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REMEMBER THIS: Newmarket's first big plaza opens in 1961

In this week's column, History Hound Richard MacLeod returns to his timeline of highlights in Newmarket history, from 1960 to 1965

Our series on Newmarket’s historical timeline picks up in 1960 and proceeds through to 1965.

A new pay raise is announced for the local constabulary in June 1960, with a constable getting a $300 raise, bringing them to $4,450 per year, along with 12 sick days, a paid week’s holiday, and time off for court duty.

Ten teachers at Newmarket High decide to leave this year. Most are taking better positions elsewhere and one is getting married. For the most part, teachers at our high schools tend to stay for a long time.

July 1 brought another raise for the council and mayor. The mayor's salary goes from $1,500 per year to $2,000 and councillors get $750 per year.

Updates to the Fairgrounds complex are underway with a new clubhouse being added. The Lions Club added swings, benches and a slide to the Lions Club Park.

Wendy Davis was having a banner year in tennis, winning the senior women’s crown and a mix doubles crown in August 1960.

Newspaper articles bemoaned the loss of farms along Yonge Street, predicting that one day there would be none left – a premonition that would soon come true.

A new running track was christened at Stuart Scott School Oct. 15. The track is 340 yards long and cost $1,700 to install.

Newmarket’s Women of the Year for the year 1960 was Dr. Margret Arkinstall. In October, the new Odeon Bowl opened on Davis Drive with 16 lanes and with a further 16 more to be added later.

The old drill hall, built in 1941 by the military at the Fairgrounds, which had been serving as the location of the York Curling Club, was demolished in October.

It was in September 1960 that Newmarket got its first sewage disposal plant. Distribution of the Bell telephone directory ramped up with the inclusion of Aurora, Richmond Hill, Bradford, Markham and other area towns and it would feature colour pages.

The announcement of the Lions Club’s sponsorship of an annual music festival was announced in November 1960. In the next few weeks, watch for a full article on the history of the music festival.

Newmarket Hydro moved to a location just west of Fairy Lake in December where the waterworks sat.

As the year 1961 opens, our mayor and council remain the same and the population sat at 8,087. York Manor is expected to open by May 1, 1961.

Teen Town marked its official five-year anniversary in January 1961. The executive that year consisted of president Hugh McMorrow, vice-president Dave McCaffrey, treasurer Vivienne Creelman, secretary Lorraine Laycock, Carol Zealand, Don Huskisson, Ed Soyko and Roger Veale. The chaperones for the celebration were Mr. and Mrs. Tom Surgeoner.

The Newmarket Lions Club celebrated its 30th anniversary in February 1961, with first president John McCaffrey, Frank Bothwell, Alex Georgas and Fred A. Lundy present, representing the first charter members. Eugene McCaffrey, John’s son, was the president in 1961/1962.

March featured the official opening of Fairmede School on Bogart Avenue, with town officials and community leaders in attendance at the gala.

An extension to the Salvation Army citadel on Queen Street occurred in early 1961 and in March, the church was re-dedicated.

‘Fergie’ Taylor celebrated his 20-year anniversary at his Eagle Street Shell station in April. Former mayor Herb Gladman passed in April.

It was in June 1961 that shareholders of the Office Specialty would sell their shares to a St. Catharines company with the name and operations expected to be unaffected.

A summer alternative to Teen Town was offered at the Odeon Theatre on Davis when a Friday night youth dance was organized by Rod Stevens, the Odeon’s manager. Jack Cain from Teen Town provided the organizers with records. This new event was dubbed a sock hop.

A huge fire destroyed the chicken and turkey farm in July 1961. More than 110,00 chickens and 200 turkeys perished in the fire that drew fire departments from surrounding communities.

The York County Real Estate Board introduced its photo listing service for house sales in the summer of 1961 at a cost of $1,000.

The new bandstand at Lions Club Park was officially named the J.O. Little bandstand on June 25, 1961.

The Newmarket Plaza on Davis Drive officially opened Aug. 17, boasting parking for 1,200 cars and 25 stores. The new facility covered an area of 17 acres and cost $3 million.

The first County Mental Health Clinic opened in Newmarket Plaza Oct. 1 under the guidance of Dr. Svend E. Jensen.

Arnold Bray of Reliable Taxi unveiled his blue ambulance in September. They said its distinct colour and look set it apart in the community.

Simpsons introduced a free direct telephone service in October to facilitate next-day delivery of merchandise.

The Davis Tannery recalled 20 to 25 employees back to work in October as business picked up. They had been laid off earlier in the year.

The Salvation Army opened a thrift shop on Timothy Street Dec. 1. Eves Ladies Wear celebrated its 36th anniversary. James D. Otton, mayor/barrister, was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in January.

