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REMEMBER THIS: WW2 and a growing community in the 1940s and 50s (13 photos)

'As we enter the year 1940, the population has grown to 3,800 and we have 20 new businesses on record'

This weekend on Newmarket Today we find ourselves in the year is 1940 move forward with our look at a timeline of Newmarket history. The clouds of war have descended across the world and the world is about to change forever. Thank you for joining me again this weekend as we have an exciting decade to highlight in front of us.

As we enter the year 1940, our population has grown to 3,800 and we have 20 new businesses on record, the growth being primarily on the west side of Main Street. If you can believe it, they list a dog population of 221 in the population numbers.

Canadian Basic Training Centre #23 officially opened this year after a whirlwind building spree. It was to be located on the site of the former Fairgrounds.

In October of 1940 the first class of trainee soldiers were to arrive for the opening of the Newmarket Military Camp. There were already one hundred officers and staff on hand at the Camp with another one hundred set to arrive. Lieutenant Colonel R. B. Harkness had been named Commanding Officer with Major B. Hanley as his second in command.

Connaught Gardens is reported to have eighty-one vacant lots still available. Connaught Gardens was Newmarket’s first planned housing subdivision and would eventually go bankrupt and be incorporated into the plans for the Military Camp.

Our mayor is Dr. L. Dales, and our police chief is still James Sloss. We have two police officers on record, Kenneth Mount and W. Curtis.

The war effort is now in full gear and the Max Boag Band is the featured entertainment at Camp Borden where he and his Orchestra are a hit, and Gene McCaffrey and Poly Dobson are being praised for their musical voices.

Council is delighted to hear that June that tax revenues are way up according to N. L. Mathews, our Town Clerk and Solicitor.

On June 20 the Davis Tannery announces that due to the closing of international markets to its calf leathers it will be necessary to layoff a substantial number of men from the plant. Fortunately, business is booming at the Office Specialty due to their wartime contracts with Britain and many of those laid off at the Tannery find employment there.

The community had gotten fully involved in the war effort with the sale of ‘War Saving Stamps’ and the Strand Theatre has designated Monday nights as ‘War Stamp Day at the Movies’. Their first evening they sold $235.00 in War Savings Stamps alone.

The year 1941 brought several new businesses and features to Newmarket. In February Artic Lockers on Timothy Street opened. A new cement walk replaced the old board walk along Main Street to the side entrance to the Trinity United Church in April.

Councillor A. Armstrong, owner of the King George Hotel, filed a petition with council asking that the question concerning liquor sales within the town be reconsidered in May

of 1941. We would reaffirmed our commitment to ban of the sale of alcohol within town limits.

The community social news is quite ‘juicy’ in the Era’s ‘What’s Happening’ section as local house parties and family vacations are making the news.

By 1942 our population has grown to 3,978 and with an influx of soldiers in training up to 3,200 every six months, the streets of town are bustling with people.

The paper is full of stories about local sons either heading off to the war or updating their service abroad. We also are getting word of the deaths of local lads which is a constant drag on the town’s moral. The dreaded telegram becomes a nightmare for so many local families with whole streets witnessing the event unfold far too frequently.

While it is not a Newmarket item, 1942 marked the first time that Bing Crosby sang ‘White Christmas’.

February 1942 brought the establishment of Newmarket’s first pay structure for those serving on Council. A bylaw provides a payment of $300.00 a year to the mayor plus $5.00 per meeting while councillors were slated to receive no more than $150.00 per year. It is interesting to note that counsellors Vale, Bowser and Lundy opposed the payment to members of council, citing that service to town was a privilege not a vocation.

The Newmarket Era amalgamates with the Newmarket Express Herald in May and tributes are paid to Ang West, editor of the Express Herald for his service to the town and its people.

Big news in August was a heavy frost which occurred in the Newmarket and the Holland Marsh area.

As the year 1943 opens we find Dr. L. W. Dales still our Mayor and Fred Lundy still our Reeve. The fire department has grown considerably with 17 fire fighters on the rolls. Wesley Osborne is still serving as the chief, and we have John Gibson, Fred Boyd, Herb Boyd, Jim Coltham, Joe Brammar, Norm Hopper, Frank Brammer, Art Ainsley, Bob Peters, Walt Brown, Fran Bowser, Milt Cook, Frank Prest, Welly Curtis, Clarence Curtis, Leo Cull and Dick Osborne serving with the brigade.

In February of 1943 a story appears in the Era of a chicken from Queensville that lays triple yoked eggs, some weighing as much as 6.5 ounces each as verified by the paper itself.

In March of 1943, the Council decided to licence taxis in Newmarket, given their unlimited access to gasoline while the resource was being rationed for the rest of the community via ration books. The fee was set at $25 per taxi and $50 for two or more. It is interesting that reports indicated that even with rationing, there was no discernible

reduction in traffic locally.

Herb Cain is honored by the Town for his 82-point season in the NHL placing him at the pinnacle of his profession.

The Era sets a record for circulation when it sells 879 copies locally and another 882 copies within the County at large.

