Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – February 7th to 14th, 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.  

Click on photos to enlarge If I live to be 150 years old I’ll never be that lucky again,” said Wilson French, 149 Fifth Street, Midland, after he walked away from a crash with three CNR diesel engines on Saturday afternoon, which practically demolished his car. Unable, because of snow and ice, to get up the hill at the end of Yonge Street East, Mr. French was backing his car down to put on chains when he heard the train whistle and at almost the same instant felt the train hit the right rear of his car, spin it around and drag it along the track and off into the snow. Mr. French reported only leg bruises, but his car did not fare so well. 

Founded back in 1880, Midland Boat Works recently acquired new owners in John MacRae and Ken Thistle of Toronto. Mr. MacRae (seated) is seen going over plans for future improvements with, left to right, Len Cowdrey, superintendent, Mr. Thistle, and Ross Kennedy, a friend. 

No wonder skiing is so popular when there’s “Scenery” like this around to ease the aches and pains suffered on the hills. Enjoying near perfect conditions at Midland Ski Club Jan. 31 were left to right, Pat Woods, Dorothy Shaw and Shirley Wallace, all of Midland; Jill Hodgins and Jean Campbell, Toronto; and Jan Harvey, Victoria Harbour. Jan didn’t have a name for her pups as yet. 

While there are many fine homes in the new Ingram sub-division just west of Midland, this one is just a bit different from the rest. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ed Walker, it’s all-electric, including heating. The Walker home is located on the bend at the south end of Norene Street. 

“Queen of Hearts” at Midland-Penetang District High School for the coming year is Jill Phipps, a special commercial student who may switch to nursing for a career. Jill was the choice of a large audience at Midland’s Roxy Theatre last night. 

Blood flowed freely in Midland and Penetang this week as citizens turned out to donate to the Red Cross Blood Donors Clinic. Here an unidentified woman is kept under close watch by a Red Cross nurse at the clinic. 

Despite the fact they got a frigid reception when they gathered at the Victoria Harbour United Church Tuesday (the furnace went on the hummer), these ladies didn’t let this mar their enjoyment of the occasion. Members of the Woman’s Auxillary, they were helping to mark the 60th anniversary of that organization at the Harbour. Six past presidents were able to attend the afternoon tea. 

Diamond Jubilee of Victoria Harbour Woman’s Auxiliary brought these six past presidents and the current holder of that office, Mrs. W. B. Reid, together for a celebration tea at the United Church Tuesday; Left to right are Mrs. Gordon Gervais, Mrs. Jas. Sykes, Mrs. Clarence MacKenzie, Mrs. Reid, Mrs. J. Todd, Mrs. J. P. Schissler, and Mrs. William Dunlop. 

These men have been enshrined in hockey’s “Hall of Fame”, either for their abilities on the ice or in executive fields, such as Midland’s George S. Dudley. Left to right they are, seated — Herb Gardiner, W. A. Hewitt, Hugh Lehmann, Art Ross, Cyclone Taylor, Dickie Boon, Claude Robinson, Moose Johnson, Paddy Moore; centre row — King Clancy, Wm. Northey, Frank Foyston, Mr. Dudley, Frank Fredrickson, Lester Patrick, Newsy Lalonde, Frank Nighbor, Joe Malone, Duke Keats, Dit Clapper, Eddie Shore, Conn Smythe; back row — Red Dutton, Lloyd Turner, Frank Goheen, Ching Johnston, Aurel Joliot, Frank Baucher, Al Pickard, Bill Cook, George Hay. 

Victoria Harbour citizens have started a fund for Mr. and Mrs. Marcel Desroches, who lost their home and all their belongings by fire early Monday evening. Neighbours had already found a doll for Timmy, 20 months, and a pair of cowboy guns for Grant, 5 years old, when this picture was taken Tuesday. Donations of money, furniture or clothing may be left at the Village office. 

This was all that was left of the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Marcel Desroches following a disastrous fire early Monday evening. Mr. Desroches was working at the village’s open-air skating rink behind the firehall when the siren sounded and drove the truck to his own fire. The house is located on Bay Street, several hundred feet from the nearest hydrant.

