For the past 125 years, parkland has existed just south of the lots that front on Main St. Stouffville. I was trying to think of how to explain all the stories that are related to the park. This is a huge task to explain our shared history there. There must be a million plus stories for our old park.
Well, let’s start with the name of this vast green space which has had a variety of uses over time. Why is it called Memorial Park? Well, it is in memory of the Stouffville boys who fought and gave their lives for our community and our country. The tall brick gates at the south end of Church St. have been the bookends to form the formal entrance way to the park. The names are listed in two tablets one on each side. Stop by and read them sometime, you may be amazed at how familiar they still are in town today. We have deep roots in the Village of Stouffville.
Memorials are more than just the gates. Once we also had military guns there too as a remembrance of WW I, the Great War. We lost boys on Vimy Ridge, and the large cannon was from the capture of that ridge.
Another more recent plaque is to Captain Roy Brown, a flying ace from the First World War. He has the honour of being recognized for shooting down the Red Baron. This plaque was the work of a grade six girl doing her history homework. She was also part of having Captain Roy Brown inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame.
This brings to mind the grandstand and all the baseball games played in the park. We even had three diamonds to hold the tournaments in town. I have been intrigued lately by the photos of the old games and seeing a tall elm tree out in left field. If you could get your ball past it was a guaranteed home run.
There have been changes over the years including expansion through land donated by Dr. Sangster to help enhance the park. The west side of the creek and lands adjacent were called Sangster Grove. Some remember a large sign hanging in the park to his honour.
Lastly a couple of arenas also once stood in the park, two of the eleven we have had here in town. The Clayton Baker arena was opened in 1926 while another was built to replace it in 1949. Shares were sold to people to finance the project. A few years after being built they added a lobby and snack room to the front. Word has it that they served really good fries. It was granted a 99-year lease but wasn’t needed once the newer arena on Ninth Line was built in the 1980s.
So many stories. I could tell them all day long. If you want to hear some of them, join me on May 4 at the Jane’s Walk “Saturday in the Park” at 10:30 am, south end of Church St.
Photo: Memorial Park in 1929 with Clayton Baker Arena in the background. Photo credit: Whitchurch-Stouffville Community Center and Museum #988.014.0152