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REMEMBER THIS: 1967 opened floodgate to development in Newmarket

In this week's column, History Hound Richard McLeod picks continues his timeline series in the years 1966 to 1967

As we continue our timeline series, we find ourselves in the year 1966, having travelled a fair distance since we began in the 1780s.

Our town officials in 1966 were mayor W. A. Kent, reeve George Richardson and deputy reeve C.J. Salisbury. Council consisted of J. Insley, T. Surgeoner, A. Doak, G. Broadben and T. Taylor. Grant Blight was clerk-treasurer and Stewart H. Parks was deputy clerk-treasurer. Helen Reed was in charge at the Registry Office. As the year opened, our population was sitting at 9,648.

The traditional William Elliott play at the high school was The Streets of New York with R. Brooks as musical director.

The Lions Club was marking its 35th anniversary on Feb. 21, 1966. Founding and longtime members were honoured including Chester Best, Alex Georgas, Gene and Ernie McCaffrey, Gerry Wainman, Frank Bowser and Moffatt Cockburn.

The community papers were reporting the rising star of James Kudelka, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Kudelka of Newmarket, who was a featured dancer with the National Ballet Company. He was part of The Nutcracker at the O’Keefe Centre.

The indoor lawn bowling facility on Davis Drive underwent a substantial facelift in February, primarily to a massive fire that had damaged the facility.

The Newmarket Horticultural Society celebrated its 40th anniversary on April 13, 1966, with many of its founding members in attendance.

It was in June 1966 that Ben and Lucy’s Corner Store at Lorne and Eagle changed hands. I remember going to the store nearly every day when I attended Stuart Scott School.

Plans came to fruition for Sunday concerts in the park at the J.O. Little bandshell in Lions Club Park in June 1966. Each weekend, another band would take the stage to entertain the town, to a rousing local response.

The new water tower at the corner of Gladman Avenue and Yonge Street was in the news as the steel supports were then in place, looking very much like a futuristic rocket to many.

Davis Drive was widened to four lanes and parking was eliminated on both sides of the street. Complaints began to arise that the road was now "a speedway." The problem seemed to be related to policing jurisdiction as Davis was designated a county road, not part of either the East Gwillimbury or Newmarket police patrols. The county did not have a police department at the time, so they were still trying to figure out who was responsible for the patrolling of Davis.

In June 1966, the contract related to the widening of Davis from Bolton Avenue to the Sharon Road (Leslie) was signed. Millar Paving of Toronto would be completing the work, along with the installation of storm sewers for a cost of $400,000.

In June, Odeon Canada celebrated its 25th anniversary and a few employees at the Main Street location celebrated milestones. Irene Abbott, the cashier had been there for 10 years, Eddie Wattenberg, the doorman for 10 years, and John Davis, the projectionist for 15 years.

In July, the town announced new lighting would be installed on D’Arcy Street near the Peter Gorman Swimming Pool, in the car park and near the J.O. Little Bandshell. The members of the Hydro Commission were also given a raise at the same meeting.

It was reported policing costs were up in 1965 — the actual figures indicate a small increase from $90,112.63 to $90,115.92.

A new boating concession was opened on Fairy Lake in July by Kevin Johnson. Imagine.

More than 300 boys and girls learned to swim at the Gorman pool. Head instructor was Peter Vale along with Jan Devantier, Gail Wilson and Leslie Devantier. It was a busy year for the pool as attendance soared. Over a two-day period in July, 2,400 people visited the pool. The lifeguards in 1966 consisted of Grant Orton, Alan St. John, Brock Filman and Blythe McCaffrey. The lady who sold you a ticket was Trudy Denouden and the checkers were Stacey Legg, Michael Peters, Mike McMorrow and Susan Ballard. Oh, the memories.

A new public restroom opened on Timothy Street in September 1966, sponsored by the Women’s Professional and Business Club and was given a $700 grant by council.

In September, the Office Specialty transferred its paper division to Brampton, offering Newmarket employees the opportunity to relocate. This was a precursor to moves that would take effect in the future.

The York County Health Unit opened across from the hospital on Prospect Street on Sept. 14, 1966, with a staff of 17 public nurses and 12 sanitary inspectors.

John Cole opened his new practice on Main Street in September 1966. He would serve as our mayor in the coming years.

