Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – April 1st to 7th, 1961

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 enlargeVeteran resident of the Vasey area, Charles Beatty marked his 85th birthday March 29 at his home in Vasey. Still hale and hearty, he’s seen above looking over a few of the many birthday cards he received during the week. Mr. Beatty served with the church, school and the Orange Lodge in Vasey for many years. Twice married, Mr. Beatty was born in Toronto but moved to a Medonte Township farm at an early age and remained there most of his life. 

The four happiest people in Midland last week were these members of Lawrence Wilcox’ rink after they had won the main event in Midland Curling Club’s big annual bonspiel. Grouped around Lawrence, holding the Orr Trophy, are Mrs. Don Argue (left), Bert Banting and Mrs. Cecil English. They bested 39 other rinks to win the trophy and individual wrist watches. 

The telephone is one piece of equipment that is not long idle in the home of a Salvation Army officer. Here Lieut. Wm. Johnston of the Midland Corps provides solace and advice in one of the many appeals for assistance which the local corps officer receives in a day. 

Another Elmvale team which had a lot of fun this winter was the AHL or pee-wee squad, winners in their district. Left to right are, front row — Nelson Wood, Allan Howard, Bob Lalonde, Dave Columbus, Murray Archer, Paul Morley, John Ritchie, Brian Stone; back row, Bob Ingleton, Charlie Jordan, Sandy McAuley, coach Norman Crane, George Conn. Allan Lambie, Bob Baker, Pete Marley, team captain, was not present when this picture was taken. 

The winners of the third event in the Midland Curling Club playoffs was Dr. A. H. Pinchin’s rink with the Graham Swales Trophy. Left to right are lead Wils Harrison, second Fred Waltz, skip Dr. Pinchin, vice Harold Cleaver. 

Reg Mulligan’s rink won the fourth event. Left to right are lead Bert Holt, skip Reg Mulligan, vice Graydon Broad, and second Jack Copeland. 

Officials of Midland’s Aqua-Divers Club are seen above following their recent elections. Left to right are, front row — Doug Stephenson, secretary-treasurer; Bob Argue, president; Syd Nicholls, vice-president; directors, in back row are Bill Mitchell (past president), Bill Gallagher, Don Gray, Gord Brand and Dick Wells. Another director, Felix Kirschner, was not present for the picture. 

Midland Curling Club held its playoffs for the men’s division March 25. Winners of the top event and the Cumming-Nicholson Trophy, was Gord Logan’s rink. Left to right, they are Walter Bauer, Cecil English, Skip Gord Logan and Woody McConnell. 

Midland Curling Club held its playoffs for the men’s division March 25. Winners of the second event and the O’Keefe Trophy were lead Wayne Broad, skip Jack Wilson, vice Haig Abbott (pinch-hitting for Bill Setterington) and second, Clive Park. 

Winner of the second event in Midland Curling Club’s mixed bonspiel this year was Bill Howard’s Midland entry. Left to right are; Charles Walton, Mrs. (Barb) Howard, Mrs. (June) Walton and Bill Howard. They defeated Vern Johnson’s Midland rink 8-6 in the final. 

This display of African curios by Mrs. Regina Smolan proved a big attraction at the “Fun Fair” held by Bayview Home and School Association at the Midland school March 25. Gathered during eight years in Tanganyika, the display included a python skin, monkey skin, an Indian Ocean sea shell (held by Mrs. Smolan) and many other items. Fair was held to raise funds for projects of the association during the year. 

Many district leaders and Guides attended a Guiders training school in the Sunday School auditorium of Knox Presbyterian Church, Midland, March 25. Some of the guides present included Lesley Hudson, Waubaushene, and Bonnie Dion, Penetang, seated and standing, left to right, Mary Ellen Mulhall, Waubaushene; Linda Labatt, Penetang; Louise Parker and Laurie Young, Midland. 

Jerry Berriault of St Theresa’s High School, Midland, exhibits the school letters he designed. They were awarded to outstanding students at the school last week. 

Large increase in the membership of St. Paul’s United Church, Midland, in recent years has made it necessary to add 11 new elders to the church Session. Seven of them are seen above with the pastor, Rev. Wilson Morden. Left to right are, front row, Ross Jones, Elwood Marcellus, Gunter Freund; back row, James Short, Chesley Scovill, Mr. Morden, A. J. Gardhouse, Sills Denholm. Not present when this picture was taken were Keith Smith, Norman Shill, Ira Rumney and Bryson McQuirter. 

