Reach Twp. History
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  Future Text







UXBRIDGE
LIFE IN THE 1950s

UXBRIDGE
LIFE IN THE 1960s

This book is available for download in Adobe PDF format.
Click on desired cover for download

Life In The Fifties

Perhaps more than any other decade during the 20th century, the 1950s presented a time for the residents of Uxbridge and area to band together to demonstrate the possibilities the town offered.

While Uxbridge could not be considered a boom-town, it did experience and enjoy modest growth, with its population expanding from about 1,700 to more than 2,300 by the end of the decade. It was during this same period that methods of communication improved, as the town moved from an operator-based telephone system to modern, new dial telephones.

Without a doubt, the most ambitious project undertaken by the community during the 1950s was the building of a much-needed hospital. By the end of 1951, a site and plans had been approved, but funding troubles began almost immediately. The size of the hospital was scaled back and construction finally got underway in 1954. But once again delays due to lack of funding made the project drag on, and finally a mechanics' lien was placed on the building in 1957 for non-payment to the contractor. Undaunted, the community, led by its determined hospital board and town fathers, came together and raised the necessary funds. Finally, almost a decade after the initial planning, Uxbridge Cottage Hospital opened with great pride and fanfare.


MARKET HALL - UXBRIDGE

Throughout the 1950s, town officials showed little concern for important heritage structures, resulting in the destruction of some of the town's most unique and historic buildings. First of these to be torn down was the old Bell Tower, built beside the library on Toronto St. in 1884. Next to fall victim to the wreckers was the 1884 Market Hall on Brock St. with its unique mansard roofline. Also dismantled at this time was the old Fire Hall and council chambers next to the Market Hall. The third landmark, Joseph Gould's historic Oatmeal Mill on Pond St., built in 1887, simply and slowly collapsed the day before Christmas in 1957 due to many years of neglect and lack of maintenance.

On the brighter side, progress was evident and Uxbridge appeared to be getting bigger and better as the decade progressed. The Roxy theatre installed a large new silver screen; the town began an ambulance service; a nine-hole golf course was opened on the Kydd farm; the public and high schools both experienced expansion; St. John's School was officially opened; Comco Stampings and Fritz W. Glitsch moved into town and built factories; the Times-Journal moved into a modern, new facility; Uxbridge Co-operatives enlarged its operation; the town constructed a new fire hall; and numerous businesses expanded, renovated and grew. It was a good time for business and the town prospered.

Socially, service clubs, church organizations and other groups never appeared to be stronger or more committed to the community. Dozens of groups including the Hospital Auxiliary, IODE, Kinsmen, Kiwanis Clubs, Royal Canadian Legion, Red Cross, Chamber of Commerce, Cubs, Scouts and Guides invested thousands of volunteer hours in the community raising money and donating to worthy local projects. There is little doubt that the health and strength of a community can be measured by its people, and Uxbridge proved to have both by these standards.

One of the highlights of this decade was Uxbridge being honoured by becoming the second town in Canada, and first in Ontario, to be presented a Coat of Arms, which was ceremoniously presented by the Lieutenant- Governor of Ontario and covered by a half-hour broadcast on CBC. Another first during this decade was the election of the town's second female councillor, Nellie Kydd. Mrs. Kydd went on to become mayor in the next decade, but her leadership opened up the field of municipal politics to many women over the years. Police Chief Ellenberger became the town's first police chief after council decided not to renew its contract with the OPP, opting instead to set up its own police force.

Uxbridge High School cheerleaders about 1960.
Back left, Peggy Hickling, Jill Richardson, Mary Jane Gould and Carolyn Bunker.
Front left, Dianne Hemmington and Sandra Walters.

Life In The Sixties

As the 1950s became history and the 1960s began, there were plenty of reasons for Uxbridge to look toward the future with optimism and anticipation. Having just come through a decade in which its residents showed they still had the energy and resilience of their forefathers, there was much optimism about the community's future.

Unfortunately one lingering issue from 1959, the firing of Police Chief Chatterley immediately came to the forefront. Before the end of the first year, both the mayor and the police chief resigned their positions and there were clashes between council members and the press. The town hired LaVerne Ellenberger as its new chief, but he also ran into troubles with the town fathers and, by early 1967, this chief was also suspended and replaced. But in spite of these problems, Uxbridge did continue to grow and prosper.

In 1960 they built and opened a new new curling rink; industry flourished with Comco Stampings and Fritz W. Glitsh both expanding; the local high school, public school and separate schools all underwent expansions; a large new Masonic Temple was constructed; the town's churches - Trinity United, Presbyterian, Anglican, Free Methodist and Salvation Army all underwent expansion, while the Catholic and Baptist congregations constructed new buildings in which to worship.

One of the controversial issues during the decade was a plebiscite to allow liquor and beer outlets into the community. The town was split as the 'yes' and 'no' camps gathered to promote their views at numerous public meetings in the months leading up to the vote. In March 1963, voters overwhelmingly approved stores for the sale of beer and liquor, making the town 'wet' for the first time in more than 45 years.

On a sad note, ninety years after the first passenger train chugged to a stop at the Uxbridge railway station, this important service to the community came to an end. Mail delivery to the town was terminated in April 1960, and the final passenger train pulled out of the station in December the following year. It's ironic that thousands gathered to greet the first train, while only a handful were on hand to watch as the last train disappeared down the tracks.

Two local women made history during this decade. First was Mrs. Nellie Kydd, who after serving a few years as a councillor, became the first woman mayor in the town’s history. The second woman of note was none other than ‘Granny’ Celia Baker, who lived to be the oldest person in Ontario County, and one of the oldest in the entire province, before she passed away three months before her 109th birthday.

It's apparent that community leaders did not learn anything regarding the loss of heritage buildings during the 1950s. Lack of concern for local history resulted in three more important landmarks being torn down during this decade. The most unfortunate loss was the century-old residence of Joseph Gould, the town's most industrious citizen during the 1800s. His beautiful home was demolished to make room for a playground at the new St. Joseph Public School. Next, the Mansion House hotel, a landmark at the corner of Brock and Toronto Street since 1871, was leveled. Finally, towards the end of the decade the historic post office closed, and it wasn't long before the familiar clock tower was toppled in the name of progress. Fortunately the Music Hall was spared, although tearing this hall down was discussed during the early 1960s.

A critical water shortage throughout the early 1960s almost brought the village to a standstill, as water use was restricted, and shut down at designated times. During the emergency, water was pulled from Elgin Pond and purified for use. And while drinking water was at a premium, the town received more than its share of water during the spring of 1965 when a dam burst at Brookdale, sending thousands of gallons roaring towards town. Elgin Pond overflowed its banks, creeks swelled into small lakes, and many homes and businesses were flooded.

Construction and growth continued throughout the 1960s, with two additions being added to Cottage Hospital and a large addition to the local arena. In addition to growth of institutional buildings, construction of new houses and apartment buildings began an unprecedented growth spurt for the community. By the end of the decade there were 2,900 residents, the highest population ever recorded in the town's history.

 

FOR A COMPLETE LOOK AT LIFE IN THE 1950s and 1960s in UXBRIDGE, YOU ARE INVITED YOU TO DOWNLOAD ONE, OR BOTH OF THE PDF FILES PROVIDED AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE.

J. PETER HVIDSTEN
OBSERVER PUBLISHING


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