Author Archives: James Hillis

Believe it or not!

Hespeler Herald

Through Baulk Publishers Ltd., newspaper publishing in Preston was closely related to that in Hespeler. In 1946 Walter Baulk purchased the Hespeler Herald as an important link in the newly formed chain. With Mr. Baulk’s death in 1955, management of the Herald passed on to Richard Duff. Upon Mr. Duff’s death in 1965 much of the work of producing the Herald was transferred to Preston.

The Hespeler Herald however did not begin with Walter Baulk. The paper was established in 1897 under the direction of Oscar Eby. Like the Preston paper, the Herald was a weekly that offered a review of local happenings.

Like many businessmen of his day, Eby was a staunch Tory. However, he was first a businessman, and he did not let politics become involved in the operation of the newspaper. Eby recognized that to survive, a small weekly in a small town required the financial backing of both sides of the political fence and so he was careful to take no political stands that would antagonize either side.

In 1918, Eby sold the Herald to George Hudson, an ex-teacher and then publisher and editor of a weekly paper in Beamsville. Upon Hudson’s death, his son Edgar (Ted) Hudson took over the paper, which he operated until he was called up to military service during the Second World War.

In 1946 the Herald was purchased by Walter Baulk to become one of his chain of weeklies. The Herald continued as a separate publication until April 29, 1970 after which it merged with one of Mr. Baulk’s other weeklies to form the Preston-Times-Herald. This paper became the Cambridge Times in January 1973.

— Courtesy Jim Quantrell, City of Cambridge Archives

The Chase

One thing about my family is that you come to expect the unexpected. And when you throw a Nun,my Dad, a couple of shots of brandy and the Jehovah Witness,you wind up with an interesting afternoon. Such an occurrence happened and thank the lord i was there to witness it.
The year is hazy but i was still in high school so i guess it would have been around 1972 or 1973. My mother’s sister was in fact a sister. Aunt Grace to us but Sister Francis Regis to the rest of the world. She always loved to come home to Cooper Street and sit out on the back patio talking to my mom and dad and enjoying the family life. This day she and my dad had opened the brandy and had a couple of shots when the doorbell rang and my Dad got up to answer it, when he came back he told Aunt grace that there were two Jehovah Witness’s at the door and he had told them that there was someone who wanted to talk to them and they waiting patiently at the front door for her. Now in those day’s the Nun’s still wore all the habits and as luck would have it my Aunt’s was on the chair beside her and she gladly threw them on and went to the door. but what happened after that is why this story sticks in my mind. Walking briskly up cooper Street were 2 Jehovah Witness’s being pursued by a Catholic Nun in all her glory yelling “come back, we have a lot to talk about”, never had I been more amused at something my family had pulled off and i swear my Dad almost split a gut laughing so hard heck even my Aunt and my mom could hardly stop laughing. Ah Summer, memory’s are made of this. Aunt Grace is no longer with us but every time I think of her I have to smile. I mean how could a little woman like this scare two grown men, really?

HMCS Hespeler

Pennant: K 489
Built by: Henry Robb Ltd. (Leith, U.K.)
Laid down: 25 May, 1943
Launched: 13 Nov, 1943
Never commissioned into the Royal Navy and sent to the Royal Canadian Navy as HMCS Hespeler.
Commissioned: 28 Feb, 1944
End service: 15 Nov, 1945
Sold into mercantile service in 1947 and renamed Chilcotin.

Aerial View of Hespeler 1940’s

Letter From the War

I never met my Uncle Bruce. My Mothers older brother was killed in action in the summer of 1944 but his name and memory still live on in our family and like many of this city’s veterans a street here in Hespeler carries the family name.
And like many of the boy’s that were serving over seas, letters were a very important part of their lives. The following is the contents of a letter that my Mother received from her brother on August 20th 1944 and had been mailed on August 9th 1944. what made this letter poignant was the fact that on August 14th 1944 Uncle Bruce was killed in action, This was the last communication that the family ever received from him. This letter is word for word what was written by him, spelling mistakes and all.

Dear Mary.
Hya squirt,how are yuh? I don’t know why i’m writing, i can’t think of anything to write about but mush. Say hello anyhoo, so here i am sitting nice and comfortable like, in my slit trench, swatting mosquito’s killin ants and things and writing all at the same time, cripes a guy needs about four hands for this job. It’s not a bad sort of a day though-at least it ain’t raining. An enormous big bee just flew in, stopped in mid air like a helicopter somewhere in the vicinity of my schnozzle and stared at me in the face like as if he was trying to make up his mind. However, he apparently didn’t like the looks of my ugly pan so he spread out his four or five inches of wings and flew away. I am still cross eyed from looking down my nose at the brute.
How are all the boy friends, or have you found one steady one? Cripes i haven’t even been out with a gal since about March, Gee soon i’ll be losing my Hespeler technique, what little there is left. Are you still at the same job and still doing the same thing sitting at a desk, writing letters to your boy friends? That must be a pretty fair job. You even use the company paper i notice, you crook. Well yesterday i received letters from Grace,Mother, Alec,George Oliver and a girl and her Mother and Sister in England, and a parcel from Grace as well. So i did okay for one day, didn’t i?All i gotta do now is answer them and boy, thats a job. Well Mim ole dear, must scram for now, so bye for this time, hope to see you soon, but hear from you sooner.
Your Big Brudder Brucie.

