And then it was fall. Wow, those summers just fly by, don’t they? It has been a busy summer, and the Quilters Cabin and the gardens at the Pioneer Village are looking wonderful thanks to our Tuesday morning work crew, who have given the Quilter’s Cabin a fresh coat of paint and a nice clean up inside, in preparation for its new life as the office for your Historical Society. The gardens at the Village have also benefitted from the GHS work crew, with cleaning, weeding and planting being done to make the Georgina Pioneer Village a better place.
I also want to remind you that we are looking for a couple of people to sit on the Board of Directors for the GHS, and we have moved the time of our board meetings from 2pm on the first Monday of the month to 4pm to accommodate. If you are interested in getting involved, contact any of the board members, bearing in mind that elections happen at the Annual General Meeting in November. And speaking of the AGM, we have once again booked the Sutton Legion for this event.
And let’s not forget Harvestfest, coming up on Saturday, September 16, at the Georgina Pioneer Village. All of the buildings will be open with volunteer interpreters in costume, an entire roster of musical entertainment has been lined up by Bob Holden, local vendors will be there with displays, food and crafts for sale, and other activities. Please plan to attend, either as a volunteer or guest, as this is your society’s major fund raiser of the year.
So much more happened this past summer, such as our exclusive tour of Eildon Hall, the GHS booth at the Sutton Farmer’s Market, Music in the Streets at the Village, but to wrap this up, remember that our September general meeting will be held at the historic Ravenshoe church, and Tom Glover will be explaining the history of this interesting community.
I’m looking forward to seeing you all this upcoming season,
Paul Brady, President
Georgina Dance Hall Days
Editor’s Note: The following is an article I had on file. Unfortunately no authorship came with it. I believe it might have been originally a newspaper article reflecting on Georgina’s colourful past. Regardless…enjoy!
The Royal Casino/Jackson’s Point Casino/Peppermint Lounge
With so many dance halls in such a relatively small community, competition was fierce for the dancing dollar at Jackson’s Point, a booming summer resort area drawing thousands of people during the summer. During the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s people jammed the streets of Jacksons Point on hot summer nights. The sounds of music flowed through the air from the dance halls as people sauntered around stopping at ice cream parlours, the Honey Dew stand, Dog House, Red Spot and the famous “Lav’s” – the traditional eatery for people after the dance.
Vita Epstein gives us an overall feel for the wonderful summer days and nights at Jacksons Point. She writes: “Many families had a summer cottage Jacksons Point in those days. I remember all teenagers eagerly getting dressed up for the Saturday night dance. As I recall the bands were good and we danced all evening in our youthful energy. It was enjoyable and we all went home at 12 o’clock.”
Depending on the years you visited Jackson’s Point, you’ll remember this pavilion by one of its names, the latter coined from the popular New York twist club. It was located on the northwest corner of Jacksons Point Avenue and Lake, in the hub of downtown activity and always busy. Early dances were five cents to get in the door and then five or ten cents for each dance, with dancing contests to liven up the evening.
Jack Bissett was associated with The Royal Casino in the early years and writes about his experience: “In 1933, while the country was still in the Great Depression, I had a friend who had collected a group of musicians together to play at dances in southwestern Ontario. It was brought to his attention that there was a dance pavilion available for rent at Jacksons Point; he located the owners of the property and we opened the pavilion for business. The members of the orchestra each contributed a few dollars, and I was elected to be manager of the pavilion as well. When we arrived at Jacksons Point, we found what looked like a pile of badly weathered shingles, but the rest of the building was in pretty fair condition. There was a good-sized living quarters attached to the building which was to become our home for
the next few weeks. We opened for business on May 24th, and stayed open five nights a week until Labour Day. The pavilion was called The Royal Casino and we returned for the next two or three years.”
Betty Shillinger’s parents owned the Royal for some years. “The orchestra for many years at the Royal Casino was led by Rudy Toth.” His band played six nights per week throughout the summer season. “1 recall the coloured lights inside the hall, strung along the beams. Four to five hundred people danced here on weekend nights. There were other places to dance at Jacksons Point but ours attracted all the boys and girls-it was just a fun place to go,” says Betty. Marlene Phillips has lived in Jacksons Point most of her life and has some memories of the Casino. “Around 1948 people by the name of Newtons purchased the Casino,” she writes. “1 remember it had a beautiful hardwood floor to dance on; sometimes a live band would play, other times we’d use the jukebox. Later the Casino was sold and
renamed to the Peppermint Lounge and was often used for roller skating.”