Designer of the prize-winning crest for Bayview Public School, Midland, was David English, a Grade 8 student (right) seen with his principal, William Barnett. David’s winning design was on display during the open house held by the Bayview Home and School Association March 25. 


Free Press Herald headline of April 5, 1961.
A long-standing school problem in Tiny Township moved one step closer to a solution as a result of action taken by Tiny council at its April meeting in Perkinsfield yesterday. Council instructed township clerk Gabriel Marchand to have the necessary bylaw prepared, incorporating Evergreen, Wyebridge and S.S. 21, Tiny, Schools into a new school section. Council asked the clerk to have the bylaw ready for presentation at its next meeting. The new area school plans were announced after Ed Copeland, an Evergreen School ratepayer and long-time board member, asked council what its plans were with respect to the problem at Evergreen. Mr. Copeland told council he felt the rural children would obtain a higher quality education if an area school was established. The smaller school sections, each with its one-room school, could not afford to pay salaries which would attract high calibre teachers. Mr. Copeland said, whereas an area school could. The Evergreen School board resigned en masse last year over what it termed was an unjust decision of a special board, called to mediate an assessment dispute involving Tay Township taxpayers, contributing to the support of the then Evergreen Union School, whose children were attending public schools in Midland. Much of the revenue which the union school had been receiving from Tay taxpayers in that section was switched to Midland Public Schools Board as a result of the ruling of the special board. The situation was further complicated when some Tay pupils continued to attend Evergreen School after the award had been made.


County Herald headline of April 7, 1961.
Tiny Township council burned considerable midnight oil Wednesday before arriving at a budget for 1961. The rate will be slightly more than three mills higher than that of 1960 and includes expenses and items other than education. Since school levies vary throughout the township, it is not possible to include them in an overall rate. Clerk – treasurer G. Marchand said most of the school rates will be comparable to last year. There are, however, a few which are likely to be somewhat higher than previously. Major increases in estimated expenditures are for wages and salaries, fire protection, police equipment and a proposed building to house sanitary facilities and dressing rooms at Balm Beach. Most other items in the budget remain approximately the same as last year, with some being reduced. 

    With only two dissenting votes, directors of the Georgian Bay Development Association have condemned as an unjustified abridgement of local government autonomy the decision of the Ontario government to take away from local municipalities the right to grant fixed assessments. “This is just another case of the big cities who have the industries wanting to stop them moving to other centers,” was the opinion of many directors, “the haves versus the havenots.” “The last three industries which have come to Meaford have come under fixed assessments.” explained John Harabi of that town. It was the general conclusion of the GBDA meeting in  Orangeville that no municipality wanted to offer fixed assessment to anyone and everyone but that smaller communities, off the main lines had found in the past that they needed every sales weapon in their arsenal to attract industrial prospects. 

    Dr. P. B. Rynard, M.P. for Simcoe East, revealed this week that two North Simcoe firms have been awarded government contracts, one for dredging and the other for ship repairs. Dr. Rynard said the Waubaushene Navigation Co. Ltd. had been awarded a $23,625 contract for dredging work at Waubaushene. The other contract, for an unstipulated amount, was awarded to Atkinson Machine and Marine of Midland repairs and involves maintenance work on the government ship C. P. Edwards. 

     Cam Parker was elected president of Midland Progressive-Conservative Association, at the association’s annual meeting in the Georgian Hotel last week. He succeeds Frank Doherty who has held office for the past two years. Other officers are Gordon Henderson, 1st vice-president, Victor Smith, 2nd vice-president and Ray Newton who is serving his third year as secretary-treasurer. About 30 attended the meeting. Members were informed, that Dr. P. B. Rynard, M.P. for Simcoe East, will speak at a joint meeting of Men’s Clubs of several Midland churches, to be held in Knox Church April 19. 

   The federal cabinet has suspended for 90 days a freight rate increase, which was to have gone into effect Saturday, April 1st on export grain moved by rail from Georgian Bay elevators to East Coast ports. Prime Minister Diefenbaker said the suspension would give the government time to consider the report of the McPherson royal commission on transportation, due within a few weeks.  He said it would also “permit consideration of such additional representations as may be made”. The board of transport commissioners had authorized a rate of 33 cents per 100 pounds based on wheat shipments. The railways had sought an increase to 38 cents from the current rate of 25 cents, which includes some switching and elevator charges. 

