“Snow in the field and on the roof tops all along the lake front is reported by motorists who drove from Toronto during the night,” was the announcement in the October 29th Peterborough Examiner, and the paper went on to warn of a “distinct touch of winter in the air.” And what were the Peterborians of 1928 doing, as the chilly season approached? Read on, for airships, interesting numbers from the County jail, an interesting list of “great men of Canada,” and so on…
“The greatest airship that ever flew the skies was dragged, tail-first, from the hangar not long after midnight, and then, seeming suddenly to acquire life of its own, it lifted proudly against the moon and strode away on its journey across the seas.”
So wrote the Peterborough Examiner on October 29th, 1928, and the airship in question was the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin, 776 feet long, and it was very much the big international news story in the Peterborough newspapers around this time. The great airship had just completed its first crossing of the Atlantic, from Germany to the U.S., and was headed home after undergoing repairs and waiting out some bad weather.
In the nation at large, meanwhile, the big piece of news was the Return of the Prime Minister. William Lyon Mackenzie King had been in Europe for a couple of months on various diplomatic missions. His trip had begun at a peace conference in Paris, where, on Canada’s behalf, he signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, under the terms of which states promised not to use war as an instrument of national policy. King then travelled to Switzerland for League of Nations meetings before returning to Canada. “Our great purpose in going abroad was to carry a message which is uppermost in the minds of the Canadian people, a message of peace and goodwill,” said the Prime Minister, as quoted in the October 29th Examiner.
Apart from the signing of the Pact, the newspaper was quite clear on what it saw as the crowning achievement of King’s trip. In an editorial on October 29th, the Examiner noted:
“…his European visit included important conferences with the British Government and gave him an opportunity to make a most eloquent and serviceable address upon Canada’s attitude towards British immigrants.
It was fortunate indeed that the Premier was able by this masterly effort to offset the silly notions, originating undoubtedly in this country, that Canada was antagonistic toward British settlers.”
There was also an interesting little historical-literary controversy going on in Canada, and specifically Ontario, at this time. It involved a book, published as a school textbook for the provincial Ministry of Education, entitled Great Men of Canada (see image at the beginning of this article). Now, the government of Ontario at the time was Conservative, under Premier George H. Ferguson, and thus it was deemed suspicious that the book omitted to mention either Sir Wilfrid Laurier (long-time Liberal Prime Minister of Canada) or Sir Oliver Mowat (very important early Liberal Premier of Ontario). Among the eyebrows raised at this “oversight” were those of the Examiner‘s editorialists, who commented as follows on October 27th:
“In authorizing a book for school use that omits such prominent figures as Laurier and Mowat, Premier Ferguson, as Minister of Education, has left himself open to the charge of introducing political propaganda into the schools of the Province, a charge he could easily have avoided by doing justice to outstanding statesmen regardless of their party tags.”
Truth, there. In any case, a look at the listings for Great Men of Canada on AbeBooks suggests that by the time the second edition came out in 1929, Laurier at least had been inserted.
Halloween in Peterborough! Or at least the run-up to it. There were festivities planned, of course, namely a costume parade through the downtown area to be followed by a party and dance at the Brock Street Rink. Prizes would be awarded in a number of categories and age groups, and a good time would be had by all. However, the Examiner, which was sponsoring the parade, was also worried about the potential for Halloween night shenanigans. In an October 30th editorial, entitled “Fun and Mischief (An editorial for young people),” the newspaper laid out some advice:
“It is easy to enjoy oneself without getting into mischief, though mischief is often mistaken for fun. As a matter of fact, mischief is seldom funny; it is usually as silly as it is wrong. Horseplay is not humour.”
Lest we be too hard on the Examiner for its lecturing tone, there is good evidence that some previous Halloween festivities had been marred by acts of vandalism and the like in the city.
Speaking of criminality, the annual report on the Peterborough County jail was released this week in 1928, revealing that 241 people had been held over the course of the fiscal year. Of these, 111 (104 men and seven women) had actually been serving sentences; the rest were jailed for vagrancy, or pending trial on other charges. According to the October 29th Examiner, the data showed that “the amount of crime is rather light in Peterborough County, and not of an exceeding bad or desperate character” (prisoners had spent an average of about two weeks each behind bars). Sadly, at least from the point of view of today, the newspaper attributed Peterborough’s relatively crime-free state to “the really small number of foreigners in this county.” The paper recorded that 189 Canadians had spent time in the jail, with the second-largest group being 29 from England.
Among the other interesting statistics: inmates at the Peterborough County jail were fed for an average cost of 16.5 cents per day.
Late October was not the busiest of times on Peterborough’s sports fields in this era. However, there was some high school football (still referred to as “rugby” generally) to report; the Examiner of October 29th was pleased to describe Peterborough Collegiate Institute’s 25-0 victory over their counterparts from Cobourg:
“…the P.C.I. boys showed their superiority, unleashing a series of line plunges mixed with extended runs around the ends that baffled and smashed the Cobourg defence.”
The newspaper did have sporting words for the defeated team, praising their “stubborn opposition” and stating that they “never stopped fighting.”
In general, however, sporting-minding Peterborians were already looking ahead to the winter menu. “It smells like hockey this morning,” wrote the Examiner’s October 27th “Views on Sports” column, noting that the NHL’s Ottawa Senators had commenced their pre-season training. A few days later, on the 30th, the paper turned its eyes to the local hockey scene, lamenting the lack of a senior team in the city that year, but stating that “there is a rosy look to the junior and intermediate prospect.”
And that will do for this week! Next time, we’ll check in on early November of 1929, and in the meantime here is a look at this time of year back in 1876.