Hespeler Happenings Summer – 2019

by Jun 24, 2019Hespeler Happenings0 comments

Saying Goodbye

Robert “Bob” O’Krafka

It is with profound sorrow that The Company of Neighbours marks the passing of Bob O’Krafka on April 26, 2019 in his 79th year.

Bob was very proud that his birth certificate read – “Place of Birth: Hespeler, Ontario”. Bob received his education at Hespeler Public School. He played on many successful teams with the Hespeler Minor Hockey Assoc. and joined the family business, O’Krafka Brothers Company Ltd., upon graduating. He drove a fuel oil truck for the company started by his father and uncles, doing deliveries around town as well as hauling dump truck loads of lime from the Lime Kiln, north of Hespeler. He later took a supervisory job at Dominion Woollens & Worsted Co.

In June 1971, he began his career with Canada Post Office Department, one of the original six Letter Carriers recruited when street delivery was implemented in Hespeler. Bob hand delivered the first letter, from the Postmaster-General of Canada to Hespeler Mayor Ted Wake, on the steps of the Hespeler Post Office to inaugurate Letter Carrier service to the town.

Upon retirement, he threw himself into volunteering to fill his spare time. Stepping into the shoes of his late father Bill, he volunteered with The Company of Neighbours until his death.

Bob was instrumental in the creation of the Hespeler Heritage Centre twelve years ago. As Treasurer, he worked diligently, together with his wife Stella as bookkeeper, to put our organization on a sound financial footing. After moving to Puslinch Lake, to enjoy the “lake lifestyle”, he volunteered with the Puslinch Pioneer monthly newsletter and enjoyed his time canoeing with the Ancient Mariners Canoe Club. We will sorely miss our friend.

Bob was instrumental in the creation of the Hespeler Heritage Centre twelve years ago. As Treasurer, he worked diligently, together with his wife Stella as bookkeeper, to put our organization on a sound financial footing.

Hespeler Village Market starts Friday June 7th

Downtown Updates 

By Lary Turner

 Well spring has arrived; although it appears someone forgot to inform Mother Nature! April was rather cool and wet, delaying the yardwork that really needs to be done. The Weather Channel has reported that  there were only eight days without rain and only one day that the temperature reached 20 degrees C ….

Adam Street widening work is well under way and should be completed by end of May.

Cherribomb Ink, has opened at 35 Queen St East. Owner Frank Cherri offers full-service tattooing and piercings. Hours are: closed Monday, 12 to 8 pm Tuesday to Friday, 1pm to 9pm Saturday & Sunday. Call (519) 221-2662 or email: cherribombtattoo@gmail.com for appointment.

Press Play Games is up and running at 39 Queen St. East. Owner Jay Brown invites you in to check out his new endevour.

Playin’ Around, collectibles toystore, 8 Queen St. West, closed at the end of April after 5 years, a new wedding store business, Camille Rose, is moving into the space.

Hespeler Convenience, 48 Queen St. East will reopen June 1st under new management. Owner Nick is currently renovating and restocking with a full line of convenience store merchandise.


Indulge Ice Cream, 10 Queen St. East has reopened for the season …. the Village Head Shop has closed …. Remember when you support small business, you are supporting your neighbours, friends and  community!

Forbes Home

Built by George D. Forbes in 1912

Forbes HomeA proposal by Kitchener based Polocorp to develop the iconic Forbes family estate will go to a Public Meeting of the Planning and Development Committee on Tuesday May 14th. The application requires a zoning bylaw amendment and planning approval.

If approved, the 13-acre property would see between 208 residential units consisting of 16 townhouses, 51 single detached dwellings, 3 estate homes and a 12-story building containing 138 apartments.

The historically registered Forbes family home at 171 Guelph Avenue, built in 1912, would be preserved. A home at 155 Guelph Avenue and other old structures, including the coach house, would be razed to make way for the new streets and home construction.

Some local citizens have come together to oppose the development plan. The Forbes Estate Preservation Group would like to see the property remain “as is” to preserve the green space and protect the large mature trees on site, most of which are slated for removal.

The Group’s vision is to develop the property with walking trails and restore the waterfowl ponds on Forbes Creek which had been removed when the Mill Pond subdivision was built.

