Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – March 8th to 15th, 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 The scene of the fire that 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. 

Many people think a fireman’s life is an easy one, but you couldn’t prove it by Ken Crawford, left, and Harry Howard. Coated with ice, the two Midland firemen talk things over after the disastrous fire which levelled the Peoples Store on Midland’s King Street Friday, March 4. 

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

For a time this gas station on Hugel Ave., (Karl Strohm’s), as well as Jory’s drug store, the Bank of Commerce and H. J. Thompson and Sons, were threatened by the leaping flames from the burning Peoples Store.

Flames and smoke were rising in billowing masses while four firemen staunchly held their ground on an adjacent roof and fought off the rampaging demon with thousands of gallons of water. This photo was taken shortly after the roof and floors in the business block caved-in Friday morning. 

Firemen seemed to be waging a hopeless battle in rooftop photo of the $250,000 Peoples Store fire in Midland Friday morning. This picture was taken atop the Free Press Herald building as flames threatened to engulf H. J. Thompson’s appliance store. 

We don’t whether this truck was carrying coal to Newcastle but, if it was, it didn’t get there. Instead, it turned over on its side Thursday morning, spilling its load on Midland’s Bay Street. Driver and helper escaped without serious injury in mishap blamed on brake failure. 

Thirty years of service as manager of Tay Township municipal Telephone System came to an end Saturday night for William Grigg. Mr. and Mrs. Grigg were presented with chairs and other gifts at a dinner at Bourgeois’, Victoria Harbour. Tay Township officials grouped around the Griggs are, left to right, Reeve Red Kinnear, Walter  Lumsden, Councillors Murray Edwards and Walter Knechtle, Deputy-reeve Ray Atkinson, Clerk Ralph Dalton, Stan Robinson, who succeeds Mr. Grigg as manager, and Councillor Norman Widdes. 

New manager of Tay Township Municipal Telephone System, Stan Robinson will have a long way to go before he can match the experience of the other three men in this picture. Stan is seen shaking hands with William Grigg, honoured at a dinner at Bourgeois’ dining room Saturday night as he retired after 30 years’ service with the telephone company. W. B. Crooke, left, and Herb Rumney, right; had helped erect the company’s first telephone lines, 50 years ago. 

Coach Vic Grigg was counting heavily on Charlie Scott, left, and Jim Johnson for defence duties when Midland Flyers meet Orillia Lakeviews in the third game of the OHA intermediate “A” play-offs at Arena Gardens tonight. The latest word, however, is that Johnson won’t be able to play. The best-of-seven series between the teams is tied at one win each. 

No show tonight!

(We should all try to see a movie this summer at our local drive-in, a unique experience for the kids that may not be available in the future as our viewing habits change and the drive-ins disappear. (There are 18 in Ontario and only 37 in Canada.) 

Runners-up in Midland YMCA’s Little Basketball League this season were the New York Kickerbrockers, who lost out to Rochester Royals. Left to right boys are front row, Bobby Clayton, Chester Graham, Hans Matthias, Don Morris; back row, Fred Hacker, Keith Craig, Greg Somers. 

Winners of Midland YMCA’s Little Basketball League championship finals last week were the Rochester Royals. Left to right, the boys are, back row, P. Downer, W. Holden (Capt), Axel Duwe, F. Hegadorn; front row, G. Jeannotte, Max Morden and Dave Morris. 

Penetang Customs Port to Close Doors March 31
Free Press Herald headline of March 11, 1960.
A custom port, or outport for more than 130 years will be closed at the end of this month when George Scott, collector at Penetang, turns the key in the lock and moves to the Midland customs office. Official notice of the closing was confirmed Thursday by Bert Martin, head of the customs office at Midland, who has held jurisdiction over the outport of Penetang. Mr. Martin said the closing move has been brought about through a decrease in collections at Penetang over the past several years. He mentioned an amount of little more than $5,000 collected in last year’s operations. When queried, he admitted there were two major factors combining in the decrease of business. The first came through a new ruling in the collection of sales tax, several years ago. At that time, firms were permitted to send returns by mail, and the whole collection of sales tax for this area was consolidated in the Midland office. The other factor was the change in operation at the Beatty Bros. plant. Where this manufacturer had been a big importer while operating under the Beatty name, the new James Stewart Manufacturing Co. imports very little. This one change brought about a considerable drop in revenue it was stated. 

11 Municipalities Pay $321,193 to County
County Herald headline of March 11, 1960.
Increases in their county levies for 1960 will mean 11 North Simcoe municipalities this year will contribute a total of $321,193.31 to the county coffers in taxes under the general and roads budgets for county purposes. J. R. Coleman, county treasurer, said yesterday that the 11 levies constitute between 30 and 35 per cent of the total levy. The rate is 7 mills general and 3.8 for roads, the latter up .3 from last year. Midland ratepayers’ will pay $97,088.24 to the county in 1960, $62,927.56 under the general levy and $34,160.68 for roads. In 1959, the municipality’s tax contribution for county purposes was $90,262.50. Midland Clerk treasurer Wm. A. Hack estimated that the approximately $7,000 increase in the county levy would mean about a .45-milI increase in the town tax rate this year.

