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We Once Had A Fair

  • CA BWGPL PH25693

Municipality :
Community : Bradford West Gwillimbury
Lot :
Concession :
Description : We Once Had A Fair

Forty-three years ago in Bradford the annual Bradford and West Gwillimbury fall fair was held, with horse races, livestock competitions, dances, and a midway.

The weather was almost perfect and the fair attracted crowds estimated at 3,000.

The celery harvest was under way that week as well, and Professor W.H. Day's 40 acres were described as an "animated hive of industry," with 250 men and boys harvesting the celery crop.

Twenty-nine years ago in Bradford a just-completed census put the population of the town at 1,373 an increase of 66 from the previous year.

A huge wasp's nest, measuring three feet long, was discovered in a barn at the rear of the Orange Hall.

The nest's construction was "like basket weaving, and is in lovely tones of fawn shade." The wasps were killed by "liberal applications of DDT."

Two Alliston Couples Die When Car Hits Tree

  • CA BWGPL PH14741

Municipality :
Community : Alliston
Lot :
Concession :
Description : Samuel and Mathilda McMaster and Roy and Merle Leslie, all of Alliston, died when their car hit a tree on No. 10 Simcoe County Road, three miles south of Alliston. Lloyd Gerrard of Aliston suffered a concussion and shock.

Town Gathers for Joe Magani

  • CA BWGPL PH25633

Municipality :
Community : Bradford West Gwillimbury
Lot :
Concession :
Description : Town Gathers for Joe Magani

"I don't know if I really deserve all this, just because I gave a stinkin' 20 years of my life to the town." - Joe Magani, January 28, 1977.

More than 180 persons were on hand at the Bradford
Community Centre Friday night to honor "Uncle Joe" Magani on his retirement from 20 years in Bradford politics, the last 16 of those as mayor.

Reeve Ken Wood was chairman for the evening, and he opened the meeting by introducing head tables guests, and then handed the microphone over to Charlie Evans, former reeve, county warden and town solicitor for Bradford.

Mr. Evans conveyed apologies on behalf of former Ontario Lieutenant-Governor Earl Rowe who was unable to attend because of the storm.

"Earl told me to say he's sorry that he and his wife couldn't come because he would have loved to be here tonight," said Mr. Evans.

He went on to read a message from Mr. Rowe: "Joe should be commended for his tremendous service to the community of Bradford, and Bradford is a much better place because Joe Magani lived here."

Mr. Rowe's statement was greeted by warm applause from the audience.

Continuing, Mr. Evans said, "I sure would like to pay tribute to our guest of honor. I sure would have liked to see Joe's mother here tonight, but I understand he ordered there was no way she was to come out on the roads tonight.

"Joe's mother would sure be proud and pleased with her little boy tonight," he added, and this was also applauded.

He pointed out that Mr. Magani had been involved in municipal politics for more than one-eighth of Bradford's life, and that he had been mayor for more than one-ninth of its life as a municipality.

"I have been close friends with Joe for a long time, and any good things for Bradford, one of the guys in there on top was Uncle Joe," he said.

Mayor Roy Gordon was then called upon to present Mr. Magani with a set of monogrammed golf clubs.

Mr. Evans quipped, "Well, Joe, I gave you lessons with these (the clubs) 30 years ago, and I'll be glad to give you more lessons."

The microphone was then turned over to the guest of honor, and he said, "I heard a few rumours about this...that's beautiful. First of all, I want to thank you all. That's a beautiful gift... I don't know if I really deserve all this, just because I gave a stinkin' 20 years of my life to the town."

"I don't know if you know it or not, but these (golf) clubs are the best in the world. I really love all of you, and I think you're fantastic people. I just don't know how to thank you."

Chairman Ken Wood then called on Bradford Fire Chief Harold "Butch" Boyd to make another presentation.

Mr. Boyd said, "We have a little gift here for Uncle Joe. He's been tellin' me what to do for the last 20 years and I've had to go along with it...And now I've got him on the spot, I don't know what to say."

The gift from the firefighters was a gold-plated fire helmet naming Mr. Magani as honorary chief of the Bradford Fire Department.

"By the way, ladies and gentlemen, we've got the best fire department in the province of Ontario. And I said that before I got this gift." said Mr. Magani. "You know, I've always wanted one of these," he added as he placed the helmet on his head.

Spotting former fire chief, Ted Gapp in the audeince, he said, "Hey Gapp, now I'm in the same class as you."

Mr. Gapp replied, "Joe, you always backed the fire department 100 percent, but I remember one time when I was manager of a ball team and you thoght you were a ballplayer."

