I wonder where the Hunter Russell trail sign at Finlay Mill Road is?

June 28, 2016

Lots of new signs all over Springwater Township.

Sign H Russell Trail

A shame if the old is discarded.

Hunter Russell

A little background on Hunter Russell.

Dear Midhursters, I say, for goodness’ sake, Don’t let the hall go, it would be a mistake.

April 8, 2016

When Ruth Byers uses words like “demolish”, “stunned”, and “tragedy”, thoughtful people in Springwater Township have listened up for decades.

Her April 7th Heritage Matters column:

Springwater News
April 7, 2016

Memories of the Midhurst Community Centre
Heritage Matters
Ruth Byers

Sign MCC donors
The sign that hung for decades within the Midhurst Community Hall.

It is a man’s privilege some good to seek,
To lift up the fallen and to aid the weak.
To create a dwelling for frolic and fun,
That will cheer the aged as well as the young.

Dear Midhursters don’t let the hall go, it would be a mistake.

These words were spoken and recorded in an epic poem nearly 100 years ago when a battle was being waged over the location of the new town hall. The council of the day had decided to build a new town hall and the site had been selected but there was a desire for some to have it located at the reforestation area near the railway station.

Now, 2016, it seems there is a desire to demolish this landmark. The community centre has been serving (and still is serving) the Midhurst community in a variety of ways.

Dear Reader: this column is used to tell of Heritage Matters in an unbiased manner. I hope you will forgive me if I deviate from this format. I was stunned to learn of the plans to demolish the Midhurst Community Centre. To most of us, other than not being handicapped accessible, the building seems to be solid.

My first memory of the hall was attending a family dance as a little kid. The music was played by local musicians, and a local caller if a square dance was in the making. There were wooden benches down the sides of the room, piled coats underneath. When the toddlers got tired, they would crawl under the benches, lay on the coats and sleep. The highlight of the evening would be watching Orv Dash and Mrs. Dash schottische around the floor, their feet never stumbling. Perhaps it was Orv’s boxing experience that accounted for the great footwork!

Time passed: school, marriage, living elsewhere, babies and then building our home in Midhurst. As residents, we became involved with the community, and the Midhurst Community Centre. Before Forest Hill School had a gymnasium, school plays and concerts were held in the hall. Dinners, pancake suppers, baby showers, wedding showers, cared games and more dances filled the community newsletter. Political rallies and elections at all three levels were held in this hall. Free trade was discussed in the 1930s, decades before it became an important issue.

Not all meetings were good. My father attended a council meeting concerning a situation with SS #1 Vespra School known locally as Cundles School. This was where my brothers and I attended. My father was told to go back where he came from if he didn’t like what was offered here. School Inspector P.M. Scott stood up and chastised the Council and demanded an apology, which was given. What a dear man, and courageous! That memory has stuck for a lifetime.

In 1967, the Vespra Township council decided once again to build a new hall. This one on Doran Road became excess property so it was sold to the Midhurst Community for one dollar.

Thus began the job of renovating. Volunteers worked hard to provide a safe and useable space adding washrooms, a decent heating system, a parking lot and a cover over the front door.

A board managed the business of the hall. As a member of the board for a few years, I was intrigued by the fact a fellow board member, Hunter Russell, and been one of the original volunteers building the hall before I was born.

Somehow, the hall became the property of the township again. Now the decision regarding the hall’s future lies with the council. Demolishing our heritage would be a tragedy. A logical solution would be to sell the land and building ‘as is’ and let the new owner do whatever needs to be done with the building. This solution worked well for the old St. Paul’s Church.

The opening two stanzas of the circa 1926 poem, recorded in History of Vespra Township, page 111:

Come friends, gather round and I will tell
Of a wonderful project and what befell.
Our fathers one day thought out and planned
A community hall, a structure grand.

They met the Council for an interview,
Laid before them their plans, faithful and true.
For a thousand dollars, and the old town hall
We’ll build you a new one, in reach of all.

