The 1960s were a time of growth and optimism for Brantford and Canada. The post war boom that took hold in the 1950s exploded in the 1960s as the City expanded with new suburban subdivisions and the accompanying suburban amenities. Downtown, with its congestion and old deteriorating buildings, began to lose ground to new modern, spacious, bright, sprawling suburban stores and plazas that offered plenty of free parking.
As the 1950s ended, the issue regarding allowing cocktail bars and licensed dining lounges to operate in the City continued to be rejected by council. Finally, a petition forced City Council to hold a referendum on the issue. The issue was contentious with raised emotions on both sides. On 23-January-1960, 68 percent of eligible voters voted in the favour of the motion. The last Council of the 1950s had been testy and citizens were tired of it. In the December-1960 municipal election voters elected a new mayor and seven new aldermen, only three aldermen were returned. A referendum was held during this election on whether to allow Sunday sporting events and Sunday movie screenings. Sunday baseball was played at Agricultural Park until 1957 when the Parks Board unexpectedly rescinded its permission. Voters voted in favour of allowing Sunday sports and movies.
In 1964, the idea of a regional government was proposed by Brantford Township, when they requested a study of creating a single tier municipality for all of Brant County. By 1969 there were suggestions that Brant County would become a part of the proposed Haldimand-Norfolk region. Brant County never joined with Haldimand and Norfolk. Since that time the Haldimand-Norfolk region disbanded in 2001, and Brantford remains a separate municipality from Brant County, although the County townships and Town of Paris amalgamated in 1999 to form a single tier municipality.
Securing the long-term adequacy of the City’s water supply remained an important issue. Brantford was dependent on the Grand River and the water’s quality and taste were poor. A long standing joke in Waterloo County was “flush your toilet, Brantford needs the water”. The Ontario Water Resources Commission recommended the construction of a pipeline from Lake Erie to serve Brantford and the lower Grand River watershed. The cost of the project caused the City to reject the recommendation. They also felt that Lake Erie’s water quality was no better than the Grand River and was expected to get worse. On 7-September-1960, the water treatment plant finally opened and with that the hope for taste and odour-free water.
In 1960, the Department of Health reported that the smoke and dust pollution in Brantford was worse than in Toronto due to the number of manufacturing plants in this small city. Although the City had bylaws to deal the problem, bylaw enforcement was the issue, and Council refused to commit funds to hire an enforcement inspector.
Up to 1967 garbage collection was a municipal department. The service provided by the City included bringing garbage cans to the street and returning them after collection, known as set out and take back. In 1967, the garbage collectors went on a lengthy strike. Someone set fire to the landfill site. In the aftermath of the civic disruption garbage collection was contracted out and set out and take back was eliminated.
With the Cold War at its height in the early 1960s, the City rejected the idea of building a community fallout shelter. Instead residents were advised to construct their own; a project that was estimated to cost about $120.
In January-1963, the City merged the Parks Board with the Recreation Commission. This was done to eliminate duplication and achieved by appointing the same members to both Boards since neither Board was keen on merging.
The deterioration of the downtown core was of concern to City Council throughout the 1960s as the downtown represented 25 percent of the City’s tax revenue. The downtown was already getting national attention regarding its poor condition and empty properties resulting from numerous fires; many of these hotel fires. It was during this decade that overhanging business signs were eliminated, to improve the appearance of the downtown.
According to a 1966 survey, 83 percent of City residents were concerned about the appearance of downtown. As suburban plazas were being developed, retailers still saw the value of being downtown. Eaton’s acquired the Walker’s store chain in 1965 and converted their store in the Arcade Building, at the corner of Colborne and Queen Streets, to Walker’s. In 1969, Woolworth’s announced their move to an expanded location at the corner of Colborne and Market Streets, now the location of the Brantford Public Library.
In 1967, a joint federal and provincial funded urban renewal study of the downtown was released. Two years in the making, the report concluded that the bulldozer was the only solution for many parts of the downtown because almost a quarter of the City’s substandard buildings were in the downtown core. The 1969 Central Brantford Urban Renewal Scheme called for sixteen projects to be carried out over sixteen years to demolish, rehabilitate, and conserve downtown buildings by means of public and private funding. The study recommended the creation of pedestrian malls along Colborne Street and George Street to replace vehicle traffic with pedestrian traffic. All planning came to a halt in December-1969 when the Federal government choose not to support the project.
Through various committees and authorities, the City embarked on an endeavour to increase the supply of off street parking spaces with the goal of eliminating on street parking in the downtown core. Traffic in the core continued to increase and more traffic lanes would be required to handle the volume. In 1965, the properties west of The Expositor building along Dalhousie Street to King Street were acquired.
In January-1965, a new system to synchronise the traffic lights in the downtown was implemented and finally seemed to provide relief to drivers, after numerous attempts since the 1950s to implement a workable solution.
Fires in the downtown started to change the appearance of the downtown as many of the burned building were reduced to empty lots.
