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.
66 years ago – January 1952
Heavy snowfalls coupled with mild temperatures caused damage to roofs and other structures.
Among the casualties was an old brick barn opposite the Palmerston hospital. Its roof collapsed under the weight of the snow.
Superior Motors was using the barn for storage at the time, but the building had historical interest, having sheltered cattle used in the production of the first smallpox vaccine in Ontario. Local history buffs hoped the structure might be repaired.
Organized hockey had commenced regular schedules in late December, but soft ice required the postponement of some games at the beginning of January.
On Jan. 4, officials decided that the ice was sound and proceeded with the game. Players found the ice very soft and sticky, as Drayton lost to Cassels 10-6. The season didn’t get any better for Drayton later in the month on more solid ice. The local favourites lost to Baden by a score of 13 -1 on Jan. 16.
The Inter-county Rural League enjoyed a very good start to its season, with many Rural League games out-drawing Intermediate hockey in attendance. Fans enjoyed the freewheeling games, played by teams from Palmerston, Clifford, Moltke, Ayton, Drew, Teviotdale and Beehive on the ice at the Harriston, Palmerston and Mildmay arenas. Play could be rough: one match-up between the rival Palmerston and Clifford teams produced 27 penalties.
While hockey enjoyed wide popularity, other amusements were readily available in 1952. Club 23 at Teviotdale hired the Gene Dlougy Orchestra for Friday night dances during January and February. Originally from the west, this orchestra worked out of Toronto in 1952.
Palmerston’s Norgan Movie Theatre followed a policy of showing recent movie releases, with two shows every day except Sunday, and additional matinees. Manager Lew Young approached council for permission to schedule midnight movies. Councillors dithered on the issue, then set it aside without giving a firm yes or no.
Those unhappy with the Norgan’s feature films could go to Harriston or to the weekend showings at the Drayton Town Hall.
41 years ago – January 1977
Local councils lost no time in getting to work in 1977.
Peel Township met on Jan, 3. The main order of business was a list of appointments to various boards and committees. Councillors authorized the clerk to borrow up to $300,000 to cover expenses until the first instalment of tax payments, due March 21.
Maryborough, meeting the same evening, also dealt with the year’s appointments.
Things were a little livelier at Drayton the next evening. Henry Wimmenhove appeared, with his consultants, upset that the Ministry of Environment was now requiring soil tests before approving his new subdivision. He wanted council to guarantee they would grant approval before he undertook the tests. He was also worried that the additional expense would price the lots out of the market.
Drayton council also considered a proposal from the Peel and Maryborough Mutual Fire Insurance Co. to sell them a small park on Wood Street, east of the cenotaph. The company wanted to construct a 1,500-square-foot office. Its existing facilities had become too cramped. Council deferred a decision that night, but approved the sale later in the month for $7,500.
Drayton council pleased the Kinsmen Club by approving a lottery. The Club proposed to sell 1,000 tickets at $25 each, with a total of $7,500 in prizes, and the proceeds to the new arena fund.
Construction continued on the new Drayton arena through the winter as weather permitted. By mid-month the committee put the total cost of the project at $677,457, and advised the public it needed more donations to qualify for the maximum available in provincial matching grants. The project remained on schedule for a July 1977 completion.
Many dairy farmers in the area went to Toronto during the second week of January for the Milk Marketing Board annual convention.
Back at home, the Moorefield Horticultural Society got the new year underway with its annual meeting and a pot luck supper. The Alma Horticultural Society held its annual meeting a few days later, on Jan. 13. Mary Farrelly agreed to continue for another year as president.
Drayton’s Rotary Club reported a successful sale of Christmas cakes, with more than a ton distributed. The campaign produced net proceeds of more than $1,400.
On Jan 14, the Seniors Club in Drayton enjoyed pleasant performances from 14 girls of Calvin Christian School. The young thespians and musicians presented a varied program of skits, readings and instrumentals.
Fire destroyed the barn of Bob Martin, near Alma, on the morning of Jan. 15. With the assistance of neighbours, he succeeded in removing the livestock.
Later that same day, much activity got under way, despite very cold temperatures. In Alma, about 150 turned out for public skating on the outdoor rink maintained by the Optimist Club. Volunteers served free hot chocolate and hot dogs.
To the west, the Drayton Agricultural Society held its annual meeting the same evening. Due to a larger than expected list of prize winners at the show, the society suffered a deficit of $500 in 1976. A pot luck supper and a slide show, featuring photos of Belize taken by Brian Hammond of Moorefield, bracketed the formal meeting. Bruce Schieck took over as president for 1977.
Also on Jan. 15, Goldstone’s community club held a euchre at the home of Angus Franklin, with several prizes given. A similar group was active in the Parker area, scheduling evenings of euchre at members’ houses on a rotating basis.
The Moorefield Optimist Club celebrated its eighth anniversary on Jan. 22, with guests from a half dozen neighbouring clubs sitting down to a pot luck supper, followed by speeches and fellowship. Music aficionados enjoyed a treat on Jan. 22, when the Toronto Consort, a group of performers specializing in medieval music, appeared at the Palmerston Library Hall. The show was free, with sponsorship from the Outreach Ontario program, through the Midwestern Ontario Library system.
A series of grant announcements gave the provincial government an air of generosity. Moorefield’s community centre received $29,000 for renovation work and improvements. Drayton scooped up $1,800 to assist with the production of a comprehensive zoning bylaw.
The township councils managed to get by with a single meeting during the month. Drayton had a lot more on its plate. On the 20th there was a special meeting, held at the insistence of councillor Ab Hesselink and newcomer John Green, to address the water and sewage problems in the village. These had been longstanding issues, with serious construction proposals dating as far back as the 1920s. The most recent cost study dated to 1968. The two councillors wanted their colleagues to petition the provincial government to reopen the Drayton file.
Water and drainage studies in recent years had shown that much of the potential development land in and around Drayton was unsuitable for building on private services. The situation was deterring new construction.
Council’s interest in infrastructure captured the attention of Henry Wimmenhove. He had been planning a communal water system for his subdivision, and it would be redundant if council constructed municipal services. He stated that he would probably wait until council resolved the sewer and water issues.
A few days later, more trouble appeared. Environment Ministry officials had been sampling the water in the Conestogo River, and found high concentrations of soap and detergent, among other things. They concluded that at least 75% of the village was using drains and storm sewers to dispose of wash water, and they wanted it stopped.
To end the month, and perhaps considering the workload they faced, Drayton council voted themselves a 33% salary increase. At the same time they raised the salary of the clerk-treasurer to $9,000.
*This column was originally published in the Drayton Community News on Jan. 4 and 11, 2002.