Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – January 1st to 8th, 1960

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.  

This five-pound, twelve-ounce young miss, Kelly Ann Asselin, was the first new arrival at St. Andrews Hospital New Year’s Day. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jules Asselin, now residing in Owen Sound.   (Original scan of article below)  



Department of Transport ice-breaker Vercheres will be stationed at Midland for the winter, to enable lake shipping wintering in this area to get an early start when navigation opens again in the spring. Department officials say the Vercheres is being used on an experimental basis. Railway tank cars on the dock are likely for refuelling the government boats. (From museum friend Chris Dunn; “You can see the CP Edwards in the background. The experiment showed the Vercheres was underpowered for Georgian Bay ice and in 1963 she was sold for other purposes and scrapped in 1967.”) 

Although the camera doesn’t lie, sometimes it can be a trifle misleading. In this picture, for instance, the tug David Richard seems to be towing the giant CSL freighter Nipigon Bay. Actually, both boats are tied up at the Midland Shipyard dock. The Nipigon is one of six giant bulk carriers wintering in Midland this year. 

Long prominent in farm and church circles in this area, Mr. and Mrs. James Darby celebrated their golden wedding anniversary at the home of their son, Morris Darby, at Waverley, Dec. 29th. Both husband and wife have spent all their lives within a few miles radius of Waverley. Mr. Darby was one of the founders of the Junior Farmer movement in North Simcoe.

   James Darby was one of a family of seven born and raised on a farm on Con. 2, Tay. Mr. Darby has two sisters still living, Mrs. Tom Reynolds of Waverley and Mrs. Rena Murray, Midland. He also has one brother, Dick, a merchant in far-off Honolulu. The two brothers haven’t seen each other for just one year short of a half-century. Jim was only 11 years old when his parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Darby, moved from Con. 2 to Lot 87, Con. 1, Tiny, high atop the big hill just north of Waverley. For 56 years Mr. Darby lived on the old homestead before setting up a new, smaller home of his own at lot 82, Con. 1, Tiny, some eight years ago.    The new, smaller home cost much more to build than the old homestead. Built in 1903, the huge old home is still “sound as a dollar”. Jim helped his father build the home, which cost an astounding (by present-day prices) $2,400. “First class carpenters were glad to work for $1 per day and their meals in those days,” Mr. Darby recalled. Mr. Darby operated the homestead for 42 years himself before turning its operation over to his son, Morris.     The former Lilly May Sproule, Mrs. Darby, Sr., was born on Con. 1, Tiny only two lots removed from her present home. Her father, the late John Sproule, was twice married and there were six children in each family. Mrs. Darby has four sisters still living, one of whom, Mrs. Harold Johnston, lives close by her present home. The others are Mrs. Charles Lumree of Victoria Harbour, Mrs. Vera Montgomery, Kingston, and Mrs. Lila Odonohue, Toronto. The fact both husband and wife still enjoy good health may be traced to their childhood. Long before the days of the school bus, both had to walk healthy distances to and from school. Mrs. Darby tramped at least six miles daily to learn her three R’s at Waverley. As best they can recall; Jim Darby and Lilly Sproule first began to take notice of each other during revival meetings held in Waverley. Jim began “walking her home” the three miles after the meetings. Then there were the three miles, and more, he had to walk back alone to his own home. The walking came to an end Dec. 29, 1909, when Jim and Lilly were married at the Anglican rectory in Elmvale. 

Former residents of Midland, Mr. and Mrs. John Miller marked their 50th wedding anniversary at Waverley Dec. 29. Now living with their daughter Mrs. Frank Stacey, John Miller and the former Ruth Haughton were married in the old Methodist parsonage at Penetang Dec. 29, 1909. Both had been born on farms in the Wyevale area. Following their marriage, Mr. Miller worked as a stonemason in and around Midland until 1930. They then moved onto a small farm on Highway 12, just east of Midland, where they remained until 1956. They have been living with their daughter since that time. 

Newcomer Donald Eplett, extreme left back row, led the poll in voting at Victoria Harbour Monday. Others, left to right, are Theo Bernard (defeated), Wilfred Savage (elected), Mrs. Florence Belcher (nominated for reeve but withdrew), Oliver Savage (elected). Front row, village clerk James Heels, Reeve Ernest Cadeau, (acclaimed), and Cecil Walker (elected). 

