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The Centennial of the Village of Fenelon Falls (1975)

April 29, 2023

Burys Green Women's Institute float in Fenelon Falls Centennial Parade, 1975

By Viola McIntosh

From the Tweedsmuir History of Fenelon Falls

(Note: the actual centennial was 1874-1974, but celebrations were postponed a year due to work on village sewers)

Plans had been made for honoring our little hamlet’s 100th birthday by the 1974 Council (Harry Moore – Keith Wilson – Basil McGee – Thomas G. Graham – Garnet Graham). Due to upheaval of roads and streets with installation of sewers etc. not very much was accomplished. But for 1975 a good live committee had been named and they neither slumbered nor slept too much as the completed plans for a Bang-Up Week – and in fact a whole summer of activities. Basil McGee ex-councillor was chairman; Marina McLennan, secretary; Lenne Craig; Zeta Devan; Jim Southam and Fred Brandon active members for promoting all that was outlined. Except Mrs. Devan, the members were all 3rd and 4th generation Fenelon Falls Citizens. George Palmer was named Parade Chairman – (another 4th generation family).

To go back to 1974; on June 5th a good number gathered at Fenelon Falls Secondary School (FFSS) for a get together. Miss Alice Hand was a special guest in her 92nd year. Her father E.D. Hand began publication of the Fenelon Falls Gazette in 1872. Mark Fell, a long-time citizen helped to recall some of our ancient history as depicted in very many old pictures assembled from various sources by the Historical Society and prepared for flashing on the screen by W.E. Hick of Lindsay; there was lock and dam construction, streets, early tow and passenger boats which plied up and down after canal completion around 1885. Maryboro Lodge, built in 1837 at the end of Oak Street by James Wallis, and now our Museum was given mention.

With that one evening, activities pretty well ceased for 1974, apart from a display of 6 or 7 old steamboats used as ‘tug boats.’ The mechanically minded men folk were intrigued by their operation off the lakeshore park, and many a young lad enjoyed his first ride on such. From then energies were concentrated for June 1975. May 30th and June 5th were circled on all calendars as the Big Centennial Week for Fenelon Falls. Much advertising had gone out to old timers urging them to return for a week of fun and renewed friendships. During the week perhaps 500 signed the guest book and it built up to around 1000 over the summer. Melville Copp had responsibility for that and was another with 4 Fenelon generations behind him.

A great deal of interest was shown in the parade sixty or seventy entries. Many beautiful draught and saddle horses were admired, some had been brought in from Dummer Twp. In Peterborough County, Lakefield and Cannington, as well as Beaverton, Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Township. Members of four perhaps nine nearby Women’s Institutes; dressed in old time costumes emphasized pioneer equipment on their well decorated floats. Fenelon Falls W.I. was celebrating their 70 years of activity in the area, and had a Special Day in February entertaining groups from all 14 districts about 140 ladies in all.

Many families with backgrounds of 4 generations in the area took a part in the parade. There was Helen (Graham) McIntosh, her daughters, Mary Brandon and her daughter Katherine Elder with her children, Jennifer and Scott, also Mary (McIntosh) Platten (Jim’s wife) and 3 children, one of whom was in a very old baby carriage belonging to Helena (Burgoyne) Graham. There were Ellerys and Littletons, Chambers-Junkin combinations and Grahams of various branches, also Jacketts all honoring those of their family trees who laid such good foundations for community living.

Tea, coffee, soft drinks and cookies were served on the museum grounds by our local Women’s Institute, convened by the president Mrs. George Palmer, assisted by Mrs. R. Osborne and Fred and Mary Brandon, as people enjoyed the lake breezes—a chat with old friends, and a tour of the museum interior. Many compliments were given to that committee for re-arranging, decorating and cleaning for the event. Later in the season Hon. Robb Nixon did likewise and commended the people of the area for their enterprise and foresight in maintaining the historic spot so attractively.

