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Hespeler Reunion

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Local History

  • Hespeler Reunion Grand Finale,1926
    Hespeler Reunion Grand Finale,1926
  • Idea Exchange Hespeler
    Idea Exchange Hespeler
  • Queen Street Parade, 1906
    Queen Street Parade, 1906
  • Peace Float, 1926
    Peace Float, 1926
  • Six Nations dancers, 1926
    Six Nations dancers, 1926
  • Hespeler Reunion, 1947
    Hespeler Reunion, 1947
  • Reunion entry to Hespeler, 1947
    Reunion entry to Hespeler, 1947
  • Hespeler Old Boys Executive, 1966
    Hespeler Old Boys Executive, 1966
  • Great Hespeler Reunion Book Launch Party, 1996
    Great Hespeler Reunion Book Launch Party, 1996
  • Beard Contest, 2006
    Beard Contest, 2006
  • Hespeler Heritage Centre, 2016
    Hespeler Heritage Centre, 2016
  • Members of the Company of Neighbours at the Hespeler Heritage Centre
    Members of the Company of Neighbours at the Hespeler Heritage Centre

Linda, Queen's Square | July 4, 2016

It’s Reunion time in Hespeler July 8, 9, 10, 2016! Here’s a quick introduction to this upcoming event in three easy steps.

Step 1.  A short history of Hespeler in name changes

First settled by Pennsylvania Mennonites in 1809, Hespeler was originally known as Bergeytown but soon became known as New Hope.  The arrival of Jacob Hespeler in 1845 and his ambitions that centred on the Speed River made for the final renaming.  Despite its small size, the town has been home to one of the largest textile producers in the Dominion.

Further historical questions?  Ask the volunteers from The Company of Neighbours at the Hespeler Heritage Centre.

Company of Neighbours

Photo by AFH Foster.

Step 2.  Recommended activity at the 2016 Reunion

The last Hespeler Reunion was in 2006.  Idea Exchange Hespeler did not reopen until 2007, so if you haven’t been inside this award-winning building, we suggest a visit.  Building tours will be given Saturday, July 9th on the hour from 11:00 to 3:00.  Large games, innovative toys and a button maker for enthusiastic Reunion goers will also be available.

Idea Exchange Hespeler

For further details about other activities, including the parade, art contest and beard growing competition, consult the Hespeler Reunion website.

Step 3.  A nostalgic history of Hespeler reunions in snapshots

1906 Hespeler Reunion

Galt, Hespeler and Preston have all had Old Boys Reunions, Victorian summer civic festivals that occurred in some of the British colonies.  Preston generally celebrated with their kirmesses, a European outdoor fair, though in 1912 their programme advertised “Preston Kirmess & Old Boys' Re-Union,” a combination that seems to have occurred only once.  Hespeler was the first to have a reunion in 1906 and is the only part of Cambridge to continue the tradition into this century. 

Queen Street parade, 1906
Queen Street parade, 1906 (Photo courtesy of Cambridge Archives)

1926 Hespeler Reunion

By the Hespeler Reunion of 1926, the war to end all wars was over and there was a Peace float in the parade.  Plenty of people had cameras and were taking snapshots.  The bicycle in the foreground of the picture of the Six Nations dancing girls possibly belonged to the photographer.

Peace float, 1926Six nations dancers, 1926
Image top: Peace Float, 1926. Image bottom: Six Nations dancing girls with bicycle, 1926. (Photos courtesy of Cambridge Archives.)

Grand Finale, 1926
Grand Finale Pageant, 1926. (Photo courtesy of Cambridge Archives)

1947 Hespeler Reunion

 After the Great Depression and the Second World War, Hespelerites were ready for some postwar prosperity and normalcy.

Hespeler reunion, 1947
Hespeler Reunion, 1947 (Photo courtesy of Cambridge Archives)

Entry to Hespeler reunion
Entry to Hespeler Reunion, 1947 (Photo courtesy of Cambridge Archives)

1966 Hespeler Reunion

In 1966, Hespeler was a self-sufficient and independent small town, where people walked or bicycled to work and drove their cars on the weekend.  Amalgamation was barely on the horizon.

Old Boys Executive
The 1966 Hespeler Old Boys Executive. Back row: O.Bertollo, L.Prior, N.Shultz, W. O'Krafka, R. Chalmers, F. Stewart, J.Chittock, R. Prior, C. Einwechter. Front Row: R. Shultz, P. Harvey, R. Stark, D. Dyer (chairman), J. Courtney, G.E. Wake (mayor), R. Parker. (Photo courtesy of Cambridge Archives)

1986 Hespeler Reunion

The reunion that never was – Hespeler had disappeared with the creation of the City of Cambridge.

1996 Hespeler Reunion

The Hespeler Reunion makes a comeback!  Hundreds of volunteers turn out!  It was such a memorable party that they decided to hold the reunion every 10 years instead of 20.  This was the last time that company reunions were held in conjunction with the main event: industry was leaving Hespeler, and it was becoming a dormitory town.

1996 Great Hespeler Reunion Book Launch Party
1996 Great Hespeler Reunion Book Launch Party, Photograph by Jim Wilson, courtesy of the Company of Neighbours and the Hespeler Reunion Committee.

2006 Hespeler Reunion

A template was established for future reunions including such irresistible attractions as a parade, old-timers hockey game, musical entertainment, beer gardens, midway rides and a finale of fireworks.

2006 Beard Contest
2006 Beard Contest. Photography by Jim Wilson, courtesy of the Company of Neighbours and the Hespeler Reunion Committee.

2016 Reunion – You’re invited!

Hespeler Heritage Centre
John Forsyth, John Gunter and Lary Turner. Photo by AFH Foster.