News from the Mapleton area in 1933 and 1958

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.

July 1933 – 88 years ago

Though the Depression lingered, farmers were pleased with the large hay crop of 1933. Quality was excellent as there was no rain at all during haying season in late June and early July.

Most farmers had their haying completed by the end of the first week of July but there were fears that the lack of rain would affect corn crops.

Organized softball was under way. The North Wellington Softball Association put together a schedule beginning at the end of June, involving teams from Moorefield, Palmerston, Rothsay, Listowel, and Ayton. Playoff games would throw the regular season into August.

Clarence Rolls of Concession 4 of Peel, near Glen Allan, lost his barn when a horse kicked over a lantern and set fire to the structure. He lost his implements and a large amount of stored grain.

Palmerston voters approved a bylaw authorizing the takeover of the town’s arena. The private company that had built the building owed $4,500 on a mortgage, and had been operating at a loss for three years. An attempt to introduce box lacrosse in Palmerston had failed, and the owners saw no hope for a financial turnaround.

Heavy construction on Highway 6 was underway during July of 1933 between Cumnock and Arthur, involving the cutting down of several hills, the elimination of some tight curves, and improved drainage. Arthur residents were unhappy because no Arthur men were hired on the project.

To help with highway planning, the Department of Highways conducted traffic counts at various locations. Over the Dominion Day weekend a crew monitored the Elmira-Alma route. Over a 48-hour period they tallied 1,508 motor cars, 45 trucks, 122 horse-drawn vehicles, and five motorcycles.

A.C. Helwig sold his general store in Drayton to a Toronto firm. Helwig, who had other business interests in the village, had taken over the store early in 1931. The new owners planned to retain the old name, The People’s Corner Store, and would keep Harold Amy as the store manager.

O.B. Henry’s grocery and hardware store offered good bargains for shoppers. Motorists could fill up with gasoline at four gallons for 95 cents. The store had bug killer at 20 pounds for 59 cents, and 98-pound bags of flour for $2.25.

Peel council held its monthly meeting on July 3. Councillors authorized a payment to farmers of one cent per rod for those cutting the roadside weeds in front of their farms.

Members of the Oddfellows and Rebecca Lodges in North Wellington gathered at Pike Lake for a picnic, musical program, and dancing. Six lodges participated in the event.

About 100 men helped out at a barn raising for Dennis Flynn of Concession 8, Peel, on July 7. The job was under the direction of John McManus of Elora. Rather than use new material, McManus dismantled a barn on the O’Reilly farm on Concession 12 and moved the components to the new site, where it was reassembled on a new foundation. The barn was a large one: 70 feet by 56 feet.

In concert with many other bakeries, the Drayton Bakery increased the price of bread to seven cents from six cents per loaf. Though many consumers were not happy, others looked at the increase as a sign that the depression was ending. An increase in the price of wheat, and a subsequent rise in flour, was responsible for the increase.

There were other signs of improving economic conditions. Hog prices in July 1933 hit $5.75 per hundredweight, the highest in more than two years. And in the villages and towns factories were increasing hours of work and hiring new men. But not all signs were rosy. Cattle prices continued to linger at all-time low prices through the summer of 1933.

The Orange lodges from Drayton and neighbouring towns gathered at Fergus on July 12 for the traditional celebration. Altogether, more than 2,300 Orangemen, representing 83 lodges, were present. Several carloads from Drayton attended.

Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways announced a new policy for small freight shipments. The railways would pick up and deliver shipments between their stations and customers’ houses and businesses at no extra charge. The policy was designed to meet the competition of trucking companies, which had badly eroded rail- way freight revenue.

After they had frustrated the Ontario Provincial Police throughout the area for weeks, chief Reich of Elmira arrested two Alma men for stealing chickens. An alert farmer had jotted down the license number of a fleeing vehicle, and the next morning police arrested the pair as they waited for an Elmira poultry dealer to open. The chief scoffed at their explanation that the birds belonged to a relative, when he led them away to the hoosegow.

During the summer the various police forces in the area cooperated in clamping down on lotteries. The OPP arrested a Bowmanville man for selling tickets. Police warned that buyers were as guilty as sellers, and would be prosecuted.