The year 1962 found us with a new mayor, W.A. Kent, and a council. Stewart Beare, due to an increase in business, decided to move from Main to a new premises at Newmarket Plaza, a two-story building located at the eastern end of the plaza between Walkers and Plaza Hardware.

The Newmarket Art Club celebrated its 30th annual art show in May 1962.

Davis Leather was sold to a Boston company in May and except for a few administrative staff, by June 1, there was no activity at all at the factory.

Royal Canadian Legion 426 had its official opening of its new building Sept. 15, 1962. You will remember that they had been in the former officer’s mess at the military camp.

Prominent citizens who passed in 1962 included Maxwell Smith, J.O. Little, Rev. Harold Mark and C. Earl Toole.

For those who care about such things, our first snow was Oct. 24, 1962. Angus Cameras arrived in Newmarket in 1962 on Davis. How many remember the plane crash near Poplar Banks School in November of that year? Fortunately, injuries were limited.

May was a good year for Teen Town with The Emeralds making an appearance and Little Caesar and the Consuls booked for the season ending dance.

James Otton, former mayor, and Queen’s Counsel was named assistant Crown attorney for the county. William Errington replaced K.M.R. Stiver as the town solicitor in October 1962.

The year 1963 brought little change at the town. Our population had increased to 9,019.

A list of the teaching staff at new Huron Heights was published in the paper. Lloyd G. Shepherd was principal, Michael W. Steel vice-principal and the teaching staff included: Roy K. Andersen, George H. Anthony, Marion Bevage, Joan C. Browne, Peter R. Bryce, Alma E. Clarke, Peter Croezen, Jean Crowe, Robert Dick, Harold S. Douglas,, James G. Fitzgerald, Henry J. Guthmann, Donald Hoffman, Russell Jacobs, Elwood Junkin, Nancy Langley, Arlene Lundgren, Gerald McCann, Wesley McLeod, Brita Mickleburg, Betty Molnar, Burton Morrison, Marie Stamerjohanns, Ruth Walsh, Anne Withrow, James Morrow, Robert Sinclair, Lyle R. Smith, Carol Stephens and Mervyn Witherow. 

The entertainment news concerned the Crest Theatre, under the direction of locals Murray and Donald Davis and their sister, Barbara Chilcott Davis, which was celebrating its 10th season Jan. 5, 1963 at the Royal York.

Council increased its pay in February, adding a $15 stipend for attendance at all meetings. Plans were being made to move the old Aubrey Davis home known as Warrendale to another location for the use of the town.

In February, local Guy Revell and his partner, Debbie Wilkes, capture the skating pairs crown at the Canadian Figure Skating Championship.

Coloured licence plates became available in Ontario in February 1963.

Big-time wrestling returned to Memorial Arena as Whipper Watson highlighted a card, with Ron Doner on the undercard.

The Toronto Argos make St. Andrews College the site of their training camp in 1963 with Jackie Parker at quarterback.

A new company, Aurora Tool and Manufacturing, moved into the old Davis Leather building in July 1963.

The curling club at the Fairgrounds received an extension. A survey appeared in the local paper asking the question – ‘who is the best softball catcher who ever played locally’? The names that came out of the survey were Charlie VanZant, Tod Mosler, Herb Cain, Larry Molyneaux, and Bill Cain.

A spectacular train crash occurred when a diesel freight train with 70 cars crashed into another freight train at 2 p.m. Aug. 22, 1963, just north of the station at Davis. As horrific as the crash looked, injuries were said to be minor, but it certainly drew crowds.

Terry Budd opened his music store at 181 Main St. across from the Post Office Oct. 3, 1963.

The price of haircuts went up across York Region in October with a men’s haircut costing $1.25, with a premium for a brush cut of 25 cents. Children’s haircuts cost 75 cents and a shave was an additional $1.

Bill Forhan was named the coach of the Newmarket Redmen Junior C team this year.

Huron Heights held its official opening on Oct. 30, 1963. In October, plans were published pertaining to the extension of Davis/Highway 9 westward nine miles to Schomberg, with on/off ramps to Highway 400. It was expected to have a 1964 completion date. The Office Specialty celebrated its 75th anniversary in October.

In the sports pages, there is a story about Newmarket women’s hockey and their victory over Keswick in December.

Murray Davis of the theatrical local Davis family returned to town to adjudicate the festival of one-act plays in April 1963.

Local figure skaters Debbie Wilkes and Guy Revell are back in the news again in 1964. The pair would first win the North American Pairs Championship and then go on to win a bronze at the Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.

Bob Forhan was also in the news from Innsbruck as he was playing for Canada on our men’s hockey team.

In January, we had the first birth of triplets since 1949 when the Knott family of East Gwillimbury gave birth to three boys.