Local youngsters are most fortunate, in having wonderful facilities for winter sports right in Midland, at Little Lake Park. In this picture, Denis Abbott has rigged up his own ski jump, using one of the stone stairs as a “landing field”. Denis got 23 feet on this leap. In picture 6197, a Midland mother has just launched her small daughter on a “flying saucer” trip down one of the hills. Brother needed no help on his toboggan. There was also ice skating on the nearby lake for other kiddies. 

This dynamometer, being checked by Mike Fox, is designed to test the strength of cable being prepared in the new B. Greening Wire Company plant in Midland, for use on bridges in the Welland Canal area. The stress of 45,000 pounds, twice the working load, must be maintained for one hour. 

Employees of the Free Press Herald had an unobstructed if a somewhat chilly view of the stores across King Street when workmen removed most of the front wall last week. This was necessary in order to get many of the large presses out of the building into the commercial printing plant on Hugel Avenue. Replaced the next day, the large plate glass window eventually cracked under the strain. 

Operation shift was in full swing at Midland Printers Limited when this photo was taken last week. Here workmen steady the Gordon press as it is winched up skids onto the truck to be moved to the new commercial printing division quarters on Hugel Ave E. Most of the heavy equipment was moved in one day. 


Midland Free Press headline of January 6, 1960; INQUEST JURY ADVOCATES FLASHER LIGHT AT TUNNEL.    A coroner’s jury assembled in Midland Monday recommended flasher lights be installed at both ends of the CPR tunnel on Highway 12, 1.1 miles west of Victoria Harbour, where two young people met death in a motor accident Oct. 24. At the inquest into the death of Karen Gaidies, 16, of Victoria Harbour, the jury also recommended that “reduce speed” sign be properly spaced on both approaches to the tunnel. Earlier in the afternoon, another coroner’s Jury which also met in Midland’s municipal building enquired into the Nov. 25 death of Alfred Edward Spence, 66. Mr. Spence was killed when the tractor he was using to haul a load of wood on a farm trailer jackknifed and fell on top of him. Out only 15 minutes, the jury returned a verdict of accidental death for Mr. Spence, resulting from an accident caused by slippery road conditions. Dr. D. C. Swan, Midland, acted as coroner for the inquest into the death of the young German-born Victoria Harbour girl. Wm. A. McArthur was chosen foreman of an all-Midland jury which included John Jory, Harold Boyd, Albert Taylor and Lawrence Dumais. [Ironic and sad that John and Helen Jory’s own daughter would be killed in a similar accident at the tunnel.] 

County Herald headline of January 8th, 1960; REPORT 9.3 PERCENT CUT IN AREA UNEMPLOYEDDistrict unemployment, as of Dec. 31, 1959, is down 9.3 per cent compared with the situation on the same date a year ago. This was revealed Wednesday in figures released by Harold Humphries, manager of the National Employment Service office in Midland. He said the figures show that at least in this district we are not too badly off. The only factor that Mr. Humphries could suggest which contributed to the drop was “district Industries are employing more than they were a year ago.” Noting that there were approximately the same number of sailors and seasonal workers unemployed this year as last, Mr. Humphries said the number drawing unemployment insurance as of Dec. 31, 1959, was down 160 from the same date in 1958. The figure at the end of ’59 was 1,436 compared with 1,596 the previous year. These two figures include both men and women, he said. 