Mr. Boyd said, "Joe, the first good Sunday that you're home I'll let you wear that hat and drive the fire truck."

Mr. Magani replies, "I really thank you from the bottom of my heart."

He went on to introduce his daughter, Denise, and her husband, Mike Gasko, as well as other relatives and close friends. "But you know, the closest family I have," he said with an expansive gesture, "they're all here."

Mayor Gordon was then introduced, and he said, "I think Joe Magani is a super guy, and I can't say enough about him. He's a lovely guy, and I'm not gonna miss him because I'm gonna get him to do a whole bunch of things."

Turning to Mr. Magani, he said, "I think you're the father of Bradford."

Simcoe Centre MPP Art Evans said, "I have played golf, baseball and hockey with Joe, and we've been on council together. Joe was a driving force behind our centennial.

"But I probably know a few more things about Joe than you do," he added, and recounted a couple of anecdotes about Mr. Magani.

Mr. Evans told about one morning when a group of gentlemen shaved all the hair off the former mayor's chest.

Noting that "those are big shoes Roy Gordon has to fill," Mr. Evans recounted another story about the time they sent Mr. Magani's golf shoes floating down a creek.

In concluding address, he said "Joe mentioned those golf clubs were the best in the world. Well, I think Joe Magani's the best in the world."

West Gwillimbury Reeve John Fennell said, "Joe always laid his cards on the table. We always knew what Bradford wanted and what West Gwillimbury wanted.

"Joe was always as close as the telephone, and we knew we could always get some good advice. I hope you'll have many happy years here in Bradford, and knowing you, you'll be involved. So if you can't phone us, maybe you can write us," he said, and presented Mr. Magani with a pen and pencil set on behalf of the township council.

Former county warden and West Gwillimbury reeve Orville Hughes said, "I know they talk about you and I retiring, Joe, and I hope they mean from politics. Because unless you made a lot more money in politics than I did, we're not ready to retire yet."

Chairman Mr. Wood adjourned the meeting, and the evening continued with dancing till the early hours.

Thomas Wells Opens School

  • CA BWGPL 2017-02-02
  • Item
  • February 9, 1977

Bradford Witness
Volume 111, Issue 6
February 9, 1977

Bradford Witness

Third Generation Takes Over Local Mail Route

  • CA BWGPL PH14039

Municipality :
Community : Bradford
Lot :
Concession :
Description : Carl Melbourne becomes the third generation of his family to deliver the mail for R.R. 1 Bradford.

Some Further Recollections of Old Times in Bradford

  • CA BWGPL PH14063

Municipality :
Community : Bradford
Lot :
Concession :
Description : Memories from the 1870s and 1880s. Lists the merchants who had shops along the main streets. Stories concerning William (Billy) Innis, Jim Rose, Bob McKinstry, Mr. J.C. Wood, and Mrs. Mazel McKinstry McGee.

Shirley Gets 20 Years For Bradford Bank Robbery

  • CA BWGPL PH15587

Municipality :
Community : Other - Bradford
Lot :
Concession :
Description : Lawrence Shirley is sentenced to 20 years in Kingston Penitentiary for his part in the armed robbery of the Bradford Bank of Commerce. Frank Watson is acquitted, but faces other charges and is returned to the Don Jail. Leonard Jackson is still at large.

Ruffetts' Celebrate 72 Years of Marriage

  • CA BWGPL PH25695

Municipality :
Community : Lefroy
Lot :
Concession :
Description : Ruffetts' Celebrate 72 Years of Marriage
By Georgina Mitchell

Bill and Susan Ruffett celebrated their 72nd anniversary last week, with many friends and relatives calling in to congratulate them.

Bill is well known for his recitations and he has memorized over 100 verses since retiring at the age of 80.

He recalls the first time he recited 82 years ago at the Churchill Presbyterian Church Sunday School concert.

Bill and Susan eloped when she was 16, and he 20.

The bride, born Susan Hardy recalls taking the train from Lefroy to Gilford (where her sister lived) and then north to Barrie where she met Bill.

The couple then walked to the Collier Street Methodist Manse where they exchanged vows.

Bill remembers having only $7 in his pocket, of which $2 went to the minister.

Bill began work at the ice company in Lefroy, and worked there from 1910 to 1930.

With the advent of electric refrigerators Bill turned to carpentry and built about 200 cottages before his retirement.

He continued to build bird houses as a hobby, and still does when the weather is favorable, with his son Charlie giving him a hand.

Bill and Susan raised a family of seven children, the oldest and youngest girls, with five boys in between.

