Old Home Week
by Ashley Harper, Chesterville and District Historical Society
In the midst of the Great Depression, hundreds of people travelled to Winchester from all over Canada and the United States to attend Old Home Week – a grand reunion for current and former residents of the district.
The idea was first proposed in the summer of 1933 by village Reeve James H. Ross, who was also the owner and editor of the Winchester Press. The plan was immediately put into motion and the Old Home Week Association was formed with Reeve Ross as chairman and local insurance agent Walter Moffatt as secretary-treasurer. Committees were organized, and residents and businesses all did their part to bring the plan to life.
From August 4 to 8, 1934, hundreds of visitors came together in these streets to celebrate the one thing they had in common – their love of Winchester and its people. There were events for everyone – old and young – including parades, concerts, midway rides, horse races, street dancing and sporting matches. The Press dedicated almost three full pages to covering the reunion.
Four years after the overwhelming success of Winchester’s Old Home Week, Chesterville decided to hold a reunion of their own. William O. Dixon, the local funeral director, served as president of the Association, aided by treasurer Howard Fulton (owner of Fulton Bros.) and secretary William H. Casselman (former MPP for Dundas). It took place from July 30 to August 3, 1938, and enjoyed the same success as their neighbours.
One of the surviving legacies of these Old Home Weeks are two short histories of Winchester and Chesterville that were written to promote the villages and their progress. “A Historical Review of Winchester, Ontario”, written by Fern Workman, a long-time employee (and later owner) of the Winchester Press, was available at the reunion for just 25 cents. “A History of Chesterville”, written by businessman and former Dundas MP, Orren D. Casselman, likely cost about the same.
Today, these brief snapshots of our communities are priceless.