Hallowe’en in Perth – 1960s and 1970s

Jack o lantern 1960s

Oh the tricks and treats in the town of Perth, in the 60s, and 70s!

Come along for a trip down memory lane, as we re-visit the spooky Hallowe’en nights – the candy, the costumes, the dances, and some naughty behavior thrown in for good measure!

The Treats

You might be surprised to find out the kinds of treats we had in the 60s and 70s.  One of the most popular treats – Apples!  Apples were an economical treat, especially for people who grew them in their own back yards, and it was not uncommon to have seven or eight apples in our sacks by the time we returned home from our trick-or-treating.


Rubinos apples

“The Perth Courieer”, Oct. 25, 1962

apples bowl

apples for Hallowe'en


Two of the most popular treats back in the 60s and 70s, were peanuts in the shell, and Hallowe’en ‘kisses’.  Loose peanuts were an affordable treat to purchase, and often, the people who answered the door would grab a handful from a big bowl, and drop them into our sacks.  Same with the Hallowe’en kisses.  They were usually given out loose, by the bunch, and weren’t as expensive as some of the other treats available for sale at local stores.

peanuts in the shell halloween kisses

candy halloween

In 1961 – Decorated sugar cookies, wrapped brownies, cupcakes – anything homemade, were considered crowd-pleasing treats!

cookies wrapped

You might see a plate of cookies like these, wrapped individually, in saran, at a neighbour’s home, ready for trick-or-treaters!

Treats 1961

“The Perth Courier”, Oct. 26, 1961

These were very popular in the 1960s, and it was almost certain that you would get a couple of these candies during a night of Trick-or-Treating – everyone’s favourite – Bazooka Joe bubble gum, with the comic inside, or sour Rockets.

Bazooka joe  rockets

candy halloween 1971

“The Perth Courier”, October 21, 1971

Hallowe’en Decorations

In the 60s and 70s, we had two main Hallowe’en decorations that you might see at someone’s house – the jack-o-lantern, and the outdoor light.

jack o lantern plain lit

The Jack-o-lantern was usually carved the night of Hallowe’en, and consisted of three triangles – two for the eyes, one for the nose, and a mis-shapen mouth, that was usually a bit crooked.  We didn’t have ‘pumpkin carving kits’, or ‘stencils’, or ‘patterns’.  The example above, is likely what you might see on someone’s front step, or porch.

The second most common Hallowe’en ‘decoration’ of the ’60s and ’70s was the Outdoor Light.  This was the single most important indicator of whether we would be trick or treating at a particular home, or not.  If the light was out, that meant that the home-owners had either gone to bed, or had run out of candy, so that was our clue not to bother knocking. If, on the other hand, the outside light was on, then we made a bee-line straight for the house, knowing that someone was willing to drop a candy or two into our sacks.

outdoor light

Today, we see very elaborate decorations, strings of lights, fancy candles, strobe lights, spooky music, and more.  Kids would be surprised that we did not have any of that.

It was very unusual to see anything other than a Jack-o-Lantern, on Hallowe’en.  Many people even thought it was wasteful to buy a pumpkin, carve it up, and throw it out the next day.  Not everyone was affluent enough to do this.  It was more common to see the ‘Outdoor Light’, and be satisfied with that.  How times have changed!

Hallowe’en Dances and Masquerade Balls

Many of the local halls and clubs held special Hallowe’en dances or masquerade parties.  Some of the most popular venues of those times for dances, where people dressed in costumes were, the Maberly Agricultural Hall, the ABC Hall in Bolingbroke, the Legion, the Lions’ Hall, and the Ompah Community Hall.

Hallowe'en dance costumes

You could strut your stuff at the Maberly Agricultural Hall…

Dance Maberley

legion dance

“The Perth Courier”, Oct. 27, 1966

Halloween dance

Or dance the night away in Bolingbroke, at the ABC Hall…

Dance Bolingbroke

halloween dance party

dance ompah

halloween dance 2

Lion's dance


dance halloween

Even the local ladies’ church auxiliary of Calvin United Church, in Bathurst Township, got in on the Hallowe’en fun, deciding to have a Hallowe’en party for the children in the church…

Calvinettes Hallowe'en

“The Perth Courier”, Oct. 18, 1962

There was lots of local Hallowe’en fun in the neighbouring communities.  Innisville School-teacher, Mrs. Mac McLellan knew how to throw a good party for the kids.