If you remember Romper Room, do you remember, “I see Bobby, I see Suzie  – –

“Rubber Plugs Hose, Fire Guts Harbour House”
The Free Press Herald headline of February 10, 1960. A fund has been started at Victoria Harbour for a young couple and their two small children who lost their home and “everything they owned” in a disastrous fire early Monday evening. Mr. and Mrs. Marcel Desroches, whose home on Bay Street was gutted to the bare walls, are presently staying with Mrs. Desroches’ mother, Mrs. John Bernard, on Maple Street. With them are their two sons Grant, 5, and Timothy, 20 months. Loss of their home was the second tragedy that has struck the Desroches family in recent months? Two years ago next week they lost their son, Jimmy, then 2 ½ years. An employee of the bridge and building department of the CPR at Port McNicoll, Mr. Desroches had been laid off some time ago because of seasonal conditions. He is employed by the village, managing the open-air rink, just behind the fire hall. Mr. Desroches was at the rink Monday night around 6.30 p.m. when the fire siren sounded. He ran to the fire hall and drove the truck (a 1919 model) to the street. “Where’s the fire?” Mr. Desroches asked as the firemen quickly assembled. “At your place,” he was told. Arriving at the scene, Mr. Desroches said the fire didn’t seem to be too bad, at least from the outside. When he entered the house to save his TV set and other furniture, he found the building so full of smoke he was unable to enter. Things rapidly went from bad to worse at the scene of the fire, located nearly three blocks from the nearest hydrant. When Harbour firemen attempted to use the supply in their 500-gallon tank, no water came out of the small, high-pressure hose and the motor kept stalling. They were forced to stand by helplessly until the Port McNicoll brigade arrived to help. By this time the fire had already made great headway in the two-storey frame building. “We went back to the fire hall,” “Sib” Brodeur, assistant fire chief, told this paper, “where we found that a piece of loose rubber was plugging the nozzle of the high-pressure hose. When this was removed everything worked perfectly”. 

“Simcoe County Council Plans Manor Addition” 
If approval of the Ontario Municipal Board is forthcoming, a start will be made this year on a 50-bed addition to Georgian Manor at Penetang. Meeting in Barrie Monday, Simcoe County Council approved a motion by Reeves Albert Deconkey of Matchedash and H. J. Beauchamp of Midland that the Home for the Aged Committee of council proceeds to seek the necessary approval. The project will likely be carried out in two stages starting with the erection of a new kitchen and dining room facilities and the tearing down of what was the old Penetang General Hospital. The latter is being used for kitchen and staff facilities at present. When the first part of the project is completed, work will get underway on the dormitory part of the project. This will not likely be before 1961. 
    Public affairs committee of Midland Chamber of Commerce believes it now has sufficient information as to costs, methods and available sites for construction to proceed on an aircraft landing field for this area this spring. This was revealed in the annual report of Hugh Blair, chairman of the chamber’s public affairs committee. At the request of a number of local industrialists and others who believed an aircraft landing strip would be a valuable asset to Midland, the public affairs committee made a preliminary survey of methods, costs and sites for such a field last year, Mr. Blair said. The committee feels it now has sufficient information available so the project may be proceeded with as soon as weather permits, if the 1960 chamber directors favour the move, he said.   
    In close co-operation with the mayor and council, the committee also had pressed for action on the installation of a traffic light at King and Yonge Streets, Mr. Blair revealed. 
    The most important project undertaken by the committee in 1959 however, was a study of costs and other factors involved in the proposed sewage disposal plant, which the Ontario Water Resources Commission indicated Midland would have to build. The committee was especially concerned about this more than one million dollar outlay as industrial, and commercial taxpayers in Midland would have to pay more than half this sum. As a result of information obtained by chamber secretary-manager R. B. Moffatt from the town’s consulting engineers, it was found that the preliminary estimate of $1,000,000 for the plant covered only the actual construction costs and did not include interest charges on the money borrowed nor maintenance and operating costs over the 20-year period of the loan. Mr. Blair’s report notes that the actual total outlay for this project over a 20-year period would be about $2,500,000 or more — a bill which Midland taxpayers would have to foot. 

   “The good old hockey game” COLDWATER — An East Simcoe Rural Hockey League game at Coldwater this week, in which Victoria Harbour defeated Coldwater 9 to 5, ended in a fight during the final minutes of the match. Only a few fans saw the rugged encounter. The climax of the fracas came when Coldwater player Art Insley’s stick was broken against the head of Allan Vallee of Victoria Harbour. Vallee was treated at the Coldwater medical clinic for what Dr. G. W. Hall termed a “nasty gash”. It required four stitches to close.  This appeared in the Friday paper; Aftermath of a Donnybrook during an East Simcoe Rural Hockey League game at Coldwater Feb. 1, a charge of assault is slated to be heard by Magistrate K. A. Cameron in Midland police court Monday. Arthur Insley, Coldwater, pleaded not guilty to a charge of assaulting Allan Vallee, a member of the Victoria Harbour team, in court last Monday. 