Other concerns voiced by the group include a large increase in vehicle traffic onto Guelph Avenue, sewage capacity at the local treatment plant and available classroom space at local elementary and secondary schools that are already at capacity.

Frank Johnston: Photographer Extraordinaire

By Lary Turner

On the day following the completion of his formal education, Frank “Pinky” Johnston applied for work at Dominion Woollens & Worsted Co., then walked to Guelph and applied at a company he had been told was hiring. By the time the tall, slim youth walked back home again, the “Big Mill” had called his mother and Frank could start immediately. Thus, began a work career that spanned over 70 years at the same location!

Although the ownership of the “Big Mill” changed a few times over the years, “Pinky” continued working there fulltime until age 80, when he reduced his hours to just half a day. Following his marriage to his wife and lifelong partner Aileen, “Pinky” acquired a building lot on Weaver Street hill overlooking his worksite. There, he constructed his home, raised his family and resided until shortly before his death in 2011.

Frank JohnstonA man of many talents, he built a large fountain in the front yard which featured a bare-chested statue of a woman facing the street (rumor was that his wife sat as the model). Outrage from local prudes in the community forced him to turn it around facing the house with her back to the street.

“Pinky” discovery his interest in photography while working in the D.W. & W. Co. laboratory, where he became one of the best dye mixers in the North American textile industry. Part of his daily work also involved routine jobs like analyzing fabric, studying dyestuffs, and testing new oils. The part of his job that fueled his passion was photomicrography; taking pictures through a microscope of textile fibers, to assess their strength and resistance to wear & abrasion.

He often received requests from “Mill” customers for pictures of machines or certain operations that they could use in their ads. His passion for this work led to the making of advertising and promotion films for D.W. & W. Co. At this time the “Mill” began to produce a monthly newsletter, also sent to all employees on active service during WW2, and of course “Pinky” did the photos that appeared; including the “Glamor” pictures that were included in each issue intended to lift the spirits of those far from home.

He selected young, attractive, photogenic “Mill Girls”, and after obtaining their assent, posed them for a shoot. He had lots of ideas for props and backdrops and often his creative work included assistance from his wife Aileen in making the sets. Clothes also presented a problem and was solved by “Pinky” and Aileen often designing and making the costumes the models wore.

During the decade the D.W.&W. newsletter was produced he did all their photography work. At this time, “Pinky” joined the Guelph and Hamilton Camera Clubs, and soon became a successful front-line photographer, with pictures hanging in salons on both sides of the border.

He also instructed new club members on composition and camera methods to obtain great shots. Using a very nice, large old lens that he acquired, he hand-built a large wooden box camera that used 5 x 7-inch sheets of film, and the combination gave him very sharp pictures.

Following the cancellation of the monthly newsletters in 1951, “Pinky” practically gave up his interest in photography. To fill his free hours, he developed an interest in flying, obtained his private pilot’s license and was a flight instructor at the Waterloo-Wellington Airport for many years. Frank Johnston passed away July 22, 2011 at age 94. A life well lived!

Renwick Avenue

Editor’s note: This is another in a series on Hespeler street names.

Renwick Avenue is named in honour of the Renwick family, early Hespeler settlers and tradesmen. Walter Renwick, Sr. was born December 16, 1812 in Tweedsmuir, Scotland and emigrated to Canada. He started at his trade of butcher around 1859 and operated until shortly before his death on January 5th, 1885.

His slaughter house was located at the northeast corner of Galt Street (now Franklin Blvd.) and Adam Street. Walter delivered his stocks of meat off a wagon with a box behind the seat which had covers that lifted lengthways on both sides. The homeowner selected his meat and the driver cut and wrapped it for them.

Active in public life, Walter Renwick was a Hespeler Town Councilor from in 1866-67 and again from 1876-83. James Renwick, son of Walter, was born 1851 and became a teacher at Hespeler Public School. William Renwick, born in 1858 learned the butchering trade from his father and took over the family business following his father death.

Walter Renwick, Jr. born in 1860 also became a teacher at Hespeler Public School before taking a supervisory position with the Robt. Forbes & Sons Co. He served as a member of the Hespeler Public School Board for many years. William Renwick, born in Tweedsmuir, Scotland, brother of Walter Sr., emigrated to Canada and for many years operated a tailoring business in Hespeler starting in 1866. Like most early tailors of the day, he operated a small shop located within his home.

