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.
68 years ago – May/June 1952
The days before blue boxes: before regular Wellington County recyclable collection, volunteer organizations used the paper drive as a fundraiser. In June 1952, the Drayton Legion Branch 416 held a community paper drive.
Area councillors had no big decisions to make in May and June of 1952. On May 26, Maryborough signed a contract with MacLennan Construction for immediate repairs to a rural township bridge. A week later, Peel council met at Lynch’s Hall in Goldstone to hire a new township engineer to replace E.H. Bowman, who had resigned. After paying a pile of bills, they voted to hold a special meeting on June 9 to deal with municipal drain No. 8.
At the June county council session, Drayton reeve A.E. Andrews made a plea for the paving of the entire length of the 10th of Peel. He told councillors that 5,800 cubic yards of gravel had been laid on it that year, but much had either washed into the ditch or blown away as dust. The reeve noted that the road was part of the direct route between Palmerston and Elmira, and the combination of heavy traffic and blinding dust had already resulted in a fatal accident that year. In the end, he had to settle for a layer of calcium chloride.
Plans for the 1952 Drayton Fall Fair took shape at a meeting on June 3 of the Peel, Maryborough and Drayton Fair Board. The date was set for Sept. 20.
On June 5, some 110 representatives from the 14 Women’s Institutes in North Wellington gathered in Drayton for an all-day meeting.
Moorefield’s Intermediate softball team got off to a strong start in early June, taking their first game from Arthur, and on June 7 besting their old rivals from Linwood by a score of 14 to 7 before a large home crowd.
A proposal by Canadian National to discontinue all passenger and express service between Palmerston and Kincardine raised a flurry of protest from the communities along the route. The railway claimed the passenger trains carried as few as two passengers per trip, and had been losing money for years. CN intended to retain freight service on the line.
Members of Drayton’s Christian Reformed Church completed the concrete foundation work on their new church, just east of Drayton, in early June, and soon had the beams erected. On June 8 they inducted their first permanent minister, Rev. A.O. Folkema, who had come from Chicago.
Other churches welcomed new ministers. Rev. William Skelly, newly arrived from Northern Ireland, assumed the Presbyterian pulpits in Drayton, Rothsay and Moorefield following his induction on June 18. At Drayton, Rev. Alan Selby moved into the recently renovated United Church manse in June and prepared to take on his duties effective July 1. In Rothsay, the United Church congregation was in the midst of repairs and renovations to the former Anglican Church, which they had purchased a short time previously. They planned to move to their new church in late July.
An ongoing dispute between Bell Telephone and the Union Telephone Co. of Drayton went before the Board of Transport Commissioners. Bell claimed that Union was not following the agreements signed between the two companies, and threatened to cut off long distance service and the use of Bell’s Drayton exchange. The Board ordered Bell to maintain service pending arbitration of the case. Union Telephone in 1952 served about 475 rural customers in Peel and Maryborough.
Members of Drayton Branch 416 of the Canadian Legion marked an outstanding year at their annual meeting. President Ralph Henry reported that membership had doubled since 1951, and that steps to form a Ladies Auxiliary were going well.
Other Drayton organizations were busy. Rebekah Lodge No. 240 celebrated a 30th anniversary on June 10. Mrs. A.B. McColgan, one of eight charted members present, cut the commemorative birthday cake. The Drayton Women’s Institute conducted a door-to-door canvas and tag day for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. President J.H. Gibb of the Drayton Lawn Bowling Club welcomed a dozen or so new members, the biggest boost in several years for that organization.
The Moorefield Junior Farmers hosted a picnic for the Junior Farmers from across the county on June 13. As well as a meal, the event featured sporting competitions, and concluded with a dance. This group also organized public dances every Saturday night at the Moorefield Park, featuring the Moorefield Orchestra and a 50-cent admission price.
Ranee Curtis created some excitement in the Rothsay area, when he reported seeing a black bear running into the woods. No bears had been seen in the area for decades.
Late June brought the garden party and strawberry festival season. Glenallan United Church kicked off the series on June 18, drawing about 1,000 people for a meal featuring ham, salads, berries and a long musical program. Two nights later, Zion United Church fed more than 500 people. This was the bargain of 1952 at 75 cents. The other garden parties all charged $1. The program, put together by CFPL radio in London, featured a variety show. On June 24, it was the turn of Moorefield United, with a buffet supper and local talent. June 26 offered a choice. Drayton United served up a full hot meal and entertainment by the Victorian Quartette of Toronto. Lebanon United countered with a play, staged by the young people of Knox Presbyterian in Listowel.