It was in 1966 that the local Women’s Institute marked its 60th anniversary. The first meeting of the group had been held at the home of Mrs. Doan in 1906.

One of the interesting facts that has arisen in my research for this series is the number of times that women are identified with their husband’s name rather with their own. It often takes some digging to discover the individual’s Christian name. I am wondering just when this practise ended, and women were address by their own names. Just a thought.

In November 1966, the College Football Bowl was to be played in Toronto to determine Canada’s best university football team. Did you know that Peter Gorman, a local businessman was instrumental in organizing this event? Gorman sponsored local sport around Newmarket for years, from hockey to swimming, and it is fortunate that he turned his sports enthusiasm toward college sports.

Real estate firms declared sales in 1966 have been amongst the best in history and professed their optimism that 1967 would be even better.

It is worth mentioning that Centennial fever was rampant around town in the fall of 1966 in anticipation of Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967.

The year 1967 brought with it a new mayor and council. Our mayor was now Andrew Owen Doak and our population had climbed to 10,108.

With the growth of York County Hospital had come an expanded board of directors. Charles E. Boyd was president and Larry Rubin vice-president. E.J. Davis Jr served as honorary president, F. Courtney as treasurer and Leonard Rosenberg was the secretary. The board also had a membership of 17, including Dr. G. Blackwell, Mrs. Evans, James Hammett, Frank Marritt, Dr. O. Slingerland, Bruce R. Stewart, Dr. Gordon Cock, D. Glass, Henry T. Patrick, Dr. D. A. Murdock, W. A Spear, Harry Walker, A.O. Doak, Mrs. Grimshaw, M.E. Lyseck, Sam Nasell and J.S. Spillette. It was an honour to sit on the board and many a leading citizen took up the challenge.

In January the town reported that we were now in a period of advanced growth. The building department reported the largest number of new construction starts in our history that would bode well for the town’s future growth and prosperity.

The Manpower Centre reported the number of people seeking employment had increased from 909 in December of 1965 to 1,027 the end of 1966, owing to the increase in the construction industry and some layoffs in the service industry locally.

In 1967, the first payments of the Canada Pension Plan were set to be begin in January 1967. It is interesting to note the eligible age was pegged at 70 and older. It is also interesting that the old age pension paid $75 per month in 1967.

A new service club was chartered in January 1967, the Civitan Club of Newmarket. The initial president was Gordon F. Wyatt and Newmarket was the 27th club to be chartered internationally.

A winter carnival was held at Fairy Lake in March 1967, sponsored by the Holland River Boat Owners Association and police association and it was said to have been a booming success.

In March 1967, Pickering College celebrated its 125th anniversary with a homecoming as former students and staff returned to celebrate. The keynote speakers were prominent citizens who had attended the school, including John W. Holmes, a Canadian diplomate, Arthur G. Dorland, an author and lecturer on Canadian Quakerism and Samuel Rogers Q.C., chairman of the board.

A public school oratorial contest was in the news in March as judges R. Connor, Mrs. Michleburgh and James Otton decided the winners from a list of contestants, including Lilly Borges from Stuart Scott, Patricia McCann from St, John’s, Catherine McDermott from Prince Charles, Wyanne Allen from Prince Charles, Laurie McCaffrey from Note Dame school and the eventual winner, Brenda Junkin from Stuart Scott.

One of the defining local area history books was released in March 1967 when East Gwillimbury in the Nineteenth Century by Gladys M. Rolling was published. A copy of this book sits on my shelf, a priceless resource for what I do.

It seems that 1967 was a banner year for the local Bell, as 434 telephones were added to the Newmarket exchange, bringing the total to 4,868.

A four-day hockey tournament was held here in Newmarket in April 1967. The tournament, sponsored by the Canadian Legion, was the first of its kind ever held in Ontario for boys playing in B series leagues.

The Giovanelli Accordion Orchestra won the Canadian championship in April 1967 with Newmarket members Joseph Bondi, Stephen Collie, Mimi Giovanelli, Jane Hunter, Monica and Ted Muttat, Laine Robinson, Beth Webb, and Donald Wourters. The orchestra also drew members from surrounding communities, including Dorene and Peter Catania, Helen Cislo, Maria Horodynsky, Ralph Northwood, Alexander Szkabarnicki, and Joan Tripp of Bradford, Elizabeth Berbeck of Mount Albert, Regina Czudonowski of Keswick, and M. Hodson from Barrie.

