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In 1980, festivities marked Newmarket's 100th year as a town

In this week's Remember This, History Hound Richard MacLeod selects the highlights of a banner year in our town's history

I have chosen another year in Newmarket’s rich history to highlight —  I previously featured the year 1957, when we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our incorporation as a village, and I thought it may be fun to go through the records and examine some of the highlights of the year 1980, when we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our incorporation as a town.

As 1980 unfolds, the community is excited about our upcoming celebration of Newmarket’s incorporation as a town. 

The year finds us with a few new faces on council and a few familiar faces in the administration: our mayor is Raymond Twinney and our regional councillor is Tom Taylor. Council consisted of Peter Hall, Clarence Salisbury, Bob Scott, David Kerwin, Frank Patterson, Henry (Bud) Walford and Henry Vanden Bergh. 

Grant Blight was the town clerk/treasurer and William Errington was the town solicitor. Daniel Shannon was our parks and recreation commissioner, Sam Rippey our fire chief and Fred Evans was  heading the works department. 

Our police department has been part of the regional force since 1971.  Our fire department would be locally run until Jan. 1, 2002, when the Aurora and Newmarket Fire departments would officially joined forces to form Central York Fire Services (CYFS).

In January 1980, Newmarket Public Library was hit with several resignations with Ken Peevers, Nellie Little, and Dave Evershed all choosing to move on after years of faithful service.

Bill Andrews would take up a position with the Newmarket recreation department, returning from a similar position in Gananoque.

Excitement abounds within the heritage community as the Canadian Quaker Records Collection decides to make Pickering College its new home, the only such registry in all of Canada.

A mini controversy develops over the planters on Main Street with the Main Street Merchants Association wanting them gone and council saying they will stay – they stayed.

In February. Al Rivard opened a restaurant and deli across the road from York County Hospital, on Davis Drive, and it was an instant hit with its live music.

Also, on Feb. 29 at 6 a.m., Newmarket’s new radio station, CKAN, started broadcasting with Ron Knight as station manager.  Hopes were running high that we all would soon become stars.

The Newmarket Citizens’ Band celebrated its 108th anniversary and things look good for another 100 years of outstanding community entertainment.

In March, Glen Cedar Public school opens its doors on Wayne Avenue with more than 500 people attending the ceremony.  The school population was to grow rapidly from an opening day roster of 13 teachers and 218 students to a staff of 17 teachers and 263 students by August. 

A 195-seat all-you-can-eat restaurant, Vetere Pizzeria, opens on Yonge Street to much excitement. Many of you may remember the three-scoop ice cream cones and half-a-pound hamburgers, along with the pizza and salad bar.

In May, the town decided to plant two memorial trees downtown to commemorate the old Trading Tree that had been removed years ago and, of course, our 100 years as a town.  One was placed on Timothy Street between Main and Church streets.  The project would cost $5,500 with new curbs and an island being necessitated to protect the tree.  A plaque was also unveiled. 

Aurora, as its gift for our centennial, donated a tree that was placed at the municipal offices on Main Street, a sort of friendship tree.

Also in May, mayor Twinney’s plan to shut the Old Town Hall is scuttled when it appears that plans to put the Elman Campbell Museum in the old Registry Office may be falling apart as the York Region indicates that it wants to retain it.  Also, CAO Jack Rettie suggests that the Old Town Hall could be used to house an ever-expanding town administration, but Twinney is still not convinced.

It was also in May that the 125-year-old freight sheds at the CN Rail Station on Davis Drive were demolished.  It was a sad day as people gathered to take souvenirs of the old oat grains, which had been caught up in the cracks in the walls. 

In June 1980, the new courthouse was officially opened at Yonge and Eagle by premier Bill Davis and attorney general Roy McMurtry.  There had been lobbying for such a building for decades. It was, of course, built on the site of the old Industrial Home that had been a fixture in town for over 100 years.

The main event of the year took place in June when the town celebrated its 100th anniversary as an incorporated town. I can remember the sense of community spirit and fellowship as every group came together to celebrate.  

The chairperson of the event was Dianne Humeniuk, who was quoted as saying, “The atmosphere was contagious, seeing people line 10-deep at many events.”  The festivities were to go on for 17 days with a beard-growing contest, a gala ball, dog shows, concerts and demonstrations in the park.

We hosted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a canoe race on Fairy Lake, sporting events, including Newmarket Centennial Day at the Blue Jay game on June 16, a soap box derby, the Scottish Tattoo, a huge opening ceremony, a parade and, of course, beauty contest and great balloon race.  

Every local club held some sort of event during the celebration. I still have my centennial coins, a copy of the centennial cookbook and other memorabilia .

