Looking Back - Alternatives Denied - The $100,000,000 Highway 7 Fiasco

The provincial government announced recently they would move forward with the plan to build a new Highway #7 between Kitchener and Guelph.  A group of concerned citizens put together a book in 2000 about the fiasco. The project was stopped for two decades.

Meanwhile lack of provincial government funding keeps Go Trains going at glacial speeds to and from Toronto/Kitchener/Guelph.

It is free to read and download this piece of historical community activism.  Here is the LINK to view or download.

Coleman Craft Canoes - Bill Coleman Canoe Maker - Fought to Retain His Name

Bill Coleman at Coleman Canoes Reunion
Bill Coleman at Coleman Craft Reunion, Hespeler, Ontario

NOTE: I am re-posting this story I did on the reunion we did for fans of the original Coleman Canoe made in Galt Ontario. I still get calls today about the canoes from around Ontario. We still take our Coleman canoe out on the Mill Pond. It was a great day celebrating a true legend Bill Coleman.

In 1968, Minister Goode of the United Church of Hespeler Ontario was looking to buy some canoes and could not find some decent canoes at a fair price. Bill Coleman knew how to work with fibreglass and the Minister knew about canoes. This was the innocent beginning of the Coleman Craft Canoe Company of Galt Ontario.



The virtually indestructible, stable fibreglass canoes came in different sizes and colours. Earlier models were heavy. Later models were significantly lighter. Bill`s canoes were popular throughout Ontario.

One day Bill received a letter from the camping giant Coleman Company threatening him with legal action if he did not stop using the Coleman name for this canoes. Bill fought them for over 5 years for the right to use his own name on the canoes.

Bill won that battle. Later canoes made by Bill had the his first name William put on top of the logo. Eventually Bill stopped making canoes and the legend of this Ontario canoe maker was forgotten.

On June 11th, 2016, we were lucky to have Bill come out to meet people who still owned his canoes. A great day with people sharing stories ensuring his canoe making legacy will be remembered.

Here is a good story from Greg Mercer of The Record - http://www.therecord.com/news-story/6719430-bill-coleman-cambridge-s-original-canoe-craftsman/

Coleman Craft Canoe Reunion
Coleman Craft Canoe Reunion Participants Hespeler, Ontario


Steam Train from Hespeler, GlenChristie to Guelph in 2003




In 2003 a small group of people in conjunction with St.Thomas Central Railway organized an event to bring Steam Engine #9 to Hespeler for an excursion that went from just under the Hwy 401 through Hespeler, GlenChristie to Guelph. The group included Bill Russ, Paul Langan, Al Mair and a couple more. History was made as people got to travel by rail from Hespeler to Guelph for the first time by steam engine since the  1950s. Here is link to video: https://youtu.be/D7Kp07zGU6A 

The train had a diesel engine on one end and the steam on the other.

This historic footage was taken by Bill and Jason Russ. What to look for in this footage? There is footage from three trips on this video. It is worth it to watch the whole clip for the different views of the trips.

  1.  Former Dominion Woollens location. Where people got on and off.
  2. Travelling under Hwy #401 by train
  3. Travelling by the former community of GlenChristie ( you can see the sidings)
  4. Footage from on and off the train travelling over the railbridge on Speed River.
  5. On Blackbridge Road there is now a level rail/road crossing. There used to be a railbridge underpass for safe movement of train under the road. See the rare footage of it before it was torn out. The train goes under it a few times on different excusions that day.
  6.  You get to see the fantastic footage of the train going by the then Hespeler CN Railway Station.(3rd trip)
  7.  Crossing Hwy 24 at once was Gourock, ON.
  8.  Arriving in Guelph on Alama Street.

Enjoy this video piece of Hespeler history.

Due South TV Show - All the Queen's Horses Outtakes



Due South was a popular Canadian TV Show. The Season 2 Episode 14 features the RCMP musical ride on board a train with terrorist attack. Lots of fun with Leslie Nielsen and Gordon Pinsent in this episode. 



These outtakes are of the scene 42:35 into the episode. It is of the RCMP  actors and their horses getting on and off the train. The original episode aired 12 April 1996 - Season 2 | Episode 14. You can watch the whole episode at: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5vftr8

Piso's Cure for Consumption and Florida Water Bottles Found in Hespeler



We take great pride in living our home that is approximately 140 yrs old in Hespeler. When our basement was being renovated several years ago we found these two old bottles in them.

Now that we live in a world of  the internet lots of people have already looked into the history of these two products.

1. Florida Water - Murray & Lanman Druggists New-York - Made since 1883, as a perfume to add to your bath water. Two fun facts stand out. It was never made in Florida and it has more alcohol that water in it. Here is a detailed article on the Florida Water. https://baybottles.com/2018/05/10/murray-lanman-druggists-new-york-florida-water/

2. Pico's Cure for Consumption - Hazeltine & Co. - Founded in 1864, this company claimed to have a cure for consumption.(tuberculosis). Fun fact is the ingredients at different times contained opium, morphine,  chloroform, cannabis and alcohol. A very detailed history of this scam is available at: https://www.fohbc.org/PDF_Files/PisoTrior_JSullivan.pdf

When Ford Motor Company Made Automated Guideway People Movers

Ford Automated Guideway Transit People Mover

It is funny how a photograph can bring back a memory of an event you had forgotten about. Such is the case of my experience with the Ford ACT Automatically Controlled Transportation or Activity Center Transit rubber tired people mover

I had just purchased a collection of slides of a GO-Urban failed transportation plan for Toronto in the 1970s. One of the unsuccessful transit systems who bid on the project was the Ford ACT. It is also known as Automated Guideway Transit as it runs a guideway above ground.

I decided to research the Ford ACT and realized I had actually seen it and probably rode on it. Ford Company actually built a system in Dearborn connecting the Hyatt Regency Hotel to the Fairlane Mall.

It was during that time of operation in the 1970s I would go to that Mall on a regular basis to buy records. I remember distinctly going to the Hyatt Regency Hotel to see Ricky Nelson perform and seeing the guideway and vehicles.

Ford Automated People Mover Fairlane Mall


The people mover system is long gone from the mall and the Ford Co. got out of the AGT business. The Detroit People Mover is also an AGT system though it uses a  different technology.

For the Ford ACT, I only have my memories and photos from the internet (thanks Katie Balamucki for the two photos above) to remind me of this small snippet of transit history.

Below is a description of the system that was in a mall brochure.

"The automated transit system is the most innovative feature of Fairlane, as it represents perhaps the first time that a regional center has been designed for other than automobile and pedestrian access. The initial half-mile segment of the looped system, which connects Fairlane with the Dearborn Hyatt Regency Hotel, started operating in early 1976. The facility consists of an elevated guideway resting on concrete columns and running between a joint station within the shopping mall and one adjoining the hotel lobby.

The automated system, with its two bidirectional vehicles, is programmed to operate under peak load conditions of 1,800 persons per hour. Each electrically powered, computer-controlled vehicle is designed to accomodate 24 passengers and cruise at 25 miles per hour. A 500-foot bypass lane near the midpoint of the system allows vehicles traveling in opposite directions to pass each other. The ACT was developed by the Ford Motor Company as a prototype urban transit system.

Original plans to extend the system to Ford International Headquarters were eliminated because of the expense and because of difficulties associated with a freeway crossing. Nevertheless, even in its modified form, the looped system has the potential of becoming an important means of access to the shopping center for the Town Center's working population, once the line is completed and the peripheral parcels are fully developed. Meanwhile, the system functions as a tourist attraction and runs at full capacity most of the day."