Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – October 23rd to 31st, 1959

The photos found in this blog post are the property of Huronia Museum, Midland, Ontario. Any reproduction for commercial use without permission is prohibited.  Any other distribution must credit Huronia Museum.  Please contact the museum with any questions you may have. 

Click on photos to enlarge.The former skipper of the St Heliers, Capt. J. C. Patchell, who retired two years ago, left, chats with Capt. Basil Dube of Parry Sound in the chart-room of the new Alexander Henry, combined ice-breaker and buoy tender. The Department of Transport ship visited Midland last Wednesday. 

F. K. McKean, left, district agent, Department of Transport, looks on as Neville Keefe, general manager of the Georgian Bay Development Association, right, presents a barometer to Capt. Basil Dube of the Alexander Henry, new ice-breaker and buoy tender. The barometer will hang in the officers’ lounge.  (There was a battle going on at the time to ensure that the “Henry” spent the winter in Georgian Bay not Thunder Bay as had been rumoured. Perhaps the barometer was part of the wooing.)

Our “Red Lady of the Lakes” in Midland, late January of 1960. Note the Christmas tree on top and the fully-loaded CSL freighter at the Town House.

This was the condition of the home of Constant Desroches, Lafontaine, when Penetang Fire Brigade arrived Friday, Oct, 16. Along with Thunder Bay brigade, they concentrated on saving adjoining buildings. Farmers and spectators came from miles around and could only stand by watching as flames consumed the home. A large portion of the furnishings were removed from the house before the heat became too intense. Only a few feet separated Lafontaine Telephone exchange building from the burning home, Penetang and Thunder Bay firemen played hoses on homes on the far side of the burning building to keep the fire from spreading. 

English classes for new Canadians, sponsored by Midland-Penetang District High School Board with the assistance of the Department of Education, are held weekly in Midland YMCA. Here Mrs. J. W. Smith, one of two instructors, explains a point to three students, Mrs. Karl Lehr, Mrs. H. Hildebrand and Mrs. Werner Moos, who attend the lectures. Canadian newcomers and their children also make use of other facilities at the ‘Y’, which this week is conducting its annual fundraising campaign. 

Little league hockey got underway again in Midland Saturday morning, with nearly 400 boys raring for action. Grant Forsyth doles out sweaters and goalies’ equipment to waiting lads. 

Little league hockey got underway again in Midland Saturday morning, with nearly 400 boys signed up. Start of a junior “B” game, finds, left to right, Willard Cadeau, Tigers, referees Mike Duval and Mike Robitaille, and Beehives’ Steve Burton all set for the first face-off of the season. 

Nearly 200 veterans of World War I, all members of the 157th and 177th Battalions of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, checked into Midland Armory Saturday night for their first reunion in 40 years. Handing out identification tags were Bill Bradley of Barrie (with hat) and George Parr of Midland. Two men at the right are Charlie Scott and Joe Martin of Penetang. 

When the call went out for men to join the 157th and 177th Battalions of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters back in 1915, Penetang was quick to fill its quota. Among the men who “signed up” then and who were present for the reunion at Midland Armory Saturday night were, left to right, Bob Beaulieu, Henry Hamelin, Ed Patenaude, Wilfred K. Smith, Jim Dubeau and “Hec” Adams. 

Not vote gathering, but meeting old army buddies of 40 years ago, Hon. Leslie Frost is seen with Wesley Bolton, Tottenham, Jack Baker, Alliston, and another unidentified man as he attended the 157th and 177th Battalion reunion in Midland Saturday. Premier Frost was all for having the event made an annual affair. 

“We should pledge ourselves to meet every year until our gallant army melts away into the mists of time,” Mr. Frost told the vets who assembled to eat turkey and relive old times. Members of the Ladies Auxiliary of Branch 80, Canadian Legion, who catered for the event, said there were only three empty chairs at the big tables which filled the south end of the drill hall. Premier Leslie Frost, a veteran himself, one of the 200 veterans of World War I that got together Saturday night, thanks the cooks for the meal. 

Some of the many Midland veterans who gathered for the reunion dinner of the 157th and 177th Battalions of World War I at the armoury Saturday night are seen above with Mayor Charles Stevenson. Left to right are, front row, Tom White, Mr. Stevenson, Doug Wilson, Harold Sallows (Coldwater), Norman Leclair, Charlie English; back row — Jim Lediard, Art Balwill, John Noquet, Charlie Paradis and George Shakell. 

