There are doubtless certain contexts in which the phrase “It’s headed for our house!” might be received with equanimity, or even pleasure. Such was not the case for one Dalhousie Street family in mid-April of 1952, however; what was headed for their house was a runaway railway caboose. Read on, for that tale, and also discussions of Easter, seaways, horrible driving, and the East York Lyndhursts hockey team!
In last week’s post, we discussed the dispute over a proposed gas station at the intersection of Dalhousie and Aylmer Streets; by an amazing coincidence, it was only a block west of there, at Dalhousie and Bethune, that this week’s big excitement occurred. On Easter Monday, April 14th, at about lunchtime, three coal cars and a boxcar being shunted onto a CNR siding broke away from the engine pushing them and crashed into a parked caboose. The impact set the caboose, which was mounted with a snowplough, in motion; it derailed and rolled across Dalhousie Street, destroying a telegraph pole and the crossing gate, before coming to a stop in the front yard of the Martin family. It was generally agreed to have a been fortunate thing that the runaway cars were not loaded, and so did not hit the caboose as hard as they could have, otherwise the Martins’ house might have been in some danger. As it was, no injuries or serious property damage occurred, although Dalhousie Street was closed for awhile as the wreck was cleared away.
Far away from Dalhousie Street and its runaway trains, the Korean War was still going on, but things were fairly quiet at this time. The April 15th Examiner did, however, note that the destroyer HMCS Cayuga had been involved in some shelling of North Korean positions. The big news involving NATO this week in 1952 was the announcement by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower that he would step down from his position in charge of the organization’s forces if he were nominated as the Republic Party candidate for President of the United States. Per the Examiner on April 12th, he would resign in order to be “‘free to speak, like any other citizen, on any subject.'” Of course, “Ike” was not only nominated, he won the 1952 election, and served two terms as President.
And speaking of U.S. Presidents, Harry Truman was also in the news this week 64 years ago, in the context of the big Canadian news item. As the April 14th Examiner reported:
“L.B. Pearson, Canada’s External Affairs Minister, said President Truman agreed today that the way should be cleared today for Canada to go ahead with power aspects of the St. Lawrence seaway and power project.”
“Power aspects” here referred to a proposed hydroelectric dam that would stretch between Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York. The entire seaway project had been the victim of a series of political stalemates on both sides of the border (the U.S. Congress in particular had reservations), and it was in effort to solve those that Pearson, the future Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Prime Minister of Canada, had paid a visit to Truman in Washington. With Truman’s (and subsequently Eisenhower’s) support, and the backing of the Canadian government as well, the St. Lawrence Seaway began construction in 1954. It was completed in 1959.
Canadians in early 1952 were also getting used to a new monarch. King George VI had passed away on February 6th, to be succeeded by his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II. On April 12th, the newspaper reported that the Queen “will retain the name of Windsor, instead of using Mountbatten, her married name. Her children, too, will be Windsors.” The Royal Family had adopted the name “Windsor” during the Great War, “because the original, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, sounded too Germanic,” as the Examiner explained.
Back in Peterborough, it was a festive time; Easter in 1952 fell on the weekend of April 11th-13th. On the 11th, Good Friday, the faithful of several different denominations came together at All Saints’ Anglican Church for an afternoon service; taking part were clergy from the Anglican Church, the United Church, the Baptist Church, and the Salvation Army. As for Easter Sunday, the next day’s newspaper reported that despite foul weather, spirits had not been overly dampened:
“Easter Sunday’s windy, rainy weather fouled up the colorful parade of spring ensembles along Peterborough’s main street but it didn’t drown out the joyous Easter hymns in all churches.”
The Easter weekend included, as was customary, a rather large number of weddings; the next week’s newspapers were full of pictures of happy young couples. For one such duo, however, married life got off to an unfortunate, and nearly tragic, start. The newly-minted Mr. and Mrs. V. Ward, of Lakefield, were leaving by car for their honeymoon in New York, when, just a few miles outside of town, they came up behind a maliciously inconsiderate fellow-motorist in a light truck. Attempts to pass were fruitless, as the April 12th Examiner reported:
“Each time as [Mr. Ward] would get even with it, he said, it would speed up. Then, when he would drop behind, he said it would slow to a snail’s pace. After trying to pass the half-ton truck several times, Ward said he became annoyed and speeded his car up. This time the truck would neither let him pass or let him drop in behind.”
When Mr. Ward attempted evasive action to get behind the truck again, he lost control and flipped the couple’s car several times. Fortunately, injuries were minor — both the Wards suffered from shock, and Mrs. Ward received some cuts and bruises, but that was about it. As you might imagine, the police took an interest, and a certain Albert McManus, who had been behind the wheel of the truck, was charged with dangerous and careless driving.
As for the local sports, Peterborough’s hockey team had finished its Senior ‘B’ season with a playoff loss to the Stouffville Clippers. However, the Civic Arena on Park Street had not yet gone dark for the season; in fact, the Clippers were using it as their home building for the next round of playoffs, presumably because it had artificial ice (the Civic Arena was only three years old at the time). Their opponents were to be the East York Lyndhursts, from metropolitan Toronto. Two years later the Lyndhursts would become a famous team in the history of international hockey. Representing Canada at the 1954 World Championship in Sweden, they were the first Canadian squad to face off against the national team of the Soviet Union, which was itself playing in its first world tournament. The game, with the gold medal on the line, did not go well for the East York club; the Soviets sprinted out to a 4-0 first-period lead, and won the game 7-2. One of the Lyndhurst players later commented that the slowest Soviet skater had been faster than the fastest Canadian. That however, was all still in the future; in 1952, playing in their home-away-from-home in Peterborough, the Stouffville Clippers won the series and eliminated the Lyndhursts.
And that is enough for mid-April of 1952, I think! Next time out, we’ll investigate mid-late April in 1953, but in the meantime you can get caught up on the news of Peterborough at this time of year as the new century dawned in 1900. Thank you for reading!