July 1982 – 38 years ago
Organizers of Moorefield’s summer Bible School were delighted with the enrolment in their 1982 program. More than 100 youngsters between 4 and 12 years of age signed up for the sessions running daily between 9 and 11:30am from July 5 to 16. The staffing required 11 teachers and 11 assistants.
The United Churches of Drayton, Moorefield and Rothsay combined for July services at Moorefield, with Rev. Norm Penrose officiating, while Pastor Dale Martin enjoyed a month’s vacation.
The Maryborough Horticultural Society received a grant of $150 from the township to plant 500 tulip bulbs at the community centre.
A proposed new firehall, to be built jointly by Drayton and Peel Township, ran into opposition from the clerks of the two municipalities. They explained to their councils that administration and accounting would be very difficult to divide equitably between Drayton and Peel. Drayton was determined to push ahead with the project, which would consist of a 4,500 square-foot building and a 45,000-litre underground water tank. Existing facilities were inadequate for the village’s two pumpers and tank truck. The issue was complicated because Peel paid over half the cost of the Drayton fire department, and wanted equal control over its affairs. Drayton council decided to proceed with the project, and sort out the administrative problems later.
At the July 7 meeting of Maryborough council, a delegation from the newly-organized Maryborough Ratepayers Association greeted councillors. The group, headed by John McCann, announced that two of their members would attend all future council meetings. They had two particular issues to take up: the widening of County Road 10, and excessive speeding by motorists through Rothsay on County Road 7.
John Stanners held his big annual antique auction on July 3, near Moorefield. Though the crowd was down from previous years, prices were strong. The same day, Tina Jagt held a closing out sale of the merchandise from her craft shop, which had operated for about a year in Moorefield. She blamed a doubling of the rent for the premises as the big factor in the closing.
A long-standing Rothsay landmark disappeared during July, with the demolition of the Women’s Institute hall. The WI had purchased the building in 1945 for their meetings and special events. Before that it had been owned by the Foresters’ Lodge for 40 years. The building, dating to the 1890s, was constructed by the Good Templars Lodge for their temperance meetings and rallies. Over the years it had been the scene of countless community events.
While the Rothsay Hall was coming down, an addition to the Drayton Reformed Church was going up. The new wing added a nursery, library and meeting rooms to the church’s facilities. The work included a ramp and elevator to provide access for those with mobility problems.
Several Drayton councillors created problems for themselves by criticizing the state of maintenance at the cemetery at their July 6 meeting. Lomer Samis, chairman of the cemetery board, and caretaker Percy Whale took offence and resigned. Less controversial was a decision to add an access ramp at the town hall.
Drayton’s sewer and water saga continued. Councillors began to show cold feet for the project on July 6. Councillor Lloyd Mclntosh was concerned that the village’s churches were exempt from charges for the work. Others feared that the provincial government might levy sales tax on the project. That would add $150,000 to the cost. More serious was Drayton’s ability to borrow. The village’s limit had been set at $250,000 of debt, but its share of the work, after provincial subsidies were considered, still amounted to $850,000. Councillors decided to raise the matter with the provincial government.
The Rotary Club decided to sponsor a daily bus to and from the Palmerston pool from Aug. 9 to Aug. 27. Other groups were running buses to swimming facilities, and they invariably ran at full capacity.
A severe wind and thunder storm on July 18 flattened a large poultry barn belonging to Henry Damsma on Con. 6 of Maryborough. The structure was empty at the time.
The Kinsmen’s barbecue on July 24 enjoyed spectacular success. The club served 752 meals between 5pm and 8pm. The menu contained roast beef, baked potatoes, pork and beans, coleslaw and ice cream sundaes. A dance followed, with an elimination draw building the excitement until a final draw at midnight. Tim Radstake of Mount Forest won the grand prize, a brand new Chevette motor car. Others went home with one of the other 30 prizes, ranging from $500 down to $40. Proceeds from the evening went to the club’s various community projects.
Many of the dairy farmers in the Drayton area dropped in for the open house at the new Surge dealership, operated by Ric and Paula Richardson. The couple came from Watford, and selected Drayton as a good area for the sale of the Surge line of dairying equipment.
*This column was originally published in the Drayton Community News on June 28, 2002 and June 29, 2007.