Not many calves get the attention this pure-bred Jersey does from the pupils in “ag. science” at MPDHS. Property of Bob Rawson of the Vasey 4-H Calf Club, this one (and a mate inside the barn) are used to give the pupils an idea of the body structure of a cattle beast, its feeding and management, and for pointers in judging classes. Seen with Warren H. Jacklin, head of the agricultural science department, the pupils are, left to right, Louise Bellehumeur, Bonnie Cheetham, Wayne Hutchinson, Jim Ironside, Paul Scott, Bill Snider and Dave Magloughlin. 

“There’s nobody here but us chickens”, says Louise Bellehumeur, a pretty slick chick herself, as she holds one of the sixty birds in the pens at MPDHS. All laying hens of the “Fisher 303” variety, they are used to teach controlled feeding and provide individual tests for egg-laying as well as other special tests by pupils of the agricultural science class at MPDHS. 

If present plans materialize, shoppers using Midland’s King Street may soon be protected from the elements by a canopy over the sidewalk, like the one in the artist’s drawing above. It is part of a big program of changes under consideration by the Chamber of Commerce and town officials, including new, narrower sidewalks and subsequent wider parking spaces for vehicles. 

Midland Guides and Brownies receive tips from Midland florist Ed Fox as they prepare to plant 1,000 golden tulip bulbs near the cenotaph in Town Park. The bulbs are part of a Guide and Brownie project to mark the 50th anniversary of their movement. 

This was a comparatively dull moment around the skate tables as Midland Home and School Association held its annual skate and clothing exchange last Friday afternoon. Earlier in the afternoon, the scene looked more like the bargain basement at Macey’s as Midland mothers tried to find a pair of hockey skates that would fit ‘Johnny’, or a good pair of figure skates for ‘Mary’. About 100 articles were sold. 

In a few weeks, the new addition to the Midland plant of Bausch and Lomb Optical Co. Ltd. will be ready for operation, according to Larry Curran, manager. This is an overall view of the old and new plants. 

 Workmen are tidying up the front of the new addition, which blends with the front of the first plant, erected about ten years ago. 

Every day sees more progress on Midland’s new Scott Street in the Wireless Hill subdivision. Workmen guide the spout of a ready-mix concrete truck as they pour new curbing on the south side of the street. One new and two unfinished homes are visible in the background. 

The new B. Greening Wire Co. plant is rapidly nearing completion. This photo gives an idea of the massive size of the new industry, located on industrial property in Midland’s southeastern outskirts, just off Highway 12.

Now in semi-retirement C.G.S. St. Heliers and crew have spent several days this week removing the floating docks in Midland harbour. Here one of the dock sections, towed to the ship by the two men in the barge, is hoisted out of the water. It was swung over to the main dock at the right and piled on top of others. Two sections seen at lower left are to remain in the water all winter. 

Chief George Wainman and Alderman James Mackie, chairman of Midland council police committee, commended pupils, teachers and the home and school association safety project Monday night. Here they cast an approving eye over some of the winning posters. 

