Huronia Museum – Looking Back 60 Years in North Simcoe – July 24th to 31st, 1961

Picturesque gardens are popular show places for summer visitors. Shown below are the CPR gardens at Port McNicoll, the Martyrs Shrine and Midlander Tom Trew’s regal lily garden.  


Editorial page photo entitled; “Space Age Clipper Ship”. Large crowds of visitors swarmed over HMCS “Buckingham” as the RCN Spencerian class frigate held open house at Midland dock Sunday. On a training cruise on the Great Lakes, the ship carries 161 men and officers. The ship is under the command of Lieut-Cmdr. T. B. L. Hebbert. 

Officers of HMCS Buckingham, the Royal Canadian Navy frigate which visited Midland last week on a training cruise, played host to a number of civic dignitaries aboard ship Friday night, prior to their departure next day for Owen Sound. Left to right are Mr. and Mrs. Bill Hack and Lieut-Cmdr. Bud Kidd, executive officer; Alderman and Mrs. Oliver Lesperance; Alderman and Mrs. Albert Atkinson; and A. J. Preston, president of Midland Golf and Country Club, and Mrs. Preston. The officers of the Buckingham had been guests of the town at a dinner held at the golf club earlier in the week. 

Stubborn as an army mule is the wreck of the old Major, which employees of Waubaushene Navigation Company are trying to raise from the west side of Midland harbour. Ten inches of quick sand over a bottom of hard-pan clay cling stubbornly to the old vessel, which was sunk many decades ago to form a small dry dock. Barge beside the Major contains tractors and other heavy equipment used in an effort to dislodge the old ship. 

      The old ” MAJOR ” drydock owned by Ganton Dobson of Midland, which had recently been beached on the west shore of Midland Bay previous to being towed to Owen Sound, was totally destroyed by fire early last Saturday morning. (Dobson had decided to move his dry dock business to Owen Sound.)
      The cause of the fire is still shrouded in mystery. Many of Midland’s citizens were awakened by a strong smell of smoke blowing off the bay, and upon investigation discovered it to be issuing from the burning hulk of the old MAJOR. 
      The life story of the MAJOR is one of the most interesting tales of the Great Lakes. 
      She was owned by Ganton Dobson, for many years president and general manager of the Georgian Bay Shipbuilding and Wrecking Company, and is now occupying the same office in the newly formed Georgian Bay Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., which had planned to take her to Owen Sound to continue her career as a dry dock. She has been in service for 52 years. Of wooden construction, reinforced with steel arches and Howe Truss, she was built by a noted shipbuilder, James Davidson, in the year 1889, in Bay City, Michigan. She was 202 feet long by 41 feet beam and 20 feet deep. She had a very successful life until November 9, 1913. This was the year marked by so many disasters on the Great Lakes. 
      When she was on Lake Superior, carrying a load of coal and making heavy weather, she rolled her smoke stack off her. She was abandoned by her crew, but some hours after she was picked up and towed to Sault Ste. Marie, where her cargo was salvaged and the steamer sold to the late Jas. Playfair and his associates. They brought her to Midland where she underwent repairs, and was put in the stone, coal, ore and grain trade. This she carried on until the year 1918. Her engines were then taken out and put in a new steel boat. The hull was sold to the Georgian Bay Shipbuilding and Wrecking Co., who made her into a dry-dock in the winter of 1921 and 1922. Until recently she had lain at the foot of Midland Avenue. 
      The MAJOR had dry-docked 230 ships, of all kinds, successfully; many of which were extensively rebuilt; thus providing many men with work throughout the depression, besides bringing much trade to the merchants of Midland. 
      There are not many ships left on the Great Lakes at the age of 52 years still carrying on business. This one was one of the last built by Mr. Davidson. 
      Free Press Herald, Midland 
      Wednesday, October 1, 1941 

It is understood that she was scuttled between Brebeuf and Giant’s Tomb Islands.

An eye catcher for tourists approaching Midland from the south on Highway 27 is the gaily-colored new Brooklea Golf and Country Club’s clubhouse and swimming pool. The pool was officially opened last week and is proving a popular spot for both club members and visitors. 

