When Stouffville celebrated Canada’s 100th birthday: Wasn’t that a party!
By Jill McWhinnie
Stouffville Free Press
With this being the year we celebrate our nation’s 150th birthday I thought we should roll back the calendar 50 years to 1967- Centennial Year- Canada’s 100th Birthday. Our new flag was just two years old, Expo 67 thrilled millions of visitors in Montreal and the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup.
It was a good year.
In the Village of Stouffville it was a great year, highlighted by a spectacular program of events on the Dominion Day weekend July 1 & 2.
The Centennial Committee was chaired by the late Lorne Boadway, who also found time to direct the 75 voice Centennial Choir. Stouffville Reeve Ken Laushway proudly officiated over the festivities, along with the Centennial Queen, Nancy Wideman, a grade 13 student at Stouffville High School.
The Beard Growing Contest, chaired by Jim Brazier, was enthusiastically received by local men, although not so much by their wives. When Mick Hunt, proprietor of the local Sunoco gas station was the first man to sign up for the contest, his wife Kaye announced that he could live at the station while the beard was growing. First prize of $100 for best beard went to Bruce Forfar, who donated the money to the village’s Centennial project – the creation of the Centennial Square at Civic Avenue.
Dominion Day weekend began with a parade along Main St. as hundreds of people lined the parade route, many in 1867 costume – hoop skirts and bonnets for the women, men in frock coats and top hats. The parade included 25 floats, military pipe bands, horseback riders, and decorated baby strollers and bicycles, their young riders clad in period costume. The Stouffville Centurions Drum and Bugle Corps, in distinctive red, black and white uniforms, made its debut in the parade and was highly praised.
While a full afternoon of entertainment was planned for outdoors in Memorial Park, the weather did not co-operate and some parts of the program were rained out. But the spirits of the villagers were not dampened and they returned in the evening for yet more outdoor entertainment. A dance with live bands took place in the old arena on Park Drive. Lincolnville residents Tina and Murray Stewart have special reason to remember the evening .Tina, who was over eight months pregnant with her first child, recalls how she and her husband were on their way to the arena when a heavy rain forced them to head back home. At 2 a.m. her labour started and as they got set to head to Scarborough General Hospital they had to borrow a neighbour’s car when they found that their vehicle was out of gas! “I thought I was going to give birth in the car”, recalls Tina.
The baby arrived, three weeks early, soon after they reached the hospital. Terrence Marc Archie Stewart (Terry), now a Captain with the Toronto Fire Department, received a medal for being born in Centennial Year. Sounds like his parents should have got one too!
On Sunday July 2, 1,000 people attended the multidenominational Centennial worship service in the arena.
Stouffville’s centennial project, the creation of a town square, had been proposed by Stouffville resident Peggy Topping. The project required demolition of the old fire hall at the base of the clock tower and the creation of a town square at Civic St. Some funding was obtained from the federal and provincial governments, and the balance, $15,000, was raised by donations from residents, service clubs and local businesses. The project was completed in the fall of 1967 and on October 21 hundreds attended as Reeve Laushway dedicated the project. The dedication was followed by a turkey supper at Stouffville United Church and a Centennial dance in the high school auditorium.
A time capsule installed at the base of the clock tower included a StouffvilleTribune from October 19 1967, a copy of the 1967 High School yearbook, The Wine and White, Canada’s Centennial flag, a list of the business in Stouffville in 1967, a Centennial medallion, and Stouffville’s official plan.
The capsule also contained many messages to the future residents of Stouffville and will be opened in 2067. Those who open the capsule 50 years from now will get a glimpse of Stouffville in 1967- the year the village and the nation joyously celebrated its heritage and its future.