July 1958  – 63 years ago

Peel council met July 2 with reeve Basil Peel in the chair. The main item of business was approval of final agreements with the Grand River Conservation Commission on the new Conestogo Dam and associated road issues. Councillors decided to meet with their Maryborough counterparts later in the month to discuss the outstanding matters regarding the project.

Drayton council’s monthly meeting on July 7 was a short one. They discussed a report on the installation of new washrooms at the town hall, and heard a delegation from the co-op, which was looking for a location for a new feed mill.

Maryborough council dealt with building permits at its July 1958 meeting. The township had recently passed its first building bylaw, and had submitted it to the Ontario Municipal Board for approval. Anticipating early approval, they appointed Bill Lawless as the township’s building inspector. Council had received a handful of building applications from purchasers of cottage lots on Conestogo Lake, but had no plan of the area that the GRCC had subdivided into building lots. They could grant no permits until the GRCC sent a copy of the plan, and the bylaw received approval from the Ontario Municipal Board.

In other business, council gave Bill Lawless a second appointment. As well as building inspector, he would also act as drainage inspector under the tile drainage bylaw. In other business, council voted $100 for a cleanup of the abandoned Rothsay cemetery.

Eddie’s Radio offered the newest technological innovation – the Philco transistor radio. “Operates for 500 hours on two flashlight batteries,” he advised customers. Great deals for shoppers included seven cans of Carnation evaporated milk for $1, and two cans of Aylmer’s pork and beans for 37 cents at Myer’s General Store in Moorefield. Henry’s store in Drayton had canned corn at three for 29 cents, 48-oz cans of tomato juice for 31 cents, and Certo pectin for jam makers at 31 cents per bottle. Henry’s, and most grocery stores in the area, were taking orders for pails of pitted cherries from Niagara.

Members of Lebanon United Church held a social hour for their minister, Rev. C.A. Britain, who had been transferred to Kamsack, Saskatchewan. They gave him several gifts, and enjoyed an ample lunch after some short speeches.

The new Maryborough Township School Area No. 2 met to consider tenders for a school building to replace five one-room schools. The new building would contain two classrooms plus other facilities. Perry Construction Company of Fergus had the low bid. With experience in building schools, the firm promised the building would be ready for occupancy on Dec. 1, a tight schedule indeed.

The board also decided to advertise for a bus driver with a 42-seat vehicle to begin in September. After considering the tenders at their next meeting, the board members awarded the contract to John Stanners at 32 cents per mile. He was responsible for all maintenance costs of the bus. While the new school was under construction students would use two of the existing one-room schools. School would begin at 9:30am.

The Peel Township Area Board also advertised a tender call for bus operators, to begin in September.

Drayton’s Royal Bank branch underwent a renovation, with new paint and varnish, some updated equipment, and framed prints on the walls.

The Glen Allan Mennonite Church offered a Bible school during the first two weeks of July. They welcomed children of all denominations.

Rothsay’s Ivy True Blue Lodge celebrated July 12 quietly, with a dinner in Palmerston. Area Orange lodges planned no special events in 1958.

Just one building was under construction in Drayton during the summer of 1958 – a house by contractor Henry Wimmenhove for his son at the corner of High and Union Streets.

There were a number of renovation and maintenance jobs underway. A major one, at St. Martin’s Church, included painting and redecoration by Henry Taylor of Drayton and Pickett Bros. of Guelph.

On July 25 Ontario’s hog producers voted on a marketing plan. Across the province the vote was 68% in favour, with a turnout of about two-thirds of those eligible to vote. Wellington County as a whole reflected the provincial vote, though farmers in Pilkington and Erin voted against the plan. Minto and Maryborough were strongly in favour, while in Peel the vote was close.

Bricker’s Store in Goldstone and Good’s Jewelry in Drayton were among the retailers closing for a week’s holidays during July.

Cox Construction completed paving of the diversion road around the new Conestogo Lake, and a portion of 1st Sideroad in late July. The route linked with Highway 19 at the Highway 86 intersection at Tralee.


This column was originally published in the Drayton Community News on July 11 and 18, 2008.

Thorning Revisited