One of the big attractions at Midland’s new Brooklea Golf and Country Club is a handsome swimming pool, plus, no doubt, bathing beauties. Here Faith Cripps relaxes on the diving board while two smaller tykes take advantage of the cool waters on one of the hottest days of the year. 

Lots of fishermen spend hundreds of dollars on fancy equipment and still don’t achieve the results this lad did with a four-foot tree branch, a piece of old line, a 10-cent hook and a dead minnow. Happy lad is 10-year old Bobby Sakaguchi of Toronto; proudly displaying the three-pound bass he caught in Midland’s Little Lake last Wednesday afternoon. 

Two of the busiest men in Midland these days are Lieut. Wm. Johnston of Midland Salvation Army Corps and his assistant Cadet Lewis Ashwell, standing at right. They are organizing an odd-job service for employable unemployed persons. 

Camp grounds at Little Lake Park are jam-packed with tents and trailers these days. Space appears to be at premium as tent ropes criss-cross each other. The scene above is reminiscent of 25 years ago. 


Free Press Herald headline of Wednesday, July 26, 1961.
A unique experiment, which it is hoped can be developed into a year-round service, was launched Monday by the Salvation Army Corps of Midland as a means of rehabilitating employable unemployed persons who are not eligible for unemployment insurance or municipal welfare. The project involves an odd-job service force of about 20 men, all heads of families, who now have no source of income and require work immediately. Administration of the service and labor pool will be supervised by local Salvation Army officers, with headquarters at 235 Second Street, Midland. The officers are working in co-operation with officials of the National Employment Service in Midland. 

     For the second weekend in succession, what might have been a major tragedy was averted on Georgian Bay Sunday evening when six persons were picked from the angry waters following a flash storm. Last week four men from the Etobicoke area narrowly escaped drowning after clinging to their overturned boat for an hour and a half off Methodist Island. Sunday night it was Mr. and Mrs. Mel Lockhart, well-known Victoria Harbour couple, their daughters, Penny, 19 and Margaret, 18, Patsy Crawford, 10, of Toronto, and their 2-year-old  grandson, Rickey McMann. Following the hottest day of the year, the Lockharts were returning with the four children from Port Severn to Victoria Harbour. Around 8.30 p.m. huge storm clouds suddenly appeared in the west, followed shortly afterwards by heavy winds and, finally heavy rain. In the heavy seas that developed, waves broke over the sides of the Lockharts’ 14-foot boat, which was powered by a 40 hp motor. Soon the boat filled with water and sank. The boat was equipped with seats of life-saving material as well as life jackets. Mr. and Mrs. Lockhart clung to these for almost an hour before they were finally rescued,” said OPP constable Bill Mohan.  Fortunately, the two adults had time to fit the two-year-old boy firmly in a lifejacket  before the boat sank. By the time Const Mohan was able to get the police boat to the scene, the six persons had been picked up by two boats which came out from the Waubaushene cottage area. One of the boats picked up Penny Lockhart and 10-year-old Patsy Crawford, who were attempting to swim the mile and a half to shore. Const. Mohan said, both Mr. and Mrs. Lockhart were very tired and stiff from more than an hour in the water and their efforts to keep the little lad’s head above the water. 

     Members of Simcoe County committees for homes for the aged will be selecting and ordering furniture for the new addition to Georgian Manor at a meeting in Penetang today. Reeve Alf Cage of Penetang, a member of the committee, said the building is fast approaching the point where it will be ready for the furniture. Asked whether an opening date had been set, he said, “there is no official date but I think the earliest possible date would be September 15.” 

    A one-time regular occurrence in Midland 25 or more years ago, a graduation ceremony for trainees at St. Andrews Hospital, Midland, will be revived July 31. The graduation will take place in St. Paul’s United Church next Monday. Receiving their certificates will be eleven students who enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistants’ course at St. Andrews last fall. Principal speaker for the evening will be Dr. P. B. Rynard, M.P. for Simcoe East. 

    A man reporters can truly write about as being “90 years young”, is Msgr. J. M. Castex, popular parish priest of Penetang, who marked his 90th anniversary Saturday, July 22. When I visited him at his cottage at Marygrove this week, I found him enjoying the cool breezes wafting through the shady knoll on the high promontory overlooking the entrance to Penetang Bay. I hesitated to disturb him, for he was engrossed in his Bible. Somehow he must have sensed my presence for suddenly, he looked up; then, with a smile on his kindly face, beckoned me to come nearer. As the distance between us decreased and allowed his slightly failing eyesight to identify his visitor, he greeted me and patting the arm of a nearby chair, invited me to sit with him. Although he has spent the summer at this spot for some 16 years, Msgr. Castex is as thrilled today as he ever has been with the marvelous view out through the “gap”. He can see as far as Waubaushene on a clear day. A stand has been built at the edge of the lawn to hold a powerful telescope and, he says, “I can even see the fishing lines of those fishing in boats several miles away.” When he had finished extolling the virtues of this location I turned the conversation to his own personal history, and found he had come to Canada at the age of 19. On that crossing he spent 10 days on the ocean travelling third class. “And you can imagine what third class was like in those days, he said, with evidence of distaste in the grimace on his face. He landed at Quebec City, August 4, 1890. Since then he has returned to his native France seven or eight times. More recent trips have been by air, the latest of those two years ago. When I asked him whether or not he was going to fly again, he came back quickly, “By all means.” Marygrove Camp has been one of his favorite projects, and there is little doubt he could talk enthusiastically about it for hours. Although it was an extremely hot day, Msgr. Castex insisted on showing his latest pride and joy, the new chapel at Marygrove, opened only three weeks ago. “Do you mind walking over there through the bush?” he asked with an impish grin on his face, and promptly started off through a woodland path. 

H. Martin and J. Smith, both of Toronto, in a weeks fishing off Woodland Beach caught 30 lake trout with a total weight of 150 pounds. The biggest was 14 pounds, two ounces. * * * Tondakea Lodge, Franz Johnston’s outdoor school of art was beginning its sixth successful season at Balm Beach with a big addition being made to the main lodge. * * * Rev. L. A. Duce, minister of Clavary Baptist Church, Midland, was leaving that church to further his studies. * * * Under the direction of W. G. McQuay, Midland contractor, the federal government was equipping the five corners of the three piers of the Midland dock with oak and concrete buffers. * * * More than 300 attended the song and hymn service at Little Lake Park, Midland, which was led by a mass choir. * * * Midland boys’ and girls’ summer playground activity at Little Lake Park was jointly sponsored by the Midland Board of Education, Midland Kiwanis Club and the Midland YMCA. * * * Midland Planing Mills had just completed the installation of machinery in their new plant and were taking over the retail end of the business formerly carried on by Midland Wood Products Limited. * * * Following a meeting with the Hon. David Croll, Tiny Township council officials decided to delay their decision to cut off all relief until further consideration could be given to the matter by Mr. Croll’s department. * * * Midland Branch 80 of the Canadian Legion held a Decoration Day service and placed wreaths on the cenotaph and on the graves of service personnel at the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Lakeview Cemeteries. * * * Midland Kiwanis Club was preparing its “Millionaires’ Street Carnival” with $800 in prizes.   

     The presence of mind of an 11-year-old boy averted a tragedy at Penetang Red Dock Sunday. The hero of the incident is James York, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles York, Penetang Road. He played a leading role in the rescue of his young cousin, Irvin Crawford, 7, son of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Crawford, 1631 Glenholme Ave., Niagara Falls, Ont. The two boys, both non-swimmers, were on a fishing expedition with their fathers. Irvin toppled off the dock into deep water. Jimmy reached out as far as he could, grabbed the struggling boy and held on until Mr. York and Mr. Crawford arrived to pull him out. After his rescue, Irvin commented: “I lost my shoes.” 


County Herald headline of Friday July 28, 1961.
Two Midland firms have been awarded substantial contracts by federal government departments, Dr. P. B. Rynard, M.P. for Simcoe East, revealed yesterday. The two contracts total $78,341.94, one of which is for Department of Defence Production and the other is a Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation project. Largest of the two contracts was awarded to Ernst Leitz (Canada) Limited of Midland. It amounts to $53,341.94 for precision equipment ordered by the Defence Production Department. The CMHC contract was awarded to Thomas G. Wilcox and Sons of Midland and amounts to roughly $25,000. This newspaper learned yesterday that the contract covers a landscaping project for 118 new CHMC housing units at Petawawa, Ont. Included in the work is grading, sodding, shrub planting and so forth. The Wilcox firm plans to start the grading next week. It is expected about three weeks will be required to complete the project, if good weather prevails. About 10 men will be employed on the project, four of them members of the staff of the Midland contracting company. The Wilcox firm has completed landscaping projects for the Department of Highways and at RCAF stations at Camp Borden and Edgar, recently. 