The fashion show at the arena on Friday evening was really something and many very favourable remarks were heard on the manner of presentations. Senior citizens were seated at various parts of the circle in old fashioned chairs, rockers, etc. to view the display of costumes from you to old age elaborate wedding gowns, party costumes, night attire along with oil lamps and the very necessary ‘John’ tucked underneath an arm, beaming faces were almost hidden beneath nightcaps–; nor were the far-from skimpy bathing suits of years ago overlooked.

Every day there was entertainment, the Public School teachers encouraged their pupils to come up with original art work drawings, historic and otherwise, the old bell tower seemed to have been of real interest to them. There was also a puppet show presented by one class. Miss Gladys Suggitt, our local author of Roses and Thorns assisted by a relative gave daily demonstrations of butter making; sometimes if one was lucky, they got a sample on fresh homemade bread. Mrs. Ed White was there too, showing how spinning and weaving was done. A guilt was set up and various women demonstrated the art of quilting to give this generation some ideals of how our forebearers put in their time. Pottery work and tatting were also displayed.

A most praiseworthy group of paintings was attractively hung in the gym room of the school. Many of the pictures had been done by local people, also some good photography was admired, and prizes were given to various groups of students for their efforts shown on the walls of all the corridors.

Nor can we miss comments on the musical efforts. On Saturday eve, the Salvation Army Staff Band of Toronto (claimed by many to be the best in Canada) gave a delightful and varied programme of all types, including choruses, solos, spirituals, finishing with the sound of Britain by Norman Bearcroft; the presentation of this was approved by International or Territorial Music Board. On Sunday, the St. James Anglican Church had their guests the men and boys of the choir of St. Simon the Apostle Church, Toronto. They sang for a choral communion service at 4 PM and at 7:30 delighted a packed church with their beautiful harmonies of fine church music.

An event that gave special pleasure to many was a restful eye satisfying sail on a small steamer which plied the waters below the Falls to Sturgeon Lake. On board was Capt. Young of Young’s Point, the only remaining officer of former days who had guided boats for years on the various lakes from Lakefield to Lake Simcoe. The Centennial Committee enjoyed this outing on the final jaunt with outsiders who helped make the parade and other events of the week so worthwhile.

Senior citizens were tendered a fine dinner in the arena on Thursday Eve. All young people born in or before 1900 were guests of the committee. Again Miss Alice Hand was a guest of Mr. & Mrs. Albert Kelly, who were 65 years married (one or both of their attendants were with them to celebrate). There were 100 guests some coming from a distance. Mary and Charlie Chambers, Ed Littleton were noticed.

At Chamber of Commerce annual dinner meeting on May 5th, two citizens were honored. Mr. Russ Baptiste was named Citizen of the Year for his work with young people and the Ball park has a special gesture towards Women’s Lib and Fenelon Falls Centennial Year. The Chamber of Commerce decided to name a woman as the Centennial Citizen of the Year. Mr. T.C. Graham, Deputy Reeve was asked to present Viola McIntosh for this honor. No one was more surprised then she and she looks upon it as honoring the efforts of all the W.I members and women of the community for the unsung efforts for the betterment of the community during many years.

This was the year we finally got a water tower on the hill opposite the Public School. It did not come without some wrathy discussions, but now we have it the site in general has been and will be beautified as time goes on, and no doubt the added pressure will often be much appreciated.

I am sure many items have been overlooked, but the programmes have been combed; members of the committee interviewed, and apologies are made to any whose efforts or assistance may have been overlooked.

Oh yes, the town crier, Garnet Graham in very effective costume and with his Yip Sticks and own particular sense of humor is one that comes to mind.

Special straw sailor hats with blue bands, centennial silver dollars, good for purchasing over a period; the very original design of the steam engine as a badge all are worthy of remembrance and a Great Big ‘Thank You’ to any and all who helped put us on the map in 1974, from Northern Albert to southern eastern states, Old Boys and Girls returned to honor their forebearers and enjoy our beautiful Kawartha Area, especially the village of Fenelon Falls.

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