Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – July 16th to 23rd, 1959


Click on photos to enlargeWork is now underway on the new 85,000 square foot factory building for the B. Greening Wire Company Ltd. Frid Construction Co. Ltd. has the contract for the building located beside Highway l2, about a quarter-mile west of Martyrs’ Shrine. (The Tiffin elevator can be seen in the background.) 

Sweethearts of the big Orange parade in Elmvale Saturday were Joanne Blow, left, and Joan Caston. Carrying their big flower basket, the two little girls marched with the Wyevale Lodges in the mile-long parade. 

Big enough to make many a veteran fisherman’s mouth water, these four-pound speckled trout were caught by Bruce, 6, and Jon Pettersen, 12, in the Gogama district of Northern Ontario. Along with brother Bjorn, 15, the three boys provided the human interest in a week-long outdoor life movie being made in the north country for a number of sporting goods firms. “Too much movie and not enough time for fishin’,” was the somewhat disgruntled verdict of the boys upon their return to Midland with dad, Pete Pettersen. 

As part of the festivities in connection with the visit of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to this area July 4, the officer’s mess of “C” Squadron, Grey and Simcoe Foresters, held a military ball in Midland Armory last Saturday evening. Among the officers present were, left to right, Major Jack Symons, Capt. J. S. Corcoran, Lieut. Ken Macdonald (formerly of Penetang) and Lieut. Jim A. Park. Ladies are, from left to right, Mrs. John Corcoran (Helen), Mrs. Ron Desroches, Mrs. Jim Downer, Mrs. Macdonald and Mrs. Jim  Park (Shirley). 

One of the best fish taken out of Midland’s Little Lake in many a year was this six-pound largemouth black bass held by lucky angler Paul Davidson. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Andy Davidson, Midland, Paul was fishing just off the south shore late Thursday night when the big fellow decided to sample his “hula popper,” a type of surface plug. The fish measured 22 inches long and 14 inches in girth. 

Built in Port McNicoll by Folmer Neilsen, Danish-born boat-builder, the 35-foot cruiser “Starflight” was successfully launched in the slip at Port Friday morning. Owner of the fine new craft, R. N. Starr, Toronto, is seen (left) talking to the builder in top photo. Seated are F. D. Allen, Toronto, Mrs. Starr and Mrs. Allen. “Starflight” is seen in the lower photo on one of Sylvester Sutter’s trailers just prior to the launching. 

With 13 years in the plastics industry behind her, Mrs. Martha Hewlett is well qualified for her position at Midland Plastics Ltd. Familiar with every type of this material, Mrs. Hewlett is head of the grinding department, where she oversees the grinding of scrap material and its return to the proper bins. Making it a real family affair, her daughter, Mrs. Charles Dimmock (Shirley) is employed in the head office, Toronto. Mr. Dimmock was also employed in the same firm before resigning to become a Toronto policeman. Mrs. Hewlett is seen above with some articles returned for re-processing. 

Largest commercial oven ever built at the James Stewart Manufacturing / Beatty plant in Penetang is shown here with three men comfortably accommodated in the upper deck. Oven sitting on top is a standard domestic built-in type for kitchens. Built for the Iron Ore Co. Ltd. for use in their mining camps in Labrador, 98 nine-inch pies or 144 loaves of bread can be baked at one time and the unit weighs 4,000 pounds. A considerable number of commercial installations have been made by the Stewart Manufacturing plant in Penetang. A list reads much like a directory of a majority of the new large buildings erected in Ontario and Quebec during the past several years. One of the large orders being produced at the present time is equipment for new sanitarium buildings in Hamilton. Many of the newer hotels throughout the two provinces, are also using Beatty commercial equipment. 

