Last Week in Peterborough: 1960


The cover of the New Party movement’s 1960 platform paper (Image Source, including the rest of the document).

It is appropriate enough to post this in the week in which he have said our final goodbyes to the great Gordie Howe; June of 1960 found hockey fans likewise bidding farewell to one of the giants of the game.  Elsewhere, a notorious Nazi was finally brought to justice, while at home, Peterborough set out on the road to some political history-making.  Read on!

Internationally, early June of 1960 witnessed some fallout from an extraordinary episode in the aftermath of the Second World War, when Israeli agents operating clandestinely in Argentina captured Adolf Eichmann and smuggled him back to Israel to face trial.  Eichmann, a Gestapo officer in Nazi Germany, had been one of the major driving forces behind the Holocaust, and the Israeli government was understandably eager to bring him to justice.  After being hunted for more than 15 years, he was located and arrested in Buenos Aires on May 11th.  This caused a diplomatic rift between Israel and Argentina, although it was fairly quickly patched up.


Eichmann in prison, 1961. (Image Source)

Attention now turned to what would become of Eichmann; he was to be tried, obviously, for crimes against humanity, and no-one really supposed that he was innocent.  However, there was some debate over what sort of punishment he should face.  An editorial in the June 8th Peterborough Examiner, while insisting that Eichmann could not be forgiven for what he had done, called for a certain amount of mercy to be shown:

“Vengeance is powerless to meet the case.  Who can avenge six millions slain?  But a resounding moral indictment, tempered with the mercy of a superior morality to that of Nazidom, might be a great turning-point in international affairs in our time, and for centuries to come.”

In the end, Eichmann was indeed found guilty, but the court was not inclined to be lenient with him.  The man in reference to whom Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” was hanged in June of 1962.

Back in Canada, provincial elections were the order of the day!  On June 8th, Nova Scotians went to the polls, re-electing the Progressive Conservative party.  Out on the prairies, meanwhile, the same day saw Saskatchewan re-elect the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and its leader, Tommy Douglas.  The June 9th Examiner reported that the Saskatchewan result “will bring about [Douglas’s] party’s promised compulsory, prepaid plan for medical care,” which indeed it did.  The CCF may have had a political stronghold in Saskatchewan, but it was struggling on the federal scene, having won only eight seats in the 1958 election.  Talks about a merger between the CCF and the Canadian Labour Congress had been ongoing since in an effort to reverse the slide, and that project had been dubbed the “New Party” movement.

And that brings us to Peterborough, where, on May 26th of 1960, longtime Progressive Conservative MP Gordon K. Fraser passed away suddenly, necessitating a by-election.  Preparations for that were underway already in early June, although a date for it had not yet been set; the June 9th Examiner reported that local Liberal Association President Glenn Price would stand for the party’s nomination.  Other potential Liberal candidates included former Toronto Maple Leafs great Aubrey “Dit” Clapper, although the paper reported that he “has not given it any consideration.”  The Progressive Conservatives, meanwhile were expected to choose from a pool that included Alderman Alene Holt, among others.


Walter Pitman. (Image Source)

All that, however, would turn out to be moot.  Peterborians went to the polls on October 31st of 1960, and when it was all done, Canadian political history had been made with the election of Walter Pitman of the New Party movement.  Pitman, a high school teacher by profession, became the New Party’s first ever Member of Parliament.  He would also be its last, at least under that name; galvanized by Pitman’s success in Peterborough, the New Party movement formally organized itself in 1961 as the New Democratic Party, under the leadership of the afore-mentioned Tommy Douglas.  As for Pitman he would represent Peterborough for NDP both federally and later provincially.  After leaving politics in 1971, he went on to hold a number of posts in higher education in Ontario.

The by-election was still some months away at our time of interest, and in the meantime there were the usual doings of the city to note.  Of particular interest: George Street had just been extended to its northern extremity where it merges with Water Street, and on June 6th City Council passed a bylaw to make the new extension a through-street (i.e. no stop signs) all the way south to Parkhill Road.  At that time, the northern stretch of George St. had two-way traffic, although that of course is no longer the case.


Lester Patrick. (Image Source)

And then there were sports items to consider as well.  Just as now, June of 1960 found hockey fans mourning the death of a legendary figure; former forward Lester Patrick, “The Silver Fox,” had passed away on June 1st.  His death prompted some reminiscing in the Examiner about the 1906 Stanley Cup final, when Patrick’s Montreal Wanderers had ended the dominance of “One-Eye” Frank McGee and the Ottawa Silver Seven.  Patrick is better remembered for the finals game in 1928 when, coaching the New York Rangers at the age of 44, he took to the ice as an emergency goalie and beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1.  The June 7th, 1960, Peterborough Examiner noted that it was not the first time he had done such duty:

“[Patrick] wore the big pads for the first time on March 11, 1904, when Brandon Wheat Kings lost 9-3 to the Silver Seven.  Patrick, a rover then, took over when regular Goalkeeper Doug Morrison received a five-minute penalty.

One shot was fired on the Brandon nets while Morrison was sitting out his penalty.  Patrick stopped it.”

And that should about do for early June of 1960.  In a couple of days here, we’ll get all caught up by looking at the middle of the month in 1961, but in the meantime you can check out what was going around here in June of 1908.  Thank you for reading!




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