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Remember This, Newmarket: Your memories, photographs vital to preserving our heritage

In this week's column, History Hound Richard MacLeod is appealing to readers to share their stories, as well as photos and documents stored in basements and attics

I wish to solicit your kind assistance with several of the projects that I have on the back burner, so to speak. Several projects are merely awaiting additional information judged pertinent to the re-telling of the story of several local heritage topics of interest to yours truly and, more importantly, the community at large.

If you have been following me these past 15 years, you will recall that I have an extensive archive of photographs and publications relating to our local history. Unfortunately, there are topics of interest for which I have very little if any information and this is where I am in need.   

I have several topics I would like to tackle but, alas, need more materials and perhaps some oral history.  

My hope is that if I list some of the topics, some of you will step forward with pictures, documents or personal memories related to the topic, and in doing so, will assist me in getting those stories out into the public domain.

If you have a story to tell related to the topics, or one that I have not thought of yet, I would love to tape an interview with you for our archives. We could do it online or in person, your choice. If you have old documents or photos that have been digitized, I would appreciate a copy as resource materials. If the photos or documents are not digitized, I would be happy to do that and return the originals to you with digitized copies as well.

Newmarket’s archives are currently closed and have been for quite a while. I have no idea when it may re-open, so that avenue at this point is closed to me.

I can assure you that you will be properly recognized in writing within the resulting article or in the video as a tribute to your contribution.

So let me outline the topics for which I currently need your assistance without any further ado.  I have always been interested in the many bands that were so prominent in the Newmarket area during the 1930s to 1960s. 

I am currently working on a tribute to the musical genius of the Art West family, but we were blessed to have had so many great musicians and groups during that period and I have limited information on many of them unfortunately. I would like to do a series of articles or even a video tribute to them.  

So, what exactly do I require? It would be great if someone had some old tapes or recordings of some of these groups. If you or your relatives were involved in the music scene back then and have photos or articles, I would love to copy them. I am also interested in perhaps conducting interviews over Zoom with all who have a story. There appears to be a general lack of awareness of the rich musical heritage that we all share locally.

The second topic that holds my interest is that of Teen Town. I did a brief interview with Bobby Curtola about local community ‘teen towns’ and I always planned to highlight our very own teen town. I am afraid I have next to nothing regarding photos or documentation and the most important document, the reunion program, seems to have disappeared from the library’s collection. 

I have conducted some oral history interviews but unfortunately, they only served to further confuse me as so many pinpointed conflicting information as to its origins and history.  It would be great to get a copy of the reunion program and some photos if they are out there. Perhaps if I expanded my bank of interviews, I may be able to clarify the story of ‘teen town’ somewhat.

I have written about the iconic school play that was such a vital part of the rite of passage for so many of our high school graduates. I have several playbills and programs in my collection but very few photos and no personal stories or anecdotes. It would be nice to get a few personal mementos (photos) and to conduct some oral history interviews capturing personal memories of your graduation year school play.  Given the current restrictions, we would arrange to do them on Zoom. If you have any press clippings, that would be cool to see as well. 

It may also be cool to recount the memories of those who worked on the high school yearbooks or perhaps your memories of school sports, perhaps you were a ‘local star’ or ‘super fan’.

I have written a few articles on our local political scene from the past and it always appeals to me to collect reminiscences from past politicians and present them in article form. Again, oral history sessions could be arranged online. 

One thing our local politicians have not done is to write books detailing their memories, a shame really.  So, if you are an ex-politician or you worked on local political campaigns and have some great stories to share, then you have a standing offer to be interviewed. 

A community is the product of all the amazing people who have contributed to its public face. I have presented the stories of some of the extraordinary individuals of our community, and I would love to expand on this effort. I would be most appreciative if we could identify other people who really should be profiled. 

I not only need them to be identified but if you have an insight into their accomplishments or documentation on their historic past, I urge you to send that information along to me. Again, we can set up a Zoom interview with you to record for posterity their contributions.  

We have never done an all-encompassing history of Huron Heights Secondary School and so it would be terrific to be able to set up a series of interviews from which we could elicit enough information to do a series of articles.  I published a cursory overview of its history on Newmarket Today, but a more in-depth exploration would be nice.

Finally, we know that Newmarket and area has had a rich sporting heritage and I think that I have just scratched the surface frankly. I have featured some brief histories of our various sporting accomplishments over the years and some extraordinary individual accomplishments, but I have the feeling there is so much more to explore and with your participation, we could do a ‘deeper dive’ into the subject.  

These are but a few of the ideas for topics that I would like to feature in our weekly articles on NewmarketToday. The key, of course, is your participation. I know that so many great stories are out there, so many intriguing photos and documents sitting in attics and basements, and I am urging you to dig them out and give us the opportunity to share them with the entire community. 

If you have knowledge of a person, place or event we should highlight, then please let me know. If you would like to be interviewed, just let me know. I do not want to miss anything related to our local heritage as one of my greatest fears is that an important story or fact falls through the cracks and thus a vital part of our past is lost forever.

To all those who have collaborated with me on various projects over the years, I extend a heartfelt thank you. The the hundreds of you who have consented to being interviewed for our oral history project, and those who have sent me clippings, photos, and other documentation over the years, have made everything we have accomplished possible, and you are all stars in my books, the epitome of a true History Hound.

I hope to hear from many of you with contributions to our rich historical tapestry. You can contact me at thehistoryhound@rogers.com with your ideas and contributions and I will be in touch.

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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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