On Feb. 26, 1964, the Red and White Grocery store on Main beside the Myers store was destroyed by fire.

The new east wing of the hospital was opened on March 25, increasing the total capacity of beds to 257, an increase of 144 beds.

A new lawyer’s office, Clare D. Morrison Barrister and Solicitor, opened at 185 Main and a new dry-cleaning business, Colonial Quality Cleaners, opened in the old Slessor Motors building on Eagle Street in March.

April saw a new heating plant be installed at Office Specialty. The town purchased a new chain-of-office for the mayor. The sales staff at Brad Walkers were honoured in Toronto in June, including Robert McGee, Ronald Doner, Frederick Dow, William Forhan, Delbert Gibney, Brian Million, and Harley Rankin.

The factory whistle that had been a mainstay was finally silenced June 3, 1964 as the equipment necessary to produce the whistle became outdated.

The movie Tom Jones sold out the Roxy theatre downtown in June with over 5,000 adult tickets sold.

In July 1964, Huron Heights announced 11 new teachers would join the staff in September, including Jessie L. Adams, David Beaton, Julianna MacKenzie, Laura Sheperd, Claude Martin, David Boss and William Sutherland.

In August it was announced Newmarket would have a Senior A hockey team starting in the fall. 

The West family continues to distinguish itself musically in 1964. Bud West, 13, won first prize at the CNE in the senior brass category while sister Linda, 11, won a silver in piano for those 14 and under.

Newmarket High announced the arrival of 24 new teachers for 1964, including H.W. Hill, Helen (White) Bugler, Ruth Christman, Helen Campbell, May Fournier, Jean Crowe, William James Simmons, Arlene Lundgren, Anna Von Sengbusch, William Emigh, Donald Lewis, Julie Varga and Stanley Snider.

The Norma Jackson Singers made their Newmarket debut on Dec. 17 appearing at York Manor and Green Acres.

The year 1965 saw no change in the town’s administration. Two area lawyers were appointed Queen’s Counsel in January, William Errington and Joseph O. Dales. Andrew Murdison of Arc Sound Recordings released two new curlers songs, the Curler’s Song and The Curler’s Alibi.

The Newmarket Era celebrated its 114th birthday in February. The town assessor provided several reports on the town’s financial status in February. The population had increased by only 89 but the local tax assessment had increased by $1,037,050 to a total of $15,488,650.

William Elliott at Newmarket High was putting the finishing touches to his 11th season of the NHS school play in 1965.

People were scurrying to obtain a copy of the stamp commemorating Canada’s brand-new flag released in February 1965. The Grace Church, formerly the Gospel Tabernacle, observed its 34th anniversary in March.

Dixon Pencil began manufacturing its new chalk board eraser in March 1965. While the appearance of the telephone locally may have started slowly, in the period from 1954 to 1964, Bell had installed 3,541 sets and by the end of 1964, there were said to be 6,266 telephones on the Newmarket exchange.

In April, the town announced for the first time in recent memory that the tax rate on both residential and industrial properties had decreased. While the decrease was termed small, it did reverse the trend of ever-increasing tax hikes to the delight of the citizens.

The Lions Music Festival announced in April a 20 per cent increase in entries for the 5th annual festival.

Citizens were asking what ever happened to the town’s plan to remove traffic from Main Street and turn it into a walking mall with lots of greenery in 1965. As one examines our history over the years, the same issues reappear and we continue to push decisions down the road.

The one-act play staged at Newmarket High, Return Journey by Dylan Thomas, received an award and the opportunity to compete in the Ontario Festival of Drama in Toronto.

A town awards night at the legion hall in April honoured H. J. Herb Cain and W. Bill Thoms for their support of local sports.

A fire at the King George Hotel on April 30, 1965 caused considerable damage but the big story was the heroic efforts of 14-year-old Paul Stefaniuk who roused the tenants at risk of his own life, saving many lives. Paul was hospitalized with his injuries and was feted as a local hero.

Bruce Sedore opened his new meat store at 235 Main in June 1965. The Newmarket Veterans purchased the Free Methodist building on Millard Avenue for their new headquarters. Burt Budd retired this month, ending a 38-year business association with Main Street.

A new feed mill was opened by the North York Farmers Association on Leslie Street in June. A new industry, New Valley Products, opened behind Beaver Lumber on Davis in June.

July 26 brought a postal strike to with house-to-house mail delivery suspended. It turned out that the national postal workers were on strike, but the Newmarket postal workers were not in favour.

Newmarket Ready Mix, a cement company, opened its doors in September on the south side of Mulock Drive near the railway tracks. Senecal’s Furniture sold its Main location to the Adams Furniture Company in July 1965.

The price of milk spiked in October, both here and in the rest of Ontario.

Next, we continue the series with the year 1966.

Sources: 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.

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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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