Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – March 1st to 7th, 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 enlargeThe Midland Flyers open up a best-of-seven playoff series with Orillia intermediates this week and coach Vic Grigg’s Flyers’ will be looking forward to top efforts from these three forwards. Left to right they are Dave Cudbertson, Dalt Cruise and Harvey Jackson. Series gets underway here tonight and shifts to Bracebridge, where Orillia will play its home games, Saturday night. 

Old man winter Thursday night lashed out again at Ontario residents one week after he had whipped the province with the worst storm in 25 years. Here, a car is dwarfed by the snowbanks left along a countryside road after a rotary blower plow had cut its way through deep drifts. 

A new natural gas infrared heating unit has been installed in Midland arena, on approval of the Community Centre Board. The unit is suspended above a block of seats and warms them by a ray system. The board says if fans respond and support local hockey teams more of the same type will be installed for the comfort of spectators. 

(Missed this photo back in January.) Her bow etched with the silvery lines of ice and water she plowed through to get here, the ice-breaker Alexander Henry pulled into Midland dock last Thursday afternoon. She is now reported to be in Parry Sound but is expected to return to Midland.

Thick billows of smoke cast a pall over a large section of Midland this morning when fire completely gutted the 50 by 100-foot, three-storey brick building which housed the Peoples Store. Other nearby businesses, for a time, were seriously threatened by the leaping flames and intense heat. 

Thousands of gallons of water were poured on the flames and smouldering embers of Peoples Store by valiant firefighters of Midland and Penetang brigades. Rivers of water ran down King Street as the fireman fought to contain the blaze to one building. MORE PHOTOS NEXT WEEK 

Line-up of motorists behind this car blew their horns but it didn’t have much effect when this car blocked Midland’s King Street earlier this week. The car, on its own, backed out into the middle of the street from a parking space. A few minutes after this photo was taken the embarrassed driver arrived on the scene and moved it. 

Saturday was a big day for Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Brown of Sunnyside as they marked their 50th wedding anniversary. Long-time residents of Toronto, where Mr. Brown was a trainman with the CNR, the couple came to Midland in 1948.For you Mary Ann.

Request  Thorough Probe of Parking, Traffic Flow

Free Press Herald headline of March 2, 1960. “A thorough investigation of the municipal parking problem, traffic flow and one-way streets” was called for at a meeting of Midland council Monday night. These were put forward by Alderman Douglas Haig as urgent matters for Midland’s 1960 planning board to study. The planning board held its first meeting of the year last night.   “I am convinced personally that the only solution to our traffic problem is to make King Street, First Street and Midland Avenue one-way streets,” Mr. Haig told council. Mayor Charles Parker also expressed concern about parking problems, especially, if the rumored new federal building on First Street becomes a reality. Mr. Parker advocated amendments to the existing zoning bylaws providing for “set-backs” for all new buildings on main arteries, where such is not already provided. Mayor Parker included in this list First Street south from Elizabeth, Yonge Street, and King Street south from Yonge. “We should try to retain that wonderful boulevard of trees on King Street,” Mayor Parker suggested.  

Business  Block Gutted, Say Fire Loss $250,000

County Herald headline of March 4, 1960. Fire, discovered about 7:45 a.m. today swept through a King Street business block in Midland and at press time was believed to have caused a quarter of million dollars damage. The spectacular blaze, which completely gutted the People’s Store block, caused major smoke and water damage in Jory’s Drug Store, smoke and water damage to a lesser degree in H. J. Thompson and Sons, and in apartments above, the B-P Service Station, also attracted hundreds of spectators. About two hours after the alarm was first turned in by Mrs. Lillian Cripps, an occupant of a small apartment above the store, the 50 by 100-foot, three-storey brick structure was reduced to a steaming burned-out hulk. The full complement of equipment and men of Midland fire brigade and two pumpers and men from the neighbouring town of Penetang battled the roaring flames to a standstill. At times the vivid orange flames were leaping more than 100 feet in the air. A thick, black pall of billowing smoke blanketed a large part of the business and residential section to the south. Seven families, consisting of 15 persons, were driven from apartments above Jory’s, People’s, H. J. Thompson’s and the Ontario Cafe. Two Simmonds Transport trucks hauled away all the showroom stock and office records carried out of H. J. Thompson and Sons. Both Jack and Bill Thompson said they greatly appreciated the speed with which the trucking firm responded to the emergency. Contents were trucked away by Hanson’s Transport from some of the apartments and the remainder was carried by volunteers into the business offices of the Free Press Herald. Homeless for the time being are, the Isadore Arbours, Rose Mould, Marion Barnett, Mrs. Lorenz and son, Const. Tom Currie and family, and Mrs. Lillian Cripps. Built in the early 1900’s, the People’s Store block was once the site of the old “opera house”. In 1950 it was purchased from L. S. Wallace and N. Schaubel by Sarah and Patrick Patternick of Montreal. The store area was renovated in 1951 at a cost of about $20,000, it was stated. At one time it also housed Woolworths and some years ago the upper floor was used by the Masonic Lodge as lodge rooms. In recent years, the second storey was occupied by Midland Business College and the offices of the late Dr. C. N. James, dentist. It is understood the third floor was unoccupied at the time of the fire. Old-timers recalled that the building had been burned out once before about 40 years ago. Other major King Street fires were the Dudley Block, March 7, 1950, and the Royal Bank and Cross Country Cut Rate Store, Dec. 6, 1957 The Ontario Cafe and the Salvation Army served hot coffee to the valiant firefighters. 