    Penetang’s police force will be able to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding Sept. 11 of this year. It has not been operating as a municipal force for all of the 70 years, however. For a number of years a detachment of the OPP was stationed at Penetang to provide municipal police protection. From the single man appointed 70 years ago, the police department has grown to a staff of five men today. A request from Lieut. Col. J. J. Pratt, command provost marshal of the Canadian Army’s Central Command, for an old police hat badge sent Penetang’s Chief Constable Jack Arbour searching through the town’s bylaws this week to determine when the town first appointed an officer of the law. The search turned up Bylaw No. 193, dated Sept. 11, 1891, appointing James Francis Dempsey as chief constable. The bylaw, beautifully handwritten by Harry Jennings, clerk, and signed by W. H. Hewson, mayor, reads as follows: “Bylaw 193 of the Corporation of Penetanguishene “To appoint a Chief Constable, night watchman, sanitary inspector, truant officer and caretaker of the Fire Hall. “Whereas it is deemed necessary and expedient for the good government of the Corporation of the Town of Penetanguishene to appoint a Chief constable, night watchman, sanitary inspector, truant officer and caretaker of the Fire Hall for Town of Penetanguishene. “It is therefore enacted by Council of the Corporation of the Town of Penetanguishene in Council assembled that James Francis Dempsey be and he is thereby appointed Chief Constable, night watchman, sanitary inspector, truant officer and caretaker of the Fire Hall, with all the powers invested by Statute in each and every of said offices, and that for the due and proper fulfillment of all the said offices he shall receive the salary of Four Hundred Dollars per annum together with the amount granted by the Court of Sessions for lockup keeper, and any and all Court fees which he may become entitled to in Criminal cases where the prisoners may be convicted to the County Gaol, but to no other fees as constable. “That this bylaw shall take, effect from the passing thereof and that this appointment may be terminated at any time at the pleasure of the Council of the Corporation of Penetanguishene.” 

    If you heard the boom of guns and saw the flash of starshells the last two nights on Georgian Bay, there is no cause for alarm. F. K. McKean, district marine agent at Parry Sound, advised last week the HMCS Buckingham, which recently visited Midland, and her sister ship the HMCS Lauzon carried out gunnery practice Monday night, and starshell firing Tuesday night. These practices were carried out on a firing range established near the centre of Georgian Bay due west of Parry Sound, Mr. McKean stated. 

      With St. Ann’s Parochial School scheduled to start operations in September, Penetang will have a total of six schools in operation.  The new venture will accommodate Grade 11 pupils for the coming term. It is expected the school will be enlarged to house Grade 12 as well, next year. The parochial school is of a private nature, with parents contributing fees for children who attend the institution. Affairs of the school will be governed by a parish committee, with Msgr. J. M. Castex at its head. Others on the committee at the present time include Father J. Kelly, vice chairman, Father L. O’Malley and Father Guy Hamel, Jerome Lacroix, Bernard Leclaire and Romeo Asselin, secretary. Two temporary buildings are now under construction on property adjoining the Knights of Columbus Hall, Poyntz Street. The buildings are of a type generally known as “portable class-room”. Committee member Bernard Leclaire said, this week, attendance is expected to be approximately 35 pupils. 

    Penetang Legion has embarked on another expansion program at its club headquarters, at Simcoe and Peel Streets. Work is well underway on a second-floor unit above the addition to the ground-floor auditorium completed several years ago. The new room, approximately 42 by 65 feet, will be used as a recreation room for club members. At the same time, the basement underneath the auditorium addition is being finished off with plywood panelling on the walls. An entirely new heating system is being installed in the building, with sufficient capacity to care for the extra space being created. There is also a possibility that air conditioning may be installed in the auditorium, according to Legion officials.

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