Innisville Hallowe'en


The Costumes

The costumes in the 1960s and 70s, at least in our small communities, tended to be the budget variety.  Very few people at that time, in our area, thought that it made much sense to go out and spend a lot of money on a costume that would be worn one night only.

Whether the costumes were for kids, or whether they were for teenagers, or adults for a Hallowe’en dance, the end result usually relied much heavier on imagination than cold hard cash.

1960s costumes

costume ad

“The Perth Courier” Oct. 15, 1964

Remember collecting money for UNICEF?

I don’t remember what year it was, that there was suddenly a big ‘push’ for us to collect money (usually pennies) for UNICEF, in place of gathering candy.  Being a kid at the time, it didn’t seem like much of a trade-off to come home with a handful of pennies rattling around in a UNICEF box, instead of putting as much candy as possible into the pillowcase I carried around, on Hallowe’en night.  I don’t remember anyone explaining where the money was going, or who it was going to.  That didn’t help matters.

Well, the kids in Prestonvale were quite the enthusiastic money-collectors, compared to the rest.  Imagine in a very small community, where people usually gave a few pennies per UNICEF box, and these kids managed to collect over $11.00.  That’s a lot of pennies!  I don’t recall anyone ever dropping more than a penny or two, maybe three, into my UNICEF box, in the 60s.

Prestonvale unicef

unicef box

The Hallowe’en mischief in Perth !!!

For a town located so close to farm communities, it’s hard to explain that each year at Hallowe’en there was a real fascination for throwing eggs.  I don’t know whether the mischief-makers were buying these at Rubino’s, IGA, or maybe Boles’ or East-End Grocers, but I imagine that there were a lot of local businesses who profited from the sharp rise in egg sales every October 31st.

guy throwing egg.png

Run, everybody run!

eggs thrown at house

….and this was the front of many local houses

eggs thrown at cars

…..and the local car-wash was busy the following day…

Halloween mischief # 1

25 to 50 people raced through Perth, throwing stones, bottles, eggs, and garbage…

Halloween mischief # 2

broken bottles

A real mess on Gore Street

….a free-for-all bottle-throwing contest going on from each side of the street

Halloween mischief # 3

...the most expensive piece of vandalism was a late model car, set on fire on Leslie Street…

car on fire

Things continued to escalate into the late 1960s….


tomato windshield

…heaved a nice, juicy tomato

at the windshield of my car….

The egg-throwing in Perth became so rampant throughout the 1960s, that by 1968, companies like Andy’s Window Cleaning, were advertising to come and clean-up your windows, the day after Hallowe’en.

window cleaning

More Shenanigans in the 70s…..

Jim Ewart’s farm became the site for one of the best local Hallowe’en tricks in the 1970s.  I don’t know which of our local lads pulled this one off, but they must have had one scary climb up the silo in the dark.  Someone had a lot of imagination, but maybe too much time on their hands!


“The Perth Courier”, November 12, 1970

…and the Hallowe’en prank, that topped all Hallowe’en pranks…took place in 1975.

I recall at the time, this particular prank was the talk of the town.  In those days, I spent a lot of time in that part of town, so there was much speculation as to which of the lads had pulled this one off.  It wasn’t unusual for the boys to climb the water tower in those days, sometimes full of extra bravery, compliments of a night on the town; but it had to require a little extra skill (and maybe some help?) to hang the stuffed dummy so that it was dangling from the tower.

water tower

“The Perth Courier”, Nov. 6, 1975, p.6

Was Hallowe’en more fun in the 60s and 70s than it is today?  Well, if you ask anyone, they will likely say that they enjoyed the Hallowe’en of their youth, no matter what decade it was.

We had a lot of imagination in those days, to make up for the lack of money for fancy costumes and decorations.  We never knew what kind of pranks would take place, but we sure became good at dodging flying eggs, while walking down Gore Street.

What do I miss the most?  The laughter, the high-spirits, running from house to house, and most of all, I miss the homemade treats!

halloween kids

Have a safe and happy Hallowe’en!

spooky house.png

Arlene Stafford-Wilson

Member, Association of Professional Genealogists
Member, Lanark County Genealogical Society
Author of 10 books: “Lanark County Christmas”, “Lanark County Comfort”, “Lanark County Collection”, “Lanark County Calling”, “Lanark County Classics”, “Lanark County Connections”, “Lanark County Calendar”, “Lanark County Chronicle”, “Lanark County Kid”, & “Recipes & Recollections”
available at local stores or email: lanarkcountybooks@gmail.com


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