  • Nineteen fifty-nine saw an increase in sales for most Midland retailers, according to a survey made this week. Albert Hartman of Hartman’s attributed the increase to “more business, more money and a good summer.” Mrs. James Offord, the owner of the Beverly-Ann Shoppe, agrees. “Sales are definitely up,” she said. “There are more people and industry in Midland.” Edwards has had “quite a good year, and a very good Christmas,” according to V. G. Edwards. Why the increase? “Pushing, merchandising and salesmanship,” Mr. Edwards replied, ”and advertising has also had a bearing on the increase.” Paul Noack, co-owner with Lionel Hanmer of Argue’s Meats, has had the store only since August. “But from records available, there has been a definite increase,” he said. He thinks the upswing can be attributed to more advertising, better merchandising and a wider variety of merchandise. Simpson-Sears has also, probably had a good year according to Miss Smith, office manager. “There have been more cash sales than in previous years,” she added. Mrs. John Deakos, the owner of the Eleithia Shoppe, said, “Sales are up, but I don’t know by how much yet.” Walker’s too has had an increase in sales. And the manager, Lorne Craig, is “looking for another good year.” He attributes the increase to the favourable employment picture and an exceptionally good tourist season in July and August. Jim Wright of Del Hastings also puts the firms good year down to the tourist boom, although because of the heat, summer goods almost exclusively were sold. “Christmas sales were steady, not rushed,” he said.
  • Nobody was locked up over New Year’s and in fact, we have made only one arrest of a common drunk since before New Year’s Eve,” said Midland’s Police Chief George Wainman yesterday. “It was a very quiet holiday season for our department outside of a few minor accidents which were the result of icy road conditions rather than poor driving habits,” added Chief Wainman.
  • BIRTHS – BLACKHURST — To Mr. and Mrs. Miles Blackhurst, 102 Colborne St., Midland at St. Andrews Hospital, Wednesday, December 23, 1959, a daughter. CAMPBELL — To Mr. and Mrs. Frank Campbell, Toronto, at St. Michael’s Hospital, Jan. 1, twin sons. CONTOIS — To Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Contois, Queen’s Hotel, Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Saturday, December 26, 1959, a daughter. Baby died December 28th. HERRON — To Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Herron, 195 Yonge St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Friday, December 25, 1959, a daughter. LINDEMANN — To Mr. and Mrs. Victor Lindemann, R.R. 1, Waubaushene, at St. Andrews Hospital Midland, Wednesday, December 29, 1959, a daughter. NICHOLLS — To Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Nicholls, Cornell Dr., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Wednesday, December 23, 1959, a son. PELLETIER — To Mr. and Mrs. John Pelletier, Port McNicoll, at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Thursday, December 24, 1959, a son. THOMPSON — To Mr. and Mrs. Bill Thompson, 286 Seventh St., Midland, at Queensway General Hospital, Toronto, Saturday, December 26, 1959, a son. WILSON — To Mr. and Mrs. Ross Wilson, at the General Hospital, Terrace Bay, Ontario, Friday, December 25, 1959, a son. A brother for Debbie. ASSELIN — Tor Mr. and Mrs. Jules Asselin, 239 Ninth St. E., Owen Sound, at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Friday, January 1, 1960, a daughter. CALVERT — To Mr. and Mrs. Bert Calvert, at Humber Memorial Hospital, Weston, Ontario, Wednesday, January 6, 1960, a daughter, Cynthia Jean.  DORION — To Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Dorion, 39 Olive St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Saturday, January 2, 1960, a daughter. DORION — To Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Dorion, 12 Montreal St. Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Saturday, January 2, 1960, a son. HOOD — To Mr. and Mrs. James Hood, 215 Russell St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, “Thursday, January 4, 1960, a daughter. LAWSON — To Mr. and Mrs. Colin Lawson, R.R. 1, Penetang, at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Thursday, January 4, 1960, a daughter. LeFAIVE — To Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Lefaive, 295 Russell St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Wednesday, January 3, 1960 a son. NICHOLSON — To Mr. and Mrs. William Nicholson, Honey Harbour, at St. Andrews Hospital. Midland, Wednesday, December 30, 1959, a daughter.