  • County Herald headline of July 17, 1959; Building Permits Balloon, Permits Reach New High. Despite an exceptionally slow start, the value of building permits issued in Midland during the first half of 1959 is even higher than for a similar period in 1958’s near-record year. Figures made available by W. F. “Bud” Turnbull place the total value of permits up until the end of June this year at $826,900. Total for the entire 12 months of 1958 was $1,268,760, of which $796,860 was recorded in the first six months. Best year on local records was 1954 when the total was $1,334,725 and the half-year total was 990,800. This year’s high was achieved despite the fact no permits were issued in the first three months of the year. But $216,200 was chalked up in April, including $94,000 for the 12-apartment Parkview Terrace Building. The new Jeffery hardware building provided almost half ($35,000) of the May total of $73.700. A-whopping $450,000 for the new Greening Wire Plant soared the June total to $537,000. New dwellings and renovations to existing buildings also figure heavily in this year’s totals. Last year’s figures for corresponding months were: January, $5,000; February, 394,000; March, $27.300; April, $97,560; May, $101,500; June, $171,500.
  • Midland Free Press headline of July 22, 1959; Safe Robbers Enter IGA, Third Time in Six Months. For the third time, in the less than six months it has been open, thieves, early Monday morning, broke into the Penetang IGA Store and smashed open the safe, making off with a little more than $100 in change. The first intimation of a break-in came before eight o’clock when a nearby resident, Mrs. Maurille Marchand phoned the proprietor, G. J. Robillard to say that one of the entrance doors looked as though it had been left open. Police Chief Jack Arbour was called immediately and on an investigation, he found the large plate glass door had been forced open, and the safe rifled. The heavy safe which had been reinforced with boilerplate following the first break-in had been moved from a niche at the front of the store. Immediately in front of the meat counter, the thieves had turned the safe over on its back and pried the door open. Tools used for the job were a railway spike puller, pinch bar and hammer, The tools proved sufficiently, powerful to bend the safe locking bars, and tear the metal from around the locked door. Later investigation showed the tools had been stolen from the local CNR shed where they are stored for use of the section gang, footprints found around the shed matched those found around the store. To acquire the $100 in change, all that the safe held, the thieves did more than $500 damage. The “In” door, plate glass in a metal frame was cracked and smashed, and the frame and lock bolt were badly bent. The safe itself is a total loss.
  • Total enrolment for the three Midland Public Schools for the month of June amounted to 1,165. Midland Public Schools Board heard at its regular meeting July 10. This total was made up of 607 at Regent School, 402 at Parkview and 156 at Sixth Street School. The board was advised that 1,426 feet of the blackboard in the three schools had been refinished at a cost of $629. “The ones that have been done look very well,” said board member Jack Thompson. Mr. Thompson told the board 35 new desks had been ordered for Parkview School and 25 for Regent School. These new desks will be used by the increased number of pupils in the fall, he said.
  • Midland’s Indian village at Little Lake Park will receive further prominence in a documentary film to be telecast over Channel 3, Barrie, July 21, on “Spotlight”. The show will be re-broadcast on July 27.
  • Two Midland firms have been awarded contracts totalling $81,334 from the Department of Defence Production at Ottawa. Ernst Leitz Canada Limited received a $60,000 contract for the overhaul of aerial cameras. Midland Foundry and Machine Company Limited has won a $21,334 contract for the manufacture of hydraulic jacks.
  • Although it doesn’t employ very many men as yet, North Simcoe got a new industry last week. The Nixon Building Products Ltd. of Barrie set up a new ready-mix concrete plant at Midland. The new plant, which uses the very latest in equipment, is located on the south side of Highway 12, across the road from the new Greening Wire plant now under construction. John Elliotts is the manager of the new industry. Established in 1953, the Barrie firm also has plants in Camp Borden and Orillia. Two of its 14 huge ready-mix trucks will be located at Midland.
  • Work will be completed this week on two miles of new, hard-surfaced roads in Midland. Long-anticipated by local residents whose streets have been torn up for lengthy periods, the paving alone will cost around $50,000, according to W. F. Turnbull, public works superintendent. This does not include the cost of curbing, grading and other preparations prior to paving. Streets paved or being paved in all or part include Mildred, Frederick, Hugel, Fifth, Victoria, Dominion, Centre and Ellen.
