News from the Mapleton Township area in 1982, 1932

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.

40 years ago – April 1982

As the calendar flipped from March to April in 1982, the district was in the midst of a prolonged spell of old-fashioned winter weather. Schools cancelled classes, and officials closed several roads in the Drayton area.

The big event in Drayton 40 years ago was a Farm Show at the Peel-Maryborogh-Drayton Arena, organized by the Drayton Kinsmen and staged from April 6 to 8. There were about 50 exhibitors, plus practical seminars each day. The opening banquet featured Dennis Timbrell, recently appointed Ontario Minister of Agriculture. Drayton’s Co-op sponsored Fertilizer Day on April 7, and the Kinsmen Club organized an alternate fuels symposium on the final day. Admission was only $1, and many implement dealers in the area gave out free passes to their customers. The event was an outstanding success, with over 2,500 visitors over the three days.

The Peel-Maryborough-Drayton Arena Board continued to experience financial difficulties. For 1982 the board sought $65,000 from the three councils: $43,000 for operating costs, $10,000 for a contingency fund, and $12,000 of capital costs. The latter included hand dryers in the washrooms, improvements to the snack bar, and $9,000 for new front doors. The impasse continued after several meetings. The townships were adamant that the board not have its own contingency fund, and they balked as well at a $9,000 expenditure for doors.

Peel Township had an even bigger battle with the Arthur Arena Board, which it also supported financially. The board there had a $23,000 surplus from 1981, which it wished to carry forward as a contingency fund. The cost of the Arthur facility for 1982 was projected at $174,000, with revenue of $128,000, leaving $46,000 to be picked up by the participating municipalities. Peel wanted the 1981 surplus applied against the 1982 budget. “We will not change our position,” insisted Reeve Hamilton of Peel.

The Ontario Community Newspaper Association awarded Art Carr its first ever lifetime membership. The recently retired editor of the Palmerston Observer had worked for over a half century in the business, and more recently had been a broadcaster over CKCO television in Kitchener. He had also published in Drayton for two years in the 1960s following the bankruptcy of the old Drayton Advocate.

Drayton’s Minor Hockey Association held its awards night on April 1. Most valuable player awards went Chad Campbell, Brad Watt, Jim Petrick, Mark Martin, and Rob Kraal.

Rotarians were happy with the progress to date with their Easter Seal campaign. By April first they had raised more than half of their $3,000 objective.

The Kinnette Club of Drayton enjoyed gratifying success with a series of monthly bingos at the Legion Hall. The events began in January, and the club intended to run them at least until May.

Peel council expressed frustration with Chris Kautzodimos, proprietor of Flewettes Restaurant  in Alma, which burned down a month earlier. Nothing had been done in the way of cleanup. Council took steps to obtain a court order.

Friends and neighbours gathered at the newly-opened Alma Community Hall to make a presentation to Basil Paar, who had sold his house and was moving to Guelph.

Local schools marked Education Week at the end of April. Maryborough, Rothsay, Wyandot, Centre Peel, and the Drayton Junior and Senior Schools all scheduled open houses. The biggest event in the area was on April 28, when Norwell High School in Palmerston opened to the public with displays and various presentations. At its April meeting Drayton council hired Bill Gulp as town foreman at a salary of $10,000 per year. After further discussion, councillors decided not to appeal the judgment against the village in the Waite case. Street construction by the village had resulted in water running onto the Waite property. With legal costs, the suit cost Drayton about $10,000.

After several years of studies and discussions, the proposed lagoon sewage system for Drayton was again under active consideration. After discussing the expropriation of 50 acres of the Flinkert farm, council backed down, and signed an option to buy the property for $4,600 per acre. A previous option, for $4,000 an acre, had expired and the owner now wanted more money for the land.

Dr. Bob Thurston appeared before council on behalf of the Kinsmen Club. Members were concerned over the run-down appearance of Drayton’s business core. Dr. Thurston asked for council’s cooperation to do a downtown facelift. Councillors expressed enthusiasm for the idea.

In a cost cutting move, council cut the hours of bylaw enforcement officer Donna Green from 10 to five hours per week. She had been hired to enforce the new parking bylaw. The new rules had been controversial, and council decided that a less rigorous enforcement policy would be wise until public dissatisfaction cooled a little.