The local sports scene is really hopping with the local industries and the various Military Camp teams bringing high calibre sports entertainment to the community. You will recall that many of the professional athletes enlisted and would play for their local military camp. Newmarket’s camp hockey team could boast Bep Guidolin and the Fort York camp baseball team had the Conacher brothers, Lionel, and Charlie on their team.

Max Boag purchased the building known as the old Grammar School (circuit 1877) which is situated on Millard Avenue just west of the I.O.O.F. Hall on the northeast corner of Raglan and Millard, and proceeded to convert it into an apartment building.

The papers are full of stories on where our men and women in service are now and what are they doing. One article that caught my eye from 1943 was a notice that Doris Eves and Joan Nesbitt are serving with the farm services force picking peaches in St. Catharines.

Newmarket acquired a new car dealership when William Geer opened a Dodge DeSota dealership called Newmarket Motors and George Byers joined their staff.

W. W. Osborne, who had served as our fire chief for over thirty years decided to retire in 1944 and is honored by the town for his exemplary service to the community.

It was also in February of 1944 that Alex Georgas sold his restaurant business to Mrs. A. D. Muirhead and Dean Giles. Most of you will remember that the Georgas family went into the laundry and dry-cleaning business in the following years.

It was in October 0f 1944 that the funeral of the century tool place upon the passing of Sir William Mulock on October 1st. The town was blanketed in mourning black as a funeral procession, attended by a sitting Prime Minister (MacKenzie King) and two previous Prime Minister and the who’s who of Canadian culture and political life walked the streets of Newmarket. If you have not checked out his memorial at the Protestant Cemetery right here in Newmarket where he is interred, you ready should.

Bill Koshel of Bill’s Shoe Repair takes on a partner in E. V. Phillips who previously owned a show shop on Botsford Street. Bill’s Shoe Repair was located across from the Post Office on Main Street and was a fixture on Main.

A proposal was tabled this year by Mayor Dales to construct a community pool and to purchase the arena behind Main Street making it a community rink. A new community pool was constructed across from the Lion’s Club Park in 1954 and the arena was

purchased and renamed the Memorial Arena in honor of all those locally who served in the war.

Articles appear in the Era from overseas thanking the local groups who had been sending gift packets to the boys overseas, particularly the gift of cigarettes.

James Leeder joins the police department in 1945, a gentleman who served this town with distinction for many years. James Sloss officially retired on January 22, 1945, with the intention of joining into partnership with Ken Howard, taking over Arctic Food Lockers on Timothy Street.

Everywhere around town you will find local clubs and organizations fully engaged in the war effort. The local Boy Scouts are running a very successful paper salvage drive. Everyone will remember the aluminum salvage drive that took place in town. A few old tins could get you into the local show at the time.

The Ice Follies made a big appearance at the Memorial Arena with tickets quickly selling out.

I guess the weather was so balmy that four local lawn bowlers, James Law, William Bosworth, Andrew Murdison and Dr. C. E. Vandervoort took to the Newmarket Greens on April 9th thus setting a record for the earliest date there had been a bowl in the club’s history.

The war continues to bring so much tragedy locally, with instances of the next-of-kin receiving that dreaded phone call from Ottawa sweeping the town. One of the stories, that of Fred Evans and his detention in a German Prisoner of War Camp resonate in the various dispatches which are printed and followed locally in the Era.

In June of 1945 Joseph McCulley, headmaster of Pickering College, along with sixteen other delegates left for Europe for a two-month mission; the mission, to attempt to prepare the returning troops as to what to expect on their return to Canada. Canada had learned its lesson from what occurred with the troops after WW1.

In July of 1945 a huge funeral takes place at St. Paul’s Anglican Church as former mayor, J. E. Nesbitt is put to rest.

Life was starting to pick up around town by the Fall of 1945. A community Halloween Dance with the Russ Creighton Orchestra is being widely advertised for Saturday October 30 to be held at Club 14 on Millard Avenue. Max Boag’s Club 14 had been the centre of local entertainment throughout the war period.

The year 1946 opens with a local population of 4,223 and a total tax assessment of $2,601,377 indicating fiscal growth. There were thirteen nurses serving on the staff of York County Hospital under Matron V. Pearson. The basic pay for a floor nurse in 1946 is $100.00 per month. The cost to stay in the hospital is pegged at $7.00 per day on a

private ward, $5.50 per day on semi-private and $4.50 per day for the public ward. The Margaret Davis Memorial Wing opened on January 1st, 1946.

January 1946 also found our Newmarket veterans beginning to return via the good ship Mauretania. The return of Sergeant H. A. D. Evans and Sergeant W. J. O’Halloran is documented in the January 3rd addition of the paper.

At the conclusion of the war, Newmarket’s Military Camp was decommissioned, and the land sold to John W. Bowser. The Barracks were converted to houses by my uncle George Luesby.

