Bert Holmes looked after us!

I remember B.V. (Bert) Holmes as a “hands on” kind of mayor here who would get himself involved immediately in whatever was going on of community interest.
He would weigh in and make a substantial difference in his forthright ways. Maybe because of his Miramichi, N.B. background!
For instance, Bert became a hockey booster when our Fort Frances Canadians were going after the Allan Cup—and what a fan!
I was walking down Scott Street when old Bert came along to ask me whether or not I was going to Owen Sound for our first Allan Cup final. He said I should go down there to shake hands with his old friend, Colin Russell (the latter recently had moved our steel boat-building plant there and taken his local workmen along).
Well, I was not yet employed by the Times, having become a freelance reporter here right after college, and therefore lacked the extra money for travelling, I told him.
“I’ll tell [town treasurer] Earl Calder to write you a cheque for $200, which should cover your train ticket and meals,” Bert offered me right away, seeing a chance to be represented there without going himself because our newspaper needed the hockey stories on our first national series.
I thought how much we needed Bert then and his forthright ways today when my dial-a-ride driver told me his tickets were going up slightly.
That’s because Bert had put the town in our first bus business while personally partnering the bus service owned by Clarence Wright. Bert kept a desk in Wright’s office and from there, apparently, his interest in busing passed to the town and still continues today.
He joined the Bock family after Wright died.
Colin Russell took me in for lunch when I knocked on his door in Owen Sound and returned Bert’s best wishes while offering to show me his new plant on Georgian Bay, where I renewed friendships with all the former citizens working down there for him, including the O’Learys and their wives, the Farmers of Burriss, Eric Oliver, and others while remembering to give “B.V.” full credit for sending me to see everyone there.
Some returned the visit after we went to our games in their old wooden rink, which was just as ancient as our former rink back at home.
Then the following year, we had a brand new rink for our second Allan Cup series—only this time on home ice against Stradford Indians. We never saw the Owen Sound Mercuries again although their great star, Burlington, is still remembered.
And if any non-player deserves credit, it has to be Bert Holmes, who encouraged our team in every way until they collected the Allan Cup!
So whenever we think of New Brunswick, we remember B.V., as well as his brother, Ray S. Holmes, and his confectionery and magazine store downtown. A third brother, not quite so public, was Purley Holmes, who raised a family on Second Street.
Bert was elderly and eventually lost out as mayor to Joe Livingston from Georgia after Bert had defeated our “Depression mayor,” Joe Parker.
I still believe Bert came along with a better spirit of the times. The town took on a more buoyant mood and not merely because our hockey team made us all so proud.
Bert may have brought us back, but he also showed a talent seldom considered in picking the right people to look after our community. Let’s see, his assistants included town clerk J.W. Walker and treasurer Earl Calder, George Henry, and Bob Taylor, as public works and utilities supers, respectively, Police Chief Louis Camirand, Fire Chief Bob Readman, and all their assistants, and, of course, Joe Murray and Jack Gray, our rink managers.
Bert saw so much revolving around our hockey here in those great days of half-a-century ago. That was our favourite community project and we had the right man in place to help make it go!
• • •
A West End widow is irate with the mayor and town officials for refusing to respond to her call for assistance when a creek behind her home overflowed and caused damages into the thousands of dollars to her house.
She reported the town allowed refuse and tree branches to choke the creek after she warned them it would flood. Since then, no one at the town hall would answer her calls.
She was forced to replace her furnace and stored items in the basement.
• • •
Howarth’s sends out a very efficient new TV technician who gets right to the source of troubles. He soon had our set working properly after changing the antenna on the roof.
First he had tried changing the receiver, where the cost would be greater!
• • •
Did you catch radio commentator Paul Harvey’s recent venture into police reporting? He said a lady caught a robber by squeezing him so tightly as he went out her door that the robber hollered loud enough that police came.
She said later her grip had grown very strong over the years because she milked goats.
• • •
The Grey Goose bus service to Winnipeg likely will be sorely missed.
There goes another loss in local services. The bus was a great substitute for our old train, long in the past now.
• • •
I was saddened by the passing of a third Dittaro son, Henry, leaving only Angelo since Fred, Enzo, and now Henry have passed away. They were all among our friendliest citizens.
I remember walking to high school with Enzo and Angelo, and we all used to play guitars. Incidentally, Henry’s wife, Viola, recently lost her brother, Don Kerr.
• • •
I was sorry to miss Peter Makarchuk’s golden wedding anniversary because, although we seldom meet anymore, I can remember when he was our Canadians’ “stick boy” before he became a regular on our great team and collected his share of goals before the end came in 1952.
Apparently, Peter made a good job of his marriage, as well.
• • •
Bill Birrell, whose carpentry must be getting into many town and district homes, was found at our farmers’ market again Saturday, as always for years now, and his products (shelves and tables) are increasing in popularity.
I still hope to acquire one of his picnic tables.
Also on hand there Saturday was Andrew Gerber, who has been busy for years as a carpenter, too. He’s the youngest of the 12 Gerber children, our farm neighbours originally from Switzerland.
• • •
Another widow in distress with heavy costs from floodwaters had her basement windows spoiled by the town raising the lane next to her home on Second Street.
The town never offered to fix the windows to allow any daylight in afterwards.

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