On the main street of Apsley, back in 1920, there was an old store and house not being used. They were on the property across from the current liquor store. The Anglican Church bought the property and buildings for $2200. The old store was turned into the Parish Hall and the old house was restored for the Rectory. Alterations of the house and store were completed. The old counters were re-used to make a roomy stage at little cost. Behind the stage a large kitchen was made and a couple of small anterooms on each side. By the end of the year, the Parish Hall was well established as the center of the community. The house was ready for the new priest in charge to move in with his wife and family. A generous gift of used pews from All Saints Anglican Church in Peterborough helped set up seating in the hall.
Reverend Spence’s wife Hannah, started the Junior Auxiliary Club (JA) and the Young Peoples’ Association. She also formed a Girl Guides group. Rev. Spence and Hannah were responsible for many dramatic events. He directed and produced plays that she wrote and also did set design. The drop curtain in front of the stage in the Parish Hall was covered by an oil painting of an old-fashioned English cottage and garden done by Hannah Spence. It was admired by all that saw it over many decades. The small anterooms were used as changing rooms for the ‘actors’, many of who were from the area.
In the early years, the Hall was open three nights a week. Behind the Hall was the old Apsley outdoor skating rink. The church ladies served sandwiches, hotdogs and hot drinks. They were open for all the hockey games.
As the years went on the Parish Hall became the hub for most things going on in the village. Interest grew to include
meetings for lectures, Mens’ club, gymnastics, Girl Guides, plays and different entertainment that took place. There were many dances held there, wedding receptions, Saturday night dances. We were lucky to have many musical performers, Three Men and a Lady played (the original Leahy family), plus Sid McCauley and Band played a lot there. One lady told me that her boyfriend would say to her, “Come on. We’re going to the hall to stomp and scream with Jim and Jean!” (part of Sid’s band) Oh what good times!
Every Monday night Ivan Gunter came from Coe Hill and showed movies. The beautiful curtain would be pulled back, down came a white screen and soon the movie would be on. As you came through the front door, on your left was a ticket booth. 25 cents to get in. Before you went to the movies you went to Max Smith’s store (now the Heart of Apsley). If you were lucky and had done your chores you got the 25 cents you needed to go to the movies plus more: 10 cents for a Pepsi, 10 cents for a bag of chips and 5 cents for black balls (3 for a penny). What a treat.
What a wonderful time we had in the old Parish Hall. One of my greatest memories was when the Hillbilly Jewels came. Brownie on the violin sang a song that is still on my mind. “I love my rooster. My rooster loves me.” The Jewels later became the Brown Family and went on to be quite famous.
Every Sunday night we had fun at the Young Peoples’ meetings. Also once a week, we had JA led by church deacon Miss Jones. She taught us sewing, knitting, cooking, baking and various crafts. She could make anything with a pair of scissors and a piece of paper. In JA, at the end of every meeting, Doreen McIlmoyle or Rosalie McColl would read a chapter from Maggie Muggins. At the end of each chapter, the character old Mr. McGarrity would say “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.” We could hardly wait until the next week. Miss Jones also ran a Little Helpers program for pre-school children.
In 1956 our Parish Hall was commissioned to be torn down by Charlie Smith. He used two of the doors in a boathouse on Jack’s Lake. A new Rectory was built between 1954 and 55. The basement of St. George’s Anglican Church was used to continue some of the Parish Hall clubs but the wonderful dances, movies and plays were gone with the Parish Hall. For a magical time, we had a great place for the young and the old to meet and celebrate.
The woman standing in front of the Shell garage in September’s issue was Marilyn (Windsor) Dunford. She was Kim Dunford’s (Home Hardware owner) Mother.
The sub-committee of Reflections of Our Village will recognize the service and contributions to our community of the following people, Bob Harvey, Mike Heaps, Jim Whelan, and Dr. Wag Rayes. Please join us for the ceremony and refreshments on Friday October 21st at 7pm at the North Kawartha Community Centre. Looking forward to seeing everyone there.