What’s happening in the world? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t

What is happening in the world?  When did we give up on being kind and understanding?  When did we move into a society of egregious behaviour where you are “damned if you do and damned if you don’t?

Point in question … Chapman’s Ice Cream.  Chapman’s recently incurred acrimonious vitriol.  Why?  The family-owned-and-operated business had attempted to treat all its employees fairly, as it always has.  Unfortunately, their magnanimous attempt brought down the wrath of some who apparently did not take a step back and a deep breath to consider what was being done.

It appears that COVID-19 has become a catalyst for unkindness, for rudeness and for an overall lack of empathy.

With COVID and the unrelenting rules of employment and admission to public spaces and places of work, Chapman’s decided to take another route.

Penny and David Chapman started the company in 1973 in the small rural town of Markdale and went on to become the largest independent ice cream and ice water products manufacturer in Canada.

Living, working and running a business in a small rural town is different than in a large urban setting.  In rural town Ontario, everyone knows their neighbour and often they work side by side for a major employer, such as Chapman’s.  Chapman’s decided that it wanted to be fair to all its employees to spite COVID.

While not all employees chose to be vaccinated, Vice-President Ashley Chapman decided that segregation, between those who were and who were not vaccinated, would not happen at Chapman’s.  Instead, he chose to try to help both sides and keep all employees safe.

The plan was that, for those not vaccinated, two rapid tests showing negative results would be required weekly.  The cost of the test to the employees would be $40. Chapman’s stepped up and offered to pay the $40 to ensure employees would not be financially stressed.  In addition, to even out the situation, Chapman’s offered an additional $1 per hour to those were vaccinated so that they too received the $40 per week. Could it be more fair?

Unfortunately, for some, it appears difficult to distinguish between being fair and blindly following the rules.

For those not familiar with Chapman’s, we went back through our archives and would point out some highlights of what the Chapman family has given to not only the community of Markdale but to the entire region.

In 2009, Chapman’s distribution centre, a key to its operation, burned down and it took two years to re-build.  What did the company do?  It kept paying its employees.


When it comes to end-of-life, everyone will be there.  When it comes to end-of-life care however, a hospice is vital.  The hospice in Owen Sound, serving the entire region was stretched to the limit and required a much-need expansion.  Who stepped up?  Chapman’s.

Saugeen Times file photo

In 2015,  the Chapman family donated $1 million to the Residential Hospice of Grey Bruce Inc. that catapulted the hospice organization’s plan to “break ground” early in 2016 for a new facility.

At the time, Ashley Chapman said, “Our family recognizes that we can play a leadership role and make a positive difference in our region.  Our support for the new hospice building acknowledges that everyone in Grey and Bruce deserves to be treated with compassion and dignity at end-of-life and we hope our donation inspires other organizations to get behind this project too.”

                                                             Chapman House Hospice opens
(R) Ashley Chapman at the Hospice opening

While the Chapman family stepped up so, too, did the employees who decided on a payroll deduction plan to help maintain the on-going operations of the facility.

“Our million dollars is in the brick and mortar of the hospice,” said Chapman,  “but money will be needed for on-going operations and we are very proud that our employees have stepped up to help with that.”  In addition, Chapman’s guaranteed a life-time supply of ice cream for the hospice.  Today, Chapman House hospice cares for those at the end of life.


In 2017, the-then government of the day (Liberal) was in the process of closing schools throughout the province as a cost reducing measure.  One of those was the small public school, Beavercrest of Markdale.  For those who don’t live in a rural community and where geography between communities is vast, a local school is vital.  The entire community was upset and nothing seemed to be able to sway the local school board and Ministry of Education from its decision.

In stepped Chapman’s. Ashley Chapman of Chapman’s Ice Cream offered $2million to relieve the Bluewater School Board of its financial burden of keeping the school operational, and was turned down.  “One argument was that we were attempting to create a two-tier system in the public education system,” he said. “Nothing is farther from the truth and, in fact, it is the Ministry of Education that has created a two-tier system … urban and rural.”

“It has been clearly stated that school boards in this province should seek out community partners in order to mitigate their deficits due to low enrolment.  Well, I am here and willing to enter into a five-year lease tonight to use whatever space is available in Beavercrest school.  Beyond our economic concerns and that it’s a logistical problem for Chapman’s, keeping the school open is simply the right thing to do,” said Chapman at the time.

The result?  The Ministry of Education provided millions of dollars to build a new school to accommodate the area with its exploding population growth.


Then, COVID-19 struck. Grey Bruce Public Health and Bruce Power came up with the innovation, the ‘Hockey Hub’ clinic.  What was needed however was major refrigeration for the vaccine. Who stepped up? Chapman’s.

They donated sub-zero freezers not only locally but to areas such as Windsor Essex. The company also gave all employees a pandemic raise last year which is still on going and was never taken back.

What has the company received in return for their altruism?  Hateful emails to a family that has continually stepped up and contributed to its community.

What is happening in the world?