    Ian Dick, a 15-year old Penetang lad, supplied one of the questions which stumped a TV panel Saturday night between periods of the Toronto-Boston hockey game. As a result, he will receive a complete Maple Leaf uniform made to his own size. Ian asked the panel to identify, in the two minutes allotted, the half-circle in front of the penalty box, introduced into the game last year. Players are not allowed within this area to argue with the referee. The panel included King Clancy, Ed Fitkin, and the wife of a Toronto daily sportswriter. 

    Fred Carruthers, manager of the Peoples Store, Midland, which was burned in a disastrous fire Friday morning, said yesterday the owners of the property intend to start rebuilding as soon as possible. He said present hopes are that the new building will be completed by mid-summer and ready for occupation. J. H. Morgan, advisory director of Peoples Stores Ltd., was in Midland Monday and made a study of the wreckage. Owners of the property are Sarah and Patricia Pattenick of Toronto. Mr. Carruthers revealed that temporary quarters for the business would not be obtained. He said money contained in the store’s vault was removed Friday evening. Store records were lost in the blaze, Mr. Carruthers revealed but added that duplicate records are sent out at the end of each day to the company’s head office. 

    “My great interest in this is the nonsense of dragging a man of the calibre of Msgr. Castex through the mud.” This statement was made yesterday by Mayor Jerome Gignac of Penetang after he had read articles appearing in two Toronto papers. The Metro stories, sparked by releases from a Toronto French-language newspaper, spoke of a “language war” in progress in Penetang. “I know what I want for my children, and would quietly see that they got it, but my interest is drawn into the matter when these ‘radical French Nationalists’ try to lower the standards of a man who has more brains than the whole lot of them put together,” he said. Quoted in one Toronto paper as saying there was a “language war”, Mayor Gignac said, “I think they have put it a little strongly. I still feel this is pretty much a one-sided affair sparked by a small group of people who want to isolate the town into a French community. 

 25 Years Ago This Week  

    Dreams of an early spring in North Simcoe were shattered when one of the worst  snow storms of the season blanketed the district in a foot of snow. Grass on lawns in Midland, which was beginning to turn green, was buried and highways were blocked for a time. * * * A group of Waubaushene property owners met with health officials in a move to establish a water system in the village. Fred Hodges was instructed to obtain prices on a filtration plant and main pipes. * * * S.S. Noronic, the flagship of Canada Steamship Lines northern division, suffered $5,000 damage when one of four vessels torn by ice from their moorings in the St. Clair River sideswiped her. The four were moored to the one line and went careening down the river. The Maple Court struck the Noronic and smashed holes in her upper plates. * * * Clem Sohn leapt from an aeroplane 12,000 feet above Daytona Beach, plummeted 2,000 feet, then spread his arms and legs which were equipped with a set of homemade, web-like wings and “flew”. He looped-the-Ioop three times, soared briefly and then pulled the ripcord on his parachute and dropped slowly to the ground. * * * Italian troop transports were bound for Italian Somaliland following a border incident between Ethiopian and Somaliland native troops. The incident precipitated a new crisis in international affairs. * * *  “D” Company, Simcoe Foresters, had commenced training classes for officers and NCO’s in the armoury at Penetanguishene. Men from Barrie, Orillia, Midland and Penetang were attending the eight-week course. * * * An increasing number of robins and crows were being seen in communities throughout North Simcoe. One resident of “The Mountain” area in Tiny Township reported seeing a flock of robins in a grove of maples near his home. 

    Midland’s long-idle shipyard came in for more discussion at a meeting of Midland council last week. It came about in a roundabout way. The Winter Employment Committee some time ago had requested the Georgian Bay Development Association to implement action which might result in the yard becoming operative again. The GBDA replied it could not act on a request by such a committee, but could if it were forwarded through a chamber of commerce or municipal council. “The shipyard isn’t going to run again,” said Deputy-reeve Clint Smith, an employee of the firm which owns both the Midland and Collingwood yards. Mr. Smith said the Midland yard would be liquidated shortly and is for sale. 


