In this week’s column, History Hound Richard MacLeod highlights the year 1980, when Newmarket celebrated its centenary as a town
Let’s look back to 1980, another year in Newmarket’s rich history. In 1957 we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our incorporation as a village and now let’s look at some of the highlights of the year 1980 when we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our incorporation as a town.
The year finds us with some new faces on council and some familiar faces in the administration of city affairs. Our Mayor is Ray Twinney and our Regional Councilor is Mr. Tom Taylor. The council consisted of Peter Hall, Clare Salisbury, Bob Scott, Dave Kerwin, Frank Patterson, Henry (Bud) Walford and Henry Vanden Bergh.
Grant Blight was still the town clerk/treasurer, and William Errington remained town attorney. Daniel Shannon was our Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Sam Rippey our Fire Chief, and Fred Evans ran the works department.
Our police department had been part of the regional force since 1971. Our fire department would be locally run until January 1, 2002 when the Aurora and Newmarket departments would officially join forces to form fire departments of Central York.
In January 1980, Newmarket Public Library was hit by several resignations, with Ken Peevers, Nellie Little and Dave Evershed all choosing to move on after years of dedicated service.
Bill Andrews would take up a position with the Newmarket Recreation Department, returning from a similar position in Gananoque.
Excitement abounds within the heritage community when the trustees of the Canadian Quaker Records Collection decided to make Pickering College their new home, the only record of its kind in all of Canada.
A mini-controversy develops over the Main Street planters, with the Main Street Merchants Association wanting them to leave and the council saying they will stay – they stayed.
In February, Al Rivard opened a restaurant and grocery store across from York County Hospital on Davis Drive and it was an instant hit with his live music.
At 6 a.m. on February 29, Newmarket’s new radio station, CKAN, began broadcasting with Ron Knight as station manager. Hopes were growing that we would all soon become stars.
The Newmarket Citizens’ Band has celebrated its 108th anniversary and all looks set for another 100 years of outstanding community entertainment.
In March, Glen Cedar Public School opens on Wayne Avenue with over 500 people attending the ceremony. The school population was expected to grow rapidly, from a roster of 13 teachers and 218 students on opening day to an enrollment of 17 teachers and 263 students by August.
A 195-seat all-you-can-eat restaurant, Vetere Pizzeria, opens its doors on Yonge Street with great enthusiasm. Many of you may remember the three-scoop ice cream cones and half-pound burgers, as well as the pizza and salad bar.
In May, the city planted two memorial trees downtown to commemorate the old commercial tree that was removed years ago and to celebrate 100 years of the city. One was placed on Timothy Street between Main and Church streets. The whole project would cost $5,500 with new curbs and an island needed to protect the tree. A plaque was also unveiled. Aurora, as a gift for our centennial, donated a tree placed at the municipal offices on Main Street, a sort of friendship tree.
Also in May, Mayor Twinney’s plans to close Old City Hall are scuttled when it appears plans to house the Elman W. Campbell Museum in the Old Registry Office could collapse, as the York Region indicates that it wishes to retain it. CAO Jack Rettie suggests Old City Hall could be used to house an ever-expanding city administration, but Twinney isn’t convinced.
Also in May, the 125-year-old freight sheds of the CN station on Davis Drive were demolished. It was a sad day as people gathered to take away memories of the 125-year-old grains of oats, which had been caught in the cracks in the walls.
In June 1980, the new courthouse was officially opened in Yonge and Eagle by Premier Bill Davis and Attorney General Roy McMurtry. There had been pushes for such a building for decades. It was of course built on the site of the old industrial house that had been part of the town for over 100 years.
The main event of the year took place in June when the city celebrated its 100th anniversary as an incorporated city. I remember the feeling of community and brotherhood as each group came together to celebrate.
The event chair was Dianne Humeniuk, who reportedly said that “the atmosphere was contagious, seeing people lining up to 10 at many events”. The festivities were to continue for 17 days with a beard contest, a gala ball, dog shows and concerts and demonstrations in the park.
We have hosted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a canoe race on Fairy Lake and sporting events including Newmarket Centenary Day at the Blue Jay game on June 16, a soapbox derby, the Scottish Tattoo, a large opening ceremony, a parade and, of course, the beauty pageant and the Great Balloon Race.