On Saturday 14-January-1961, a fire destroyed Wycliffe Hall 189-191 Colborne Street. Wycliffe Hall was built in 1860 and was the City’s first YMCA. The fire also destroyed three businesses, George's Electric (185-187 Colborne Street), Buehler's Meat Market (191 Colborne Street), and Black's Shoe Store (189 Colborne Street). These buildings were located along the centre and east portion of the present Brantford Public Library.
On 31-January-1962, a fire destroyed the Brant Hotel located at 81-89 Dalhousie across from what was then the Capital Theatre and is now the Sanderson Centre. Despite the fire, patrons continued to drink in the men’s bar until they were ordered out of the hotel by firefighters.
On 4-March-1962, the Bodega Hotel at the corner of Market and Darling Streets burned down. TD Canada Trust now occupies this corner. The building was built by the Canada Permanent Trust Company in 1966.
The Belinda Shoe Store and Aragon Restaurant (128 & 130 Colborne Street) were burned out on 12-July-1965. A building used by the U.A.W. Local 458 on 55 Darling Street burned down on 4-March-1965. It was located behind the Temple Building. It is now a parking lot.
On 11-January-1970, six businesses along George Street (between Dalhousie and Colborne Streets were damaged by a major fire: Miller and Miller law office, Varga and Frank realtor, Ideal Cleaners and Dyers, OK Shoes, Rainbow Fabrics and Karek’s Food Specialties. The Hotel Kerby suffered smoke and water damage. All fire trucks and firefighters, including off-duty firefighters, were needed to fight the blaze.
Federal and Provincial Representation
In the 1962 federal election, Jim Brown defeated Conservative incumbent Jack Wratten to take the riding for the Liberals, a riding Brown held throughout the sixties. Brantford had been a Liberal held riding since 1935 interrupted when Wratten was elected for one term in the Diefenbaker sweep in 1957.
Provincially George Gordon held the riding of Brantford for the Liberals from 1948 until 1967 when, with the support of labour, Mac Makarchuk won the riding for the NDP.
Two Brantford born soldiers rose to leadership positions in the Canadian Armed Forces in the 1960s. In August-1961 Lieutenant-General Geoffrey Walsh, born in 1909, was appointed chief of the general staff of the Canadian Army. Walsh was the last officer to hold this appointment as it was eliminated in 1964 with the beginning of the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces. In 1966, Rear-Admiral William Landymore was appointed to the position of chief of the Armed Forces Maritime Command, one of the six commands of the newly integrated Canadian Armed Forces. His command did not last long. Landymore criticised the unification of the Armed Forces and the destruction of the Navy’s identity and resigned his command effective 5-April-1967.
The City considered the redevelopment of the Market Square as the key to a revitalized downtown. The property was viewed as the most valuable and underused parcel in the City. City Hall was seen as inadequate and an eyesore; this was identified as early as the 1890’s, yet sixty years later it was still the seat of municipal government.
On 21-January-1964, the Ontario Management Corporation agreed to purchase the Market Square for $450,000. The sale of the Market Square was supported by the Board of Trade, the Brantford Labour Council, local merchants, and residents through a referendum vote. The Farmers’ Market vendors protested the relocation of the Farmers’ Market to the east end of the canal basin parking lot on Greenwich Street, now Icomm Drive, as the location was deemed out of the way. The Six Nations Confederacy also protested the proposed sale of Market Square for private development; the site was always intended to remain a public gathering space. Demolition of City Hall began on 28-Apr–1965. The developers were unable to develop the Square according to their initial proposal and their revised plans did not meet with Council’s approval so in February-1967 the City foreclosed on the mortgage and retook possession of the property. By the end of the decade Market Square remained undeveloped and the downtown continued to deteriorate.
The original idea was to sell Market Square and redevelop the site with a City Hall, department store and underground parking garage. This idea never materialised as City Council balked at committing to a 15 to 20-year lease for office space. Instead Council decided in April-1964 to build at the corner of Wellington and George Streets, the site of the former YWCA. A design competition was held and 38 submissions were received. Toronto architect Michael Kopsa’s Brutalism design was selected. The design is polarising yet was progressive and forward thinking at the time; “the symbol of a new-found spirit of progress and confidence in Brantford’s future”, as proclaimed by The Expositor. The City Hall and Provincial Court House are cited by architects as an excellent example of well-executed Brutalism buildings. The new City Hall was officially opened on 28-November-1967 by Governor-General Roland Michener.
The housing supply crisis of the post WWII years had abated, however, housing for low income families and the elderly continued to be in short supply. New subdivisions began to be built in the City: Mayfair, the Memorial Drive area, and Orchard Park on the north side of Colborne Street east of Sheffield Avenue. These new housing developments did not address the need for low cost accommodation. This shortage led to increased demand from the Children’s Aid Society to provide families with rent subsidies and saw an increase in the need for foster care as evictions increased. The City along with the Ontario Housing Corporation built affordable housing units behind the present day McDonald’s on Stanley Street and on the former Winston Hall (Nurse’s Residence) property in Eagle Place. By the end of the decade plans were underway for the Lorne Towers seniors’ complex on Colborne Street West, a 159-unit high-rise that opened in 1972. The Government supported housing but was never able to keep pace with the demand for affordable housing.
