The following is a re-print of a past column by former Advertiser columnist Stephen Thorning, who passed away on Feb. 23, 2015.
Some text has been updated to reflect changes since the original publication and any images used may not be the same as those that accompanied the original publication.
Amateur theatrical performances took to the stage 75 years ago, as local thespians mounted makeshift stages to deliver their productions to packed houses.
The Stirton United Church started off the series with a social evening on March 5 that began with an oyster supper and concluded with Old Acre Folk, performed by the People’s group. The event raised $84 for the sponsoring group, the Ladies Aid.
Hollen’s Young People’s group performed in the village’s United Church on March 8, with starring roles for Tom Cosford, Mason Armstrong, Jack Taylor and Norm Cowan.
Three nights later, the students of S.S.9 Maryborough staged A Fortunate Calamity at the school. This was part of a full evening of entertainment and socializing. Women who brought box lunches received free admission.
The Young People’s group of St. Andrew’s Church in Moorefield used the Maryborough township hall for a performance of His Uncle’s Niece on March 17.
Those not attracted by dramatics still had lots to do. The Rothsay Sports Association held a winter carnival at the Drayton arena on March 4. There were prizes for costumes, but the planned skating races had to be cancelled because the ice was too soft.
The Drayton Women’s Institute began a course in making crystalline lamps on March 7, using the council chambers as a temporary afternoon workshop.
Drayton’s Literary Society scheduled a public lecture in the Town Hall on March 18, featuring Drayton High School graduate Ken Gibb speaking on his recent trip to Alaska.
On March 30, the United Church Mission Band put on a 90-minute concert in the Sunday school room. The walls visibly bulged from the pressure of the overflow crowd of parents, relatives, and friends.
Those who simply enjoyed eating could attend a social evening and box lunch in Glen Allan, in aid of the local library. The event raised a gratifying $60 profit for the purchase of more books.
The Women of Knox Church, Drayton, raised more than $80 at their popular annual bake sale on March 7. Drayton’s Rebekah Lodge sponsored an evening of progressive euchre in their lodge room on March 17. Play ended at 11pm with the awarding of prizes. An ample lunch followed. Then there was dancing to a pair of old-time fiddlers until 2am.
Overall, it was a dull and routine month for local politicians. On March 7, Maryborough council decided to repair the furnace in the town hall.
Drayton council met on March 1 and allowed George Moore to erect two gas pumps in front of his Wellington Street business. The pumps would encroach on village property. On March 27, Drayton council granted permission to A.C. Helwig to put a canopy on the front of his garage.
Businessman O.B. Henry appeared before council that night, and received permission to install a second gas pump on Wellington Street, and to open a poolroom on payment of a $100 licence fee.
Joseph Arbuckle, reeve of Maryborough, was among those who spent the first week of the month in Toronto at the Good Roads convention. On his return, he reported with much pleasure that the Ferguson government had ambitious plans for road improvements throughout the province.
Drayton had decided to hold an Old Boys Reunion in the summer of 1927. The busiest group in town in March was undoubtedly the Old Boys Association, as they prepared mailing lists for invitations and scrambled to find current addresses.
The Drayton Athletic Association, which normally put on a full program for Victoria Day, cancelled its events for 1927. Members decided to devote all their energies to the reunion, scheduled for late July. With Drayton preoccupied, Moorefield started planning for a July 1 Dominion Day celebration, which would mark the 60th anniversary of Confederation.
The local business sector continued to show strong signs of vitality. In Drayton, A.C. Helwig sold his shoe store to William Barry, who was leaving the shoe business in Clifford. Helwig had purchased the business only a few months previously. In the last week of the month, the Drayton Creamery commenced the collection of cream in its truck, promising farmers a good price and a strong market for its butter. In Moorefield, R.N. Johnson announced that his brick and tile yard would commence production on May 1, and he was ready to take advance orders any time.
The recent church amalgamation, with Methodists and some Presbyterians forming the United Church of Canada, continued to have local fallout. The two United Churches in Moorefield agreed on March 29 to combine to form a single strong congregation. A committee of five members of each church sat to work out the details.
A health scare resulted when Dr. George McQuibban diagnosed a case of scarlet fever in the Alma school. Trustees closed the school for a week, reopening when no further cases of the disease appeared.
The annual report of Drayton’s Hydro-Electric Commission delighted ratepayers. The utility generated a surplus of $1,700 during 1926, a result of higher than expected consumption and new operating efficiencies.
The big story of 1952 was the sudden death of King George VI on Wed., Feb. 6. Many local people recalled travelling to Guelph only 13 years before to see the king and queen during their brief stopover. On the day of the king’s death, all radio stations played sombre music.
In Palmerston, the local ministerial association met at 10am to formulate plans to mark the sad occasion. It put together special services that same afternoon at the local schools. Each church would have its own service the following Sunday, with a community observance on the day of the funeral at the Presbyterian church, the largest in town.
Palmerston council met on Feb. 11 and declared the day of the funeral, Feb. 15, to be a public day of mourning, with all places of business to close. Most municipalities took similar steps.
Drayton decided to have its community service on the Sunday after the king’s death. The Legion led a parade to the Drayton Town Hall for an interdenominational service. All the local ministers took part.
The February meetings of local councils dealt mainly with routine matters. Maryborough met on Feb. 4, and called for tenders to spray cattle for warble fly. Council also voted to hire James Thompson as township clerk for 1952, for the handsome salary of $650 for the year.
Keith Hammond of Moorefield became something of a pioneer when he erected the first television antenna in Maryborough. He was prepared for the first broadcast from CKNX in Wingham, expected very soon.
The coal business in Palmerston underwent a consolidation when Chick Fuel and Supply bought B.J. Fallis Fuels. Chick planned to move all operations to his Norman street location. The acquisition proved to be an unwise one for Chick: the firm went bankrupt a year later.
The Hawthorn Hill Rural Telephone Co. held its Annual General Meeting in February. With lines in Maryborough and Wallace, the company reported a small profit after updating 50 customers to its new common battery system. The company was in the process of adding a second line on Concession 12 of Maryborough. Fifteen customers had to share a single line on that road.
A crockinole social brought out a huge crowd to the Alma Public School on Feb. 2. The following night, the locals returned for a social evening in honour of Harold Flewwelling, who was retiring after 25 years of delivering the mail for RR2, Alma.
Feb. 22 was the Drayton Skating Carnival. Members of council took charge of the evening and the various events and contests. Reeve A.E. Andrews ran the hot dog stand, drawing on skills he had learned as a teenager, selling red hots on Toronto Island 40 years earlier.
Up the road in Moorefield that same night, an overflow crowd packed the Maryborough town hall to see Betty, Girl of my Heart, staged by the United Church Young People. The actors were Virginia Wildfang, Irene Houston, Bruce Jack, Maxine Hill, Phyllis Rennie, Pauline Johnston, Terry Heppler and Alan Metcalfe.
The reception was sufficiently enthusiastic that the troupe went “on tour,” with a performance at Drayton Town Hall on March 14.
*This column was originally published in the Drayton Community News on March 15, 2002.