Disclosure:  Ruth, Bob and their family have given thousands and thousands and thousands of hours in support of the Springwater Township community. For our family, we received their gifts principally within the scouting movement.

I wrote about this in relation to saving Springwater Park in August 2013.

Cubs mcc 001

Midhurst 1 Cub Scouts in the Midhurst Community Centre basement, circa mid 1960s: (l) Wayne, Gary, ? and me.


When is Springwater Township planning to demolish or “decommission” the Midhurst Community Centre?

April 8, 2016

Sometimes it helps to ask politicians, in writing, important questions.

Springwater Council Web

(l) Don Allen, Perry Ritchie, Katy Austin, Bill French, Sandy McConkey, Jennifer Coughlin, Jack Hanna

1. Email from author to Midhurst ward councillor (Mr. Jack Hanna), Township of Springwater

FROM: Les Stewart
TO: Jack Hanna <jack.hanna@springwater.ca>
CC: Bill French <Bill.French@springwater.ca>
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 11:31
SUBJECT: Midhurst Sports and Wellness Centre proposal

Mr. Jack Hanna
Councillor Ward 5
Township of Springwater

Mr. Hanna,

I would appreciate an update on the Township’s evaluation of this proposal.

I would also like to have an opportunity for a meeting so that I can make sure my facts are correct about how this proposal will affect the Midhurst Community Centre at 74 Doran Road, Midhurst.


Les Stewart

2. Response from Mayor French

FROM: Bill French

TO: Les Stewart, Jack Hanna

CC: Ron Belcourt <Ron.Belcourt@springwater.ca>, (Director of Recreation, Parks & Properties)

Robert Brindley <Robert.Brindley@springwater.ca> (Chief Administrative Officer)

DATE: 24 March 2016 at 11:51

It was referred to staff for feedback. It will not be reviewed until we finalize our Master Recreation Plan which will not be complete until later this year.
Before the advancement of any idea or concept, it would be subject to rigorous review and public input. But at the same time we commend people that have ideas that try to enhance our various communities.
Appreciate your interest.

Best Regards


Bill French
Township of Springwater
2231 Nursery Road
Minesing, ON L0L 1Y2
P 705-728-4784 ext. 2040
F 705-728-6957
C 705-718-7031 or


3. Reply by author

FROM:: Les Stewart
TO: Bill French
CC: Jack Hanna, Ron Belcourt, Robert Brindley
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 12:05

Mayor French,

Thank you for the update.

I take from this that the proposal, which called for demolishing the Midhurst Community Hall by fall 2016, will not be happening.

I have attached a current Springwater News article by Ruth Byers.  She notes Midhurst and many township residents had worked very hard to preserve 164 years of continuous civic building presence. It may be of interest to the Corporation that the Midhurst United, St. Paul’s Anglican and Midhurst Baptist churchs rented the Doran Road facilities while their congregations struggled, successfully, to construct their own buildings in our community.

Considering the season, it’s nice that the current church congregation renting (Old Apostolic Lutheran Church) won’t become homeless by this administration.

At least for now, eh?

Regards, Les

4. Mr. Jack Hanna comments.

FROM: Jack Hanna
TO: Bill French, Les Stewart
CC: Ron Belcourt, Robert Brindley
DATE: 24 March 2016 at 16:39

Mr Les Stewart
Further to the response from Mayor French you will note in the Draft Recreation Master Plan a recommendation to “decommission the Midhurst Community Centre” my objection to this is part of the public record.

Jack Hanna
Councillor Ward 5

Meeting asked for….meeting…

Therefore, the French administration, staff & councillors seems to be pleased with the accuracy of the traditional and social media coverage.

Posted also on SpringwaterParkcc.org.

Who is acting behind-the-scenes in degrading Midhurst’s cultural and heritage equity?

April 2, 2016

Who serves the $40-billion Midhurst Secondary Plan developers?


Who are his allies on township council?

A good Springwater News March 24th article by Ruth Byers.