Many descendants of the Renwick family have continued to serve the Hespeler community with distinction, in both public and private life.

Hespeler Legion Br.#272

We are proud to report that your Legion has been rated the top Branch in Ontario and one of the top five in Canada (based on population). Indeed, it is a busy place this time of year as the winter sports leagues are winding up with award banquets and the summer leagues are starting up. The popular Friday Nite Dinners continue with May 24th – Hot Hamburger Sandwich, May 31st – Cowboy Steaks, June 7th – Roast Beef, June 14th – Ham & Scalloped Potatoes and June 21st – Roast Turkey. All dinners are open to the public, cost $12 and include dessert & coffee. Come out and enjoy a great meal!

Ott's Auto

Your neighbourhood mechanics since 1906. “You really Ott to give us a try!”

166 Queen Street West

(519) 658-9331


Kids Country Club

One of Hespeler’s little known secrets is the Respite Care for Medically Fragile Children located at 335 Guelph Avenue. Licensed by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Kids Country Club provides short term respite for up to ten Medically Fragile Children up to the age of 18 years, within Central Region (Counties of Dufferin, Halton, Peel, Waterloo & Wellington).

Kids Country Club began as a group of parents of Technologically Dependent Children became acquainted while meeting in the halls of the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario. The parents group worked through many challenges and barriers to see the doors of Kids Country Club open first in London in 1994, and then later in Hespeler in 2001. Administration is managed out of the London home during regular business hours; however, respite services are provided in both homes 24/7. The Hespeler home has two levels; the main level focuses mostly on higher medical needs children, while the lower level supports active ambulatory children.

The staff at KCC are a diverse group of health care providers (RPNs, DSWs and PSWs) whose mix of talent and skill bring together the perfect team of workers. Because of this, staff have the ability to meet the holistic needs of each child in a friendly, home like environment. Taping into each skill and designation, they build the care around the child’s individual needs. There is always a nurse on staff and two staff on duty at all times.

Together the team develops individual care plans, menus and activities based on each unique group of children in respite at that time. After meeting with the family, a parent-directed Care Plan is created for each child which identifies their medical needs, but also their preferences and goals. Staff is always looking for new fun ways to interact and play with the children. They take the children on outings and connect with the community in a way that promotes inclusion.

Volunteers are an essential component to the children’s experience and a vital part of the KCC team. If you are interested in volunteering at Kids Country Club contact the Hespeler home and ask to speak to someone regarding volunteering: (519) 651-2875 or 1-866-233-6966.

Hespeler Happenings is published four times a year by The Company of Neighbours. It is available at Zehrs, Food Basics, Hespeler Library, W. G. Johnson Centre, Hespeler Heritage Centre and many local businesses. Deadline for the next issue is Friday September 13, 2019. Submissions are welcome, but articles should not exceed 500 words. Ad rates are available upon request. Please contact editor Lary Turner at 519-658-9290 or email lary_turner@msn.com. Hespeler Happenings is a newsletter devoted to the promotion of information and activities, in and around the former Town of Hespeler, for the greater good of the people of our community.

Hespeler Village Neighbourhood Assoc.

HVNA will be hosting the annual Neighbourhood Day, June 1, 2019! The event will be held in Forbes Park from 3pm to 7pm and will feature a Free BBQ, Rock Climbing Wall, Face Painting, Inflatables, Vendor Fair and much more! Bring yourself, your family, lawn chairs or picnic blanket and your neighbours! 

Neighbourhood Day kicks off with a Hespeler wide Garage Sale! To enter your home simply email: info@hvna.ca and your location will be added to the map.

The Hespeler Heritage Centre will be hosting a Hespeler Historical Walking Tour at 2pm that lasts approximately 90 mins. 

To register, please visit the Hespeler Heritage Centre June 1 anytime between 12:00-1:30 pm. Neighbourhood Day is brought to you by the Silverheights Neighbourhood Assoc., Hespeler Village Neighbourhood Assoc., Grow Community Centre and Neighbourhood Day.  Come out and celebrate with your neighbours!

Visit our website –> www.hvna.ca


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