B85416 Gnr Bruce McLaughlin
12th Cdn fld regiment
Canadian Army Overseas

More of the Shamrocks


Jacob Hespeler

Born in 1810 in Wuertemberg, Germany, Jacob Hespeler first emigrated to the United States before reaching Preston in 1830. During his stay in Preston, Hespeler operated a general store and founded several industries. After a failed attempt to purchase the John Erb Mill, Hespeler left Preston and moved to New Hope in 1845, where he purchased a valuable water privilege and constructed saw, flour, distillery, and woolen mills. Hespeler was an ardent promoter of the arrival of Great Western Railway in New Hope, which served as a connection between Galt and Guelph. The settlement of New Hope became the village of Hespeler on 1 January 1859 and Jacob Hespeler served as the first reeve. Hespeler died on 22 March 1881.
Jacob Hespeler

The Is How The Hespeler Santa Claus Parade Began

When Galt, Preston and Hespeler amalgamated into Cambridge. Galt and Preston both had Christmas Lights and a BIA, but Hespeler had nothing. The Mayor of Cambridge told Russell Bygrave that BIA of Galt and Preston looked after their own community and that is why Galt and Preston had Christmas Light and not Hespeler.


So Russell Bygrave started light the street fund to raise money to buy lights. That is when it all started Mr. Bygrave got the merchants in Hespeler to have a meeting and that is when they decided to have a parade to. At that time only Galt had the only Santa Claus Parade… So our first parade was we had 19 days to get ready for the parade and 19 entries and it was held on December 19.We raised enough money from children, teenagers and adults to buy some Christmas lights for downtown Hespeler, a year later Preston had one Santa Claus Parade then Galt and Preston went together and one year in Galt then one year in Preston. But Hespeler kept running our parade.


To this day the community and the businesses help keep our friendly parade running.


This year is our 31st. Annual downtown Hespeler Santa Claus Parade .Saturday December 4th. 2010 at  12Noon.


If you have any questions about the Hespeler Santa Claus Parade.


Contact: Russell Bygrave Parade Marshal   519 – 658 – 4721

Hespeler Mayors and Reeves 1859 – 1972

Alderson, C. R. Mayor 1960-1962
Ball, J. Deputy Reeve 1953
Barber, R. Deputy Reeve 1950-1951 and Reeve 1952-1958, 1960-1962
Brodu, A. W. Reeve 1900
Chapman, John Reeve 1875-1880
Courtney, John N. Mayor 1943-1944
Day, W. Morrison Mayor 1959-1960
DeVries, Bren Reeve 1971/72
Eaton, Rosmond (Ross) Reeve 1946-1947
Flynn, Bernard Reeve 1932-1938
Forbes, George A. Mayor 1901-1913
Goebel, E. W. Mayor 1954-1957 and Deputy Reeve 1958
Gruetzner, George A. Reeve 1921-1924 and Mayor 1925-1929
Gruetzner, K. Reeve 1951
Harvey, Percy Deputy Reeve 1948-1949, 1971/72 and Mayor 1963-1965
Hespeler, Jacob Reeve 1859-1862
Hespeler, George Reeve 1863, 1865-1873
Huether, G. C. Reeve 1925-1927
Jardine, A. B. Mayor 1950
Jardine, Peter Reeve 1897-1899
Johnson, W. G. Deputy Reeve 1959-1968
Kribs, Lewis Reeve 1880-1884
Kribs, William A. Reeve 1888-1896 and Mayor 1914-1915
Lockhart, R. J. Reeve 1907-1909
McKellar, Howard Mayor 1958
McNab, A. Cameron Mayor 1949
McVittie, William S. Mayor 1951-1953
Nahrgang, Conrad Reeve 1864
Nelson, Erwin Reeve 1959, 1963-1970
Ott, H. L. Reeve 1928-1929
Panabaker, D. N. Reeve1916-20 and Mayor 1921-1925
Panabaker, James D. Reeve 1939, 1943-1944
Rife, David Jr. Reeve 1885-1887
Shaw, Adam Reeve 1874
Shaw, J. James Reeve 1930-1931 and Mayor 1932-1937
Sims, W. George Reeve 1948-1950
Slater, Dr. R. F. Mayor 1938-1942
Stager, Charles Reeve 1940-1942
Wake, G. E. Ted Mayor 1966-1972
Weaver, L. E. Reeve 1910-1914 and Mayor 1916-1920, 1930-1931
Westbrook J. E. Deputy Reeve 1969/70
Wilford, Allan J. Mayor 1945-1948
Winton, Horace G. Mayor 1962
Young, R. Arthur Reeve 1945


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