Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – September 7th 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 Boys playing with fire crackers is believed to have been the cause of a fire which completely destroyed the near-century-old Roman Catholic Church at Port Severn Friday evening. Known familiarly as the “Lumbermen’s Church”, the tinder-dry frame building was beyond saving by the time firemen arrived from Waubaushene. The building was to have been marked with an Ontario historical plaque.

This painting of the old lumberman’s church at Port Severn, by Barrie jeweller Gordon Reeve, is one of a number by district painters assembled by Simcoe County Arts and Crafts Association for display at Midland’s Huronia Museum this year. Assistant curator R. A. Grigg is seen with the painting; which occupies a prominent place in the lower hall.  From 1959

There’ll be trophies in the homes of these four members of Midland Golf and Country Club this winter, following successful seasons on the links. Left to right are A. J. Preston, club president, who won the seniors’ title; Wally Hook, winner of the Orillia Trophy; Doug Haig, club champion; and Miles Blackhurst, who won the Wallace Trophy. Cups were presented at the dinner following men’s field day Sunday. 

Part of the largest crowd to see a ball game in Midland this season is seen above, as they watched Indians down Port Hope 9-5 Saturday in the first game of the OBA intermediate “A” major semi-finals. The teams meet again in Port Hope today with the third game tentatively slated for Midland next Sunday, providing the grounds can be cleaned up in time following the Tiny-Tay fair. 

Players on both teams had to look up to this pair who matched pitches in Saturday’s game here. Midland’s Gord Dyment (left) hurled steady ball to gain a 9-5 decision and John Holman gave six innings of fine relief pitching for the losing Port Hope team in the first game of the semi-final series. 

Getting up in the world, temporarily at least, are left to right, Don Hurlbut, Gordon Paul, Chester Graham, Gary White and Andy Puddicombe. When Andy’s father, John Puddicombe, 189 George Street, made a set of stilts for his son, the idea became so popular he had to make five more pairs to keep other lads in the neighborhood happy. 

Toward the end of the summer holidays it’s pretty hard to find ways and means of keeping children busy, and happy. John Puddicombe of 189 George Street Midland solved the problem by making several pairs of stilts. Here Bonnie Puddicombe, left, and Susan Woods try their luck with the “high walkers.” 

Work is now underway on a new two-room addition to augment present facilities of SS 8b, Tay Township. Located at Port Severn, the school also has pupils from Baxter Township, in Muskoka, as well as Tay. Cost of the addition, slated to be ready for operation by the start of 1961, is $38,000. The long shadow in the centre foreground is the photographer’s.

County Herald headline of September 9th, 1960 

A 23-day “holiday” from Collins Bay penitentiary in August proved costly for two 21 year-old men, one from Victoria Harbour and the other from the Maritimes. Magistrate K. A. Cameron added the bill in Midland police court Wednesday and it came to three years, in addition to the one year both still have to serve on their previous conviction. The cost may rise even higher when a further charge of escaping custody against the pair is heard in Kingston. In Penetang court last Thursday, the two had pleaded guilty to four charges, including two of car theft, one of breaking into a house and another of theft of clothing. They had been remanded until Wednesday’s court  for sentence. On Wednesday they pleaded guilty to 24 more charges of theft and break, entry and theft. All of these charges resulted from their desperate 10 day flight from swarms of provincial police which combed North Simcoe and Southern Muskoka areas from the time they were first seen near Victoria Harbour August 17. The chase ended ten days later, on the Pretty Channel of the Severn River, not far from “Big Chute”. 

Free Press Herald headline of September 14th, 1960. 

Outcome of county council’s action at a special meeting in Barrie Monday. Midland is to receive $111,577 in county grants to offset payments by the municipality on outstanding principal of debentures issued for the construction of the new St. Andrews Hospital. Of the $250,000 in debentures raised following the construction of the new hospital, $171,000 of the principal remains unpaid. The special hospital grant of $111,577 is to be paid by the county to the town of Midland in equal annual installments over a period of 10 years, commencing on the due date of the debenture beginning in 1961. It is estimated this sum will require approximately 1/10 of 1 mill per year on the present equalized assessment of the county. 

    Wymbolwood and Mountain beaches, from the eighth concession through to the sixth are private beaches not controlled by the Provincial government or Tiny Township authorities, members of Wymbolwood Beach Association Inc. were told at their annual meeting Saturday at the home of Al Rosenberg. Mr. Rosenberg later was elected president of the association for 1960-61, succeeding Warren Coulter who held the office for the past two years. The announcement, made by the corporation’s honorary legal counsel following months of intensive investigation that ended with a ruling by the Department or Lands and Forests which marked a victory in the battle by the cottagers on the beaches for the right to stop motor vehicles from driving on the beach in front of their homes. Special honors and thanks were extended unanimously to Marsh Magwood, following his announcement which included the reading of a letter from the provincial department with the ruling the beach property was private property. “Basis of the decision was that the original patentee in 1823 was granted ownership of the land right to the water’s edge”. 