In addition to the demand for low cost housing, nursery school spaces were not keeping pace with demand as more families saw both parents working. In order to increase the spaces available Council amended zoning bylaws to allow nursery schools in residential areas and in churches.
In 1963, Brantford became the first city in Canada to offer the Meals on Wheels programme for seniors.
Police and Fire
Brantford’s new Police and Fire stations opened in 1954. They were built on the former canal basin and as a result both buildings experienced structural problems as the buildings settled. While it appeared that the settling problems of the Fire station were addressed in the 1950s, as the 1960s progressed the Police station was faced with a further sinking of the floors, which resulted in crushed sewer pipes, pulled out interior plumbing, twisted electrical conduit, cracked walls, and jammed door frames. In 1964, the Police moved to temporary quarters at Winston Hall while repairs to their station could be made. By this time Winston Hall had been condemned by the Fire Department but the move was made nonetheless.
Fire Station number 2 opened at 311 St. Paul Avenue in 1960 to deal with the growth of the City in the north end. Today, this station can no longer house all the latest firefighting equipment and accommodate female firefighters so a new fire hall to be located on the site of the closed Fairview School will replace this station. In 1965, the Fire Chief, Chief Charles Townson, asked for a third fire station to be built in the east end of the City. Fire station number 3 was finally built in 1976 but was located in the north end of the City, near the intersection of Fairview Road and the Wayne Gretzky Parkway.
On 2-January-1962, it was revealed that the White Motor Company of Cleveland had purchased Cockshutt Farm Equipment from the Winston Sanson Florida Corporation, a Florida land development company that controlled Cockshutt. The prize for White was Cockshutt’s new rotary axial combine harvester which soon set the new industry standard for combine harvester design. This Brantford engineered combine was introduced under the White name. Cockshutt tractor production ended in 1962. After that Cockshutt branded tractors were supplied by Oliver Farm Equipment Company, a White Motor Company subsidiary. In 1969 Cockshutt Farm Equipment, Oliver Farm Equipment, and Minneapolis-Moline were merged to form White Farm Equipment.
In 1959 Brantford Coach and Body purchased land in Cainsville to build a new modern one floor facility to specifically manufacture highway trailers. In 1965 the Brantford Coach and Body subsidiary was sold to Nova Industrial Corp and renamed Brantford Trailer and Body. The old production facility on Mohawk Street was sold to Sternson Ltd and all manufacturing was consolidated at the Cainsville site. In 1968 Nova sold Brantford Trailer and Body to Trailmobile Canada Ltd, who operated the plant until it was closed in 1990.
In September-1962, Massey-Ferguson announced it was building a new plant, the North American Combine Plant, on land on Park Road North, adjacent to the CNR rail line, that the company acquired in 1955. The new 550,000 sq ft plant and office complex opened in June-1964.
In October-1962, Canadian Celanese announced the closing of its factory, putting 340 people out of work. The company cited increased and stronger competition as the reason for the closing. Canadian Celanese acquired the former Slingsby Manufacturing mill in 1959.
Great Western Garment Company acquired Kitchen-Peabody Garments Limited in August-1965. Kitchen-Peabody was founded by Charles Kitchen in 1911. Jeans and garments were produced under the GWG and Levi’s brand name at the Brantford facility. Of interest, Kitchen-Peabody paid their workers in cash until 1960. The plant employed 300 workers at the time of the acquisition. The company, later known as Levi Strauss Canada Inc., closed its Brantford operations in March-2004.
In 1965, the City began development of the Brantford North Eastern Industrial Development Area, Braneida. This industrial park was built along the new Highway 403 on the eastern edge of the City.
The late sixties was a tumultuous period in labour/management relations in the City.
Two major work stoppages occurred in 1967, a ten-week strike at Barber-Ellis, a stationary and envelope manufacturer, and a month long strike at the City’s works department. The latter resulted in the contracting out of garbage collection in the City. In 1968, there were ten strikes. 2,100 United Auto Workers (UAW) workers went on strike for thirteen weeks at Massey-Ferguson seeking wage parity with their American counterparts. The workers gained better fringe benefits but not the wage parity they were seeking. The City’s white collars workers walked off the job for 12 weeks effectively shutting down civic services. The workers were asking for higher wages and job security.
In 1968, a strike at Chicago Rawhide on Park Road North turned violent resulting in smashed car windows, mass protests, shoving matches between workers and the police, and a woman being hit by a car. Workers from other unions joined the picket line. A settlement was reached in March-1969. Chicago Rawhide was located at the corner of the Wayne Gretzky Parkway and Henry Street, where the Leon’s Plaza is now located. In 1969, strikes occurred at Stelco Fasteners, Harding Carpets, and Westinghouse.
As the 1960s began, increases in elementary school enrolment started to level off but high school enrolment continued to increase. Even with the opening of Pauline Johnson Collegiate and North Park Collegiate there still was not enough space for students and additions to these facilities and Brantford Collegiate Institute were approved in 1962. This marked the biggest expansion to schools in Brantford ever and still more spaces would be required by 1964.