Springwater News
March 24, 2016

Town Hall The Second
Heritage Matters
Ruth Byers


Sometime in the 1920s, Vespra Township Council decided there was a need of a new town hall.

Between the decision and the actual building of the new hall, there was some community action. Even within the council there was a back and forth argument. The older residents of Midhurst wanted the new hall built in the village, while another group wanted it built at the reforestry station. The debate was recorded in a poem written by Arthur Garvin.

The hall was built in the village on land purchased from Mrs. Thomas Spence. Volunteer labour played a huge part in the construction of the hall. The names of all those who donated time and/or money were written on a sign that hung in the hall. It is interesting to note that the support came from across the township.

Township council met in this building until 1967. They were called ‘the lunch bag’ council, since they brought their lunch with them. To mark Canada’s centenary, a fire hall come council chamber was built on Finlay Mill Road, Town Hall The Third. Since the hall on Doran Road was no longer needed, the township sold it to the community of Midhurst for one dollar. The township offices were still at 17 Owen Street, Barrie.

Again volunteers played an important part in the hall’s new life. A kitchen was built, the big monster of a furnace was replaced, washrooms were built, cover over the main door was constructed, and a parking lot was created and paved.

Funding was always a big part to the work of the volunteers. A Ladies Auxiliary was formed and their first big endeavor was a cook book. Betty Stewart did most of the work to put all the recipes onto paper; another group printed it on an old gestner machine. The book was a good money maker.

The ladies realized that every group in the village needed to raise funds. Ruth Byers suggested they all work together on one event. So Autumnfest was born.

So many events have taken place in this building: wedding showers, baby showers, dances, elections, church services, suppers and one of the best, the Lilac Tea. Isabel Nash had advocated the lilac as the township flower and the tea celebrated this.

There has been public space in Midhurst for events of all kinds for 164 years.

This article followed another good March 10th article on March 10th called: Town Hall pdf

There were hundreds of people that have worked tirelessly to build Midhurst into the community that it is today. I know for a fact they didn’t take time away from their family and work out of careerism. I was there inhaling the gestener correcting fluid. lol

Demolishing the soul of a community serves big money developers and their toadies.

If Midhurst residents are at war over their community’s future, is it likely that their adversary is using change agents to undermine their defences?

February 19, 2016

Every military campaign relies on intrigue. What is concealed, what is revealed

20160219 Deception

A commercial plan like the Midhurst Secondary Plan, MSP which is worth $40-billion, is no different. Very charming, highly-accomplished, -motivated, and -educated individuals are recruited, moved in, provide back intelligence and sabotage their master’s adversaries’ defences.

In my opinion these are the two most likely individuals:

20160219 David Strachan

David Strachan, current AWARE Simcoe board member for Springwater Township, chaired and organized the meeting on November 28, 2011 meeting at the Midhurst Community Centre which broke the MSP news publicly, new to Midhurst in 2009.

20160219 Don Allen

(l) Mayor Bill French and Don Allen, township election results, Oct 2015

Don Allen, current Springwater Township Deputy Mayor and franchisor executive, new to Midhurst in March 2015.

20160219 Springwater Township council

IMHO, a legal liability (failure of duty, conflict of interest) compromises, both personally the returning and the new members, and the Corporation of Springwater Township. Maybe that’s why Barnet Kussner and WeirFoulds LLP is still on the township payroll in 2016?

Jack Hanna is the most motivated because of  a large variance between his personal net worth versus his competence to independently re-create it.

The Midhurst Community Centre accurately embodies the civic, social, and religious values of Midhurst pioneers.

February 15, 2016

The structure was paid for mostly by loans and donations from pioneer families. Their pride was reflected in the extraordinary extravagance of a professionally-made hand-lettered interior sign.