The Newmarket Legion 426 officially receives its charter on September 18th, 1946, with Ken Stiver elected its first president. That year, over two hundred and fifty Legionnaires were initiated into the Newmarket Branch. The Officer’s Mess Hall at the Camp was turned over to the Legion for their new headquarters.

The year 1947 brought with it a new mayor, Joseph Vale, a local lawyer, and some new council members. 1947 was to be a productive year for local theatre as productions such as Hobgoblin House staring Alex Eves and Evelyn Denne and ‘Look Whose Here’ staring Vera Brown and Eugene McCaffrey started the year off with a bang. Admission was set at 50 cents for reserved seats and rush seats cost 35 cents.

Keith Davis is elected President of the Newmarket Tennis Club and Rod West is elected Secretary-Treasurer. The club is said to be thriving with a very strong Junior membership.

Word begins to spread that some houses at the Veterans Land Act Division are being allotted to the first-priority veterans as of April 11.

In June the town appoints Denne Bosworth as our new Town Engineer at the salary of $150.00 per month.

Four local musicians were honored by the Toronto Conservatory of Music in July. Those students included Barbara Watt for her grade V piano, Jean McTavish for her grade IV piano, Jean Kirbyson for her grade 3 piano and Norine Ayres with an association form in Composition.

A local lawyer with the firm Mathews, Stiver, Lyons and Vale was elected in September 1947 to the Council of the Canadian Bar Association. Miss Lyons was the only women on the council at the time and was also the President of the Woman’s Law Association of Ontario.

Fairy Lake was drained, and it would remain without water for nearly a year. Over the years Fairy Lake has been periodically drained for cleaning and general maintenance operations but a year sounds a long time to be dry.

As the year 1948 opened we noticed the sure signs of financial recovery and growth

around town. There were now 250 businesses registered in town, 123 on the west side of Main Street and 127 on the east side of Main Street. The total tax assessments had grown to $3,732,990 and we now have a population of 4,521.

Nearly all the departments at the town have expanded. Our fire department has grown to eight fulltime members (A. Ainsley, F. Bowser, L. Bond, F. Brammar, H. Boyd, B. Belers, J. Scott, and C. Curtis). Therewere also thirteen fire department volunteers (L. Cull, M. Cook, S. Cook, B. Dunn, J. Coltham, H. Glenn, J. Gibson, K. Howard, B. McCabe, J. Peat, F. Prest, F. Newton and F. Stephens. All were led by our chief, Joseph Brammar.

A new group, the Newmarket B & P Women’s Club was formed in April of 1948, and they received their charter in June of the same year. It initially had a membership of seventeen women.

The new Newmarket Bus Line began service in May of 1948. Owned by Larry Needler and Earlby Ruthven, owners of Newmarket Taxi at the time. It promised thirty-minute service in each direction anywhere in Newmarket from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Fares were set at 10 cents for adults or three for 25 cents and children paid 5 cents or six for 25 cents.

A new car dealership opened this year at the corner of Main and Queen Streets run by Norman Sedore.

Women’s Softball was at its peak in 1948 and our locals were at the top of the heap. They had formed a virtual dynasty; they were that good.

1948 was the year that Max Boag formed his own, Newmarket based record company called Tip Top Records. His studio was situated in the basement of his home on Avenue Road and the who’s who of Canadian Music could be seen coming and going from his studio.

The year 1949 opened with news that the town was looking into installing artificial ice in the old Memorial Arena.

It is announced in April that nearly one thousand new Canadians have made Newmarket their new home over the past six months. Private agents had come to town along with various government agencies to help attract new immigrants to settle locally. So many of my childhood friends were part of this influx.

New theatre companies like the ‘Straw Hat Players’ had established their presence in Newmarket this year. Theatre had become ‘the entertainment’ locally.

An architect is hired in August of 1949 to develop a plan to add to the facilities at the Town Hall, transforming it into a Municipal Building.

J. L. Spillette and Sons adds the new ‘home washing machine’ to its line at its Main

Street store extending an 18-month payment plan and discounts to veterans and their families.

On November 18th, 1949, the local Optimist Club received its charter and named Joseph Dales its first president.

The Newmarket Dramatic Club joined forces with the Betty Gordon Dance Club to present ‘Aladdin’ at the Town Hall. The first Christmas Pantomime had been produced in 1948 and there had been a vow to make the Christmas Pantomime an annual event. The key element of a pantomime is that males play the female parts and females play the male parts. Thus, Aladdin was played by Laura Styke and Aladdin’s mother by John Kadulka. A piece of history for you, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer first appeared on radio in December of 1949.

It was reported by our Town Clerk in November that Council had been busy in 1949, having passed sixty-four new bylaws into law.

This is where we leave our story for this week, however we pick it up next weekend with the year 1950.

Most of the events and characters mentioned in this article can be found in a greatly expanded form in my previous articles on Newmarket Today so if you want to know more, you can do to

See everyone back here next Saturday.


Clippings from The Newmarket Era and The Newmarket Courier

Oral History Interviews conducted by Richard MacLeod

The Memorable Merchants and Trades 1930 to 1950 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.

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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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