Herman E. Fawcett Secondary School, located at 112 Tollgate Road, opened on 3-January-1967. The school was named for Fawcett who was principal at Pauline Johnson Collegiate for 10 years before taking on the role of school inspector. The school was built under the auspices of the Technical and Vocational Training Assistance Act passed by the Diefenbaker government in 1960, and designed to accommodate 600 students. The Act made funds available for training and employment related programmes; to assist the provinces in setting up vocational schools. The school offered three-year, non-credit, occupational programmes graduating students with a certificate of training. Glen Wier was the first principal. Credit courses replaced the non-credit courses in 1976. In 1995, the school was renamed Tollgate Technological Skills Centre and became a magnet school for the Board of Education.
A 1963 review of City public schools recommended the replacement of Bellview, King Edward, and Alexandra schools due to their age and population redistribution in the City. Three new public elementary schools opened in new subdivisions between 1964 and 1967: Russell Reid in Mayfair, Grand Woodlands, and Centennial. In October-1963, the Board decided to put libraries in all the elementary schools over a three-year period, although this plan was not implemented until 1965.
In 1962, secret repairs were made on weekends at Ryerson School which was located on Oak Street, the current site of Branch 90 Legion, because the building was in such poor condition. The repairs were done in secret so as not to alarm parents. Because of this situation the City approved a new Ryerson School to be built immediately on Sherwood Drive, adjacent to the baseball diamond at Cockshutt Park. It would be built as a senior public school, housing only grade 7 and 8 students. The move from the old Ryerson School on Oak Street to the new school on Sherwood Drive occurred in November-1965. In 1967, Joseph Brant School on Erie Avenue opened as a senior public school.
In 1961, St. John’s College relocated to the Cockshutt Estate on Dufferin Avenue. At this point the Catholic High School ended co-ed education and created a new Catholic high school for girls, Providence College. St. Bernard’s School, located at 65 Sky Acres Drive, opened in October-1961. The school shared the building with Providence College until the Providence College campus opened in September-1963. Starting in 2003, St. Bernard’s was the only school in the City to offer an instrumental music programme for senior students. St. Bernard’s closed in June-2013. Providence College merged with St. John’s College in September-1970.
During this decade, the Catholic school board also opened the following elementary schools: in 1963 St. Peter’s, 175 Glenwood Drive; in 1964 St. Thomas Moore; in 1965 Christ the King School, 165 Dufferin Avenue; St Paul in 1968, 159 Mary Street; and St Patrick in 1969, 322 Fairview Drive. The Catholic County Board opened St Leo School, 233 Memorial Drive, in 1964.
In 1967, the provincial government built a new senior school at the Ontario School for the Blind, replacing the 96-year-old original school building.
New, innovative programmes were introduced by the public-school board: driver training, summer school, French in elementary schools, sex education in high schools, and a programme for gifted children at Agnes Hodge School. In 1968, North Park Collegiate moved to a credit system eliminating traditional grades. Children with special needs would also be accommodated in a new Jane Laycock School on Mount Pleasant Street. The Brant Sanitarium donated one acre of land, at 39 Mount Pleasant Street, in 1961. The school opened in 1962. The school is now known as the Lansdowne Children’s Centre.
Brantford had been trying to secure a post-secondary education institution for what seemed like forever. In 1961, the province announced it would create trade schools, known today as Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology. Brantford lobbied the government for such a school in 1961 and 1965 but both times was passed over. In 1969, Mohawk College in Hamilton agreed to establish a satellite campus in Brantford on Elgin Street, in conjunction with the Brant County Board of Education, to offer retraining and continuing education programmes.
On 1-January-1969, the province amalgamated urban and rural school boards to create a county system of school boards. Although County ratepayers faced large tax hikes to equalise contributions across the City and County, the process here went rather smoothly.
St. Joseph’s Hospital opened a school for certified nursing assistants in 1960. Meanwhile the Brantford General Hospital’s School of Nursing soldiered on using the inadequate and aging Winston Hall in Eagle Place as a nurse’s residence. Winston Hall was a building built during World War II as temporary housing for war workers. It was intended to be demolished after the war. In spite of the poor location relative to the hospital and the rapidly deteriorating condition of the building, City Council showed no interest in replacing the facility. In February-1962, the fire department condemned Winston Hall forcing the City’s hand. In April-1964, a new nine-storey nurse’s residence and school opened. The nurse’s residence building was Brantford’s tallest building when it opened.
The Brant County Board of Health set up a family planning clinic in 1966, in defiance of a 1908 provincial law prohibiting such clinics. Brantford was one of only five cities in the province with a family planning clinic.
The Brant Sanitarium closed its tuberculosis division in 1968 because of declining incidents of the disease. In its place the Sanitarium used this space to accommodate chronic and cognitively challenged patients and children with cognitive and physical challenges.
The City contemplated a number of ideas for civic centennial projects: an auditorium-concert hall for Glenhyrst, a hearing centre for seriously deaf children, a Grand River Parkway, a mobile library, an addition to Glenhyrst’s art gallery, a civic centre, and an addition to the Brant County Museum. It was decided to pursue the latter two projects since they were supported by the seven municipalities that comprised Brant County.