90 years agoApril 1932

The winter of 1932 had been an open one for the most part, but as spring arrived, country road conditions worsened to the state of being virtually impassible for almost a month. The tow truck from Carter’s Garage in Alma spent most of a day hauling cars out of the mud near Creekbank, until it became stuck fast itself, and had to be rescued by a neighbour’s tractor with caterpillar tracks. Several roads in the Moorefield area were closed to all traffic for various periods.

Due to the scant snow cover and low temperatures earlier in the winter, the frost penetrated deeply, and in the spring the thaw pushed thousands of fence posts out of the ground.

There was some good news for farmers whose bank accounts had become depleted since the beginning of the depression. The provincial government approved a measure that would exempt from property taxes all land dedicated to reforestation and planted with trees. The downside was that such acreage could not be used for any agricultural purpose, including grazing.

Local merchants did all they could to keep money in circulation. Carter’s Garage in Alma advertised second-hand radios at bargain prices. Cutting & Son had high quality varnish at $1 per quart, with a free brush. George Rahn’s store in Moorefield offered house dresses at 85 cents, cotton prints at 15 cents per yard, prunes at 10 cents per pound, and marmalade at 25 cents for a big 40-ounce jar.

The biggest bargains in the area were at Wildfang’s store in Moorefield, where M. Collis & Co. was conducting a court-ordered liquidation sale. On the first day of the sale in March some customers could not get into the store due to the size of the crowd. In April the remaining goods were further reduced. For example, gingham was marked at eight cents per yard, house dresses from 59 cents, and work shirts for the same price. At the conclusion of the sale, the store fixtures, tables, and cash register were sold. Roy Wildfang, meanwhile, took over the Moorefield Bakery, and embarked on a new career.

Reeve Ezra Smith called Peel council to order on April 4. It was a short session. The only business was authorizing the payment of some small bills. Most were for snow removal after the few storms during the winter.

Reeve A.B. McColgan presided over Drayton council the same day. There were several bills for meals for indigents. Les Smith and J. Rooney received $1.25 each for shovelling sidewalks during the winter, and Bill Samis received $21 for digging three graves.

Drayton merchant O.B. Henry scheduled a big sale to coincide with the Drayton Horse Show on April 12. But with the roads on such poor shape, show organizers decided to postpone the show until April 21.

Local conservationists were delighted when Ontario Lands and Forests minister William Finlayson spoke in support of a series of flood control dams on the Grand River system, to reduce damage from flooding and to supply work for the unemployed. The comments came before the release of a major study, but opposition to the scheme was already mounting from townships in the upper portion of the Grand, and particularly from West Luther, Arthur and Drayton, where officials were afraid of the costs. It appeared that only Fergus, Elora, Galt and Brantford strongly favoured the concept.

Lacrosse fans in the area were busy during April trying to set up a box lacrosse league in northwest Wellington and adjoining areas. Box lacrosse, played indoors in hockey arenas rather than on outdoor fields, was a new game, and seemed to be capturing fan interest very quickly. The proposed league, under the regulations of the Ontario Amateur Lacrosse Association, would include teams from Mount Forest, Arthur, Harriston, Fordwich, Drayton, Listowel, Brussels, and Wingham. Initial talks seemed promising, and an organizing meeting was scheduled for Palmerston on April 26.

An outbreak of black quarter, also known as blackleg, among livestock in the Alma area caused much alarm. The disease, caused by bacteria and sometimes confused with anthrax, causes swelling in the legs of cattle, and is almost always fatal. One farmer lost four head. The Dept. of Agriculture ordered the carcasses to be burned to prevent the further spread of the bacteria.

With the economy still in the depths of depression and commodity prices at dismal levels, mortgage holders ordered foreclosed several farms whose owners had fallen far behind in their payments. At several auction sales the farmers banded together and refused to bid on anything.

Ever the optimist, George Moore of Drayton unveiled the new 1932 Ford V-8 models in late 1932. 

And there was one happy development that spring. The weather conditions produced an ample flow of sap.

*This column was originally published in the Drayton Community News on April 6 and 20, 2007.

Thorning Revisited