    Earlier indications that SS No. 23, Tiny, Light’s School might cease to operate this term failed to materialize, and 23 pupils are attending classes under the tutelage of a Miss Graham, according to information received yesterday. The enrollment is an increase or six pupils over the number attending at the close of last term. It is said the six are children who had been attending Penetang School, along with other pupils from this area, last year. According to a statement made previously by board member Richard Matthews, some 50 pupils would be affected if the school did close. This would indicate that approximately 27 pupils from No. 23 school section still are being transported to Penetang by bus. 

    A six-point plan to make drastic cuts in rising costs of Simcoe County Children’s Aid Society was implemented by the board of directors at a special meeting in Barrie Tuesday night. The plan was contained in a report submitted by a fact finding committee, named by the board two months ago. The report recommended that departmentalization be discontinued where not necessary; that the managing director provide a simplified monthly re-port to directors to eliminate wastage of office labor and paper; that the charge for protection and prevention services be based on a unit or each contact; that the society’s staff be drastically reduced; that social workers live in the area they serve, and that the managing director be advised he must bring costs in line with expenditures of other societies. 

    Hammers a crowbar and a porthole were among items salvaged from two wrecks off Hope Island last weekend. These articles were brought to the surface by members of a group or 20 skin divers from the Toronto Skin Diving Club, who went to the island Sunday and Monday. The group ranging in age between 13 and 30 were taken out to the Island by Frank Shulman, Midland merchant, in his 25-foot aluminum hulled launch. The skin divers left from Thunder Bay dock about noon Sunday and returned at 7.30 Monday evening. “They went out to search around a couple of known shipwrecks and to try locate a couple of others,” stated Mr. Shulman yesterday. He added that the maximum depth the divers went was approximately 35 feet. 

    Following on the heels of an overcast Labor Day weekend, a heat wave has invaded North Simcoe. Tuesday and Wednesday temperatures hovered over the 90-degree mark and yesterday, around noon hour, a Hugel Ave. resident reported that it had hit 95 on his thermometer. The August-like weather, accompanied by hot winds, is searing grass and other vegetation and is causing rising fire hazard conditions in wooded areas.  

    Registration at the four schools operated by the Penetang Public School Board has jumped approximately 200 this year, according to Chairman G. J. Robillard. He said this brings the total enrollment to something slightly over 1,300 pupils. Included in the figure are 150 children attending school for the first time in kindergarten classes. Mr. Robillard said it will be necessary to increase the number on the teaching staff by several new teachers over the present 40 employed. 

    A special meeting has been called to elect new trustees for Evergreen School, this newspaper was informed yesterday. The meeting, to be held in the school Sept. 20, is the outcome of a mass resignation of the board last week. Faced with what it felt were insoluble problems imposed by the ruling of an arbitration board more than a year ago, the SS 3, Tiny Township (Evergreen School) Board resigned. “We must break the decision of that arbitration board if this school section is ever to operate on a sound basis again.” Norman Brock, chairman, told this paper. Other members of the Board are, Ed Copeland and Bev Scott, Charles Robins is the secretary. The arbitration board met early in July of 1959 and handed down its decision a couple of weeks later, consisted of  Judge J. G. Harvie of Barrie, David Finch, Midland, Stan Smith representing Tay Township and Orval McClung, representing Tiny Township.
Originally the school section was a union one, embracing ratepayers in both Tay and Tiny Townships. Tay now has no financial responsibility in the operation of the new school section. When school opened for the new term, however, at least 10 children from Tay Township were at the door. This left the school with some 40 pupils. When the board hired Thomas Abma as teacher for the one-room school, it assured him there would be no mere than 36 pupils. “Mr Abma is doing his best to co-operate with us until we get things ironed out.” Said Mr. Brock. 

    Winners of the first “LIFE” — Local Industries Fund for Education — scholarships were announced Monday. Winners this year are Wayne Hutchinson, R. R. I Wyebridge who receives $500 and Jean Abbott, who received $300 award. Miss Abbott is continuing her studies in the general arts course, specializing in French, at the University of Toronto. She is looking forward to a high school teachers position. Mr. Hutchinson, also expects to enter the teaching profession when he completes his degree course in upper school science which he will take at the Ontario Agricultural College, Guelph. Earlier this year five local industries in Midland and Penetang joined forces to provide a student aid fund for young persons wishing to continue their education at recognized universities, technical, agricultural or normal school. The “LIFE” fund was established in conjunction with the Midland YMCA which along with a committee of local teachers and industrialists is the fund’s administering body. 