The recurring quest for an arena and auditorium first raised in 1938 continued as the 1960s dawned. The Arctic Arena, the City’s only artificial ice surface was condemned and closed in the spring of 1960. The City had established the Brantford Civic Centre Committee in 1958 to drive the process to construct a new arena. The committee found little appetite amongst the residents, industry, and organisations to support the project. The Brant Figuring Skating Club thought of building a 200-seat arena, the Arctic Arena sat 3,500. Brantford was faced with the prospect of not having a location for hockey come wintertime. The Optimist Club raised $12,000 and the City contributed $7,300 to repair and reopen the Arctic Arena. The arena reopened in December-1960. The Arctic Arena closed in the spring of 1967 when the Civic Centre opened.
In January-1961, City Council contemplated purchasing the Arctic Arena. In April-1961, a Toronto firm floated the idea of building a small Maple Leaf Gardens and bringing a Junior A team to town. The Civic Centre Committee proposed a 1,500-seat facility funded by the city and public subscription. Council and the Committee then considered a 2,000, then a 2,500-seat arena. In October-1961, City Council agreed to purchased land on Market Street owned by Massey-Ferguson for a new arena and auditorium complex. The Toronto proposal was rejected because of financial conditions attached to the project. Council allocated money to the arena project in its 1962 budget with the proviso that a public subscription campaign be launched. Still nothing happened as the residents showed little interest in supporting the project. In July-1963, Mayor Beckett proposed a new civic centre as a centennial project. With still no progress being made on building a new arena the Brantford Labour Council in December-1963 asked City Council for permission to lead a fundraising campaign. Their goal was to raise $600,000. They asked all their members to pledge one day’s pay per year for three years. In May-1965, the fundraising goal had been met however tenders for the project came in higher than expected so fundraising continued. On 19-May-1966, 3,000 people watched the sod-turning ceremony held on the Market Street site. On 25-March-1967, 2,000 attended the official opening ceremonies. Louis Armstrong was the first big name performer to play the Civic Centre in April-1967. In September-1967, the new expansion NHL franchise, the Pittsburgh Penguins, opened their pre-season training camp at the Civic Centre. The Penguins played their first exhibition game on 23-September-1967 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
In 1967, another arena opened in Brantford. North Park Arena was located in a field behind a church adjacent to North Park Collegiate on North Park Street. A second ice pad was added in 1972. The Brant Aquatic Centre was added in 1974. It was renamed the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre in 1982. On 26-December-1997 a third ice surface, the privately built Brantford Ice Park, opened. The arena complex was demolished in 2011 to make way for the new four-rink Wayne Gretzky Sports Complex which opened in September 2013.
Highways and Railways
Planning for the Brantford Expressway, later referred to as the Brantford Southern Access Road, began in 1958. To deal with increasing automobile traffic congestion in the City, a 1964 traffic study report recommended more one-way streets and restrictions on downtown on-street curb parking during rush hours in addition to the construction of the expressway. The idea of the Brantford Expressway was to build a limited-access expressway to connect Colborne Street West (at Oakhill Drive) in West Brant with Highway 403. The Brantford Expressway was approved by Council in November-1966 and was expected to be completed by 1995. The Ontario government had land banked property in the Shellard’s Lane area in West Brant and the Brantford Expressway was integral to moving residents to and from this area to Highway 403 and beyond to destinations west, north and east. On 21-February-1969, the City and provincial government signed an agreement to fund and build the Expressway. The first portion of the Expressway between Mount Pleasant Street and Ontario Street which included a new bridge over the Grand River opened in 1972. Construction of this section was approved by Council in 1966.
Tenders for the construction of the first portion of Highway 403 through Brantford were invited in May-1963. This portion ran from Paris Road in the west to what is now Garden Avenue in the east. A connector road was built between the terminus of the eastern portion of the highway with Highway 2 and 53 in Cainsville until Highway 403 was completed to Hamilton. This connector road is now Garden Avenue, County Road 18. What is notable about Highway 403 is that it was built through Brantford rather than around it. This portion of Highway 403 opened on 31-October-1966. My Dad and me travelled on the new highway the day it opened. The western portion of Highway 403 connecting with Highway 401 at Woodstock was completed in 1988. The eastern portion connecting Brantford with Ancaster opened in August-1997. A party was held on the highway on 15-August-1997 to celebrate the completion of Highway 403 between Woodstock and Hamilton, through Brantford.
Highway 24A that connected Galt with Paris was originally planned to be extended to Simcoe, along Rest Acres Road to Highway 53 and then along a brand new portion to Simcoe through Scotland. However the Department of Highways decided to number the new route between Highway 53 and Simcoe Highway 24 and abandoned the extension of Highway 24A south of Paris. On 18-August-1967 the newly aligned Highway 24 opened. The portion of the original Highway 24 that ran along Mount Pleasant Street through Mount Pleasant and Waterford to Simcoe was decommissioned and the new Highway 24 alignment followed Highway 53 through West Brant, past the airport. The new Highway 24 met with Rest Acres Road at Highway 53.