    MRS. WILFRID FORGET Following a lengthy illness, Mrs. Wilfrid Forget died Monday, Feb. 22, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Manuel Pilon, Penetang. She was in her 84th year. Born in Lafontaine, Mrs. Forget had spent her entire life in this area, living there and at Wyebridge until seven years ago when she moved to Penetang. A good part of her married life was spent rearing 14 children. She was particularly fond of knitting and quilting. Mrs. Forget was a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Predeceased by her husband in 1944, she leaves eight sons, Louis, Waterloo, Henri and Clement, Wyebridge, Urgel, Penetang, Eudgere, Ajax, Ovila, Cobourg, Wilfrid, Orillia, and Albert of Barrie; six daughters, Delima, (Mrs. Manuel Pilon), Penetang, Deliane, (Mrs. Wilfred Curtin), Peterborough, Ernestine, (Mrs. Simeon Laurin), and Alda, (Mrs. Francis Hocken), Port McNicoll, Flora, (Mrs. Arthur Marion), Toronto, Marie-Louise, (Mrs. P. J. O’Halloran), Fergusonvale. There are 121 grandchildren as well as great and greatgreat-grandchildren. Funeral service was held Thursday. Feb. 25 in St. Ann’s Memorial Church where Father Kelly officiated, assisted by Father J. Marchand and Father A. Bourque. Temporary interment was in St. Ann’s mausoleum. Pallbearers were her six sons Eudgere, Ovilla, Louis, Urgel, Wilfred and Clement Forget.

REV. J. H. OLMSTEAD Funeral service was conducted in Calvary Baptist Church, Midland, for Rev. John Herbert Olmsted, Feb. 13, pastor of the church for 10 years. Dr. P. P. W. Ziemann, Dr. D. Bums, and the present pastor of Calvary, Rev. Ralph Wright, officiated. In his 75th year, Mr. Olmsted died at his home, 163 Yonge Street, as a result of a coronary thrombosis. Retiring from the Midland pastorate five years ago, he had since been minister at large for the Baptist Church. Previous to coming to Midland, he held pastorates in Uxbridge and Goodwood where he was ordained, in Toronto, in London for 10 years, and in Windsor six years. Before entering the ministry, he had been a commercial artist. He attended Park School, then Toronto Bible College, and entered McMaster University, graduating in 1909. His marriage to Ellen MacClaren took place in Toronto in 1907, and her death occurred in October 1946. During his ministry, he was for several years greatly interested in the Indians on the Oneida Reserve, near London, and became associated with the Baptist work there. The Indians made him an honorary chief of the tribe. Surviving him are a daughter, Margery of Midland, a son, Charles of Strathroy; his sister, Mrs. Hesp of Toronto, and one grandson, John Olmsted of Strathroy.

JAMES ROBERT SAGER Resident of Midland most of his life, James Robert Sager died at his home, 301 Russell Street, Feb. 28, following a heart ailment. He was in his 71st year. Funeral services were held at Barrie and Sons funeral home March 2, with temporary interment at Lakeview Cemetery vault. Rev. Wilson L. Morden of St. Paul’s United Church conducted the services. Pallbearers were Chris Gardner, Fred Ball, Jack Fitzgerald, Les Henderson, Charles Stewart and Walter Cadieux. Born at Deseronto, Ont., June 1, 1889, Mr. Sager came to Midland as a young lad and spent nearly 60 years in this community. For more than half of that span, 32 years, he resided at 301 Russell. Mr. Sager had worked as a longshoreman for many years in Midland and was later employed in the car department of the CNR at Tiffin yard. He was an ardent ice fisherman in his spare time and also enjoyed doing carpentry work around, his home.  Surviving are his wife the former Lena B. Hogg, whom he married in Midland June 22, 1911, one daughter, Mrs. Ernie Hamilton (Dorothy), Midland, and a brother, Nicholas Sager, Goderich. 

ROBERT G. NESBITT Funeral services were held March 1 for Robert G. Nesbitt, a resident of Midland for more than 60 years, who died in Beechwood Private Hospital, Penetang, Feb, 27. Rev. J. L. Self conducted services at Knox Presbyterian Church, where Mr. Nesbitt had served as clerk of session for half a century. Temporary entombment was made at Lakeview Cemetery vault. Pallbearers were William Jeffery, Eric Heels, A. McGill, Ralph McCall, Harold Humphries and Ernie Nicholson. Born at Woodville, near Cannington, April 25, 1863, Mr. Nestitt attended school there and later at Peterborough Normal School. His long teaching career included schools in Penetang, Waubaushene and Midland, where he served as principal of the old Manley Street School when it was still in operation. In addition to his interest in educational affairs, Mr. Nesbitt was also active in church, fraternal and fair organizations. He had been a member of Midland IOOF Lodge for 71 years, much of it as secretary of the lodge, and had received a 65-year Jewel at a ceremony held while he was a patient at St. Andrews  Hospital. Mr. Nesbitt also had been a member of the Caledonian Lodge, A.F. and A.M. for 54 years, which included a number of years as a member of the Kitchikewana Chapter. Mr. Nesbitt also had received provincial recognition for his long service as secretary of the Tiny and Tay Agricultural Society. Following his stay at St. Andrews Hospital, Mr. Nesbitt had also been a patient at Jay-Haro Lodge, Coldwater from January 1958, to November 1959, prior to going to Beechwood. He had marked his 97th birthday while a patient at Jay-Haro. Surviving are his wife, the former Gertrude Hall, two sons, Gilmour Nesbitt, Midland, and Robert J. Nesbitt, Kitchener, and one daughter, Mrs. D. McDonald, Kitchener. There are also three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. 


