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Winter Sports in Fenelon Falls in the 1930s

December 5, 2023

The old sledding route down Clifton Street from what was once known as Palmer's Hill. You had to be sure to stop before you flew off the cliff at the bottom!

By Robert McCallum

There was a natural pond in the hollow, south of Bond, north of Francis and east of Clifton streets. In the winter months, this pond would freeze over and all the children from the surrounding area cleared a rink on it for skating and scrub hockey. The children, I recall, were the Bulmers, Jacketts, Websters, Fergusons, Moores and McCallums, Hugh Hepburn, Gerald Palmer, Don Warren, and Jack and Pearl Cameron.

When the ice surface got bad on the pond, we would chop a hole in the, back where the old willow trees grew, and from that hole we would carry water and flood the pond. In this same area, on Bond Street, in front of [Dick and Bertha] Bulmer’s house, we were thrilled to have pieces of cardboard to slide down the embankment with. There was also a series of ponds fed by Rutherford’s Creek, down in what we called the plains. It was east of County Road 22 [Francis Street East]. On a moonlit night we could skate for half a mile, enjoying the winter weather.

For sleigh-riding there was Clifton Street as we know it today. We would start at the top of Palmer’s Hill [the hill between Bond and Head Street on Clifton Street], with a lookout at Bond Street in case of oncoming traffic. Also, there was the old Anglican church hill coming down on to Bond Street just east of the present Anglican church parsonage. There was a curve on that lane about half way down, and we would build it up on the outside bend with packed ice and snow to prevent our sleighs going over the edge. [Now the stairway up to Old St. James]

Gerald Palmer had a bobsled his father William Palmer had made. This marvellous sleigh would hold four or five children. When riding down the hill we went on to Bond Street at the community hall (now the Baptist Church) and on down to Colborne Street. If there was no traffic, we crossed the [Colborne] street and sometimes went as far as the curling street on Bond Street West. If there was a car coming, the front skis of the sleigh could be controlled by a rotating mechanism, and the skis turned at right angles for braking to prevent an accident. At times we even lost a ski.

Enjoying winter in the 1930s was indeed a treasured memory.

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