  • An announcement this week of wide interest to the resort district and residents of the area, in general, stated that the Royal Hotel at Honey Harbour is for sale, owing to the illness of the owner. This well-known resort, on an island at Honey Harbour, has been operated for many years by Phil Grisé, a former resident of Midland. In recent years he has been assisted by his son Clarence. Phil Grise’s father, the late Didace Grise, was a pioneer businessman in Midland, arriving in that town in 1879, from Fenelon Falls. After engaging in the butcher trade, Mr. Grise senior started a hardware business which he later sold to F. W. Jeffery. Mr. Grise then went to Honey Harbour where he acquired the Victoria House from Nickerson Bros. After a year, the Royal Hotel was built. The Victoria House, on the mainland, became the Delawana Inn and is now operated by Didace Grise. At one time, the Grise brothers; Ernest, George, Fred and Phil owned a furniture business in Midland. Phil Grise is the last survivor among the brothers. Fred Grise, father of Didace Jr., George Grise, and Phil Grise, all became well-known businessmen, and resort operators at Honey Harbour. “The Royal” was a favourite point of call when such tourist passenger vessels as the Midland City, City Queen, Waubic, Dover, and Tenno, plied the waters of the 30,000 islands. Under the Grise family, the Royal Hotel developed into a leading summer resort with international patronage.
  • (For those of us who had never visited Huronia House Museum, located in the former home of Mr. & Mrs. James Playfair, this is verbal tour, courtesy of David Maheu, Free Press reporter.) The other day I went to Huronia Museum to take a few glimpses into the past. As I entered the door I was confronted with a portrait of the late James Playfair, one-time owner of what some people call today “the old barn”, because of its massiveness. At one time, I believe, it was planned to have the town use it as a rest home. It was felt, however, that the home would be a more valuable asset as a museum. On passing through the doors, I noticed a large staircase directly in front of me. The thought that passed through my mind was how many times the mistress of the house must have swept this stairway with the hem of her long dress on the way up to see to the comfort of her guests and other duties which would call her to the upper floor. It is said, though, that not much entertaining was done by Mrs. Playfair, the former Miss Ogilvie of the Ogilvie flour family. On the lower floor, there are four rooms, two on each side of the staircase. On the left-hand side facing the staircase are two rooms containing exhibits of wildlife, small game and clothing of early days. These rooms originally were Mr. Playfair’s sitting room and billiards room. On the right-hand side of the staircase were the dining and living room area. Now they contain Indian pottery shards, bones and displays of artifacts. I wondered how Mrs. Playfair would feel if she could return and see her home as it is today filled with displays and tourists. Upstairs two ancient canoes were on display at the head of the stairs. Turning to the right, I entered one of the original guest rooms. Today it is furnished with pioneer period furniture. From there I continued on to the other two rooms noticing the oil paintings on the walls as I walked along. Here, too, were many tangible symbols of the pioneer way of life. On the other side of the hall is a room that would gladden the heart of any old seafarer. It contained hundreds of pictures of old ships. At one time, it was Mr. Playfair’s bedroom. In Mrs. Playfair’s bedroom, an old-time kitchen and tools and utensils used by housewives of an earlier era were on display. In the other rooms are pictures of early hockey stars, old guns, organs and pianos, and old clocks and timepieces. After a fast jaunt down the staircase and out into the golden sunlight. I was back in the 20th century again. I looked out over the bay and saw the sun throw its bright rays of light on the town of Midland and the Huronia Museum, symbolic perhaps of this bright new world.
  • “We were very lucky it wasn’t worse and the firemen did a fine job of confining the fire,” said W. H. Copeland of the family which owned the Copeland Lumber Mill, three miles from Hillsdale, which was completely destroyed by fire early Friday evening. Mr. Copeland, who said there were approximately 15 men employed in the mill, stated that he expected that the men employed in the burnt-out mill would be employed in their mill at Elmvale. The estimated loss of the wood and sheet iron building was placed at $50,000 and Mr. Copeland said: “it was partially covered by insurance.” (This mill was at Martinsville, in what is now the Copeland Forest, a 4,400-acre resource management area owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Once powered by the Coldwater River and located beside the CPR Sudbury mainline, it is now an entrance point for people using the park.)
  • Two young boys from the Mount St. Louis area died together in a tragic accident at the junction of Highways 103 and 501, just north of Port Severn Sunday evening. Killed instantly when struck by a car as they attempted to walk across the intersection were Kenneth King, 13, and Robert John Belanger, 14, both of R.R . 1, Hillsdale. The two lads lived almost across the road from each other on Con. 4, Medonte just north of Mount St. Louis, where they attended school together.