    Today will be a red letter day in the life of Msgr. J. M. Castex, parish priest of Penetang when he will receive the “Alumni of the Year Award” from the Alumni Association or St. Augustine’s Seminary. The alumni award has been designed to give recognition to a distinguished member of the Alumni Association who has fulfilled priestly ideals over a considerable span of time, in such a way as to bring honour to the priest himself, the Seminary and the Alumni Association. (The following history was taken from the Canadian Register, official organ or the Roman Catholic Church.) Msgr. Castex was born July 22, 1871, in the village of Secoue, near Lourdes, France. At the age or seven, he was taken by his mother to the then new Shrine of Lourdes, and consecrated to the Blessed Virgin a mere 20 years after the apparitions. In 1891 he came to Canada and entered the novitiate of the Montfort Fathers at Cyrville, near Ottawa. He was ordained May 30, 1896, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Ottawa, by Archbishop J. T. Duhamel. After two years as chaplain of the Montfort Orphanage, Ottawa, he became assistant pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Eastview, and was appointed its pastor in 1902. During  1903 he served in the Archdiocese of Kingston, Wolfe Island, and Railton under the late Archbishop C. H. Gauthier. From October, 1904, to December 1905 he was assistant at the Montfort College and parish in Victoria, B.C. For five years following that he was pastor at St. Mary, Gate of Heaven parish, at Ozone Park in the diocese of Brooklyn. There he was subject to severe criticism for building a school much larger than the parish needed at the time. Within three years his judgment was vindicated by the growth or the district. Msgr. Castex returned to Canada and in 1910 he came to the Archdiocese of Toronto where he served for three years as assistant to Dean Hand at St. Paul’s. With the opening of St. Augustine’s Seminary in 1913, he became its first bursar, and also professor of Gregorian Chant, liturgy. His years in Huronia started in 1921 when he became pastor at Midland where he introduced the separate schools which flourish today. From 1930 to 1938 he was pastor in Phelpston, before coming to Penetanguishene, where he is still a very active parish priest. It was in 1946, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of ordination that he was named a domestic prelate. During his 22 years in Penetang great changes have taken place. The Grey Sisters from Pembroke have  taken charge of the general hospital and today’s modern hospital is under their care. The Sacred Heart Brother’s have come to assist the Holy Cross Sisters in the parish schools which accommodate more than 1,200 children. In 1944, Marygrove Camp for girls was established under his guidance. It was in 1943 that the sanctuary of the church was remodeled, and at the present time this same sanctuary is nearing completion of a program of refurbishing in marble, along with redecoration of the entire church edifice. Still hale and hearty, Msgr. Castex is fondly looking forward to a trip to his native Lourdes when he celebrates his 90th birthday next year. 

May 18, 1966. Last Thursday was a happy occasion for Msgr. J. M. Castex when he marked the 70th anniversary of his service as a priest. Usually a man of serious expression, he was in a jovial mood as he posed for this picture along with Archbishop Philip F. Pocock. May 18, 1966.   


Tom Morris, deputy Reeve of Penetang, died in York County Hospital, Newmarket, the day following a two car collision near Holland Landing. Mrs. Morris, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Crippin, also of Penetang and five others were hospitalized in the crash. • • • Midland Boy Scout Association had raised more than $1,100 for the construction of their camp near the site of St. Ignace on the Sturgeon River. The 24 x 30 foot building was expected to cost $1,400 on land donated to the association. • • • Opening day registrations at Midland and Penetang high schools totaled 499 students. • • • Archaeologists W. W. Jury discovered what was believed to be Ontario’s first Christian burial ground at Fort Ste. Marie near Midland. • • • Plans were being made for the erection of a new Bell Telephone Company building at the corner of Hugel and Midland Avenues, the site of the former “woolen mills”. • •  • More uniform power distribution was expected for Midland with the construction of a new Hydro sub-station at the corner of Queen and Gloucester Streets. * * * Dr. Paul Scott, director of the Simcoe County Health Unit, advised Midland Council of un-sanitary conditions and the existence of 212 privies servicing Midland residents. Half of the out-buildings were on streets serviced with sewers, the report noted. Council at the same meeting considered the appointment of a permanent sanitary inspector. • • • Twenty-two school pupils of Flos and Sunnidale townships, debarred from Wasaga Beach school, found haven at the Allenwood School S.S. 7, Flos. 

I resurrected years gone by
and went to school today
Went back to be a child again
though hair is streaked with

I sat among the children there
as I with them was one,
And listened to the teacher just
as years ago I’d done.

I sang their songs, I read their
I worked their problems too,
And learned about Geography
With lands it brought to view.

l watched the kindergarten tots
And tears came in my eyes,
As unashamed I lived again
The days that age denies.

But something else today I
Yes something else I saw –
As through the rooms and halls I roamed
With thoughts akin to awe,
It wasn’t that which easily
With money could be bought,
But something everywhere
In souls of teachers wrought.

A badge invisible I saw
Upon each teacher’s breast
An emblem of the patience
With which each of them was blessed.
And a jewel studded Crown of
For all the children there,
Was symbol of the devotion
In teachers everywhere.

-Rhoda Downer

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