    An uncle [we believe he is the step-brother] of James Playfair of Midland, Stuart Playfair, 84, has donated $1,000,000 [equivalent to 8.5 million in 2021] to the University of Toronto for research into nervous diseases. This was revealed recently by university president Claude Bissell who said the donor had insisted that his name be kept secret. “I wanted to keep it quiet stated Mr. Playfair, now in Florida, during a telephone interview with a Toronto newspaper. “I’ve been fortunate to have a bit of money.” added Mr. Playfair. “I figured it would be a good thing if a cure could be found for these dreadful diseases.” He stated be gave the money in memory of his wife, Helen, who died in 1959 after being afflicted with Parkinson’s disease for 16 years. That disease will be the first target of the research team using the money, it was stated. Stating that he was enjoying golfing every day, Mr. Playfair jokingly referred to his big donation again and added “I’ve scarcely got a buck-and-a-half left, just enough for three meals a day.” Mr. Playfair, who was born in Toronto in 1877, attended Jarvis Street Collegiate and Harbord Collegiate and started work at 16 with the Bank of Hamilton. He joined the army and served in the Boer War. In 1901, he formed the firm of Usher, Playfair and Co., stockbrokers and this firm became Playfair & Co. in 1928. The next year he formed the real estate firm of Playfair & Coke. Prominent on Bay Street in the years before World War II, Mr. Playfair was a director of many companies and a keen yachtsman. He married Helen McScott of Maryland in 1905. A keen golfer, Mr. Playfair has been a regular curler at the Granite Club, Toronto. 

 We had this 1956 photo of Mr. Playfair on file with the caption; Four prominent figures who have been involved with the progress of St. Andrews Hospital since its inception in 1918 are seen following ceremonies at the hospital Wednesday night. R. J. Pinchin, president of the board, Mrs. Emma Baker, superintendent for some 30 years and after whom a wing has been named; Stuart Playfair who unveiled a plaque honouring the contributions of his step-brother the late James Playfair, donor of the original building.

     Clare Armstrong, Midland dairyman, was the featured speaker at Midland Rotary Club’s meeting last week. Mr. Armstrong explained the various phases and operations of the dairy business. Guest at the meeting was Frank Gauthier. The sing-song was led by Jim Henry and piano accompanist was Ab Clark. 

    Zero hour arrives at 8 a.m. Thursday for some 42 teams who will be in Midland and Penetang to battle it out for provincial Little NHL honors this year. In Midland Arena, the host town will take on the champs from the rural Little NHL finals, held some weeks ago in Bradford. At Penetang, the Georgian Bay and Parry Sound winners will meet. Games in both towns will start the AHL match at 8 a.m., followed by the junior “A” at 9 a.m. and the NHL at 10 a.m. That’s only six of the 60 games that have to be played before the title holders in all three divisions are known. The 61st game which closes the three day hockey fest is a special. It is the junior “B” tyke game (under 9 years) under the sponsorship of the Society for Crippled Children. Famed wrestler “Whipper” Watson is expected to be on hand to give the trophy to the winner. 

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From the same page – Pure maple syrup, $5 per gallon, limited quantity. Bring your own container Phone LA. 6-6647 or LA 6-6637. 

Midland relief recipients received their cheques at the relief office and accepted them with the 17 per cent cut imposed. * * * Medonte Township council decided that all relief payments would be stopped April 1. * * * C. L. Wiles was elected president of the Midland Branch of the Canadian Legion. * * * Penetang fire brigade elected  Jack McLaughlin assistant chief, to assist Chief Spearn who was appointed by town council. * * * Two Simcoe County swine clubs, one for members between 15 and 20 years-of-age, were formed with a membership selected from all parts of the county. * * * Some 600 persons attended St. Mark’s Anglican Church annual congregational supper held in the parish hall. Talking films were provided for those waiting their turn for supper. * * * Penetang Board of Trade decided to move the tourist information bureau to the town wharf, and re-elected its executive headed by president H. A. C. Osborne. * * * Douglas Tushingham was awarded a fellowship at the Divinity School of Graduate Studies at the University of Chicago. The fellowship is for three years at $600 per year. * * * Georgian Bay Hunters and Anglers held a joint meeting  with the Kiwanis Club and recommended that the Sturgeon River be closed for at least two years and stocked with trout from 12 to 18 months old. 