Each local club held some sort of event during the celebration. I still have my centennial coins, a copy of the centennial cookbook, and other centennial keepsakes.
A new Loblaws store was the focal point of the new Westgate Square at the southeast corner of Davis and Yonge. The official opening took place on July 8, 1980.
In August, the old Bell Building at Eagle and Cawthra streets was renamed to become the new home of Newmarket Hydro crews at a cost of $200,000.
The big news for August was the arrival of the Green Machine at Upper Canada Mall. Part of the Toronto Dominion Bank, it was the first appearance of this new technology where one could get money, pay bills, get Visa advances and do all your banking. I remember my mother dragging me out on July 17 for the public demonstration.
In October, Yorktown Square in Davis and Yonge expanded again with the opening of a new Fabricland store and the 200-seat Mother’s Pizza Parlor and Spaghetti House.
A decision was made by council in October to purchase a fourth bus to serve the north end of town. This was to accommodate areas of the old East Gwillimbury which were merged into Newmarket (see my article on Newmarket Today for more).
Also in October, the city opened the tennis bubble behind the municipal offices on Main Street, complete with three full-size courts.
In November, Brad Walker’s Ford on Davis, which had been there for over 30 years, was sold to Shanahan Ford of Toronto.
Great news for the heritage community when it was announced in November that the steeple atop the Christian Baptist Church on Main would be saved. Rumors had circulated that they planned to tear it down.
On November 27, York Region celebrated its 10th anniversary with a grand reception. Reviews were still on if it was a blessing 10 years later.
A foreshadowing of the future occurred in December when Ambrosia, a health food store, opened on Yonge at Quaker Hills Plaza. It was our first health food store in Newmarket and look at us now.
When we look back a year in our past, we can never forget to mention the social news that was so important to the citizens of Newmarket.
Mrs. WA Spears, who was a member of the York County Hospital Auxiliary for over 30 years, is honored to be a life member of the Ontario Auxiliary Association.
Nora French has retired after nearly 42 years at the helm of French’s beauty salon on Main Street.
The executive of the Newmarket Historical Committee in 1980 includes Elman Campbell as chairman, Anne Campbell as vice-chairman, Elizabeth Sharp as secretary, John Chappell as treasurer and Margaret Gilbert as newsletter editor. Two prominent men who influenced my love of history, Terry Carter and George Luesby were also members of the executive. In July, the historical committee will change its name to the Newmarket Historical Society.
Our local guides won a blood donor award, with Kathy Tugwell and Karen Bennett accepting the award on behalf of the guides.
The Muddy Duck opened March 3 at its Yonge Street location. Also in March, Whipper Watson’s Snow-a-Rama would raise $435,000 to benefit the Ontario Society of Crippled Children.
York Regional Police got its first female police cadet when 19-year-old Patricia Maxwell joined the force.
In sport, Cathy Sheffield returns from the Pan American Games in Venezuela with a gold medal as part of the Canadian judo team.
Grant Blight celebrated its 25th anniversary with the city on April 18. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell are crowned King and Queen of our Centennial celebration during the dance at St. John’s Parish Hall, a popular choice indeed.
Sadly, on May 5, Max Alvin Boag passed away. Boag, if you have read my previous articles, was deeply intertwined with our local history on so many levels and the town went into mourning.
Stu Parks, city treasurer, retired after 18 years of service.
In July, the city was honored when Terry Fox and his Marathon of Hope passed through town. Over $25,000 was raised that day and literally millions since locally thanks to people like Laurie Osborne and her team embracing the cause.
In August the Doane family held a reunion at the Quaker Meeting House on Yonge and Adella Thompson of Peterwood Court celebrated her 102nd birthday.
On October 20, the centenary plaque commemorating the founding of Newmarket was erected just west of Fairy Lake, next to the Hydro building.
If Dr. Peever was your doctor, you will remember that the good doctor retired in December.
Sources: Newmarket era papers; Newmarket Centenary Program and Souvenir Guide 1880 – 1980; The Merchants and Trades Memorial 1950 – 1980 by Eugene McCaffrey
Newmarket resident Richard MacLeod — the History Hound — has been a local historian for over 40 years. He writes a weekly feature on our town’s history in partnership with Newmarket Today, hosts heritage talks and local interest walking tours, and conducts local oral history interviews.