They also have 18 grandchildren ranging in age from 12 to 42, 21 great-grandchildren, and one great great grandchild.

Robert Evans is Named QC

  • CA BWGPL PH25599

Municipality :
Community : Bradford West Gwillimbury
Lot :
Concession :
Description : Robert Evans is Named QC

BRADFORD - When Bradford lawyer Robert Evans read through the Globe and Mail January 1, he found his name listed among about 150 lawyers chosen for appointments to Queen's counsel by the Attorney General of Ontario.

He wasn't exactly surprised by the honor, but was very pleased.

"Appointments are awarded to lawyers who have been in practice for a number of years, and I had applied for it," said Mr. Evans, with the Bradford law firm of Evans and Evans.

Perhaps one reason he wasn't amazed by the appointment is that a number of other lawyers in his family have been similarly honored.


Robert Evans' grandfather T.W.W. Evans started the law firm in 1894 and not only was he named to Queen's counsel (it was then King's counsel because King George V ruled Great Britain) but so were his father Charles, uncle Brock, and his brother Thomas.

Robert Evans was born in Bradford and called to the bar in 1966. Since then he's worked in the Bradford family firm doing most of the litigation work.

An active member of the Progressive Conservative party, Mr. Evans admits the appointment has political overtones, but points out that members of other political parties are also appointed to Queen's counsel.

He told the Witness his appointment was "a mark of experience and was likely considered in light of his other community affiliations.

A member of the York Region Law Association, he was president of that group for two years, and is also active in the Simcoe County Law Association.


A term as president of the Bradford Rotary Club, and another as master of the Masonic Lodge in Bradford round out his list of achievements, and one of the personal highlights he proudly points to is that he was among several businessmen chosen to represent Canada in an Australian exchange program in 1967.

His family of wife Janet, and three daughters, Heather, 6, Jackie, 5, and Pamela, 3, have welcomed other exchange students into their home in past years.

Mr. Evans said he has been proud to watch Bradford growing over the years, and is equally proud of his family's law firm.

Although there are no specific duties attendant with his appointment to Queen's counsel, a few changes will result.

"I'll have to have a new silk gown made up to wear in court, and we'll have to have new letterhead printed with Q.C. after my name," he laughed.

Remembering Commercial Carp Fishing in Cook's Bay in the 1920's

  • CA BWGPL PH25602

Municipality :
Community : Bradford West Gwillimbury
Lot :
Concession :
Description : When I was about 18 years old I worked for the Bradford Fish Company which was owned by a man by the name of Jack Spencer who lived on Barrie Street. This was about 1924 or there about. At that time we were living on the 14th concession of West Gwillimbury about three miles from Gilford.

The main fish that we were fishing for was carp, a fish that was in great demand by the Jewish people. The carp was a fish that lived mainly on the roots of wild rice which was quite plentiful in the bay at that time. They also ate the rice that fell off the stalks when ripe. For this reason the carp had to burrow into the bottom of the bay and into the mud to get their food. This is why the flesh had a muddy taste when eaten, although I have eaten carp and the gentleman that was the cook for the company seemed to know how to cook it. He used to boil it right in quart sealers. He may have added something to it but he never told us his secret. I really believe that a lot of the cheap salmon that was available in those days was really carp.

At the end of the road at Gilford the company had three buildings - cook and bunkhouse, a boathouse, and a large building just north of the Gilford road which was used as a work shop and a place to store ice used to pack the fish. The fish had to be alive when they reached their destination as they had to be killed by a Rabbi. The carp was a fish that would live for a long time and when packed in ice would live when shipped away as far as New York.

When the ice was 24 inches deep (and I have known it to be 30 inches), we would have to store about a thousand blocks and when packed in sawdust and well covered it would last until well on into the next summer.

We had a large ice crusher in this building which would crush the ice into small particles with which to pack the fish. The fish were shipped in boxes that held 100 pounds. They were about three feet long and around 30 inches wide usually made of hardwood lumber. When it was stormy or too rough to fish on the open water we used to put in our time at making these boxes.

In the fall the first thing to do before the bay froze over was to drive down poles into the bottom of the lake in the areas where we intended to fish under the ice. Then we built a platform and a shelter large enough to hold the machinery and a large reel on which the nets could be stored. A slide was built from the front of the platform down to the bottom of the bay. This was used to haul the net up onto the platform.

