Memories of Broadway

The creamery was where The Banner is now. Every two weeks Mom would send me over to pick up three pounds of butter and a large can of buttermilk.

September 13, 2012 | | Back Issues

Eleanor Jamieson was born, grew up and got married on Broadway. Even now she and her husband Harold live only a couple of blocks away. She remembers when Broadway was not only the centre of Orangeville, it was the centre of life in the small rural community. She has plenty of pictures – but many more memories.

The McMillan Building: Eleanor’s father converted the former hotel into a garage and apartments. Both it and the Grand Central Hotel next to it were demolished around 1990. Photos Courtesy Eleanor Mcmillan Jamieson.

The McMillan Building: Eleanor’s father converted the former hotel into a garage and apartments. Both it and the Grand Central Hotel next to it were demolished around 1990. Photos Courtesy Eleanor Mcmillan Jamieson.

Years before she was born in 1928, her father Armour McMillan had purchased the three-storey hotel that sat immediately east of the Grand Central Hotel on Broadway. “My dad took 12 years to get the building in shape,” she says. He operated McMillan’s Garage on the ground floor, with the gas pumps right on Broadway, and turned the upper floors into apartments.

“That’s where I was born and raised. When Harold and I got married, Dad converted part of the back for us and built on another room when the baby was born. We had two balconies overlooking Broadway.” For more than 30 years Eleanor had a bird’s eye view of the street.

Eleanor remembers all the stores – Stirton’s Meat Shop, Jim Cancilla’s Fruit Market, Laura McCutcheon’s Hat Shop, Reid’s Drug Store, among others. She met her husband Harold when he came to Orangeville from Collingwood in 1950 to run the Dominion Store where Citrus City Tattoo is now. “It had an oiled wood floor. Every Saturday at closing time we’d get out the mops, pour the oil and let it dry until Monday.” But for Eleanor it’s the childhood memories that bring most of the smiles.

“Our backyard went right down to Armstrong. We had swings and a slide. Mom had two gardens. There was a hole in the fence that people would cut through when they were going to work at the mill. For one day every year Dad had to close off the hole so people had to walk around. If he had left it open for a whole year, it would have had to be permanent.

Eleanor as a young teen. Photo Courtesy Eleanor Mcmillan Jamieson.

Eleanor as a young teen. Photo Courtesy Eleanor Mcmillan Jamieson.

“The creamery was where The Banner is now. Every two weeks Mom would send me over to pick up three pounds of butter and a large can of buttermilk. She told me to charge it. I found out later that they owed Dad money and that’s how they paid him back. I’d get some ice to keep it cool. They’d keep it in the big barn out back.” In the winter they’d cut ice from Island Lake and store it for the summer in the barn, with sawdust between each layer.

“We used to play in the creek by the creamery. There was a lot more water then. We’d sail little boats from John Street all the way down. Then at night the fireflies would come out.” There was another little creek just north of Broadway that has long since been buried. In the winter, where the Dods & McNair Funeral Home now stands, a frozen pond was a hockey rink.

“I remember one really hot summer day we needed a ride to go swimming in the Hockley. Mr. Norris Hughes owned the menswear store. His wife was our schoolteacher in the school across from the courthouse. Dad was too busy so Mr. Hughes closed up shop and drove us to the Fifth Line where the swimming hole was and picked us up again a few hours later.”

“We knew all the back stairways and used to run up and down all the time. Once somebody was throwing gravel at Mr. Chu’s restaurant window and we all took off running. My brother and I were running down one stairway and there was Mr. Chu at the bottom with a great big knife. He grabbed us by the ears and took us home. That was scary, and we hadn’t thrown anything – but I know who it was.”

There were lots of parades – the Orange Parade, the Santa Claus Parade. “I remember the parade when the soldiers came home after the war. Dad played bass horn in the band and he did the whole parade with tears pouring down his face.” Eleanor’s brother Don had been a navigator in a Lancaster. He was shot down and killed. The band also played in the bandstand in the park behind the town hall. “When Dad played there, the kids would dance and run around and around the bandstand, making a racket. We weren’t allowed to do that. Dad made us sit in the car.”

The McMillan Building, as it came to be known, was torn down in 1990, as was the Grand Central shortly thereafter. Two Orangeville landmarks gone, except in the vivid childhood memories of Eleanor (McMillan) Jamieson.

A view of the town hall from the McMillans’ apartment. Photo Courtesy Eleanor Mcmillan Jamieson.

A view of the town hall from the McMillans’ apartment. Photo Courtesy Eleanor McMillan Jamieson.

About the Author More by Tony Reynolds

Tony Reynolds is a freelance writer who lives happily above Broadway in Orangeville.

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Memories of Broadway

Sep 13, 2012 | Tony Reynolds | Back Issues

The creamery was where The Banner is now. Every two weeks Mom would send me over to pick up three pounds of butter and a large can of buttermilk.

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