    25 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK – A Citizens’ Industrial Committee was organized to bring industries to Midland. Members were V. G. Edwards, George Ross, D. L. White, Jr., James Pinchin, Edwin Letherby, D. S. Pratt, David Hurrie, David Haig, and T. M. McCullough, (secretary pro tem). * * * A branch of the Junior Red Cross Society was organized in Midland, “following an enthusiastic meeting of Midland young ladies.” * * * Sinclair Lewis’ best-seller “Babbit”, in a motion picture version, was billed for the Capitol Theatre. Aline McMahon and Guy Kibbee had the leading roles. * * * A. J. B. Gray, the government supervisor, met with Penetang Council, to discuss among other things the problem of bringing new industries to town, “and a suggestion that this municipality and Midland work together to this end was favourably received.” * * * The leading editorial commenced: “There is cause for satisfaction in the announcement that two troops of Boy Scouts are due to be organized in Midland.” It concluded: “Bugles are still required for those boys who are practising regularly on borrowed instruments.” * * * A winter sports meet sponsored by the Penetang Kiwanis Club drew a large crowd to Payette Driving Park. Program comprised horse racing, dog races, and skiing events.

    Editorial – One of these days we are going to learn the true cost of pure water. So far in North Simcoe we have been lucky. At Tillsonburg, for example, they even have a separate municipal water system for their fire hydrant service. They believe, and rightly, that there is no need to fight fires with pure well or spring water. Over half our current water uses in Penetang, Midland, and the villages of this area do not require drinkable water either. 