  • TEN YEARS AGO THIS WEEK – Flowers were blooming in Midland gardens over the New Year’s holiday. Two weeks of mild weather and rain had pansies and crocuses blooming in flower beds at several homes. * * * National Employment Service officials in Midland indicated that as of Dec. 31, 1949, there were 917 men and 77 women out of work, or roughly five per cent of the population of the district. The figures were higher than those for the previous year. * * * Owing to a coal shortage, Canadian National Railways announced that trains between Penetanguishene and Allandale would run only three days each week. No cut in rail service to Midland was scheduled. * * * By a vote of 169 to 123, Coldwater taxpayers decided their library would become a public institution, supported by local tax funds and provincial funding. The plebiscite was held in connection with the municipal election. * * * Midland Postmaster Don Swinson revealed that Christmas mail handled at the Midland office during the pre-Yuletide rush was 15 per cent greater in 1949 than it was for the previous year. More than three-quarters of a million pieces of mail were handled. * * * At its first meeting of the new year, Penetang council updated and approved a curfew bylaw that had been on the books for some years. As a result, children under 16 years of age, unless accompanied by parents or guardians, had to be off the streets of Penetang by 9 p.m. each night. The bylaw had been passed originally on June 1, 1892.
  • Apparently sporting goods manufacturers have developed a new golf ball that has a tempered spring steel centre instead of the usual liquid core. Its makers claim increased distance and bounce can be obtained with the new ball, while hooking and slicing is reduced. It seems, “so far as duffers are concerned,” the U.S. missile testing hasn’t been entirely fruitless.
  • Best possible news so far as Midlanders are concerned, 20 men from this area are already at work in the new B. Greening Wire Company plant. The men, from Midland and surrounding villages, are helping to prepare 40,000 feet of wire for use on three bridges in the Welland area. All were trained in the new Midland plant, adjoining Highway 12 near Martyrs’ Shrine. First productive work ever carried out in the new Midland plant, the wire ropes (made in the parent Hamilton plant) are being cut to length, pre-stressed and socketed. Eventually, the entire operation, including the manufacture of such ropes, will be carried out in the new building.
  • Residents of Lafontaine were thankful that high winds, which had prevailed during the previous three days, had subsided when fire broke out Thursday in a work-shop back of Marchildon’s Store. While flames from the burning workshop and adjoining storage shed, fanned by a steady south breeze, threatened both the store building and adjoining school for a time, there was no damage other than smoke to, these nearby buildings.
  • Trans-Canada Air Lines will be completely converted to turbine jet aircraft by June of this year, TCA travelling sales representative Jack Finley told Midland Y’s Men’s Club Tuesday evening. The next step will come with the delivery of 10 DC-8’s, American built long-range aeroplanes with British Rolls Royce engines. They will carry 127 in complete comfort at cruising, speeds of 550 miles an hour, 35,000 feet high, he said. Each has washrooms, two kitchens, a hi-fi and a standup bar. They will take you from Toronto to Vancouver in four hours and 20 minutes or from Toronto London, England, in six hours and 50 minutes, the speaker stated. The cost is six million dollars each. [In sixty years the speed and times have not changed. Only the price.]
  • A Penetang link skipped by Mrs. Godfrey Trilsbeck proved the sensation of Midland Ladies Curling Club’s invitational bonspiel Wednesday. Introduced to the roaring game only two years ago, the Penetang gals won the 9 o’clock draw by scoring three wins and 22 points.” Other members of the rink were Mrs. Walter Spearn, Mrs. Orval Ambeau and Mrs. Len Carter.If Midland Flyers’ 6-4 win over Meaford Chevvies here Wednesday night in a Georgian Bay intermediate OHA group game is any indication, this could be a big year for playing coach Gerry Gerow’s charges. Flyers looked like the proverbial “million” in chalking up their first win after dropping all three starts in the still-young season. And Flyers had to be good in stopping the Chevvies, who rode into town still kicking their heels after a 6-1 win over the loop-leading Collingwood Shipbuilders the previous evening. Right in Collingwood, too. Stocked entirely with seasoned campaigners, the Meaford team required its foes of the evening to be right on their toes to cope with their crafty strategy. Flyers did just that, blanketing the visitors effectively with persistent forechecking and backchecking. In fact, the Flyers never looked back after firing the game’s opening salvo after only 1.52 of the first period. They led 3-2 and 4-3 by periods. Despite this top-notch, all-out team effort, two Flyers, centre Morley Spiker and goalie Bruce Hook stood out like sore thumbs. A whirling dervish all game, Spiker undoubtedly enjoyed one of his finest hours in a Midland uniform as he triggered five of the home team’s six’ goals. Plays engineered by first Jim Lemieux and then Dave Culbertson set Morley up for a pair of first-period counters. They followed Harvey Jackson’s quick opening tally for the home side. Spiker’s lone goal of the second stanza, matching one fired by the visitors, was first credited to line-mate Ike Nicholls. It was confirmed later that Ike hadn’t deflected Morley’s shot past goalie Elgin Cubitt. Spiker was right back on the beam with two more goals in the final period, with helping, hands from Lemieux and Nicholls. [There is no byline on this article but the prose would indicate Charlie Noquet, he made the reading of the sports news enjoyable in itself.]

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