  • County Herald headline of October 23rd, 1959; Plan Sweeping Changes for Town Business Area. If present plans under consideration by Midland council and the chamber of commerce materialize, the town’s main street will undergo a tremendous transformation within the next year or two. Net results would be to make King Street one of the most unique and outstanding main streets of any Canadian town or city, it was disclosed at a meeting of the merchants’ committee of the chamber Tuesday night. Under consideration by the chamber is the installation of a covered sidewalk, probably of plastic material, on both sides of King Street, from Elizabeth to Bay. This, of course, will require the co-operation of all property owners concerned in the two blocks. At the same time, town officials present said the council is considering the removal of two feet from the sidewalk width on each side of King Street. This, in effect, would widen the travelled portion of King Street by four feet and permit the continuance of angle parking.
  • Midland Free Press headline of October 28th, 1959; Report of Rail Closing Unfounded, Says Agent. Frank E. Whiteman, Canadian National Railways agent at Midland, said consideration is being given to closing a portion of the Midland subdivision of the CNR; but it is not the part of the subdivision between Midland and Orillia. Whiteman said it is the section of the line between Atherley and Lorneville that is now under question. In Midland at present, the CNR employs more than seventy men.
  • County Herald headline of October 30th, 1959; Assessment in Midland up $156,613 for 1960. Midland assessor Ian McLung revealed yesterday that the town’s total taxable assessment for 1960 is $165,613 more than the 1959 figure. Mr. McLung said that, as of Sept. 28 this year, the total taxable assessment amounts to $7,586,995. Included in this figure are the October and November additions to the tax roll for 1959 and assessments for 1960. He explained that in addition there is $45,510 in assessment on which school tax only is paid. This represents the fixed assessment granted Ernst Leitz Canada Limited, which expires in December 1962. Mr. McLung also revealed that the population of Midland had increased. As of Sept. 28 there were 8,402 people in the municipality compared with 8,356 in 1958.
  • Improved lighting for the main highway entrances to Midland came a step closer Tuesday evening when Midland Public Utilities Commission authorized the purchase of 67 mercury vapour lamps complete with ballast, lamp and bracket at a cost of approximately $7,800. The new lamps, which will give approximately five times the amount of light of the present fixtures, are to be placed on King Street south from Yonge Street to the town limits; from King and Yonge Streets west on Yonge to the town limits, and from Bay and King Streets west on Bay and north on Fourth Street to the town limits.
  • Penetang Police Chief  Jack Arbour admits he experienced no difficulty when called to discover the whereabouts of six cartons of popcorn, missing from a freight car at Penetang. The sealed car had been broken into sometime Sunday as it sat on a siding. Chief Arbour said it was quite a simple matter to follow the trail of popcorn from the boxcar to the home of six children where a number of empty boxes were noted lying outside the door. The six children, aged from 6 to 15 years of age, were all members of one family and will appear in juvenile court on charges being laid by the railway.
  • BIRTHS – BAZINET  – Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Bazinet, 53 Chatham St. Penetang, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Midland, Sunday, Oct 18, 1959, a daughter, stillborn. BRASHER — To Dr. and Mrs. Peter Brasher 279 Sixth St. Midland at St. Andrews Hospital, Friday, Oct 23, 1959, a daughter. BREMNER— To Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Bremner 306 Second St. Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Tuesday, Oct 20, 1959, a daughter. COPECOG— To Mr. and Mrs. Willis Copecog, Christian Island, at St Andrews Hospital, Midland, Sunday, Oct 25, 1959, a son. CRUISE — To Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Cruise, 255 Charles St., Midland, at St Andrew’s Hospital, Tuesday, Oct 20, 1959, a son. DENIS — To Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Denis, Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Midland, Saturday, a daughter. DONALDSON — To Mr. and Mrs. Norman Donaldson, Manley St. Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Tuesday, October 20, 1959, a daughter (Happy Birthday Victoria). EDWARDS—To Mr. and Mrs. Verne Edwards, 107 Elizabeth St., Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital, Friday, October 23, a daughter. FAGAN — To Mr. and Mrs. John Fagan, Midland, at St. Andrew’s Hospital,  Sunday, Oct. 18, 1959, a son, the baby died. GILBANKS—To Mr. and Mrs. John Gilbanks, 268 William St. Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Sunday, Oct 18. 1959, a son. HENDERSON — To Mr. and Mrs. William Henderson. Ninth St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Sunday, October 25, 1959, a daughter.
