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.
95 years ago – October 1926
The sudden announcement by Dr. Rowen that he and his family would be leaving Drayton caused much surprise in October 1926.
He had purchased the practice of Dr. P.L. Irvine less than three years previously, but the offer of a lucrative position as staff physician at a large Cleveland factory proved irresistible. Dr. W.H. Taylor of Guelph took over Dr. Rowen’s practice.
North Wellington’s public school teachers held a teachers’ convention at the Mount Forest library on Oct. 7 and 8. They heard several lectures and watched performances by dramatic and musical groups from Mount Forest schools. Most of the program consisted of short talks by the teachers themselves to share their successful teaching methods, particularly with new curriculum additions such as household science and health.
High school students from Drayton, Harriston, Arthur, Wingham and Listowel descended on Mount Forest for the annual field day on Oct. 8, with total attendance at the 1,500 mark.
Most of the churches scheduled special services during October. Holy Trinity in Alma staged its harvest home on Oct. 3. A week later, St. James in Rothsay held its harvest home, Drayton Anglican its Thanksgiving service, and Stirton United held morning and evening anniversary services, all with guest ministers and special music. Goldstone United’s anniversary service took place on Oct. 17, and the same day the Glen Allan and Hollen United churches combined for a joint service at Hollen. Last of the special services was the harvest home at Alma United on Oct. 24.
Maryborough council spent much of its October meeting discussing an extension to the Kells drain, following the submission of a petition by Andrew Lennox and a group of his neighbours. Council voted to have an engineer study the proposal and prepare a drainage plan.
Peel council’s meeting of Oct. 18 involved the paying of accounts and other matters related to a recent outbreak of smallpox. Several houses had been placed under quarantine, and the local board of health had been busy monitoring the situation.
County council visited Drayton on Oct. 13 to see the paving project for the street to the station, which was completed the very morning of the visit. This was the first use of asphalt by the county. The quality and the cost saving over concrete impressed the councillors.
The paving of Moorefield’s main street was completed the same week. County council had planned to pave the main street of Clifford as well, but postponed the work to 1927 due to wet weather.
Wellington’s Junior Farmers held their annual banquet and awards presentation at the Guelph Armouries on Oct. 15, with a large contingent from Peel and Maryborough. The evening featured speeches by Premier Howard Fergusson and President Reynolds of the Ontario Agricultural College. During his remarks, the premier announced that his government was considering an educational broadcasting system aimed at farmers. Music awards went to Isobel Henderson and the Monarch Orchestra of the Drayton area. Douglas Reid received a trophy for livestock judging. The most popular recipients were the members of the Goldstone girls’ baseball team, winners of the area championship that year.
Election fever was in the air, and Premier Fergusson confirmed the rumours when he dissolved the legislature on Oct. 18 for a general election on Dec. 1. His Conservative government was proposing to ease out of prohibition through a system of local options and the sale of liquor through government-run outlets. He wished a mandate for the measures.
The Liberals had selected their candidate almost a year earlier: Dr. George McQuibban of Alma, a staunch temperance man. The Conservatives scheduled a nomination meeting for Arthur on Nov. 1. Confusion prevailed in the ranks of the Progressive Party. W.E. Raney had received the local nomination, but then turned it down. Meanwhile, local temperance groups geared up for a lively campaign.
The first snowfall of the season came on the night of Oct. 17, producing glee in the hearts of winter sports fans. The accumulation was about an inch. Most of it melted by the following afternoon.
A fire of unknown origin destroyed the large barn of councillor John Armstrong on Concession 16 of Maryborough. He also lost his entire 1926 crop.
Another fire broke out on Drayton’s main street, but the volunteers extinguished the blaze before it could flare up into a major conflagration, thanks to the new fire engine, purchased by the village earlier in the year. The fire underlined the importance of a reliable source of water. Drayton council continued to review plans for the proposed waterworks system.
70 years ago – October 1951
October 1951 began with high winds that caused some damage to roofs and buildings. The gales also uprooted some trees, causing brief closures to roads.
Fall fair season ended in the area with the Palmerston Fair on Oct. 1 and 2. It opened with a parade, and the grounds featured livestock competitions, a midway, and horse races.
Women’s groups associated with the churches put on bake sales during October – at least a dozen of them at various congregations in Peel, Maryborough and Drayton. St. Andrew’s Church in Moorefield celebrated the installation of a new electric organ on Sept. 30 with a dedication service. A week later, Rothsay United’s morning service included the baptism of six children, representing five families. The Moorefield branch of the Upper Canada Bible Society concluded a successful season, having raised $274 for their head office. The money went into a fund to purchase a new press for printing UCBS bibles and other religious publications.
Drayton residents spent the month grumbling about an 8% tax increase levied by their council for 1951. More agreeable news was council’s decision to participate in a tree planting program of the Department of Lands and Forests. The work consisted of planting some 1,200 spruce and pine trees on vacant parcels in the village, including the old school garden plots beside the high school.
The condition of the roads in the Drayton area caused grumbling. The only paved section out of the village was the stretch between Drayton and Moorefield. Backed by the townships, Drayton took the complaint to county council, with a request that the county pave the road to Creekbank and Alma.
Due to the Korean War, the federal government announced early in October 1951 that the proposed dam on the Conestogo River would be postponed. Three weeks later came news that the entire project might be abandoned. The decision left Maryborough council in a quandary. A flood had washed out the 4th line bridge in 1948, and council had not replaced it because the site would be under 50 feet of water when the dam was completed. Now there were renewed demands for a replacement bridge, at a cost that was likely to exceed $80,000.
The four-year-old Drayton Rotary Club staged a carnival on Oct. 12 at the Drayton arena, featuring bingo, other games, musical performances starring Clarence Allow, the singing violinist of Durham, and his Rhythm Rangers. The evening concluded with a dance. Despite cold weather, the event drew a good crowd, and raised more than $800 for Rotary activities that included a TB chest X-ray clinic.
Premier Leslie Frost caused surprise when he called a general election for Nov. 22. The government had been elected only three years previously. Wellington North’s Conservatives were quick off the mark, with a nomination meeting in Arthur’s Town Hall on Oct. 2. They selected John Root. He hoped to capture the riding that the Liberals had held for a generation. With seven weeks of campaigning ahead, the contest would be a lengthy one.
Caught somewhat off guard, the Liberals did not call their nomination meeting until Oct. 18. They unanimously chose the sitting member, Ross McEwing, for a fifth term. In his acceptance speech, McEwing advocated an increase in the number of woodlots and other conservation measures. He believed the government should take a major role in the construction and management of more nursing homes for the elderly, and he wanted subsidies for rural telephone services similar to those in effect for rural electrification. He warned the audience about “the dangers of communistic teachings in our schools,” and wanted “a halt in the tremendous increase in our educational costs until we know what we are doing.”
*This column was originally published in the Drayton Community News on Oct. 12 and 19, 2001.