Historically, Strawberry Socials have been an annual standard to bring communities together and celebrate the summer treat at its peak in June. The Middleville and District Museum is bringing the tradition back this year. In the past, many projects were funded through grassroots efforts at such social get-togethers. Both Clayton and Middleville Villages have stories of these efforts.
How Clayton Village Got Its Streetlights
The first Women’s Institute branch in the Clayton area was formed in 1910 with thirteen local members joining. A basket picnic was the first social event organized in Drummond Grove (where Linn Bower stands) with a program of games. Admission was 15 cents. Community picnics were held each year and served as fundraisers for projects. In July 1913, the newly formed Women’s Institute held an ice cream and cake social to raise funds toward the purchase of oil lamps to light the village streets. It was held in the Forrester’s Hall which had originally been built in 1873 to serve as the Presbyterian Church. The group raised enough money to order three streetlights. The lamps were ordered through Mr. John A. Erskine at the general store at a cost of $12.00 each. When the lamps arrived in October of that year, one was broken and so more funds had to be raised in subsequent years. In 1914, enough money had been raised to order two more lamps.
The lamps were installed across from the grist mill on the bridge, at the top of the hill, at the community hall, at the end of the sidewalk at the Anglican Church and at the end of the street on the northeast end of the village (now Bellamy Mills Road).
Mrs. Janet Rintoul moved a motion, seconded by Mrs. McNeill, to have steps built by Mr. Thomas Jackson at the base of each white painted lamp post to make the lighting of the lamps easier. The blacksmith, Mr. Michael Hogan, installed reflectors to show more light.
Mr. Charles McNeil was hired at $15.00 to light the lamps each evening for the first year. Mr. James Johnston was paid $18.00 the next year and then Daniel Thompson was paid $21.00 in the third year. Later, Evangeline Thompson took over this responsibility.
In 1915, an ice cream social raised $47.00. It was decided that this tradition would continue as an annual fundraising event.
Compiled from Women’s Institute History 1910 – 2000 found in the Middleville and District Museum
One of the Clayton Village Streetlights from 1913 was donated to the Middleville and District Museum by Margaret Munro. It will be going on display at the Museum this season. Two other Clayton Streetlights are displayed in the current Clayton Community Hall.
Newspaper account of Middleville’s Strawberry Festival, 1955
“On Monday evening, the Strawberry Festival of St. Paul’s (Trinity) United Church, Middleville, June 27th, was held on Church grounds. From the road, the lighting arrangement made a very picturesque scene. There was a fair attendance with plenty of berries, cake, pie, tea etc. in good demand and the stand had its usual of purchases by the juveniles.
The following program was presented: Mr. and Mrs. Arthur McNicol of Hoods contributed a lovely duet, ‘The Mansion on the Hill’ with Mrs. McNicol playing the accompaniment on the guitar. The Friendship Club Group gave two selections, ‘The Royal Telephone’ and ‘When You and I Were Young Maggie’. Messers Urquhart Proven on the violin and Lyall Mather on the organ gave two instrumental numbers.”
The student minister from Tatlock, Mr. Glenn McPherson, contributed two readings including ‘Three Little Pigs’ to entertain the young folk.
The clergy, Rev Hawley was chairman and reportedly gave a humorous recitation. Two films were also shown during the evening.
Receipts were around $166.00
From a newspaper clipping included in Jean Rankin’s scrapbook, Volume 5 in the general library of the Middleville and District Museum
Although times have changed since these picnics of long ago, Middleville and District Museum's Strawberry Social will feature delicious food, music, children's crafts and a great community get together. The dress code may differ, but the sense of community coming together will remain the most important thing! Hope to see you there. Check out our events page for details. Note: the Social will take place rain or shine thanks to our new large event tent for inclement weather.
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.