Ruth Beeforth worked in the Peppermint Lounge from 1959-62 while in her mid-teens: “It was operated at that time by Jack and Millie McMillan and the music was supplied by their son Gord. “It was done by records and the last song he played at every dance was Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight.’ My brother Raymond often helped Gord do the dances. Whenever anyone had a problem they could always count on Millie to listen and try to help. She was like a Den Mother to everyone but was also strict and wouldn’t stand for any nonsense from anyone.” The Peppermint Lounge eventually fell into disuse and was torn down.
Jacksons Point: Edgewater Park Dance Pavilion
The Edgewater was “classiest pavilion in Jacksons Point,” according to Marlene Phillips: “People always dressed up to dance at The Edgewater Dance Pavilion-it was a special place to take a date.” Stephen Sellers constructed the Edgewater in 1934, right on Lake Simcoe near the present site of Bonnie Boats. Along with The Briars, the Edgewater was considered to be a gracious spot to dance. Tables were set around the large dance floor, but on most summer evenings you would find dozens of couples holding hands on the outdoor verandah overlooking the water. Women often wore long dresses with the men in jackets and ties. A large area was set aside for food and soft drinks and, in another section, pinball machines were installed for kids to use during the week. In 1963, the Edgewater Pavilion was torn down, but as a staff member at the marina told me, “The wood from that pavilion ended up all over the area in various structures from the marina here, to barns in the country.”
Jacksons Point: Mossington Park Pavilion
Travelling a couple of miles east from the centre of town you could see-until recently-the remains of what was a vibrant and popular summer playground known as Mossington Park. Named after Thomas Mossington (1780-1864), one of early settlers to the area, the park’s pavilion was so dilapidated that it was condemned and completely fenced off to protect curiosity seekers from falling through the rotted boards into the Black River.
Above – The old Mossington Park Pavilion along the banks of the Black River, July 17, 1995, long after its heyday. Unlike nearby dance halls in Jacksons Point, Mossington was a more casual place to dance. This building was torn down in the late 1990s.
Oshawa musician Tommy Cinnamon played here many times when the hall was filled with dancers. In the Sutton Library, one of the librarians whose aunt owned the combination boathouse/cottage just to the south of the pavilion shared her memories. Her family would stay upstairs while on their holidays: “I can still remember drifting off to sleep to the strains of ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’ on a warm summer night.”
Franklin Beach: The Lighthouse Dance Hall
A drive west from Jacksons Point downtown, takes me to Franklin Beach, home of the once-popular Lighthouse Dance Hall. The Georgina Advocate newspaper reported that in 1965 local teenagers marched in protest after the hall was closed down by council “after incidents of fighting and drunkenness.” Council must have had a change of heart at some point because the hall continued operations under the ownership of Mrs. Anna Ebner for eight more years until disaster struck. Vale Clark writes about the incident: “On Sunday, February 25, 1973, my husband and I were ice fishing about two miles southwest from Jacksons Point on Lake Simcoe. We had the door of the fish hut open when my husband. Dennis, a member of the Sutton Volunteer Fire Department, noticed a concentration of smoke arising to the east of us along the shore of the lake. He set out towards it on our snowmobile. I remember it well for two reasons: firstly our daughter Jenna Lanette Clark was born during the early hours of the following morning and secondly, that was the day
that The Lighthouse burned to the ground.” The hall was not rebuilt.
Above: The Roni-Vern Hall, located near Port Bolster and shown here in 1995, was once a dance hall. Over the years it has been home to a number of different business ventures. Currently the building is vacant.
Port Bolster: Roni – Vern Dance Hall
In the early 1940s, Verna Scott-Creber’s father, Cyril Scott, purchased a small business in Port Bolster on eastern Lake Simcoe, which consisted of a few cabins. “In 1944, Dad built the dance hall and constructed a restaurant in the front portion of the building,” says Verna. “Our family ran dances every Friday and Saturday nights from May to October, bringing in anywhere from 300 to 350 people. The music was provided by a five-piece orchestra from the Oshawa area led by Rudy Spratt, and another band led by Wilf Miller.” Cyril began to grow restless with the dance hall and cabin business, and looked for new opportunities in the area. “We sold the pavilion after 1950 and Dad built the drive-in theatre,” recalls
Verna. The original building in Port Bolster still stands and has been used by several owners for a variety of purposes over the years. It currently stands unused.
