One of the perks of writing columns is getting mail, emails and occasionally visits from readers who appreciate what I write about. I sometimes reminisce about the past which readers enjoy very much.
This past summer a large brown envelope came in the mail from a woman in Sauble Beach, Ont., which is on Lake Huron. There was a short note inside with numerous clippings about Eastern Ontario in the 1960s from The Family Herald. She wrote: “Been a long time reader of your columns . . . I have a large collection of old Ontario farm magazines. I put articles from Renfrew County in an envelope and they just kept on growing! Lots of treasures in those old magazines. Keep writing and enjoy!”
The thoughtful woman, whom I didn’t know, had photocopied 15 articles from The Family Herald for me. I wrote back and thanked her. She said she knew I’d appreciate them. Most of the articles were about farming in the mid- to late 1960s in eastern Ontario and particularly Renfrew County. Some articles are about the drought years experienced here in the mid-1960s.
A few years ago an elderly area man came to see me with a box full of all the Renfrew Advance weekly newspapers from 1967 – the Centennial Year. He had saved them up and wanted me to have them as he knew I was a history buff. They have been a real treasure – full of local news, photos and pages of grocery store food prices. I’ve read through them a few times and in recent days have been going through the fall issues.
There were no food flyers inserted in the weekly newspapers like there are now and they had pages of grocery store ads. Red & White, A&P, Loblaws and Dominion stores were the grocery stores that advertised each week in Renfrew. I was interested in what food items cost around Thanksgiving and found it strange that none of the stores, not even corner stores, advertised milk, butter and eggs. Why not? Powdered milk was advertised as three pounds for 99 cents. Bread was occasionally marketed at 25 cents for a 24-oz loaf. Many brands of coloured margarine were usually highlighted. One store had it on at four pounds for 99 cents.
Turkeys were selling for 39 to 49 cents/lb. Blade roast was 55 cents/lb. T-bone steak 89 cents/lb. Ground beef 49 cents/lb. Maple Leaf breakfast bacon was just 79 cents for a one-pound package.
Bananas only 12 to 14 cents/lb. Grapefruits 12 for $1.00! Cauliflower 23 cents. Carrots also 23 cents for a three pound bag. Stores had 50 lb bag of potatoes for just 99 cents. Potatoes today are still a great bargain.
A discount store ran ads each week on cigarettes, selling large packages for 50 cents. A GM car dealership advertised good used1966 Chev cars from $2,195 to $2,395. Sunday evening was family night to watch TV with Ed Sullivan on at 8 p.m. and Bonanza at 9 p.m. Those are just some of the interesting items I gleaned from the pages of The Renfrew Advance.
There are so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and every day. Basic food prices in Canada are still a bargain like they were 50 years ago.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving with your family!
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