  • A request from Midland Curling Club for permission to remove four trees close to the curling rink was approved by Midland Parks Commission July 9. The club, the commission was informed, wanted to remove the trees near the building so it could improve the parking area. A second request from the club, which involved the removal of several sections of the ornamental fencing around the rink property, was turned down. (The same fencing that still surrounds the cenotaph.) One of the large trees to be removed is too close to the foundation walls of the rink and one of the others is almost dead. Commissioners were told that, after the trees were removed, the club planned to gravel the area and make a parking lot of it.
  • A new butcher shop and a new laundry service opened for business in Midland last week, giving the Elizabeth Street shopping area a welcome lift. Ralph W. Davidson is the owner and operator of the new butcher shop and the laundry service is operated by Coinwash Ltd. A native of Fredericton, N.B., Mr. Davidson learned his trade in that Maritime province. He owned and operated his own stores in Fredericton before coming to Ontario ten years ago. Since that time he lived in New Toronto and Port Credit, where he also operated butcher stores. Like many a new Midlander, Mr. Davidson and his wife spent some of their holiday periods in this area, liked what they saw and decided to move here. For the present, they are staying at Balm Beach for the summer, pending more permanent arrangements.
  • Births – BEARDSALL — To Mr. and Mrs. Henry Beardsall, 163 Bay St., Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Sunday, July 19, 1959, a daughter. BEAUDOIN — To Mr. & Mrs. Robert Beaudoin, 51 Bay St., Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Sunday, July 19, 1959, a daughter. DILWORTH — To Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Dilworth, 162 Fifth St. Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Thursday, July 16, 1959, a daughter. SALLOWS – To Mr. & Mrs. Gordon Sallow, Wyebridge, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Midland, July 14, 1959, a daughter. WOOD – To Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Wood, 291 King Street, Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Friday, July 17, 1959, a daughter. HERRING — At Penetang General Hospital, Tuesday, July 7, to Mr. and Mrs. Jim Herring, a daughter, Linda Anne, a sister for Debra. SWALES—Cathy and Christy, little daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Doug Swales, are happy to announce the arrival of their baby brother, Kirk Douglas, 8 lbs. 5 ozs., at the Penetanguishene General, Hospital, on Friday, July 17, 1959.
  • Ten Years Ago This Week – Elmvale council held its inaugural meeting July 25 following the official incorporation of the community as a village, and the municipal elections. Reeve was Lawson Robinson and councillors were Wm. McFadden, Reginald A. Cooper, Harry Rowley and Frederick Webster. The council’s first official act was a motion calling for applications for the post of the village clerk. * * * The director of the Martyrs’ Shrine, Midland, announced that a special pilgrimage from France would come to the shrine in September. The pilgrimage, which was being sponsored by the Pere Marquette – Committee, was to be in charge of French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman.  * * *  Attendance at and entries in Simcoe County’s first quilt and rug fair exceeded the “fondest hopes” of the fair’s sponsors. The quilts and rugs were displayed in St. Paul’s United Church Hall, Midland. * * * A federal grant of $15,700 was approved to help pay the costs of additional staff members for Simcoe County Health Unit at Barrie. * * *  Total attendance at the five performances of the “Salute to Canada Pageant” at Martyrs’ Shrine, directed by Father Daniel Lord, S.J., was 40,000. * * * Boat traffic up the shore set a new peak. The S.S. Dover, M.S. Midland City, M.S. Georgian and Westwind carried near capacity passenger loads on their daily excursion runs. Both passenger and car-ferry business was up over 1948, officials said. * * * Midland Shipyard officials were elated over an announcement by Hon. Lionel Chevrier, minister of transport, that the federal government was implementing a $60,000,000 ship-building program for Canada. It was felt the Midland yard would benefit from the program.
  • MOONSTONE — Construction is underway on another addition to Dunlop’s appliance store in Moonstone. The new wing will be used for introduction of a furniture line, and demonstration of high fidelity music combinations, and other models. Since 1955, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Dunlop owners of the store have been responsible for much new construction on their property. After their store and home and almost all the contents were burned in the fall of 1954, the Dunlops carried on business for a time in the basement of the Community Hall, and resided in Robert Cumming’s home. On Oct. 19, 1955, they opened a modern new appliance store, and then they have built a residence and a warehouse addition to the store.