    On the premise that they can’t very well tell where they are going without a map, the first thing Midland’s new planning board did Tuesday night was to ask for one — an up-to-date one at that. In asking Midland council to provide an up-to-date map of the plan of Midland, it was noted the one currently in use is dated March 20, 1917. Town Assessor Ian McClung said some additions had been made to the map in the early 1950’s. Even so, it is far from complete, the planning board felt. I hope you get it. I’ve been trying for a year-and-a-half.” said Mr. McClung. With only four of its eight members able to be present, the board was able to accomplish little of a concrete nature at its first meeting of the year. Present were last year’s chairman, L. H. Taylor and new members Walter Kluck, Jerry Therrien and Stewart Glassier. 

    March came in like a lamb this year in North Simcoe. Tuesday, March 1, was one of the balmiest days of the season. A major snowstorm, forecast for this area yesterday had failed to materialize by 6 p.m. last night. Weather office personnel had predicted one of the worst storms of the year would hit Central and Southern Ontario. 

 BOJTOR — To Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Bojtor, 216 Manley St.,
Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Tuesday, February 23, 1960, a son,
BRESSETTE — To Mr. and Mrs. David Bressette, Victoria Harbour, at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Friday, February 19, 1960, a daughter.
COURTEMACHE — To Mr. and Mrs. Edward Courtemache, 62 Ottawa St. Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Thursday, February 25, 1960, a daughter.
GONNEAU — To Mr. and Mrs. George Gonenau, R.R. 1,
Waubaushene, at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Friday. February
26, 1960, a daughter.
GRANT — To Mr. and Mrs. Beverley Grant, 182 Fourth St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Saturday, February 20, 1960, a son.

    M.P.D.H.S. Hi-Sterics  By KAREN BLAIR    After the string ensemble played “The Arundel Suite” in Eaton’s Auditorium last Wednesday, Feb. 24, a group of girls from North Toronto Collegiate questioned some members from our ensemble in this manner: “Do you live on the Islands?” “Well, how do the kids that live on the islands get to school?” “Are there schools on the Islands?” and finally “Is Penetang a town?” They seemed to think we came from the backwoods and were amazed at how well we played. We found- this amusing but it is rather shocking to think that people living less than 100 miles south of Midland picture us as an uncivilized community with dog-teams and sleds as our only means of transportation. 

    Although sunshine prevailed during most of Penetang’s annual Winterama, the weatherman was responsible for a much smaller crowd than usual, officials say. The Saturday attendance particularly was affected by storms the previous two days in Southern Ontario, they said. Despite the small attendance, the Winterama committee carried on with all events through the two-day session.  

    This newspaper learned yesterday that the S.S. Dover, summer cruise ship in the 30,000 Island area, is being offered for sale. Lloyd Atkinson of Atkinson Machine and Marine, Midland, has been asked to act as a sales agent for Larry and John Bellmore and Mrs. J. Bellmore of Sault Ste. Marie, current owners of the ship. Mr. Atkinson said he believed the Dover could be obtained and put into operation for approximately $6,000 plus insurance costs. The figure would include the balance of the mortgage on the vessel, equipment owned by the Bellmores, drydock inspection and repairs. He said he hopes someone will take over its operation as there are indications the Dover will not be operated this summer by its present owners. He felt it was a valuable asset to Midland’s summer tourist trade.  

  Huronia Association for Retarded Children told this newspaper yesterday it now has firm hopes it will be able to open classes for retarded children in Midland in September. Present plans are to obtain space in Parkview School. It is expected that classrooms currently being occupied by pupils from St. Mary’s Separate School will be available at that time, as the construction of an addition at St. Mary’s will be completed, it was stated. It was pointed out, however, that in the meantime “a thousand and one things” have to be completed first. In this, the executive of the association asked for the co-operation of service clubs, Women’s Institutes, church groups and commercial and industrial establishments. The project must be financed, it was stated. Among the equipment and items needed for classes for the retarded are educational toys, cloth picture books, a portable record player, children’s records and so forth. 

   Funeral services were held yesterday for one of Midland’s oldest, and most highly respected citizens, Robert G. Nesbitt. In his 98th year, Mr. Nesbitt died Saturday at Beechwood private Hospital, Penetang, Rev. J. L. Self conducted the funeral service at Knox Presbyterian Church where, up until a few years ago, Mr. Nesbitt had taken a prominent and active part for more than half a century. A school teacher at Waubaushene and Midland in his younger days and former principal of Manley Street School, Mr. Nesbitt later was largely instrumental in keeping Tiny and Tay Agricultural Society’s annual fair in Midland a going concern. At one point, in 1934, the fair board had decided to cease operations. Mr. Nesbitt, who served as fair secretary for more than 20 years, played a large part in the fair’s revival. 

