Linda, Queen's Square | June 1, 2017
There are some things that you associate with a particular place, some things that are simply quintessential to that locale. Everyone has their own memories, but here are seven things that you might consider Perfectly Preston.
Hespeler and Galt have had their Old Boys Reunions, but Preston held their own summer celebration that they called a Kirmess.These fairs or carnivals were originally held in European countries such as Belgium, Holland and Prussia, but spread across the ocean: it’s hard to resist a community party.The celebrations usually involved a parade, bands, dancing, costumes and plenty of food. The last Kirmess held in Preston was in 1912 and according to the programme was the Preston Kirmess & Old Boys' Re-Union – a combination of both celebrations.
The swimming pool known familiarly as "Eddie’s" or "Newland" and officially as Edward Newland Pool, was built in 1930 and renovated in 1999. It’s close by, it’s outdoor, and in the summertime people of all ages regularly gather there, including groups of devoted swimmers. Councillor Fred Kent was one of the regulars and an invitation fun day was held at Newland’s pool in his memory on July 15, 2006.
Many of the settlers in Preston were of German origin, as were many residents of the former city of Berlin/Kitchener.The Bernhardt family grew hops and used the local water to establish the Rock Brewery in 1846.The brewery backed on to a pool which was used for swimming in the summer and skating in the winter.Marg Cockburn remembered skating there as a child and being offered a glass of “small beer” (low alcohol content) by the brewers.
Preston Scout House Band
Bernhardt’s Brewery closed in 1933 and its large main building was demolished. Luckily the stables became the property of Scouts Canada who still occupy the building. In 1938 the Preston Scouts became interested in forming a band and Wilf Blum became the leader of the Preston Scout House Band. By the mid-1950s the marching band was playing before thousands of people. The band was described by archivist Jim Quantrell as “a great show band and as a great crowd pleaser.” An alumni band continues the proud tradition.
Leisure Lodge opened up in 1948 with Johnny Kostigan’s swing band as its house band.Many well-known musicians played there, including Count Basie, Woody Herman, and Buddy Rich.There was a large dance hall with a beer garden in the summer. Bob Green, local humorist and drummer for the band, tells how snowy nights caused traffic chaos for vehicles attempting a left hand turn at the bottom of Shantz Hill towards Leisure Lodge. Eventually customers dwindled, a fire demolished it in 1980, and a bronze plaque in Riverside Park by the ballparks on Rogers Drive now marks its location.
The Preston Rivulettes women’s hockey team gave something for Prestonians to cheer about during the Great Depression. Despite the fact that money was so tight that games involving travel were often cancelled, the Rivulettes were the best in Canada. Led by their captain, Hilda Ranscombe, they played an estimated 350 games between 1930 and 1940, tying three and losing only two. Legend has it that the team was born on a dare.When it was suggested by a member of the Rivulettes softball team that they might also form a hockey team, they were challenged by an onlooker to follow through, with spectacular results.
The sulphur springs were first discovered about 1833 by Joseph Erb, who was drilling for salt.Three hotels were built to take advantage of the germicidal properties of the mineral waters that bubbled up near the junction of Fountain and King Streets.These were the Preston Springs Gardens (first called the Del Monte when it was built about 1888), the Kress Hotel (the oldest hotel, first known as the North American Hotel when it was built c1848) and the Sulphur Springs hotel, which originally was a bathhouse.
The only hotel still standing is Preston Springs.The Sulphur Springs, by this time known as Freddie’s Tavern, burnt down in 1982.The Kress Hotel, latterly known as the Dorchester Inn, was demolished in 1990.
The Preston Springs Hotel is the one facing the viewer, the Kress Hotel was on the corner of Fountain and King on the north side, and Sulphur Spring is the building with the colonnade.
Are there are other special things about Preston that you think we missed?
All images courtesy of Cambridge Archives unless otherwise noted.