    OBITUARIES – Death came unexpectedly to GILBERT QUESNELLE at his Perkinsfield home when he suffered a coronary thrombosis, Sunday morning, Jan. 31. Born in Perkinsfield, the 37-year-old man had lived there throughout his life. He had been employed as a (rail) car cleaner in Midland. A Roman Catholic, Gilbert Quesnelle married the former Albertine Lesperance in 1944 at Perkinsfield. Besides his wife he is survived by five children, Paul, John, Marc, Pauline and Dennis, all at home. Also surviving are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Quesnelle, Penetang; six brothers, Phil of Highland Point, Martial of Perkinsfield, Gildore of Rexdale and Donat, Gabriel and Richard all of Penetang. Funeral service was held Tuesday, Feb. 2, from the Beausoleil Funeral Home to St. Patrick’s Church, Perkinsfield, were Rev. A. J. Desaulniers officiated. Temporary interment was in St. Ann’s Mausoleum. Pallbearers were Doug Dubeau, Ken Tannahill, Gus Lacroix, Rene Lespérance, Remi Belcourt and Carl Cusson. Out-of-town relatives and friends attending the service came from Midland, Owen Sound, Rexdale, Toronto, Ottawa, Kitchener and Lafontaine.  –  A native of Lafontaine, SIMEON CHEVRETTE died in Toronto Wellesley Hospital Sunday, Jan. 31, following a heart seizure. He was in his 73rd year. Born in Lafontaine, Mr. Chevrette had lived in Penetang for 50 years. He had also spent six years in Collingwood, eight years in Barrie and had been living in Toronto since 1957. During his time in Penetang he had been employed as a moulder at P.  P Payette Co. He was a Roman Catholic in faith and a strong member of the Liberal party. In 1905 he married the former Caroline Legault in Blind River. She predeceased him in 1954. Surviving is one son, Arthur of Toronto, and four daughters, Mrs. Edna O’Hara, Ottawa; Mrs. Bertha Theakston and Mrs. Eva Law, Barrie; Mrs. Evelyn McCarthy, Toronto. There are 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Funeral service was held from the Beausoleil Funeral Home, Penetang, to St. Ann’s Memorial Church. Mass was sung by Father J. Kelly, assisted by Father J. Marchand and Father A. Louis Bourque.  Temporary entombment was in St. Ann’s Mausoleum. Pallbearers were Fred and Ernest Chevrette, Leonard and Charles Fournier, Philibert Charlebois and Francis Dumais. Out-of-town relatives and friends came from Ottawa, Toronto, Barrie, Midland and Lafontaine.  –  A resident of Midland for nearly 65 years, FREDERICK CHARLES BATTRICK of 312 Third Street, died at St. Andrews Hospital Feb. 4, after an illness of one month. He was in his 90th year. Funeral service was conducted at the A. Barrie and Sons funeral home by Rev. Wilson Morden of St. Paul’s United Church, of which Mr. Battrick was an honorary elder. Pallbearers were six nephews, Richard Gaunt, Alec Stott, Gordon MacLean, Watson Battrick, William Battrick, and Kenneth Battrick. Interment was in Lakeview Cemetery. Born in Cainsville, Ont., Nov. (date obscured) 1870, Mr. Battrick received his early education in Desoronto and Midland. In 1901 he married Annie MacDougall, who predeceased him in May 1955. He was closely associated with the early lumbering operations in Midland and vicinity, and at one time lived in Byng Inlet. He is survived by one daughter, Miss Marguerite Battrick, Midland; one son, Willard Battrick, Hamilton; two sisters, Mrs. S. S. Ropple and Miss Gertrude Battrick, both of Stratford, and one brother, Albert Battrick of Toronto. Out-of-town relatives and friends attending the funeral came from Stratford, Toronto and Hamilton. – RAYMOND CECIL BELCHER  Following an illness of a few months Raymond Cecil (Ray) Belcher, a well-known and esteemed citizen of this village, passed away in St. Andrews Hospital, Jan. 27, at the age of 67 years. The funeral took place from the Nicholls Funeral Home, Midland, on Jan. 30, with temporary entombment in Lakeview Chapel Vault, Midland. Rev. R. G. Nodwell conducted the service and the pallbearers were T. A. Armstrong, Ralph Dalton, E. Haughton, J. W. Wallace, Capt. Percy Beatty and Capt. Jas. Sykes. Out-of-town relatives and friends attending the funeral came from Toronto, Weston, Orillia and other points. Mr. Belcher, son of the late Mr. & Mrs. Robert Belcher was born in Victoria Harbour on Oct. 15, 1892, and lived his entire life in the village with the exception of the years spent overseas as a gunner in World War I. He attended public school and the United Church here and was a member of Victoria Lodge A.F. and A.M., and of Bayport Branch of the Canadian Legion at Port McNicoll. Surviving him are two brothers, Percy Belcher and Capt. Reginald Belcher, both of Victoria Harbour and two sisters, Lillian (Mrs. Albert Wilson) and Hazel (Mrs. Ray Smith) of Midland.  –  A citizen of Midland for 53 years, LOUIS DUNKLEMAN died in Sunnybrook Hospital, Toronto, Feb. 1. He was in his 78th year. Born in London, England, Sept. 4, 1882, and educated there Mr. Dunkelman came directly to Midland in 1907. In 1913 he married Elizabeth Oliver. Funeral service, Feb. 3, was from the A. Barrie Funeral Home and St. Mark’s Anglican Church Midland, with the Rev. L. J. Delaney officiating. Interment was in Lakeview Cemetery. It was a Legion funeral, at which C. L. Wiles acted as Sgt.-at-Arms and Ted Mitchell as the bugler. Pallbearers, members of Branch 80, Canadian Legion, were Alex Heron, Ed Fox, Charles Stewart, Leslie Henderson, Herbert A. Wiles, and Charles Hounsome, Wyebridge. An Anglican, Mr. Dunkelman was a veteran of the First World War, having enlisted in the 157th Battalion, and served in France with the 1st Battalion. He had been a member of the Canadian Legion, since its founding in, Midland, a keen gardener, a member of the Horticultural Society for many years, and for 30 years was caretaker at Sixth Street School. He is survived by his wife, the former Elizabeth Oliver; two daughters, Mrs. J. Hawkesworth (Rose), Unionville, and Mrs. Ken E. Trew (Blanche), Midland; a son, Lewis Dunkelman of Meaford; two grandchildren, Betty-Lou and Bobby Dunkelman; and a sister, Mrs. T. Westworth, Midland. 

