Zone Instructors' course.
In 1969, Nancy Greene, the 1968 Canadian Olympic skiing medalist, visited Chicopee during Winterfest and inaugurated the newly established Nancy Greene League. This league was designed to teach juniors under the age of 14 the basics of racing and competition. By the end of the decade, Chicopee teams were winning at all levels of competition.
In December 1966, the Chicopee Ski Patrol separated from the Western Zone of the National Ski Patrol System, ending a 19-year membership with that organization in what was the most significant occurrence of the decade. For the remainder of the decade Chicopee's Patrol functioned as an independent body. The Patrol set its own safety and training standards to ensure that all patrollers were sufficiently prepared.
Concerns for space led the Patrol to build a hut behind the Halliwell House in 1962 to serve as the first aid post where injured skiers could be attended. In the fall of 1967 CHYM FM, a local radio station, loaned a station wagon to the Club so that more seriously injured skiers could be transported immediately to hospital. The Club received many letters of praise from local doctors, commending the Ski Patrol for the quality assistance it had provided to injured skiers.
Trained Chicopee volunteers originally taught techniques such as the snowplow, as well as the proper use of the rope tow and later the T-bar. More advanced skiers learned such manoeuvres as the parallel Christie and other improvements to their technique. Instructors received intensive training before teaching at Chicopee, and charged less than any other Ontario ski club using Canadian Ski Instructors' Alliance instructors.
Social life at Chicopee was more than parties or social events planned by the Board of Directors. Traditionally, Chicopee held three social functions each year for members: an opening party in November or December, a cross-country ski party in February or March and the Slush Mush closing party at the end of the season. 130 members attended the Club's 30th anniversary party in February 1965. The Slush Mush party marked the end of the ski year. Snow was not a requirement and, in March 1968, the temperature was a balmy 55 Fahrenheit. Members brought their own food to be barbecued and many drinks were had. Many other exciting events took place throughout the decade, including Skinanigans, a Junior Party and many events held by Ski Patrol.
The 1960s proved to be a period of transition for the Chicopee Ski Club. From a membership composed of several hundred dedicated volunteers at the beginning of the decade, Chicopee had grown to a professionally run club of several thousand. The Chicopee Ski Club of 1970 was significantly different from that of 1960. Progress, development and expansion would be the focus for the 1970s.