A new Loblaws store was the focal point in the new Westgate plaza on the southeast corner of Davis Drive and Yonge Street. The official opening was July 8, 1980.

In August, the old Bell Building at Eagle and Cawthra streets was redesignated to become the new home of Newmarket Hydro crews at a cost of $200,000.  

The big news in August was the arrival of the Green Machine at Upper Canada Mall.  Part of the Toronto Dominion Bank, it was the first appearance of this new technology where one could get cash, pay bills, get Visa advances, and do all your banking.  I remember my Mom dragged me out on July 17 for the public demonstration.

In October, the Yorktown plaza at Davis and Yonge grew again with the opening of a new Fabricland store and 200-seat Mother’s Pizza Parlour and Spaghetti House. 

A decision was made by council in October to purchase a fourth bus to service the north end of town.  This was to accommodate those areas of the former East Gwillimbury that were amalgamated by Newmarket (see my article on Newmarket Today for more information).

Also, in October, the town opened the tennis bubble behind the municipal offices on Main Street, covering three full-size courts.

In November, Brad Walker’s Ford on Davis Drive, which had been there for more than 30 years, was sold to Shanahan Ford of Toronto.

Great news for the heritage community when it was announced in November that the steeple on top of the Christian Baptist Church on Main would be saved. Rumours had floated around that they planned to demolish it. 

On Nov. 27, the York Region celebrated its 10th anniversary with a huge reception. Opinions were still out on whether it was a blessing 10 years later.

A foreshadowing of the future occurred in December when Ambrosia, a natural food store, opened on Yonge Street in the Quaker Hills Plaza.  It was our first natural food store in Newmarket and look at us now.

When looking back on a year in our past, we can never forget to mention the social news that was so important to Newmarket’s citizens.

Mrs. W.A. Spears, having served as a member of the York County Hospital Auxiliary for more than 30 years, is honoured with a lifetime membership to the Ontario Auxiliaries Association.

Nora French retired after nearly 42 years running French’s Beauty Parlor on Main Street.

The Newmarket Historical Committee’s executive in 1980 features Elman Campbell as chairman, Anne Campbell as vice-chairman, Elizabeth Sharp as secretary, John Chappell as treasure and Margaret Gilbert as its newsletter editor.  Two prominent men who influenced my love of history, Terry Carter and George Luesby, were also members of the executive. In July, the committee would change its name to the Newmarket Historical Society.

Our local Guides won a blood donor award with Kathy Tugwell and Karen Bennett accepting the award on their behalf.  

The Muddy Duck opened March 3, 1980 at its Yonge Street location. Also, in March, Whipper Watson’s Snowarama would raise $435,000 in aid of the Ontario Society of Crippled Children.

York Regional Police got their first female police cadet when Patricia Maxwell, who was 19 years old, joins the program.

In sports, Cathy Sheffield returns from the Pan Am Games in Venezuela with a gold medal as part of the Canadian judo team.

Grant Blight celebrated his 25th anniversary with the town April 18.  Mr. and Mrs. Campbell are crowned King and Queen of our Centennial bash at the dance held at St. John’s Parish Hall, a popular choice indeed.  

Sadly, on May 5, Max Alvin Boag passed away. He was intertwined in our local history on so many levels and hence the town was in mourning.

Stu Parks, who had been town treasurer, retired after having served 18 years in the service of the town. 

In July, the town was honoured when Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope passed through. More than $25,000 was raised that day and literally millions since locally thanks, to people like Laurie Osborne and her crew who have taken up the cause.  

In August, the Doanes held a reunion at the Quaker Meeting House on Yonge Street and Adella Thompson of Peterwood Court celebrated her 102nd birthday.

On Oct. 20, the centennial year plaque commemorating the founding of Newmarket was erected just west of Fairy Lake, next to the Hydro building.

If you had Dr. Peever as a doctor, you will remember that the good doctor retired in December.

And so ends my account of 1980, a year when we celebrated and grieved together. I am sure I may have missed a few important events in my account, so be my guest and post your memories from that year.

I hope that you have enjoyed our look back.  What year would you like to see highlighted in the future?

Sources: Articles from the Newmarket Era; Newmarket Centennial 1880 – 1980 Souvenir Programme and Guide; Oral History Interviews conducted by Richard MacLeod; The Memorial Merchants and Trades 1950 – 1980 by Eugene McCaffrey 


Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for more than 40 years. He writes a weekly feature about our town's history in partnership with Newmarket Today, conducts heritage lectures and walking tours of local interest, and leads local oral history interviews.


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About the Author: Richard MacLeod

Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for more than 40 years
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