M.P.D.H.S. Hi-Sterics
by ARDATH ZIMMER – The honour roll for the Christmas exams is now posted in each room. The top students of each grade are as follows: Grade 9: Pat Morrison, 91.8%; John Jensen, 89.8%; Ricky Mahon, 87.1%; Doug Mutch, 86.8%; and Larry Brennan, 86.7%. Grade 10: Paul Davidson, 86.0%; Jane Campbell, 85.1%; Bonnie Brisebois, 84.8%; Sharon Robillard, 83.5%; and Wilfred Gay, 83:3%. Grade 11: Margaret Edwards, 94.1%; Betty Jean Watkinson, 88.9%; Bev Anne Keefe, 86.4%; Mary Loney, 85.0%; and Maisie Mount, 83.6%. Grade 12: Lorna Brown, 87.1%; Earla McCuaig, 82.1%; Karen Blair, 81.2%; Pauline Robinson, 80.7%; and Tony Moffat, 80.6%. Special Commercial; Sue Quinlan, 89.0%; Barb Hill, 84.0%; and Jill Phipps, 82.0%. Grade 13: Cleon Carruthers, 79.1% and Brenda Mead, 79.3%. It is also worthy of note that the three honour roll students in Special Commercial also received 100 in a recent national spelling contest.
by ELLEN BARBER –  MPDHS students may no longer bemoan the lack of money for further education. A fund to be known as “LIFE”, Local-Industries-Fund-for-Education — has been set up by several district industries. In conjunction with the YMCA, Fern Shoe, Midland Footwear, Midland Plastics, Pillsbury of Canada and United Shoe Plastics Ltd., have made available more than $2,500 in the form of student loans and scholarships for MPDHS students. A reminder to all students hoping to win back their parents’ good grace: The February report cards will be out March 4, so a little extra study for the coming tests might be a good idea. – To improve dances at the high school and to provide the basis for future student councils who will have to deal with more than 1,000 students, the following dance rules have been adopted. It is felt these rules plus careful planning and organizing will make the dances livelier and students will have a better time.
1 – Permission to have the dance must be obtained at least two weeks in advance of the dance.
 2 – Dance committee must meet with the Principal, having a written report of the plans for the dance one week in advance of the event.
3 – Senior students will be responsible for all phases of the dance.
4 – All teachers and members of the board will receive an invitation
to a formal dance. (This has been done in the past.)
5 – Guests must come with the person sponsoring them, having a guest card showing name, name of sponsor and staff member. (These may be obtained from Mr. Powell.)
6 – Once a person has left the building, he may not re-enter.
7 – School rules must be adhered to at all times.
8 – There will be no admittance after 10:15 p.m.
9 – Dances will end at 11.45 sharp with the exception of formals.
10 – Dance committee is to be responsible for cleaning up and
removing decorations.
11 – Dress is to be school dress unless otherwise stated as in the case of a formal.
by KAREN BLAIR – The string ensemble will be playing Handel’s “Concerto Grosso No. 2″ in the Kiwanis Festival Monday night, Feb. 15, and will appear again at Eaton’s Auditorium Wednesday, Feb. 24, for their performance of the “Arundel Suite.” Tonight, Feb. 12, the Students Council is sponsoring a Valentine dance in honour of the Queen of Hearts. It will begin at 8:30 and the doors will close at 10:15. School dress is stipulated.
by SHARON ARMSTRONG – The Camera Club has purchased an enlarger. The thirty dollars required for this was borrowed from the Students’ Council. Anyone wishing to obtain a picture from the Year Book will be able to buy it from the club. A “Library Club” under the supervision of Miss McMullen has been formed. Approximately 10 students are learning how to manage a library. The members of the Drama Club are “hard at it,” working on the “Jewelled Hand” which will be their presentation at the drama festival coming up shortly.
by GERRY WITTIG – BASKETBALL – One win, the juvenile game, and two losses at Orillia closed out the basketball schedule for this year. MPDHS Juniors and Juveniles tied for second in their respective leagues and will enter a home and home playoff with the other teams. Dates of games have not yet been set. The Senior team played well at Orillia and deserved to win. Better luck next year.
YEARBOOK – Work on this year’s “Memoirs” is well underway. Photography is almost completed and features and stories are proceeding quite well. Editor Tony Moffat hopes to have the book ready for the printers by the end of March.  

    Pastor at large for the Baptist Home Mission Board for two years and minister at Calvary Baptist Church, Midland, for 10 years. Rev. J. H. Olmsted died at his Yonge Street East home early Thursday. The veteran Baptist minister succumbed to a heart attack. He is survived by a son, Charles of Strathroy, a daughter Margery (my piano teacher, that didn’t work but she paid me to cut her grass) at home a sister in Toronto and a grandson in Strathroy. 

    Recommendations for provision of more adequate propeller guards and prohibition of enclosed cockpits on Georgian Bay scoots was brought in by a coroner’s jury at an inquest in Penetang yesterday. The inquest was held to investigate the events which led to the Jan. 31 death of Frank Parks, Toronto. The jury returned a verdict of death by accident. Evidence discounted earlier stories that Parks was attempting to jump on to the scoot after it started moving.

2 thoughts on “Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – February 7th to 14th, 1960

  1. Does anyone have any information regarding a fire that took place in Victoria Harbour in the early 1950’s where a house being rented to Mr. & Mrs. Herman Ambeau and next door was a fish and chip shop I believe? Any info or photos would be most welcomed, I am the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ambeau.
    Thank you

    • Catherine, We only have Free Press negatives beginning in 1953, the fire took place in 1951. I found the newspaper copy of the fire event but of course, it is not very clear. I see your dad was a pallbearer in a couple of funerals also gave Marg Ambeau (Mrs. John Bourgeois) away at her marriage. Marg’s dad, Nelson Ambeau was deceased. I have sent you some information by e-mail. Regards, Tom, Huronia Museum Archives

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