Where in Georgina?
Can you correctly identify this building and it’s location?
Our Pioneer Ancestors
This time we used other sources for this issue’s pioneer ancestors. Stagecoaches were an important road link in the latter half of the nineteenth century. The first scheduled stages ran up and down major thoroughfares such as the Danforth and Yonge Street as early as the 1820s. One of the first was by Eli Playter up Yonge Street in 1828. He was bought out a few years later by William Weller of Cobourg who had the largest stagecoach network in Upper Canada. Eight years later it was sold to Charles Thompson of Summerhill who ran it for ten years and later sold it as he saw the handwriting on the wall for the demise of the business on the main highways of the colony when the railways arrived. However, feeder stagecoach services were still in great demand. A local stagecoach service ran from Sutton to Newmarket making stops at Belhaven, Roches Point, Keswick, Queensville and Sharon. It was operated by Earl William of Belhaven. His name may be found in numerous York County directories of the 1860s and 1870s where he is listed as a stagecoach proprietor and operator.
There’s a lot happening at the village. New and exciting programs and workshops are being offered all year long. Save this link to your desktop and check back regularly for updates. or email Melissa Matt at email@example.com. We give a hearty welcome to Steve Brown, the new maintenance and handyman in the Pioneer Village.
Volunteers wanted!!! Volunteers are needed to come out to the Georgina Pioneer Village as a work crew, probably Tuesday mornings, to rehab the gardens and refinish the Quilters Cabin for use as the GHS office. Give any one of the board members a call if you are interested in getting involved. We did this when refinishing the caboose and it’s a great way to get to know the Village, and peek behind the curtains.
Plans are well under way for this year’s edition of Harvestfest. All of the buildings will be open with volunteer interpreters in costume, an entire roster of musical entertainment has been lined up at the Church, Bandstand and Noble House as well as local vendors with displays, food and crafts for sale, and other activities. We will also need volunteers to help us with that event. Please contact Kim Brady or Wayne Phillips (see Contact List).
We would also like to know if any of our members would be interested in forming a group like Bradford’s Cemetery Guardians (see June’s newsletter) to engage with the Town of Georgina in the rehabilitation of our neglected pioneer cemeteries. At Harvestfest, the Town of Georgina will have a representative there (Courtney Rennie who is engaged and interested in the future of our pioneer cemeteries) to discuss this issue and answer any questions and communicate with the public. Contact Paul Brady or any member of your Board for further information.
This year’s AGM will be held at the Sutton Legion. More details to follow next month. Tickets for the meeting and dinner will be available in October.
Long-time members of the Georgina Historical Society, Hessel and Mary Pape, have been invited to do a reading and presentation of their self-published historical biography that Mary and her sister have been working on for the past nine years. The presentation will be at the Sutton Public Library on Sunday, October 22 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. If you wish to mark the date on your calendar, they would be very honoured to have you present.
September 16th –Harvestfest at the Pioneer Village; music, vendors, displays etc. from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The schedule for musical performances will be as follows:
At The Bandstand At the Church
10:40 to 11:40 – Arch & Bob 11:30 to 12:30 – Hannah Hutchings
11:40 to 1:00 – Common Elements 12:30 to 1:30 – Voices of Georgina
1:00 to 2:00 – The Liverspots 1:30 to 2:30 – Cook’s Bay Bluegrass Band
2:00 to 3:00 – George Pants Noble House
3:00 to 4:00 – The Opening Act 11:45 to 2:00 – Ravenshoe String Ensemble Old-time Children’s games and fun for all!
September 19th – General Meeting at the Ravenshoe Chapel in Ravenshoe…guest speaker Tom Glover; A Celebration of 150 Years at the Ravenshoe Chapel. Meet & greet 6:30 pm …meeting at 7:00 pm.
October 2nd – Board Meeting at our new GHS headquarters in the Pioneer Village 4 pm
October 17th – General Meeting…guest speaker Bob Holden on Pathways to Settlement at the schoolhouse in Georgina Pioneer Village. Meet & greet 6:30 pm …meeting at 7:00 pm.
November 21st – Annual General Meeting, Sutton Legion…Tickets and more information available in October.
Images from Harvestfest Past