  • TEN YEARS AGO THIS WEEK – Midland Chamber of Commerce announced it would make a full-scale industrial survey of the Midland district. The survey was to include a study of employment prospects in each local factory, preparation of a list of available industrial premises for rent or purchase, and a list of possible industrial prospects. * * * The St. Heliers, in command of Capt. J. C. Patchell made a mercy trip to Hope Island with Dr. T. J. Johnston on board. The trip was in response to a distress call that the radio operator at the light station was in severe pain. The radio operator was returned to Midland and St. Andrews Hospital, where he was operated on that same day. * * * Members of Penetang Lions Club announced they planned to organize a band for boys 12 to 18 years of age. The club had asked Penetang council to assist the project financially. * * * The CSL tug Bayport got into difficulties while towing a 90-foot scow from Midland to Wiarton. High seas in the bay off Meaford snapped the tow line three times and several times the scow nearly rammed the tug. The third time the line broke; the scow drifted away and finally ran aground on the shore seven miles west of Meaford. * * * Norman Marchand, Penetang R.R. 3, was awarded the V. G. Edwards trophy as champion potato grower of the Lafontaine senior field crop competition for 1949. * * * A hen owned by a Medonte farmer had hatched a brood of seven chicks in a thicket at the edge of one of his fields. The day the chicks were born was one of the coldest of the fall. * * * Dominion Stores Ltd. had officially opened a new supermarket in Penetanguishene. The shopping area had 2,624 square feet.
  • JAMES PLAYFAIR – A 12-dollar-a-month lumber company employee became head of a lake shipping company. By W. R Williams                      James Playfair was born in Scotland and arrived in Toronto as a boy with his parents. In 1880, at 19, he became a 12-dollar-a-month employee of the Toronto Lumber Co., which had large timber limits in Simcoe County and mills at Collingwood. He began living in Midland in 1883, and in 1888 formed a partnership with his friend, D. L.  White Jr.  Lumbering contracts were the first activity of this partnership, but Mr. Playfair branched out in 1896 by entering the grain trade between Port Arthur and the lower lakes. He bought an 11-year-old wooden freighter, rebuilt and renamed her St. Andrew in honour of the patron saint of his native Scotland. Four years later she became a total loss on Lake Superior.   In 1901 Playfair and White incorporated the Midland Navigation Co., which had the steel canaller Midland Queen built in 1901 at Dundee, Scotland. They had the 366-foot Midland King built at Collingwood in 1903 and the 486-foot Midland Prince built there also, in 1907. With the operational profits from this company, Mr. Playfair in 1912 began buying old American steamers and formed his Great Lakes Transportation Co. The 324-foot Alva (ex Minetonka) which had been built in 1893, was his initial acquisition. She was given a new paint job and renamed Glenfinnan. Operational profits, as before, were used to buy an additional vessel, and so on, each one being given a new name with the prefix ’Glen’. All of them had their hulls repainted light blue-grey with white cabins and rose-red stack with a black top.    A shortage of saltwater shipping existed after World War I and in 1918 Playfair and White established the Midland Shipyard along with D. S. Pratt and W. J. Sheppard. It launched the following four steel steamers to fill government orders: War Fiend, Oct 24, 1918; War Level, May 1, 1919; War Fury, Oct. 16, 1919; Canadian Logger, June 8, 1921. With Midland Shipyard in successful operation, Mr. Playfair decided to build steamers there for his Great Lakes Transportation Co. fleet, instead of buying old American vessels. The following steamers were accordingly launched. Glenclova, Nov. 27, 1920: Glenelg, May 12, 1923; Gleniffer, Nov. 18, 1924: Gleneagles, August 26, 1925: A. M. German (tug), Nov. 4, 1925: Lemoyne, June 23, 1926; T. J. Scott (scow), July 19, 1927; City of Montreal, January 12, 1927.   (There appear to be some vessels missing from this list.) In 1925, Mr. Playfair organized a new company, the Great Lakes Navigation Co., which included all vessels purchased, as well as those built by Midland Shipyard. In 1926 he sold all his vessels to Canada Steamship Lines Limited. All told he had 38. There were nine canallers in Glen Line Ltd., six in Glen Steamship Ltd., and the remainder had been in Great Lakes Transportation Co. Ltd. They were sold with the understanding that one of them, the 582-foot Gleneagles should retain her christened name. For 34 years of busy and trouble-free service her name in vessel passage lists has reminded us of “The Playfair Fleet” and the days when Midland was very busy with grain and coal cargoes.
  • An extension will be added to the Bell Telephone Company’s building at Hugel and Midland Avenues this winter to provide additional space, for equipment needed to expand and improve telephone service here.
  • Two years after their last expansion. Penetang Bottling Co.’s Main Street plant again started bulging at the seams, and another addition has been started. Under construction at the southeast corner of the existing plant, the new structure will be 60 by 32 feet, and the same height as the last section built. It will be used for storage purposes. Mrs. Helen Booth, the proprietor, said the new section will leave for other use, a similar space in the old lower part of the plant. The vacated space will be partitioned off and used as a paint shop for advertising services, she said.
  • In 1957, the most recent year of record, there were 4,076,465 Canadians who paid personal income tax and the average taxable income was $3,834.
  • Although some hunters may be a bit unhappy about it, Tay council’s decision to prohibit the use of firearms in built-up areas in the township, north, west and southwest of Midland’s town limits, is a wise one. The district west of the corporation, especially, and the Sunnyside area have long since past the ‘wilderness’ stage.

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