The Centennial Year of 1967 in Fenelon Falls?
September 12, 2022
Beulah Robson and Mrs Hawthorne [Hanthorne?], July 1, 1967
An Excerpt from the Fenelon Falls Tweedsmuir History
1967 found Fenelon Falls, like most other small towns, with a well rounded plan for a year of activities to celebrate Canada’s 100th Birthday. A “Centennial Committee” had been set up in 1966 representative of nearly all organizations in the community and was most ably engineered by Mr. Tom Gunton who was later dubbed ‘Man of the Year,’ given a Recognition Dinner by Rotary, and later presented with a Province of Ontario Achievement Award.
We began with a well attended service of meditation and praise at the Midnight Hour in the United Church with the minister of the Church, Rev. H. Martin, and Rev. J.B. Harrison, Reeve of the Village, directing our thoughts. In mid-January the great ceremony of the Burning of the Christmas trees at Lakeshore Park—on a perfect winter evening about 500 people gather to watch Rotarians and others feed the flames with untold numbers of trees for an hour or more. The children were given free rides in ski-doos by generous owners. It was amazing how quickly some kids would be unloaded and back up to the ‘boarding station.’ The shyer youngsters didn’t fare so well!
A venture which provided much interest and entertainment for several months was ‘Little Expo,’ first located in the Cunningham block and later over the firehall. Many people contributed old phots, maps, handcrafts, riding equipment, lamps, time pieces precious china etc. The school children were encouraged to visit the display and showed much interest. The Thursday (Book) Club sponsored a Book Week with a setting more or less pioneer style. Mrs. Mary Lawrence of the Public School Staff had children costumed to represent book titles – “Alice in Wonderland” (Mary Rose Graham) – “Heidi” (Julie McNamara) – Minehaha (Cindy Stephenson) – “Anne of Green Gables (Marianne McConnell) – “Hiawatha” (Roger McInnis) – “Huckleberry Finn” (Peter Swanson) – “Tiny Tim” complete with crutches (Phil Baker). Weather permitted them marching from the school to “Little Expo,” where an hour was spend viewing and being viewed, then a visit to the Public Library—and the Ice Cream depot. Some members of the Book Club were there in costume too, visited the stores and spoke a good word for the Library and “Expo.”
The curlers put on a Special Bonspiel; the Anglican Church had a turkey supper; the United Church women a “Gingham Fair” with smorgasbord; the Salvation army imported a Toronto band for two concerts over a week-end. The Arena was opened at the New Year with artificial ice, this being the special project of the Recreation Committee, involving much publicity and volunteer labour (even on Sundays). The Agricultural Society promoted a fine display of horses, floats, etc. for August 19th, and the showing of Centennial quilts, home baking and beautiful flowers in tents on the fair grounds added to the interest. A find band from Sutton and some goods speakers were also on hand.
The Public School gave us two outstanding events, with Grades 1 to 6 telling of Canada’s beginnings by song, pageantry and readings against backdrops artistically done by Sam Tomilson. Grades 7 and 8 continued the theme with equal zest and ability, if not the same abandon. Much of the script had been prepared by Mrs. M. Lawrence.
The Fenelon Falls High School did a fine job of making Centennial signs which were displayed along our main street, and at Christmas time the Hydro Commission brightened the same section with circles of coloured lights and Christmas trees at various points. Citizens in general went ‘all out’ with Christmas illumination in their homes and multi-coloured spotlights outside, all very effective and a fine finish to an outstanding year.
Many people followed with interest the trip of ‘The Voyageurs’ from Alberta to Montreal, 3,500 miles as David Ellery, son of Cecil Ellery, Caretaker of our Museum, was one of the paddlers.
The week of July 1-8 was the highlight especially planned by the Committee, invitations having been sent out to some 300 old boys and girls of the Village, many of whom returned for all or part of the time. Merchants had very effective window displays—suggestive of their businesses. Many interesting pictures of the days when the ‘Manita,’ the ‘Kawartha,’ the ‘Wacouta’ and other pleasure boats plied our waterways and picnics were a pleasant diversion, were on view and groups were always gathered about with “Oh, look! That’s so and so” or “Who’s that?”, “When did that boat run, and where?”
A monsters parade on July 1st was a credit to our village. Thirty-two floats and displays were entered (Rotary with a model of the ‘Wacouta’ complete with steam whistle, Boy Scouts a model of first railroad engine in Fenelon Falls in 1878, and the Cubs in an Indian scene, called for many comments). It was quite a long route from the Fair Grounds south of the Village to Lakeshore Park, but no one collapsed!! A torrent of rain spoiled plans for a monster street dance in the evening and also for the Outdoor Church Service Sunday afternoon. The latter was transferred to the United Church, but without enough publicity at short notice. Rev. W.A. Beecroft D.D. who had ministered in St. Andrews Church soon after the first war was guest speaker. He remarked on the great improvements in the Village since that time, spoke on our Heritage as Canadians and urged us to cherish it with all the concern and involvement possible.
A picnic planned as a Rally of Old Timers at Lakeshore Park was the one disappointment. The waves rolled high on Cameron Lake, the wind was cold from the west and only a few people ventured out.
Thursday the Garden Party on Museum Grounds was a huge success. Many folks were there in old time costume, some arrived in a surrey driven by George Finney, Reeve of Lindsay, with a spanking team of ponies. Mr. Chas. Edwards, close to his 94th birthday, was so honoured, also Miss Elford and her brother, who were in from Islay, were driven about town. They are both in their 90’s and have been very generous in giving many treasured articles to the museum.
Ladies from the Women’s Institute and the Catholic Women’s League assisted the Museum Board in serving tea and coffee to the many visitors, and also provided old fashioned cookies in untold numbers (less than a dozen remained!) Over 300 signed the Museum guest book and were loud in their praise of the ‘set-up’ in the various rooms and the quality and diversity of the displays.
A wonderful display of fireworks was put on at Lakeshore Park by Township and Village Councils in the evening and the last rocket had gone up before the rain descended.
One wonders how Canada’s 200th Birthday will be recognized. We can only hope there will still be men and women, boys and girls, public spirited and ready to serve their Community in such unselfish ways.
Innumerable people in Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Legion, Church Groups, Guides, Browning, Scouts, School Staffs and Students, Municipal Groups, citizens in general and especially the Centennial Committee take a bow! It was a most commendable effort!
For more Fenelon Falls memories check out the Tweedsmuir History Online: