Our timeline series on Newmarket’s history continues with the year 1971. However, several events occurred at the end of 1970 that manifested in 1971, so we shall look at them first.
The 1970s were a period of rapid change on our Main Street, not all of it to the betterment of the commercial centre. Businesses came and businesses left, setting the stage for the rest of the decade.
Let us begin with the businesses that moved onto Main in 1970. The office of Claire Salisbury moved from 200 Parkview Cres. to 47 Main. Thomas Taylor, accountant, moved to 47 Main from 214 Botsford. In the same building, Thomas N. Shea Realty moved in. The Holland Valley Conservation Authority opened an office at 145 Main. William Turville, a lawyer, moved in with the conservation authority. Terry Budd’s music store relocated from 181 to 167 Main. Dr. L. Hewitt relocated from 185A to 239 Main. The Singer Sewing Center moved from 195 to 225 Main. Killick’s Drapes relocated from 203 to 188 Main. Tom Surgeoner’s Men’s Wear shifted from 257 to 207 Main and Carl Gable’s Dry Goods shifted from 209 to 196 Main.
We had more shuffling of existing businesses in 1970. Fashion Fair Ladies Wear moved from 250 to 243 Main. The T. Eaton Company relocated from 222 to 254 Main. The Spinning Wheel Wool Shop shifted from 167 to 184 Main.
There were several stores that changed hands in 1970, including Giovanelli Shoe Store with John taking over for Victor. The Fine Cake Shop took over 241 Main from Broadbent’s Bakery. The former Canadian Tire at 241 Main was now Times Square Discount Drugs. Beneficial Finance took over Brice’s Meats location at 253 Main. Dennis Cuttings Groceries went into the former Bowser’s Store at 186 Main. Victoria and Grey Trust went into the former British Mortgage and Trust Building at 198 Main.
Newmarket Delicatessen at 165 Main took over the Max Stiles location, Frank Hempen moved into the former Yates Jewelry location at 220 Main, William Provan Furrier went into the old T. Eaton location at 222 Main and Edward Galbraith took over from Gayle’s Smoke at 226 Main. I mentioned in last week’s article that Gerry Cassidy took over the business of Perrin’s Florist at 252 Main and the King George Hotel changed hands with Mike Kounis selling. We can not forget Dave’s Surplus, which moved into the former location of the Kiddies Corner at 262 Main.
Big Red’s Surplus store at 181 Main made its appearance in 1970. Joe’s Barbershop arrived at 239 Main. Other new businesses that popped up in 1970 included Fourth Dimension Court at 255, along with Stone and Glasner Lawyers, The Dairy Bar at 263, Flossie Campbell Bake Shop at 177, Jack Groves Paints at 188, the Coin Laundry at 190, Superior Optical at 256 and McCoun Auto Electric at 246 Main.
Insley’s Men’s Wear closed with the retirement of Mr. Insley. The owners of Little Guys and Dolls children’s wear also closed. Adam’s Barber Shop at 203 Main closed due to retirement.
Now that I have brought you up to date on the Main Street Newmarket circuit 1971, let us move forward. The year 1971 brought us a new mayor and council. Robert Forhan became our mayor, and our council was made up of Doris Blair, Randy LaMorre, Aubrey Smith, Henry Vandenburg, Bill Steel, Seneca Cook and E.J. Farr.
Our population was now 17,732 and we had added several new town-owned properties, including public parks and a new arena.
On Jan. 24, 1971, Newmarket stepped back in time for a few moments when CN Train #6218, Canada’s last operating steam engine passed through town at precisely 11 a.m., getting its tanks refreshed with water from a local fire hydrant. They say that about 300 people stood and watched a piece of history pass by.
A wild snowstorm hit Newmarket Jan. 30, 1971, with driving winds and sub-Arctic temperatures leading to numerous accidents, both on the road and tracks. The province was shut down for a few days while we dug out. Perhaps you or your family may have been one of those left stranded in the snow.
A new snowmobile club was formed in 1971 with Brian Million as president.
Salaries are up again for the mayor and councillors as mayor Forhan was to receive $8,000 a year, regional councillor Ray Twinney was paid $5,800 and councillors $4,800. The mayor and regional councillor received payment of $6,000 for being on York Region council.
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church celebrated its 137th anniversary Feb. 21, 1971, with Rev. Craig Cribar the minister presiding.
In March, Larry Rubin succeeded Charles E. Boyd as chairman of York County Hospital. Also on the board were William Errington, James Hammett, Al Roeder and Mac Lewis.
The salaries of first-class constables, now part of the regional police force was set to increase in March to $10,250. The increase was effective across the region, standardizing wages for the first time. A full listing of the pay scale is: inspector $13,906, sergeant and detective sergeant $13,109, patrol sergeant and detective $12,068, first class constable $10,250, second class constable $9,855, third class constable $9,460, and fourth class constable $9,094. In the past, we had seen 14 local police forces bargaining within their own communities.
Town garbage was in the news in March 1971 when the town switched their business from York Sanitation and in the process found themselves paying considerably more. They also changed the method by which we paid for garbage pickup. Gone was the flat rate of $1.35 per month as now it was added to our tax bill, with water and electricity.
Many will remember the huge fire that consumed the former paint shop in the Water Street wing of Office Specialty April 15, 1971. The nursing home across the street had to be evacuated and the fire, they say, could be seen in Toronto. Thankfully, no one was injured.
A local celebrity and well-known merchant on Main Street died April 21, 1971, Angus Cameron West best know as ‘Ang’. If you have been following my articles from the beginning, you will be well acquainted with ‘Ang’ as he was in the centre of everything in this town for practically his whole life, a man who came to epitomize the character of Newmarket.
In July 1971, Newmarket played host to the All-Ontario Softball Tournament sponsored by the Ray’s Gulf Softball Team.
We all knew the day was coming but on Aug. 13, 1971, all operations at the Office Specialty ceased. The metal manufacturing unit had already moved to the Holland Landing location along with the administrative staff.
In July, the Norma Jackson Singers disbanded after years of performing. Their final concert was at Ontario Place.
There was a boom in private swimming pools with building permits for new pools totalling $78,000.
In August, the town purchased a Davis Drive property, the old Trailways building just east of the hospital for a new firehall. Council was told the building was in pretty good shape and that it is expected that fire insurance rates may decrease with the additional facilities.
Great news for our local heritage lovers as we learned that streets, parks and facilities in the new Schickedanz development in the southwest sector of town, to be called Quaker Hills, would capture the names of pioneer families. Be sure to read my article on the history of Newmarket’s street names to get more information on this development’s significance.
In September, East Gwillimbury debuted a new Junior ‘C’ hockey club called the Black Hawks with Sam Rippey as their new coach. The team would be affiliated with the Newmarket Redmen Junior ‘B’ team.
Canadian Tire experienced a massive upgrade in October when owner Jack Spillette purchased an additional acre of land and doubled the size of the building from 11,000 to 22,000 square feet.
Dr. Owen Slingerland, York Region’s health and social services commissioner announced the Newmarket Day Care Centre, costing $231,000 paid for by provincial grant. The facility would accommodate 75 children from ages two to six, 20 infants and toddlers and 20 special needs children. The new facility was to be ready by May 31, 1972.
In December, the S.E. Woods Industries building was destroyed by fire, causing between $1 million to $2 million damage.
We finally approved the sale of liquor in cocktail lounges. The proposal was accepted by a 2:1 majority. The actual count was 763 for, 331 against and 49 ballots spoiled. Now people could legally purchase liquor or beer without the need to purchase food.
We move on to the year 1972, where we find the same mayor and council in place. A group of citizens gathered to discuss the formation of a Newmarket Historical Society. Area communities currently have one and it is seen as a travesty that Newmarket does not.
For me, a major event in 1972 was the release of four Dorothy Clark McClure works representing four Newmarket historic buildings. I had been a collector of her work and, of course, the work of my uncle, George Luesby, for years. The series of four drawings were of the Registry Office on Main Street, the Luesby Monument shop on Main, Trinity United Church, the Post Office, and Liberty Hall on Botsford Street. A previous series had featured the Sharon Temple, Quaker Meeting House, Robert Simpson House and Alexander Muir School.
In January 1972, council and the library were at loggerheads concerning the library’s budget. This seemed to be a contentious topic for years as the library felt that it was not getting the funds it needed, and council felt that perhaps the library was not a primary area of financial need. For the record, the library said it needed $90,000 for 1972, a 90 per cent boost from the $52,722 received in 1971.
There was a huge push by the recreation department to resurrect the Newmarket Lawn Bowling Club that was once a kingpin locally, but its membership had dwindled. A new business plan was introduced, and things did pick up in the summer of 1972.
The Memorial Arena underwent another facelift in January. An expanded list of events was unveiled for 1972, along with a few new trade shows making a stop in Newmarket.
The Lions Music Festival experienced a record number of entrants from local musicians for the 12th annual event and the town declared the week Music Week in Newmarket. This year, for the first time, entrants from outside York Region were welcomed.
In January, Raymond Twinney predicted that by autumn, Main Street would be a one-way street. This was essentially the same plan as was discussed over the years without the pedestrian mall idea. It is also interesting that Newmarket back then was experiencing a similar huge gas price hike as we are today, but you may remember it was supposed to be because the world was running out of oil.
Pickering College opened its ice arena on the campus on Prospect Street, an ultra-modern 240 by 108 feet structure. The new arena would be run by ex-NHL hockey player Harry Watson and was built thanks to contributions from Pickering’s board and alumni.
The organization Meals on Wheels, a non-profit volunteer service to deliver hot meal to those who need, was organized in January.
I remember the storm that hit Newmarket in February, 10 hours of high winds, tons of snow and power failures. I remember we received an unscheduled day off, which was always a welcome treat. Nothing was moving on the roads for quite a while.
In February, they announced that the original York Manor, once known as the Industrial Home or the Poor House, would be torn down in the spring. Built in 1882, it was deemed to need too much capital input to bring it up to code and so the old lady finished its life as the headquarters for civil defence (a militia centre), which it had been since 1961. I had visited it and it was indeed a haunting structure, dark and foreboding.
It was announced in February 1972 that a new 500,000-gallon water tower for the east side of town had been approved, hopefully relieving the water issues that had plagued that side of town.
In April, we observed aircraft spreading nitrogen fertilizer on area farms.
It was announced that Charles E. Boyd had been named the president of the Ontario Hospital Association. You will remember Boyd had been chairman of the York County Hospital board.
A welcome event in June was the planting of more than 650 trees on a vacant lot at the corner of Queen and Forest Glen. The trees were between one and two feet high, made up of polar, black walnut, silver maple, red and jack pine. The plan was that they would be moved to other areas of the town as needed.
Anybody out there remember the town’s two swans at Fairy Lake, named Pete and Repeat? In June the town was abuzz as three little ones appeared and were seen on the pond.
June also brought the grand opening of the expanded Canadian Tire store. J.J. Spillette had initially purchased a Canadian Tire franchise in 1941 and opened a store on the southwest corner of Main and Timothy before moving across the street.
In 1972, the federal government provided a grant of $100,000 toward the operation of a trial north-south train service that would serve Barrie to Toronto via Newmarket.
In August, a huge marque was erected on Davis Drive to advertise town events. York County Hospital celebrated its 50th anniversary in August. The hospital had started in the Doctor Dales' home on Main Street and had moved over to the former location of the Cane home at Prospect and Davis Drive in 1927.
Ray’s Gulf Fastball were riding high in 1972 on the backs of the Lunney brothers, winning tournaments and becoming a force locally.
Keith Davis, considered the father of Newmarket tennis was honoured in September for all his contributions to the establishment of the Newmarket Tennis Club, including the teaching of local children how to play tennis over a 20-year period.
The list of potential candidates for council was said to number 25 in September 1972 with several pressing issues on the table, including a new town hall, and the re-development of the Holland River Valley that wound through town.
In September, it was announced that two new sports complexes were on the books for Newmarket, paid for by local developers. Schickedanz was to provide the Quaker Hills pool on the south side and DelZotto was to build a new arena as part of its Bayview Hills project.
A new pavilion in the Wesley Brooks Conservation area was approved in September, sponsored by the province and Rotary Club.
The National Film Board was set to wrap up its documentary film on the Newmarket Citizens' Band, entitled Goodbye Souza in October. You can view this documentary on my YouTube channel.
Ray’s Gulf captured the OASA softball senior title Oct. 8, 1972. The team was made up of members Glen Arnold, Joe Case, Rich Lunney, Mike Lunney, Jim McKnight, Ron Lahey, Dan Lahey, Jerry Case, Glen Sisler and Dale Pegg. The coach was Bill Forhan and manager Don McKnight.
A push to build a Newmarket Museum and Archives begins in earnest in October, spearheaded by our mayor, Bob Forhan.
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made an appearance at Fairy Lake in October, on a chilly day if I remember correctly. It was a decent turnout with around 2,000 people attending.
Jim Nuttall, Scout Master extraordinaire, was honored in November 1972 for his 20-plus years as a Scout Master and 10 years as a Cub Leader before that. Jim began his work with the organization in 1942.
The Christian Baptist Church celebrated its 150th anniversary in November.
A report published in December 1972 indicated that it cost 75 cents per mile to run the town bus system, but revenue was only 30 cents per mile, a substantial deficit. The provincial government picked up the tab for 50 per cent of any deficit. The number of passengers carried in 1972 was 110,319 and the distance served was 63,035 miles.
Next, we will pick up the story with the opening of the year 1973.
Sources: Clippings from The Newmarket Era and The Newmarket Courier; Oral History Interviews conducted by Richard MacLeod; 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; Previous Articles of Mine from Newmarket Today
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.