Passenger train service on Canadian National Railway’s Buffalo & Lake Huron Railway line between Fort Erie, through Brantford, to Stratford, was discontinued in 23-April-1960.
Electric operation on the Lake Erie & Northern Railway ended with a special excursion train on 30-September-1961. Diesel engines from the Canadian Pacific Railway replaced the electric cars after this. In 1962 freight service on the LE&N between Simcoe and Port Dover was discontinued. In 1965 LE&N trains began using the TH&B track between Brantford and Waterford and the LE&N tracks between Brantford and Waterford were abandoned.
The CNR subway on Clarence Street was widened to four lanes in 1963. Up until that time the subway was the same narrow subway still found on Murray and Rawdon Streets.
Street Name Changes
In 1962, a new laneway, east of Raleigh Street, St. Mary’s Lane opened. In 1965, Brewery Lane which ran south from Colborne Street West near Welsh Street was renamed St. Mary’s Lane. Brewery Lane marked the western edge of a brewery that operated at this site under various names; Spencer Brewing and Malting Company, West Brantford Brewery, Brantford Brewing and Malting Company, and finally Westbrook and Hacker Brewing Company; between 1845 until 1910 when the brewery was destroyed by fire.
Arts and Culture
Glenhyrst saw its fortunes reverse as the decade progressed. In 1960, it was deemed to be a unique asset in all of Canada, extremely busy, and paying its way. In 1969, when the gallery’s plan for expansion had stalled, the Art Gallery of Ontario stated that the gallery was too small and did not meet the AGOs security and environmental standards to mount exhibits of loaned AGO pieces.
In 1964, Brantford hosted what was planned to be an annual event, Maytime Brantford; the City’s equivalent of the Calgary Stampede. It was supposed to be Mardi Gras like, with a historical pageant, musical productions, parades, sports events, and a midway. It did feature a large art exhibit that displayed 260 paintings and sculptures; but mostly it was a midway and public support was poor. City Council withdrew their financial support for the 1965 festival and that was the end of Maytime Brantford.
In 1967, Arthur J Kelly of Burford mounted the largest centennial parade in Canada. The theme of the parade was local and national history. The parade included 105 floats and 5,000 marchers and lasted two and a half hours. It was watched by 50,000 people.
Sports and Recreation
The Kiwanis Club leased Mohawk Park from the City in 1960 in a bid to restore the park as a major summer attraction and a destination for family recreation. The Club wanted to offer boating, sailing, fishing, and a sandy beach. The club upgraded the sporting facilities and launched a pontoon boat, the Kiwanis Queen, to take people on pleasure rides on Mohawk Lake. The efforts of the Kiwanis Club did result in an increase in park campers. However in 1965 the Department of Lands and Forests deemed the lake dead; it was full of sludge and debris with oxygen levels too low to support game fish. This announcements hurt the reputation of the park and curtailed efforts to revive it.
In 1963, the first bantam-aged (age 15) baseball team from Brantford won the provincial championship. The team was assembled from the best players in the city to compete for the championship.
In 1968, it was again proposed to redevelop the Arrowdale Golf Course property for housing.
The Brantford Red Sox of the Intercounty Baseball League won five consecutive league championships between 1959 and 1963. They were the second IBL team to accomplish this feat; the Galt Terriers won five consecutive championships between 1927 and 1931. The Red Sox would win six championships in a row between 2008 and 2013 and seven championships in eight years between 2006 and 2013.
The Brantford Warriors won the Canadian Senior B lacrosse championships in 1963, 1967, and 1968.
Middleweight boxer Gary Summerhayes won the 1967 Canadian amateur middleweight boxing championship. Gary was 18. Gary was trained by boxing training legend Frank Bricker. In spite of his win Gary was not selected for the Canadian team for the 1968 Pan-American Games. He was not viewed as an Olympic style fighter.
Swimmer Sara Barber competed for Canada at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome and the 1962 British Empire Games in Perth Australia. Sprinter Debbie Miller competed for Canada at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
In 1969s the CanAmer Games were launched pitting athletes from Brant County against athletes from Berrien County, Michigan. The games were designed to foster peace, harmony and an understanding of our countries by the young athletes. The games alternated each year between Brantford and Benton Harbor, Michigan. The first games were held in Brantford between 8-August and 10-August 1969. The athletes from Berrien County won the first annual competition.
The Proliferation of the Automobile
The rapid adoption of the automobile after the war not only added to the congestion of the downtown shopping district but facilitated the development of suburban amenities because the automobile made them quickly accessible; and parking was plentiful.
The earliest area of suburban development occurred most rapidly along Colborne Street, between Rawdon Street and Garden Avenue. This area became part of the City of Brantford with the 1955 annexation of Brantford Township lands. It had a higher population density than the lands along King George Road. Development along King George Road began in earnest in the 1960’s
Strobridge Motors was the Mercury and Meteor dealer; Brant County Motors sold Ford, Monarch, Falcon, and Ford Trucks; Kett Motors was the dealer for Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Valiant, Imperial, Simca, and Fiat; Forbes Brothers was the Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac dealer; and C.W. Smith Motors replaced Andreasen Motors as the Pontiac, Buick, and Vauxhall dealer.