The library board reported in April that more than 6,000 books had been borrowed in March 1967 alone. Plans to institute a non-resident charge of $2 per family plus 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children would come into effect.

The Centennial Caravan visited Newmarket in April 1967, attracting more than 21,000 people over a two-day period. As is often the case, some people complained that it could have been much larger and that it should have stayed longer.

A new church opened its door in May 1967, the Davis Drive Church of Christ, just east of Lorne on Davis.

On May 29, 1967, 130 attendees witnessed the marriage of a Toronto couple, Audrey Field and Thomas Shaw at the Friend’s Meeting House on Yonge Street. This was the first wedding conducted at the meeting house since 1944 and only the second such marriage since 1893.

An announcement by the town indicated that the new senior apartments on Eagle Street will be assessed but not taxed. The town levied a $25 charge per unit in lieu of tax revenue.

The Gorman pool opened for the season earlier than in previous years on June 10. For July and August, 1,150 people were scheduled to attend lessons. On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, a windbreak was added along with bleachers outside the fence for spectators.

July 24 marked the first Scout Rally ever held in Newmarket at Fairy Lake with parades and official dignitaries. The new amphitheatre had its grand opening on June 18, 1967, in celebration of Canada’s Centennial.

In July, the Canadian Tire opened at Davis and Yonge by Jack Spillette, the owner.

Finally in July 1967, Ethel Trewhella’s History of Newmarket, which had sat in limbo for a decade was finally published by the town. There were only 600 copies printed with pre-orders numbering 200. It has never been reprinted and is, quite frankly, worth a fortune today.

In August, the Children’s Aid office moved to 222 Eagle with a staff of 23, up from six nine years earlier and was led by Donald VanCamp.

The town proudly proclaimed that Newmarket’s population was expected to grow to 31,500 by the year 1986. We also learned that those living within Newmarket but commuting to work was estimated to number 25 to 30 per cent.

The York County branch of the Department of Agriculture and Food moved to the Newmarket Plaza from Botsford Street in August 1967.

Two congregations, one from Trinity United Church and the other from St. Andrew's Church, combined services at the United Church from Aug. 6 to Sept. 3.

Enrolment at local schools was way up according to an August report. Huron Heights had increased its enrolment to 925 students, up 28 students. Newmarket High was predicting an enrolment of 750 students for that fall. Since construction was not completed at Prince Charles, the enrolment at the other schools would need to be staggered.

The ownership of the Newmarket Bus Lines was to change hands in August when Larry Needler took over complete control from Mr. Stackhouse.

In October 1967, town planners revised their estimates for our population growth locally, predicting now that by 1986, the population would increase to 88,561, an increase of 42,000 over the next 19 years.

On the sports scene, the Argus Camera Fastball team won the OASA title with Dale Pegg and Ken Sturgeon the stars.

Bill Hodgson won the provincial election in October 1967 for the Conservatives after a long career in local politics.

The floodgates opened in 1967 in respect to new subdivisions and developments. In October, council announced it had before it a proposal for a 200-home development that would house 247 families. Highland Heights Developments had purchased a large block of the Craddock Farm on Highway 11 south of Eagle Street for the construction of the 200 houses. At the same time to the east of Highland Heights, Towercrest was in the final stages of its own development, and another 60 acres has been set aside for industrial development.

The residents of Gorham Street petitioned the town to annex the area from Maple Street to the 3rd Line. The issue of schooling seems to be the prime driver for this petition as many students were being bused to Bogarttown School or Armitage School and the distance to school was deemed too far.

To wrap up the year 1967, I will look at a few tidbits that caught my eye. In February, Paul Dillman and partner Janis Fletcher placed fourth at the Canadian Centennial Figure Skating Championship in Toronto.

The Norma Jackson Singers were invited to perform at Expo 67 in Montreal. Rev. Norman Rowan opened a Christian supplies store on Timothy Street in August 1967.

With that, we close the books on the year 1967, with patriotic songs and jingles ringing in our ears. Join me next weekend when we pick the story up with the year 1968.

Sources: Clippings from The Newmarket Era and The Newmarket Courier; The Memorable Merchants and Trades by Eugene McCaffrey and George Luesby; The History of Newmarket by Ethel Trewhella; Stories of Newmarket, An Old Ontario Town by Robert Terence Carter

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.