As soon as the ice was thick enough to hold a man (about two inches of good blue ice) the first thing to do was to run ropes under the ice out to each of the corner posts that had been driven into the bay before freezeup. This was accomplished by using a pine board about six inches wide and around 10 or 12 feet long with a rope attached. Starting at the platform we would cut a hole and put the board under the ice and with a pike pole shove it as far as we could in the direction of the first corner post. Then we cut another hole and gave the board with the rope attached to it, another shot forward. This was done until we reached the first corner post, about 500 feet away from the platform. With a pulley we continued joining the posts by rope.

By the end, we had a way of pulling the net out from under the ice. The nets were known as seine nets and were about 300 yards long with lead weights on the bottom of them so that it would sweep the bottom of the bay. Cork floats were on the top of it to make it float to the top of the water.

As the net was hauled around to each of these posts a man had to be there to take the rope out of the pulley and put another rope, which was attached to the front of the net, through the pulley. When finished, we had a net that would sweep a swath at least 300 yards wide in a semi circle.

The fish would as a rule, swim back towards the centre of the net so if the net was pretty well all back to the platform before you saw how many fish you were pretty near certain that your catch wasn't very large, perhaps only two or three hundred pounds.

Of course there are almost always certain fish in the catch that had to be thrown back as it wasn't legal to fish with a seine net for game fish such as muskilunge, bass, pickerel or whitefish. Sometimes you would get no carp at all but maybe three or four hundred pounds of mullets or suckers and perch. These were all saleable. We also also used to get a lot of what we called dog fish. There was no market for them so we just threw them out on the ice for the gulls to eat. The proper name for them was Ling and I understand that now in some places they are called a delicacy and there is quite a demand for them.

The largest haul of carp that we got while I was working there was something over 40 tons in one haul. It took us two days and one night to empty them out of the net.

As we did not always have orders every day for fish, we had to make wide slatted crates 12 foot by 6 foot that sunk in the ice and down in the water When the fish were stored in them the fresh water flowed through them at all times. This way if we had a few days when we didn't get many fish but had some orders, we always had the crates of fish to fall back on.

Our main camp and cookhouse was situated just at the mouth of the river where it enters the bay. Our cook was a man from Bradford, George McDonald. We received $15 a week and our board which in those days was considered pretty good wages. On Saturday night when we were paid the first money I spent was to stop at he Gilford store and buy 25 cents worth of chocolate bars, six for 25 cents and about three times as large as what you would pay 45 cents for today.

As soon as it looked like the ice was going to break up in the spring we would carry a long pole with us in case we happened to step on a place where the ice was rotten. I remember one chap who worked with us used to walk to the store at Gilford almost every night and one night when the ice was getting soft in spots, he decided he wanted to go to the store and he wanted someone to go with him. We told him it was too dangerous and he said we were afraid and he was going anyways. So off he went and about 300 yards from the camp with us standing the veranda watching him, down he went. Well he got out all right and when he saw us watching he didn't turn back but kept right on going.

The same chap thought he was a little bit better than the rest of us. Most of us, when we were finished for the night would take off our hip rubber boots and walk around in our stocking feet, but he had to wear a pair of slippers all the time. So one night when he had gone to the store someone got some tacks and nailed his slippers to the floor. Well when he came home we were all in bed but not sleeping and he went to put on his slippers and the air was blue so he just ripped them up and left the tacks in the floor.

When we fished in the spring and fall in open water we just loaded the net into a seine boat and with a couple of men rowing the boat, a couple more would lay the net out. I remember one time when fishing in the open water the net got caught on a log or a stump and we had to pull it all up by hand. By the time we had it loaded, the back end of the board was just about two inches out of the water. That was one time that I would much sooner have been on dry land.

In the spring of the year when the water was fairly high the land which is now built up with cottages used to flood and the carp would go up into the water holes there and on the marsh to spawn. We used to have to go around with dip nets and catch them.

The female fish were called sows and they often weighed as much as 35 lbs. It didn't take many of them to fill a box.

If we only had an order for five or ten boxes, we would ship them by express but I know we would sometimes get an order for a freight car load.

The first foreman that I know of when the business started was Foxy Bantam. He was the father of Helen Bantam and Gordon Bantam. He was killed one Sunday while driving around the lake in a motor boat when a thunderstorm came up and he was struck by lightning.

When I worked there the foreman was Edmond Gibbons who now lived in Lefroy and is well over 90 years of age. He was an older brother of Leanord Gibbons who lived in Bradford.

Mr. Spencer quit the fishing business in Bradford and sold out to the late Dodger Collings who carried it on for a year or two. I think when Mr. Collings was running the business the dealers from Toronto used to come up with water tanks and transport the fish that way.

As the lakeshore property was developed around Gilford, and the reeds and wild rice were cut down, the carp population declined. It is now pretty well cleaned out.

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