News from the Mapleton Township area in 1906, 1956

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.

117 years ago February 1906

Winter 1906 brought an up-and-down season of weather. 

Three weeks of bitter cold, with very little snow, followed a mid-January thaw. Then the thermometer shot up again, frustrating those harvesting blocks of ice from the river at Drayton. During the last week of February temperatures remained well above freezing, producing open water on the Conestogo.

Drayton’s 1906 council waited until Feb. 8 for its first meeting, with reeve Henry Irvine presiding. Much of the meeting involved hiring the village staff for the year, and council tackled the job with a sharp pencil: A.C. Woodman as clerk for an annual salary of $50, J. Lunz as treasurer for $50, and E.G. Andrews as constable, sanitary inspector, poll tax collector, truant officer, and hotel inspector, all for $45 for year. They deferred appointing a tax collector, and decided to dispense with a caretaker for the town hall. 

Shoppers in the Drayton area could find bargains everywhere a hundred years ago this month. 

Many of the deals were in Moorefield. Vic Lewis was selling off his entire stock of men’s wear. Innes & Sons offered good buys in groceries: four tins of peas for 25 cents, 20 pounds of oatmeal for 25 cents, and 25 pounds of sugar for $1. The store also marked down all its winter goods, including three men’s fur coats.

In Drayton, the Hefkey & Metz shoe store advertised a “big slaughter of prices,” and accepted either cash or eggs for its footwear. There were bargains at all three Drayton clothing stores: Gibb Bros, had a “monster sale;” John Lunz wanted to clear out his old stock; and John Whyte complained about “stock too large.” Many flocked to the Pollock and Co. store which, after about 30 years in business at Stirton and Drayton, was “giving up business.” Pollock claimed to have more than $5,000 in stock to liquidate, a diverse inventory of dry goods, clothing, and groceries. He had men’s suits priced from $4.95.

There were some business changes in Moorefield. Jim Forest purchased John Schneider’s coal and lumber business, and down the street, George Wilson expanded his hardware business by hiring a tinsmith. L.C. Korstedt sold Moorefield’s other hardware store to Erb Cober.

The Spring Bank Debating Society, in the Wyandot area, undertook a series of interesting discussions through the winter. In mid-February they tackled the subject, “Resolved, that the press has done more than the pulpit in elevating mankind.” Not surprisingly, the verdict was for the latter.

Moorefield’s Foresters’ Lodge undertook a major membership drive over the winter, hoping to get their roll up to 100. By the end of March they surpassed that goal. Moorefield’s Presbyterian church, after considering several applicants, offered a unanimous call to Rev. D.L. Campbell of Dromore to take over their pulpit permanently.

Glen Allan’s small lending library continued to enjoy success. A fundraising concert drew a good crowd and added funds to the 1906 book budget.

Drayton and 21 other villages with continuation schools (those offering Grades 9 and 10 only) pooled their resources to petition Ontario’s Whitney government to put their provincial funding on the same basis as full high schools. Continuation schools received $100 per teaching position; high schools had other costs that qualified for grants. The Drayton school had two teachers and 66 students. Some high schools in Ontario were no larger.

Drayton’s library board tried to raise operating funds with a play, The Squire’s Daughter, performed by the Drayton Dramatic Society at the town hall on Feb. 14. With very cold weather and sleighing poor, the crowd was small. After the performance, Dr. and Mrs. Flath served an oyster supper for the cast.

The Women’s Institute for the West Wellington district gathered at Drayton’s town hall on Feb. 24 for an all-day convention. Among the attractions was a demonstration on homemade candy. There was also a session on salads, which in 1906 were still something of a novelty on most dining room tables in Ontario.

67 years ago January 1956

Both township councils held their first meetings of 1956 on the morning of Jan. 9. 

Phil Rowland, re-elected by a substantial majority for his eighth term, presided in Maryborough. Filling the council chairs were veterans Gord McArthur and Boyd Campbell, with newcomers Fred Noble and Merrill Mitchell. The meeting was largely ceremonial, with brief speeches by the councillors. Several old-timers came out, including a couple of men who had served in the 1910 era. In the business portion, council paid road accounts of $2,024 plus several smaller items.

In Peel Township, reeve V.A. Walker had also been re-elected handily. His 1956 council consisted of deputy reeve Basil Peel, and councillors Len Schieck, Cliff Kells, and Russ Day. After the official ceremonies, councillors tackled some agenda items, including salaries for township staff. The amounts, by the standards of 67 years later, seem ridiculously small. Councillors received $5 per day and five cents per mile. Labourers drew 75 cents per hour. Those owning and operating snow removal equipment enjoyed standby fees of $100 per month for four months, and $1 per hour operating time. Clerk L.A. Flewwelling’s annual salary was $900, as was that of assessor Algeo Koelln. Treasurer S.C. Whale received $700. Stan Snow and George Bates each enjoyed annual salaries of $20 as truant officers. And the township headquarters, Lynch’s Hall in Goldstone, was rented at $100 per year.

As well as setting the 1956 salaries, Peel councillors passed a motion authorizing council and staff to attend both the Good Roads and AMO conventions in Toronto, with all expenses covered.

The staff of Drayton’s Royal Bank branch went to the Harriston Inn for their annual dinner, hosted by branch manager J.A. Fleming and his wife. The dinner was also a farewell for accountant Morgan Lewis, who had been transferred to Dutton.

J.A. Fleming was busy a week later, as president of the Drayton Rotary Club. The first meeting of the year was largely a social event, with a brief talk by B.B. Davis, and concluding with the singing of some popular favourites.

Police captured a pair of Elmira youths who were responsible for a crime wave of thefts and break-ins through the area. Victims included the gas station at Tralee, School Section 11 in Maryborough (where they stole money raised for the Red Cross), Welsh’s Feed Mill in Moorefield (where they made off with the cash register), and several businesses in Woolwich Township.

Two fires occurred in the area during the first week of 1956. On Jan. 6, Drayton Fire Chief Alva Cherrey had his men and equipment on the road quickly to the residence of Egbert Klassens on Con. 4, Peel. By connecting a hose to the water supply in the barn they managed to extinguish the blaze. The house suffered major damage from water and smoke, as well as the flames.

Two nights later, a fire claimed the barn of Walter Gadke, about two miles from Palmerston. Firefighters arrived quickly, but there was little they could do. As well as claiming the barn, the flames killed 16 cattle and a new motor car parked outside. The fire started when Gadke used a blowtorch to thaw out water pipes in the barn.

Councillors from Minto, Wallace and Howick got together to petition the province for another addition to the provincial road network. They wanted to bring a 12-mile stretch of road, linking Highway 23 in Palmerston with Highway 86 at Molesworth into the provincial system. The road was then under county jurisdiction, but was in need of upgrading.

A large crowd turned out at the Moorefield Town Hall for an evening of euchre, followed by an ample lunch. Proceeds from the event went to support the Junior Exhibition at the fall fair.

Area hockey teams enjoyed a lively season, helped by the good natural ice that came with the cold January weather. In a shootout at the Palmerston arena on Jan. 6, the Drayton team upset the favoured Teviotdale Tigers by a score of 10-8. The result further inflamed the rivalry between the two squads. In the Intermediate League, Drayton defeated Alma 9-3 before a packed hometown crowd on Jan. 9.

Though the popularity of television, especially after the start-up of CKNX, was affecting participation and attendance at many local events, the impact on local hockey was yet to be felt.

*This column was originally published in the Drayton Community News on Jan. 20 and Feb. 3, 2006.

Thorning Revisited