Ten Years Ago This Week

    Midland Shipyards announced there would be a sharp increase in the number of men employed at the yard. The firm had received an order to convert the bulk carriers, Collingwood and Martian, into package freighters. The work had to be completed by the time navigation opened. * * * J. B. Roebuck, who was named chairman of Midland Parks Commission for 1950, was serving his 25th year on the commission. He was a former mayor of the town. * * * Pumping tests taken at Midland’s deep water wells showed that their maximum capacity was 11 per cent less than when they were tested in 1928. Water consumption in Midland in 1949 reached an all-time of 37,055,000 gallons. * * * Penetang High School had to close its doors because of the combined efforts of an influenza epidemic and extreme cold weather. Nearly 30 per cent of the pupils in Midland’s elementary schools were absent through illness. * * * Penetang Water and Light Commission had signed a contract with a well-digging firm to drill a new well for the town’s water supply. It was expected to provide an additional million and a half gallons of water a day for consumers. Work was to begin about the middle of March. * * * Because of the necessity of completing several costly repair jobs, Penetang Library Board asked the council to increase its 1950 grant to the board. It was estimated that an additional $2,300 would be required over and above the 1949 grant. * * * Coldwater Telephone System was confronted with several major problems. At a special meeting, the telephone commission resigned and left the affairs of the system in the hands of the village council. As well, telephone operators were threatening to go on strike if they did not receive a day off each week and an increase in pay. * * * Under the joint sponsorship of Midland Kiwanis Club and North Simcoe Agrep Stewart L. Page, plans were underway to organize a boys’ and girls’ forestry club for the Midland district. Zone foresters agreed to assist with the project.     

   Midland AA’s now have 350 members second-largest group outside Toronto.   The most startling thing for guests of the Midland group of Alcoholics Anonymous at their 15th-anniversary dinner Thursday night was the absolute candour of the group’s members. Where else would one find a group of men publicly admitting they had been just plain ordinary “drunken bums” at one stage of their careers? These men weren’t proud of their past roles, nor unduly boastful of what must have been near-miraculous salvage of their lives. As one man said, “We are just happy to be here tonight — sober”. It was a tribute to the sincerity of these men, and the thankfulness of their wives, that some 140 persons braved a threatening snowstorm to attend the dinner, held in the auditorium of St. Paul’s United Church. There were AA’s present from Penetang, Elmvale, Gravenhurst, Port McNicoll and Collingwood, as well as Midland. During his 13 years with this paper, this reporter has covered a variety of events — sports, council meetings, weddings, funerals, fires, drownings — and heard a multitude of speakers on just about every subject under the sun. Quite frankly, we’ve never had an experience like this one before. We can quite safely say that the many guests who had never attended an AA meeting before had never had such an experience either. 

    WAUBAUSHENE — Mr. and Mrs. Henry J. Gouett, Waubaushene celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary, Saturday Feb. 27. More than 100 friends, neighbours and relatives called to extend their congratulations to the couple, both of whom enjoy good health. They were married in Waubaushene in 1900; Mrs. Gouett was Margaret St. Amand and was born in and attended school at Beaverton. She lived in Montreal and Midland before coming to Waubaushene. Mr. Gouett was born in Waubaushene and is believed to be the oldest living native of the village. During their married life they owned and operated hotels in Port Robinson, Port Severn and Waubaushene. They also operated a grocery store, ice cream parlour and cafe in Toronto and a livery stable and as well as farms at Perkinsfield and Duck Bay. Sixteen years ago they returned to Waubaushene after residing in Oshawa for three years. On retirement, they purchased a house on Pine Street, where they lived until the fall of 1959 when they took an apartment in the home of their son Harry. The couple had five children, three sons and two daughters — Albert of Elliot Lake, Harry of Waubaushene, and Arthur, deceased, Irene (Mrs. R. Pilon), Perkinsfield. Loretta (Mrs. M. Doyle), Willowdale. They have 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

2 thoughts on “Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – March 1st to 7th, 1960

  1. I find this information so interesting as I wasn’t ever aware it was available until recently. I was reaching out for information on the brass band I was involved with in the mid 1960’s. I haven’t been able to find any info and was wondering if anyone has photos or write ups of the accomplishments of the Midland Town Band. If anyone has history I would love if you would share it! Thank you in advance.

    Keith Cowden.

    • Keith, Thank you for your interest in our web site. There are a couple of pictures posted on our blog pages. There is a search button on our website which will take you to those photos and captions or you can just Google “Huronia Museum Midland Citizens Band”. I tried that with Cowden and got several hits, Norma, Harold, Jim, Ernie . We are now able to search the Free Press editions that we have (not a complete set) up to 1965 and the band is mentioned a couple of hundred times starting in 1921 to 1937 and again from 1953 to 1965. So if there is a specific year or article that you are looking for we can probably find it. We also have artifacts in the collection such as uniforms. Sending you by e-mail the only photo I can find to date of yourself. Regards, Tom Barber, Collections Volunteer

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