Up The Shore – Juanita Rourke
[This is an excerpt from Juanita’s excellent column “Up The Shore”. In this April 5th column Juanita comments on the changes to the annual spring ritual of returning to the light stations.]

Out by Midland Point the ship turned its nose toward Port McNicoll. The helicopter took off for Parry Sound. The ice was heavy, the ship jiggled and bounced against it. Progress was slow. Mother Nature was putting up a staunch fight against-man’s modern means of destroying “Why don’t you let me take care of the spring break-up,” I imagined it was screaming. “Impatient men. Modern men. Always in a hurry. If you would wait. Give me a chance. You would get to the outer bay. You always have before.” It was quite a day indeed, when I ventured forth on this my first voyage at the opening of navigation. I was aboard a modern ice-breaker. I sat in a carpeted lounge watching television, while a helicopter flew overhead and a scoot circled us on the ice. I am not really convinced this is any better than the good old days.’ It seems a very short time since ‘old dobbin’ made the last trip down the bay just about this time. When the ice started to melt along the shores, we knew it was time to get in supplies for the break-up. Times have changed dramatically and quickly up the shore. We have gone modern in a big way.
And I sometimes wonder if we are better off because of it. 

This is the description of the book from Amazon; Up the Shore: The Lighthouse Years recounts the stories of a Great Lakes lightkeeper and his family. This engaging book lets us tag along with Frank and Juanita Rourke and their family as they live a life many will find intriguing, giving us a personal experience with an extinct part of Canada’s history. These true stories were originally written as a weekly column for the Free Press in Midland, Ontario by Juanita Rourke. Juanita’s daughter Bonnie Rourke has edited her mother’s stories into this unique account of the life that Juanita shared with her husband at various lighthouses in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.

This book and many others are available online at the Huronia Museum gift shop.

Tiny Talks
When I arose this morning ‘March 27’, the first thing to greet me was a pair of robins in the old crab apple tree singing to the rising sun. Later on when I went outside I saw killdeers and butterflies, so I think spring is really here. Now that April has arrived, we are all quite pleased to see her. We longed for her in February. Then suddenly the air blew softly and light fell on the greening fields. The great winds of March have swept the fields clear and now the season of miracles is here. We felt it in the air as we squelched through the slush and listened to the music of the little rivulets that rushed down through the fields. At no season of the year am I so aware of the visible fulfillment of the promise: “While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.” Beautiful, unpredictable April! The days are as fresh and lovely as a child — days fulfilling the promise, “At evening it shall be light.” Spring is summer in the making and one wishes that it would last longer; that buds would take longer to burst into leaf. Even the sounds of April are gentle, The peepers in the swamp sing away on a cool night. A robin sings “cheeryup, cheery-up.” And then there is the low mooing of the cattle. I like to sit on the back steps and breathe in the good smell of growing things. “I lack the vanity to say God made that lilac cloud for me and the plum tree veiled in bloom; Because I am not vain. I say. God made these things and it is plain they are but facets of His grand design. But God made me as well with tastes, and eyes, and ears and sense of smell; With heart and brain whose potencies make the clouds and all creation mine.”
—Rhoda Downer. 

    Midland will have a new eight lane bowling alley in operation by early summer, it was announced yesterday. With Glenn Campbell as manager, Huronia Lanes Ltd. will be located on the second floor, over Campbell Bros, automotive parts, at Bay and Second Streets. Names of the heads of the new firm have not been released as yet. “It has nothing to do with the auto parts firm,” Glenn Campbell verified. Mr. Campbell said the new alleys would feature “the most modern equipment available”, including automatic pin-setters. Work on extending the second floor of the building to accommodate the new alley is to begin immediately. “Our plans are being drawn so that we can easily expand to 16 lanes if conditions warrant,” said Mr. Campbell. The plans also included a snack bar and a nursery where mothers can leave their children while they bowl. Mr. Campbell said Huronia Lanes would start booking teams for league play within the next two or three weeks.  Officials of a prominent bowling supply firm will supervise the setting up of the new alleys. They will also provide some topnotch bowlers on the occasion of the official opening, slated for some time between mid June and July 1. The bowling will be strictly five pin for the time being, at least, Mr. Campbell said.

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