By an Almonte ‘Native’
To stimulate discussion and relive memories……
It was the early 1950s and after seeing a ’Duster’ (Western Movie) at the local O’Brien Theater ( The Hub building) the kids would be hyped to play Good Guys vs the Bad Guys in Spring Bush. These games were played in the bush area behind the arena and Almonte Reformed Presbyterian Church (located on Almonte St.), while running up and down the hills and into the bush pretending to shoot or be shot only to come back to life quickly or argue that the shooter had really missed you. Some of those discussions were quite lively. I don’t believe that real cowboys would have taken the time for such discussions. It’s a good thing that they were only cap guns.
‘Spring Bush’ …. To those who played in it, it is well known. To those new to Almonte it is Gemmill Park. In the 1950s, Spring Bush was the wonderland of Almonte. It provided everything for active healthy kids in search of adventure and activity. When you told your parents that you were off to play in Spring Bush, whether it was summer or winter, they reminded you to check the time on the Post Office clock and be home for supper.
There were no roads or houses as today. My mother would tell stories about how the area, one of many around Almonte, was used as a common grazing ground for the animals of Almonte residents. People would pasture their cow there and fetch it home to be milked and then taken back.
At the corner of Country and Perth Streets (where Art Horton lives today) was a makeshift softball field. Games of ball were played there all day as participants came and went, going home for lunch or to complete chores only to return later. All were welcome but mostly the Snedden boys as they were usually the only ones that had a ball and a bat.
Near the Hwy (then Hwy 29) in the North West corner of the park across from the present day Esso station (then MacDonald’s) was a well laid out park for motorists to stop and have a picnic. There were areas to have a BBQ, small pits for fires, picnic tables, drinking fountains and washrooms. Everything was well used and extremely well maintained.
Today everyone still uses the hills behind the arena in winter, for concerts in summer. What child hasn’t enjoyed rolling down the hill over warm summer grass?
But, I wonder, do kids today dare their friends to slide down ‘Devil’s Trail’, more than likely to face a jump at the bottom that would send the slider flying high screaming through the air while those at the top were howling with riotous laughter?
Oh yes! Have you ever had a cool refreshing drink of water on a hot summer day from the pipe at the bottom of the little spring (hence the name Spring Bush) located ….. Ah! .…wait!…… that is for you to find!