This week in 1931 as taken from the Midland Argus; 

  • The Public Works Department of Canada within the next few days will be calling for tenders for the complete reconstruction of the esplanade here, from the foot of King Street to a point beyond the C.S.L. elevator. Tenders for the work it is understood will be advertised within the next few days. It is proposed to make a permanent structure by a system of sheet piling and cribbing with a cement and rock fill. Just what precaution will be adopted to protect labour is not known but it is believed that the Government will make it plain that the work is for the benefit of unemployed men and the contract will be surrounded by such regulations as will give employment to a large; number of men during the winter I months. In addition to the esplanade work, it is the purpose to erect a large freight warehouse that will be 100 x 80 feet. (The building was sold and moved to Brebeuf Road, perhaps in the eighties. It has been known over the years as the “Sugar Warehouse” and the Sea Cadet building.) Just where this will be located is not yet definitely settled, but it is understood to be placed almost midway between the foot of King Street and the elevator. This will be a substantial permanent structure that will be convenient for water, rail and motor traffic. The work on the esplanade will require millions of tons of filling and if this is handled by manpower as it undoubtedly will be, it should absorb all the idle men hereabouts next winter and relieve the town of the heavy burden that it would again have to bear to help those out of work. Just what the appropriation for the work will be is not known by us as yet but it will be ample to permit a good start on the work being made.
  • By an advertisement in another column, it will be observed that the national park at Beausoleil Island that has been set aside by the Dominion Government is now ready to accommodate visitors. The Department of Public Parks has constructed a fine dock there and there is splendid accommodation for campers. A fine sandy beach affords unusual advantages for bathing while good fishing is to be had in Beausoleil bay and among the adjoining islands. The Boys’ Summer Camp is also located upon this island and visits thereto will always be found interesting. Mr. Chas. Lynn of Penetang is in charge of the Park for the Government and every attention will be given to all those who may desire to avail themselves of the conveniences afforded, which are all free.
  • For the past five years efforts have been carried on mainly by Hon. Wm. Finlayson to induce the Ontario Government to take over the main road between Orillia and Midland with the idea of making it a permanent highway and part of the King’s Highway System. During that time it had formed a part of the County system with the result that little permanent work has been done thereon aside from that which Mr. Finlayson was able to induce the government to undertake from time to time. This has resulted in two sections, at last, being paved, viz., at Victoria Harbor and Coldwater. By persistent efforts the Minister has been able to persuade the Government to assume charge of the centre thirty miles and the road will be converted into a modern paved highway serving not only a large territory as a trunk road but connecting up two other main highways which converge at Orillia, one being part of the trans-Canada highway or a link thereof. The road from here to Orillia has followed what was known as the “Iroquois Trail” a picturesque route probably from a romantic standpoint, winding here and there in a dizzy maze of turns, uphill and down dale, but utterly unsuited to the requirements of today when motor cars are hitting twenty-five to fifty miles per hour.
  • The new boat for the Owen Sound Transportation Co. that has been under reconstruction at the yards of the Georgian Bay Shipbuilding Co. for the past couple of months left here for her home port, Owen Sound on Monday afternoon and reached that city after a most successful trip. The vessel was manoeuvred about the bay here for some time in order to thoroughly try out the new engine before striking out for open water. Everything was found to work fine and the trip was made in remarkably good time. Upon arrival at Owen Sound, she was met by a welcome from the whistles of all the craft in the harbour and a large gathering of people lined the docks. The boat, formerly the “John B. Elliott” has been re-named the “Normac” in honour of the skipper, Mr. Norman Mackay, who took the vessel over. Mayor Roebuck and a few members of the Council enjoyed the trial trip and after the vessel had safely landed at Owen Sound, motored back to Midland.
  • The first big picnic of the season will be here on Saturday next when the CNR car and shop men from Toronto, Mimico and Leaside along with their families will spend the afternoon at Little Lake Park. It is expected that about 2,500 will be here arriving at about 11 o’clock in the morning by two special trains. During the afternoon an extended list of games will be indulged in, including, it is expected, a softball game. The visitors will leave for home again at about seven o’clock in the evening.
  • Overseer McGregor released another large trap net in Georgian Bay at Sturgeon Point, opposite Victoria Harbor, last Sunday. It was first located by a troller being used by Mr. Karns, a summer visitor from London while fishing the day before. When seized the net was full of fish, which Overseer McGregor released. This makes the 16th trap net taken out of that part of the bay by Mr. Mcregor, who says these nets are one of the worst infractions of the Game and Fisheries Act.
  • All cars making a left hand turn off any road must signal with the left hand, holding the same in a horizontal position. Cars turning to the right off any road, the driver will signal with a wave of the left hand to traffic at the rear. Slow driving on the highway is prohibited. All drivers must keep up traffic at a speed not more than 35 miles per hour on highways. The department has given instructions to all traffic officers that these amendments to the Highway Traffic Act are to be strictly enforced.

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