“If no news is good news…”

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by Brent Eades

I was thinking earlier today that we haven’t had a main ‘News item on the front page for a couple of weeks.

(As for how we determine what goes there — well, there’s no particular formula. It’s a subjective call as to whether we think a story is of very broad interest or importance — happy, sad, or in between.)

I was also thinking that it was pretty darn cold, not a day to spend outdoors. So I headed to the Almonte library and fired up the microfilm reader to look for ideas for future ‘Pick of the Past‘ items.

I settled on 1956 as promising (I was born that year) and began scrolling through 51 issues of the Almonte Gazette. Round about July 20 I found the following delightful post from then-editor A.S. (Adelbert Stewart) Hanna. The first part reads:

If no news is good news, Almonte most fortunate town this week

In a very small community, and in some larger ones, there comes a time in mid-summer and another between Christmas and New Years when news seems to flop… and if our readers blame us in this connection let them start racking their brains for interesting items.

This is of course is a non-subtle reminder that we are a community-driven paper and rely on your tips, ideas and submissions. We’re always on the lookout for interesting stuff to publish. Apparently things weren’t much different in 1956.

So what else was happening here in 1956?

Flint’s in Carleton Place was offering a 21″ RCA Victor TV for only $299. This may sound like a deal until you punch that number into the inflation calculator I created many years ago at my job with the Bank of Canada, and discover that $299 then is over $2,700 in today’s dollars. Seems a little pricey for what would have been one black-and-white channel here. (The Canadian Encyclopedia says 146,000 TV sets had been sold in Canada by 1952, and 2.3 million by 1956, so the demand was clearly there regardless.)

As well, Vaughan’s ‘City Service’ gas station opened at the corner of Ottawa and Martin Streets, and was offering free grease jobs with every fill-up.

I’m pretty sure that’s the exact structure that currently houses Blackburn’s Garage, albeit modified over the years: