LIFE IN THE 1950s
LIFE IN THE 1960s
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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
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.
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
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
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
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
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