In 1960 Gordon’s IGA at 67 Erie Avenue at Eagle Avenue becomes Gordon’s Red & White. The IGA Foodliner opened at the Pleasant Plaza, 164 Colborne St West. The Brant Motel (now the Grand Motel) opened at 780 Colborne Street, west ofJames Avenue. Brantford’s first Pizzeria, Little Caesars, operated from 37 King Street at Darling Street but only lasted about a year. Stan’s Variety Drive In at 212 King George Road and Forsythe Avenue opened. It is now a Cash 4 You payday loan store.
The Mohawk Plaza next to Pauline Johnson Collegiate consisted of: Steinberg’s (originally Grand Union which opened in 1956, it became Steinberg’s in 1959), Mohawk Bowl, Frank Chapel Department Store, Mayfair Hair Styles, Vince & Tony’s Barber Shop, Mohawk Pharmacy, the Toronto-Dominion Bank, Home Economics Food & Freezer, Speed Wash Laundry, Beese’s Delicatessen, and the Shake ’n Burger.
The Oriental Restaurant (104 Market Street) next to the Bell Telephone building opened. The A & W Drive In opened at 67 Charing Cross Street. The Quickee Drive In at Colborne and Puleston Streets was renamed Robertson’s Drive In. The White Horse Carry Out, serving Kentucky Fried Chicken, opened at 55-57 Erie Avenue. This is currently the empty lot at Erie Avenue and the BSAR.
A number of motels in the city got a new name: the Beauview Motel (950 Colborne Street next to Cainsville School) is renamed the Twin Gates Motel, (the motel was renamed The Galaxy Motel in 2015) the Brant Motel becomes the Grant Motel, and the Gage Motel (568 Colborne Street opposite Iroquois Street) is renamed Four Star Motel.
The Paramount Theatre on Dalhousie Street closed on 6-May-1961. Bell City Cabs began operating from 1 1/2 King Street. John Hogewoning opens Hogewoning Motors at 60 Waterloo Street. John was a mechanic with Andreasen Motors. Hogewoning Motors will become the first Toyota dealer in Ontario in November-1965.
The Sherwood Inn (700 Colborne Street at Locks Road), next to the Sherwood Motel, opened. A fire at the Bodega Hotel at the corner of Market and Darling Streets on 4-March-1962 gutted the top floor and the roof. The hotel was subsequently torn down. Canada Permanent Trust built the building on the Bodega corner that TD Canada Trust now occupies in 1964. Terrace Hill Dairy at the corner of West and Dundas Streets was sold to the Borden Company on 1-August-1962. The Farmer’s Dell Plaza at the corner of King George Road and Somerset Road opened. The Alexander Motor Motel at 123 King George Road, next to the Farmer’s Dell Plaza, opened. The motel is now rental accommodation and Angel’s Family Restaurant occupies the front of the building.
The Brantford Plaza, Brantford’s first large scale suburban shopping plaza, opened. Woolco, the anchor tenant, opened it’s 90,000 square foot store on 24-November-1962. This was Woolco’s fourth store in Canada. The plaza could accommodate 2,000 cars. It was built for $1,250,000 and required the demolition and relocation of the Tranquility Fire Hall. The plaza featured the following stores at opening: Discount Foods; Woolworth’s, designed to keep Zeller’s out of the plaza; The Chalet Restaurant, featuring Gentleman Jim’s steaks; United Cigar, Store; Reitman’s; Carlton Cleaning Carousel; Boyce’s Stationery; Scarfe’s Decorating Centre; Terry & Lynn Shops; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce; Kern’s Jewellry; Agnew-Surpass Shoes; Styletex Textiles; Wally’s Barber Shop; Bridie Shoe Repair & Luggage; and the Flash Gas Bar with its three distinctive umbrella shaped concrete canopies.
The Hamilton Automobile Club opened their first Brantford office at 431 St Paul Avenue, kitty corner from the Loblaws on King George Road. Beaver Lumber moves to their new location on King George Road and Fairview Drive. The College Theatre, 310 Colborne Street closed. It became Talk of the Town Billiards in 1964. It is now 310 Sports Bar & Grill.
The last horse drawn milk wagons in the City made their final trip on 31-May-1963. Terrace Hill Dairies had six horses remaining in 1963, down from the 35 they used in 1959. Traffic conditions in the City were cited as the reason for removing the horses from the road.
Dingwall Mercury replaces Strobridges Motors as the city’s Mercury dealer. Stanley Motors on King George Road and Wood Street becomes the city’s Studebaker dealer.
The Shanghai Restaurant relocates from 89 Colborne Street West to 907 Colborne Street, next to the Bell City Motel. Koster’s Cream-EE Freeze ice cream shop and building is moved from Brant Avenue and Bedford Street to the Brantford Plaza and is renamed Dairee Delite.
Construction began on the water tower in the north end of the City, south of Highway 403 and east of King George Road, behind St. Pius X School.
