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REMEMBER THIS: Newmarket celebrates 1980 anniversary for 17 days

In this week's column, History Hound Richard MacLeod highlights the year 1980, when Newmarket marked its centennial as a town

Let's look at 1980, another year in Newmarket’s rich history. In 1957, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our incorporation as a village and now let's examine some of the highlights of the year 1980 when we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our incorporation as a town.

The year finds us with a few new faces on council and a few familiar faces in the administration of the town’s business. Our mayor is Ray Twinney and our regional councillor is Mr. Tom Taylor. Council consisted of Peter Hall, Clare Salisbury, Bob Scott, Dave Kerwin, Frank Patterson, Henry (Bud) Walford and Henry Vanden Bergh.

Grant Blight was still the town clerk /treasurer and William Errington remained 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 had been part of the regional force since 1971. Our fire department would be locally run until Jan. 1, 2002, when the Aurora and Newmarket departments would officially join forces to form Central York Fire Services.

In January 1980, the 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 administrators of the Canadian Quaker Records Collection decided 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.

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 over 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-pound hamburgers, along with the pizza and salad bar.

In May, the town planted two memorial trees downtown to commemorate the old Trading Tree that had been removed years ago and to celebrate 100 years as a town. One was placed on Timothy Street between Main and Church streets. The whole 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 placed at the Municipal Offices on Main Street, a sort of ‘friendship tree.’

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

It was also in May that the old 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 125-year-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 and concerts and demonstrations in the park.

We hosted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a canoe race on Fairy Lake and 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, the 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 centennial memorabilia.

A new Loblaws store was the focal point in the new Westgate plaza on the southeast corner of Davis and Yonge. 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 the 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, with three full-size courts.

In November, Brad Walker’s Ford on Davis, which had been there for over 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, 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 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 over 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 treasurer 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 Historical Committee would change its name to the Newmarket Historical Society.

Our local Girl Guides won a Blood Donor award with Kathy Tugwell and Karen Bennett accepting the award on the Guides' behalf.

The Muddy Duck opened March 3 at its Yonge Street location. Also in March, Whipper Watson’s Snow-a-Rama 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, joins the force.

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 at St. John’s Parish Hall, a popular choice, indeed.

Sadly, on May 5, Max Alvin Boag passed away. Boag, if you have read my previous articles, was deeply intertwined in our local history on so many levels and the town found itself in mourning.

Stu Parks, town treasurer, retired after having served 18 years.

In July, the town was honoured when Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope passed through town. 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 Doane family held a reunion at the Quaker Meeting House on Yonge 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 Dr. Peever was your doctor, you will remember that the good doctor retired in December.

Sources: Articles from the Newmarket Era; Newmarket Centennial 1880 – 1980 Souvenir Programme and Guide; 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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