   MIXEMONG — To Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Mixemong, Christian Island, at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Monday, February 22, 1960, a son.
MURPHY — To Mr. and Mrs. John Murphy, 72 Elizabeth St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Thursday, February 25, 1960, a daughter.
NOACK — To Mr. and Mrs. Paul Noack, Sunnyside, Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Tuesday, February 23, 1960, a daughter.
SHANNON — To Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Shannon, Victoria Harbour, at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, Friday, February 19, 1960, a daughter.
SMITH — To Mr. and Mrs. Ben Smith, 108 Donalda St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Wednesday, February 24, 1960, a son. (Baby died).
BOURRIE — to Mr. and Mrs. Beverly Bourrie, 284 4th St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Saturday, March 5, 1960, a daughter.
CURRAN — To Mr. and Mrs. L. D. Curran, 160 Colborne Street, Midland, at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Monday, Feb. 29, 1960, a son.
DEMPSEY — to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Dempsey, 1 Bay Street, Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Friday, March 4, 1960, a daughter.
DESROCHERS — To Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Desrochers, Perkinsfield, at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Tuesday, March 8, 1960, a  daughter.
DeVILLERS — To Mr. and Mrs. Andrew DeVillers, 33 Main Street, Penetang at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Tuesday, March 8, 1960, a son.
DUBEAU — To Mr. and Mrs. Remi Dubeau, Perkinsfield, at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Friday, March 4, 1960, a daughter.
DUMAIS — To Mr. and Mrs. Andy Dumais, Robert Street, W., Penetang, at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Thursday, March 3, 1960, a daughter.
JOSLAND — To Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Josland, 88 1/2 4th Street, Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Tuesday, March 8, 1980, a daughter.
LAURIN — To Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Laurin, 96 Peel Street, Penetang at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Tuesday, March 1, 1960, a son.
LEBLANC — To Mr. and Mrs. Leo Leblanc, Lafontaine, at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Wednesday, March 2, I960, a son.
MARION — To Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Marion 3, Penetang, at Penetanguishene General Hospital, March 3, 1960, a daughter.
MARCHILDON — To Mr. and Mrs. Aurele Marchildon, Penetang Road, at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Tuesday, March 8, 1960. a  daughter.
SAGER — To Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Sager, 305 Russel Street, Midland, at Penetanguishene General Hospital, Saturday, March 5, 1980, a daughter.
TAMBLYN — To Mr. and Mrs. Murray Tamblyn, 347 King St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Thursday, February 18, 1960, a daughter.
WOODS — To Mr. and Mrs. Albert Woods, 146 Colborne St., Midland, at St. Andrews Hospital, Sunday, February 28, 1966, a son. 

    Tim Nesbitt, chairman of Midland Y’s Men’s Music Festival Committee, revealed this week that never before have there been so many entries submitted for the festival as this year. Entries in the piano classes are so numerous that a good part of the second day of the festival will be required to adjudicate them, he stated. He said some of the classes will have to be heard in rooms upstairs. The festival is to be held March 28, 29, 30 and 31, with the “Stars of the Festival Concert being held in Midland-Penetanguishene District High School auditorium, April 1. Entries have been received from Perkinsfield, Coldwater, Waverley, Penetanguishene, Victoria Harbour, S.S. 5, Tay, as well as Midland. Also serving on the festival committee are Bill Barnett, co-chairman, K. J. Ellis, concert chairman, Frank Powell, treasurer, and Barbara Howard, secretary. Mrs. Jim Crawford will be accompanist. (And now there are none. If you are interested in helping the Midland ‘Y’,s Men’s Club stage a successful 2021 event contact them and offer your support. ) 

    Everything seems to be coming in pairs at the farm of Harold Cowden, on County Road 23, just east of Vasey. On Tuesday one of his dairy cows gave birth to twin calves. This is rare enough but this happens to be the fifth set of twin calves born on the Cowden farm in a 10 month period. All but one of the five sets are getting along well, the exception being a set that was still-born recently. 

   Suzanne Gignac, Penetang, emerged with the highest score among pupils competing in the “Concours de Français” at Lafontaine last Saturday. Along with Basil Marchand, Marie Boucher and Richard Lalonde, she will compete in a district contest at Welland, March 19, also going to the Welland competition will be Bernadette Desroches, Perkinsfield, and Bertrand Robitaille, Lafontaine, winners among pupils from schools of less than five classrooms.

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