The Inn of the Jolly Baron, 666 Colborne Street opened. The Inn featured a 40 unit motel and lounge. A banquet room accommodating 800 people was added later. The Inn, operated by the Bielak family, became Brantford’s premiere hotel and banquet facility.
Clark’s Discount Department Store opened at Colborne and Iroquois Streets. The plaza featured an adjacent and connected Discount Foods store.
The Royal Bank opened their new branch at Brant Avenue and Bedford Street, the former location of Koster’s Cream-EE Freeze. Robertson’s Drive In, across from Pauline Johnson Collegiate, rebranded as Robbies.
Checkered Flag Hobbies, a slot car racing facility, opened at Mohawk Plaza, next to the Steinberg’s. Pat Alonzo’s Music Studio opened at 37 Alfred Street.
Stanley Motors Studebaker changed to Stanley Rambler with the demise of the Studebaker automobile company. Dingwall Mercury moved from the corner of Dalhousie and Clarence Streets to 135 King George Road, the old Stainless Steel Products factory. C.W. Smith Motors moved to a new facility at 100 Market Street South. This location is now the Brantford Convention Centre. Hogewoning Motors moved to 249 Murray Street and became Ontario’s first Toyota dealer.
Discount Foods at the Brantford Plaza and Clark’s Plaza rebranded to Super City Discount Foods. Gordon’s Red & White on Erie Avenue became Gordon-Guscott’s Foodmaster with the building of a new store at 43 Erie Avenue (the area’s finest grocery store). Walker’s Department Store replaced Eaton’s in the Arcade Building on Colborne and Queen Streets.
A second White Horse Drive In featuring Kentucky Fried Chicken opened in the Farmer’s Dell Plaza. Robbies Carry Out opened their second location at 6 King George Road next to the Loblaws.
Cable TV arrived in Brantford. Jarmain Cable TV opened an office at the Clark’s Plaza and began service on 16-August-1965 in Eagle Place. West Brant and Holmedale were added in September, downtown and the North Ward in late September, and the north end of the city in the winter. Jarmain built150 foot antennas on Old Onondaga Road, 2 miles east of Brantford that made 9 VHF channels available to local residents for $4.50 a month. Local community access television started in 1970.
Dingwall Mercury sold their Brantford location and became Northway Mercury headed by local entrepreneur John Czarny. Northway Mercury moved to the corner of Colborne and Alfred Streets. North Park Chrysler Plymouth opened at the former Dingwall Mercury location at 135 King George Road. The Pioneer Gas Bar with its distinct canopy opened at 281 Colborne Street at Echo Street. The canopy was hit by a truck in 2012 and had to be taken down.
Woolworth’s in the Brantford Plaza closed due to poor sales. Their worst day total sales since they opened in late 1962 was 25 cents. Burroughs Furniture moved from 318 Colborne Street, next to College Skate Exchange, to the former Woolworth’s store.
The Dutch Shop opened at the Mohawk Plaza.
San Frano’s Drive In opened on Charing Cross Street and Hill Avenue. The restaurant was started by brothers Sam, Frank, and Romeo.
Tim Horton’s opened their eighth store at 20 King George Road and Borden Street. Country Style Donuts opened at 198 King George Road, just south of Forsythe Avenue. Maria’s Pizza opened at 430 Colborne Street.
Clark’s Discount Department Store rebranded to Gamble’s Department Store. Dirty Dan the Discount Man opened at 67 Erie Avenue; they were noted for their cheap cigarettes.
Brantford’s first Datsun dealership, Highway Datsun, opened at 874 Colborne Street at Rowanwood Avenue, across from St. Peter’s School. Kett Motors at Dalhousie and Charlotte Streets becomes Len McGee Motors Chrysler Dodge.
The Holiday Inn opened on Holiday Inn Drive. It is now the Best Western Brantford Hotel and Conference Centre. Holiday Inn Drive was renamed Holiday Drive in the 1980s.
Steinberg’s becomes Miracle Food Mart in 1968. The Loblaw’s in downtown Brantford at 197-199 Colborne Street closes.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant on 20-26 Morrell Street closed.
Brant County Motors is renamed Brant County Ford. Stanley Rambler is renamed Stanley Motors - American Motors. Len McGee Motors takes over North Park Chrysler Plymouth to become a full line Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth dealer and consolidates their operation at 135 King George Road.
Harvey’s opened at 578 Colborne Street across from Gamble’s. The Red Barn opened at 64 King George Road. Wendy’s built their second Canadian restaurant at this location after Red Barn closed in the 1970s. Burger Chef opened across the street at 45 King George Road. This became the long time site of the Pizza Chief restaurant which also opened in 1969, but at Morrell and Burwell Streets in Holmedale. Moose Winooski’s was located at this location and now the restaurant is known as Sociables.
In 1969 Calbeck’s purchases the Miracle Food Mart store at the Mohawk Plaza. The Shake ’n Burger becomes the Centennial Restaurant.
Consumers Distributing opens at 331 King George Road across from the Brantford Plaza.
Alexander Motor Hotel at 125 King George Road is converted into the Farmer’s Dell apartments.