Front cover


The first hall was built in 1854 on a site east of the Anglican Church quite close to Mr. Sneath’s house, store, and post office. This land was donated by Mr. George Sneath. The land around the hall was turned into a park. More recently this land belonged to Jim Pierce. The Townships of Vespra, Flos, and Sunnidale met here at first. In 1855 they split and Vespra alone had this hall was the only one for a large area and naturally was in use for many purposes. All the religious organizations met her until the churches were built. Concerts, dances and parties used this hall. Once a year a grand ball for the whole area, including Barrie was put on. it was a great success. They sang, they ate, they drank until the wee hours. Wisky bottles were gathered up in Piles the next day. A temperance society “Canadian Templars” met here from about 1869-1870. This hall was used for 81 years and was torn down. Some of the timbers were used in the new hall built in 1927 at it’s present site which was purchased from Mr. Thos. Spence. Two groups had a see-saw battle as the most suitable site for this hall. One favoured The Reforestation Station as the ideal site, and another wanted it in the village where it stands. Of course the villagers won the battle. A poem written in the first edition by Arthur Garvin gives a humourous account of the meeting to decide the site. In the seventies and early eighties the Independent Order of Good Templars had a strong lodge here and quite a clever dramatic club was connected with it.

p36 Town hall

p37 Sign

[A large, hand-lettered sign which was hung on the inside of the 2nd structure for several decades.]


Vespra Township Hall, Midhurst
Erected 1927
Raised Through Donations and Committee

Working Committee: William Russell, Chairman, Morgan Orrock, Secretary, Arthur A. Garvin, Treasurer
Vespra Township: W. A. Boys, K.C., M.P., Donald Bonney, Robert D. Coutts, James Coutts, James Craig, Everett C. Coutts, Walter Downey, Stanley Dunn, William A. Dunn, James Doran, Albert Dwyer, F. J. Frankcom, Francis Frankcom, George Finlay, John W. Garvin B.A., Joseph L. Garvin R.S.I., George E. Garvin, Arthur A. Garvin, Whitford P. Gill, Charles Hickling, Roy Hickling, James Keenan, Reg. Lytton, Henry McGowan, Daniel McLean, Dr. R. D. Orok, M.P. Man., James J. Orok, Morgan T. Orrock, Frank Orser Sr., Lorne Poole, William L Russell, Hunter D. Russell, Miss Birdie Russell, Frank Rice, Hon. Charles Stewart M.L.A., Dr. T. H. Sneath, Miss Isabel A. Sneath, Mrs. E. Spence, Earnie Spence, Thomas Sutton, A. A. Smith, Henry Tracey, Wesley Tracey, Charles Wright M.R., Mrs. E. Weeks, Alex Wilson, Arthur Walt, William Walt, Charles Wattie, John Wattie, Robert Wattie, Clarence W. Ward

p37 Hall

Pioneer History of Midhurst, 1976, p. 36-7

Administrative Structures Matter: The first Township Hall (circa 1854) was at the 2016 address of 48 Doran Road. The second Township Hall (circa 1927) was/is at 2016 address of 74 Doran Road. This structure ONLY became the “Midhurst Community Centre” in 1968. Administrative functions were carried out for a time at 17 Owen Street in Barrie. On Nov 1978, the 4th administrative centre was opened, at the now 30 Spence Road. The 5th and current one is at 2231 Nursery Road.

How frequently has SpringwaterParkcc.org been viewed since October 2012?

September 26, 2015

In total, 60,924 times, 1,647 monthly, or 54.9 views per day.

20150926 Traffic spcc

The 10 most viewed posts in 2015 are:

  1. Barrie Pow Wow at Springwater Park, June 13 and 14th
  2. The Fraud Triangle by Dr. David Cressey
  3. Mel Howell led by example.
  4. Cat’s-paw: a pawn or dupe
  5. Are the 31,000 acres of Simcoe County Forest really The Lungs of Barrie?
  6. My memories from the Waawaase’Aagaming (Lake Simcoe) Water Walk 2015
  7. Ontario parks have been severely underfunded for decades
  8. The Oshkimaadziig Unity Camp occupation of Awenda Provincial Park continues
  9. Grand re-opening of Springwater Park tomorrow!
  10. Corruption in local government: 5 Types

Originally published by Les Stewart on SpringwaterParkcc.org.

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