Our parents always dressed up to vote. In those days, it was customary for men to wear a hat with their dress clothes, and so, along with his best suit, our Dad always wore his hat, and Mother wore her good ‘church’ dress, to our polling station at Cavanagh’s General store, on voting night.
Tim ‘Tib’ Stafford, and Audry Rutherford Stafford
Our parents seldom voted for the same party, and lively discussions were commonplace at our house, in the weeks leading up to the election. It was very important to them to exercise their democratic right to vote. Both veterans of WWII, they were all too aware of many other countries in the world who did not enjoy this privilege.
from “Perth Remembered”
Our father, having grown up near Ferguson Falls, Lanark County, in keeping with the long-held values of his community, usually voted for the Conservatives. My mother, on the other hand, seeking ideas and policies which aligned more with her particular vision of things, split her vote between the Liberals and the NDP, going back and forth between the two parties throughout the years.
As they left our house on many election evenings, dressed in their best, my father would always turn, tip his hat to us, with a mischievous smile and a wink, as they walked out the door, and he’d say, “I’m going to cancel your mother’s vote now.”
Stafford House, Third Line of Bathurst, (Tay Valley Township) Lanark County, ON, Canada
In the years that followed we would benefit greatly from hearing their debates in the weeks and months leading up to an election. We listened, as children will do, while our parents talked softly, or sometimes debated passionately, over a number of issues ranging from local policies affecting farmers and rural communities, to views on national matters affecting the entire country. It was a valuable education for us to hear these two WWII veterans discuss democracy and how voting was a privilege for Canadians, won through horrific battles fought on foreign soil. We also heard heart-wrenching stories about their friends and fellow soldiers whose young lives were cut short, never returning home to the green pastures and rolling hills of Lanark County.
1963 Voter’s List
March 28, 1963, p. 15, “The Perth Courier”
Who were the candidates…….and what were the issues of those times?
(from “The Perth Courier” -listed in the order they appeared in the paper)
George Doucett, PC
Doucett owned a farm, one mile from Carleton Place, in Ramsay Township, and also owned an insurance business
What were his issues?
-Every worker should have two weeks paid holiday
-New jobs to reduce unemployment
Art Stewart, Liberal
Occupation: Farmer, in Pakenham
What were his issues:
-Strengthen economics, and boost the undervalued dollar
-Ensure adequate pricing for farm goods
Jim Griffith, New Democratic
Occupation: stationary engineer, RCA Victor, Smiths Falls
What were his issues:
-Schools with adequate staff, and better curriculum
-Remove the financial barrier for higher education
Oscar Ventress, Social Credit
Occupation: not stated
What were his issues:
-Reduce taxes: All families with an income of less than $5,000 would be Income Tax free
-Prohibit the import of dairy products from other countries into Canada
….and so the big night finally arrived, and all of the community around DeWitt’s Corners, headed to Cavanagh’s general store (our polling station) to cast their ballots…
Cavanagh’s store – our local polling station for the DeWitt’s Corners area
April 11, 1963, p. 1, “The Perth Courier”
And who were the kids who lived around DeWitt’s Corners, waiting for their parents to return home after voting?
Class of 1958 – S.S. # 4 Bathurst School – taught by Mary Jordan
From the Past to the Present
…And so, the years went by, and we watched from the sidelines, as our parents dressed in their Sunday best, and headed out the door to vote on election night. We heard their lively discussions about the merits of his party, and her party, and we witnessed firsthand their enthusiasm as they left the house to go and exercise their right to have their voices heard, to participate in a free democracy, to cast their ballots.
Now it’s fallen onto this generation, and those that will follow, to pick up their torch, and head out the door when it’s time to vote, with the same enthusiasm and hope for the future that they possessed, and to always remember the ones who gave the ultimate sacrifice, so all of this would be possible.
Lest we forget.
Voter’s list: (Voters Lists, Federal Elections. R1003-6-3-E (RG113-B). 1963 – Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)