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





Memories of an Old Fashioned Hallowe’en


It doesn’t seem that long ago……….back in the 1960s and 1970s, when we couldn’t wait for that magical night in October – Hallowe’en!

The days grew shorter, crisp air blew in from the north, and an eerie silence hung over our yard, as the last few geese left for the season.  Darkness crept up our lane-way each evening, shortly after the school bus dropped us off, and bare branches cast long shadows across the Third Line.

bare trees golden


In the days leading up to the big event, we watched ‘The Great Pumpkin’, and if we felt brave enough, maybe a horror movie or two, just to put us in the spirit.


The great pumpkin


great pumpkin


Who could forget Janet Leigh’s blood-curdling scream in the movie ‘Psycho’, or Jessica Tandy running for her life, in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie ‘The Birds’ ?


psycho   the birds


The living room always fell silent at our house, during Ichabod Crane’s encounter with the Headless Horseman, in ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’…..


Icabod Crane


We often listened to some music, to put us in the Hallowe’en mood!


purple people eater


monster mash

We’d read a few ghost stories, or play a scary board game, although our Mother wouldn’t allow us to bring a Ouija board into the house!

One year, Mary-Jane, a friend who lived in Perth, invited some of the members of our 4H Club to visit her, and try out the Ouija board in her rec room.


Ouija board


I recall some of us almost jumped out of our skin that same night, when a candle flickered in the middle of our ‘session’!

candle flickering


Some of our favourite t.v. shows had Hallowe’en ‘specials’:



Addams family

Preparations were made weeks in advance – deciding what we would wear for Hallowe’en.  Anyone familiar with the late fall weather in Lanark County, knows that our costumes would need to be loose enough to fit over our fall jackets.   I remember a few Hallowe’en nights when there was snow on the ground, which meant clunking around in a big pair of boots all night.

It was time to head to the attic, and find some discarded clothes!



Kids today, would not have been impressed with our costumes.  They were homemade, and usually consisted of an old pair of pants, an old shirt, maybe some tattered sheets. No one in those days bought a pre-made costume, so we had to be creative.


costume     costume-2

costume-3      costume-4

Over the years, Kellogg’s advertised free Hallowe’en masks on the back of their cereal boxes.  All you  had to do was cut out the mask, punch two holes in it, and add a rubber band or a string.  These were all the rage!  Especially the Tony the Tiger mask!

Kellogg's Hallowe'en masks


Tony Tiger mask


Sometimes, there were Hallowe’en parties at Glen Tay School, and we wore our costumes,  and bobbed for apples.


bobbin for apples


Mother always helped us find a suitable sack for our candy, and we could choose between an assortment of her old pillowcases.  It was always a good idea to bring at least two pillowcases – just in case it was a busy night!




The weeks passed by, and October 31st finally arrived!

After school, we ate supper quickly, and could barely contain our excitement!

Next, we watched out the window………………………………….and waited for dusk!

spooky night


We donned our costumes, grabbed our pillowcases, and began the trek up and down the Third Line.


dark country roads


Some of the lanes were long.  Very long.  So, we often had a debate at the end of each lane, with our friends, and decided whether it would be worth the walk.




Up and down the Third Line we scampered, running up the long lane-ways,  and along the dark country side roads.


late fall road


Kids today, might be surprised to learn that people didn’t decorate their homes, nor did they have elaborate displays on their front steps, or in their yards.

Most people didn’t have any decorations at all, and the ones who did, usually had a single, jack-o-lantern, on their front porch.


jack o lantern




In small, rural communities like ours, it wasn’t unusual to be invited inside, and whoever answered the door would try to guess who we were!


inviting Hallowe'en kids inside


We’d stay inside for a few minutes, and might be asked how our parents were doing, or how things were going at school. Some people would even ask us to sing a song, or tell a joke, to earn our candy.  It was all good-natured fun. Often, the person who answered the door would remind us to be careful crossing the roads, or ask us to say hello to Mother and Dad for them.


kids crossing the road


It’s true, we may not have had glamorous costumes, and the decorations were a little bit sparse in those days, but the homemade treats and goodies made up for that.

It was not uncommon to receive farm fresh apples,  loose peanuts,  homemade fudge, and Hallowe’en Kisses.  There was no need to check the treats before eating them.  We knew everyone, and they knew us.  They were our neighbours, our classmates, our friends.


fresh apples

peanuts   kerrs-kiss-2


So which house on our route the tastiest treats?

By far, hands-down, the best fudge on the Third Line was at Radford’s and Korry’s.   Mrs. Radford’s fudge was legendary in the area, and Ethel Korry’s fudge was so creamy, and silky smooth! Sometimes Mrs. Korry and her daughter-in-law Merle, were still busy cutting the fudge into little squares when we arrived, and they’d wrap them, and place them in little bags for us.


(see Mrs. Radford’s fudge recipe at the end of the story!!!)

cutting-fudge     homemade-fudge


One of the best stops for trick-or-treating on the Third Line was the popular general store – Cavanagh’s – owned by Jim and Helen.


Cavanagh's store - colour


The Cavanagh’s were generous with their candy, and some of our favourite treats were the Pixie Stix, the Thrills, and the Gold Rush gum.


pixy-stix thrills-gum  gold-rush-candy


Kraft Caramels were a popular treat, and many of the neighbours would throw a handful into our pillowcases, along with some pumpkin teeth candies.


pumpkin-teeth    kraft-caramels


Our Mother often made caramel apples, with fresh apples from our orchard.





One of our favourite treats on Hallowe’en were Mother’s homemade caramel popcorn balls.  She mixed freshly-popped popcorn, with the melted caramels, in a big metal pot, on top of the old stove.  She shaped them into a ball, let them dry on a cookie sheet, and wrapped them in plastic, before handing them out at our front door.




Those were certainly nights to remember!   – Long, dark, lanes in the country, our costumes made from discarded clothes, and our pillowcase sacks!

The cool fall air, and the tall, bare, maple trees that lined the dark roads, leading up to the farmhouses, all added an air of suspense, as we ran from house to house.

Homemade treats, fresh from our neighbour’s kitchens, couldn’t be beat.

We even had a little song that sang on Hallowe’en, and perhaps it will bring back some memories of those happy Hallowe’en nights, of our youth:


It’s Hallowe’en,
The lamp is lit,
And ’round the fire
The children sit,
A-telling ghost tales
Bit by bit,
‘Til sister Jane says “Hush!”
What’s that a-peeping
‘Round the kitchen door?
What’s that a-creeping
‘Cross the bedroom floor?
What’s that a-sweeping
Down the corridor?
Oooooh! It’s a goblin!



 vintage hallowe'en.JPG



koolaid ad



Hope you enjoyed our trip back in time, to those magical Hallowe’en nights, along the Third Line!



As promised, a recipe for the best fudge on the Third Line.

Oh the Radford family’s lane was soooooo long!  I have to admit that it wouldn’t have mattered to us kids if their lane was ten times as long, we would have gladly made the trek for a few precious pieces of Mrs. Radford’s homemade fudge!



Mrs. Radford’s Fudge:

(kindly shared with us – from Nancy (Radford) Tarle)

Mom’s Cream Candy

2 c brown sugar

½ c milk (any kind including Carnation)

¼ c butter

1 tsp vanilla

Boil the first two ingredients, stirring constantly on lowest heat required, to maintain low boil, until soft ball stage in cold water. Add butter and vanilla, (and nuts if desired).  Beat until thick, with electric mixer, then finish beating by hand until no longer shiny, and begins to harden around sides of pot.  Pour into pan.



The families who lived along our ‘Hallowe’en route’:

Blair, Brady, Bowes, Cavanagh, Chabot, Closs, Doyle, Heney, Johnston, Jordan,Kerr, Korry, Kyle, Leonard, Majaury, Mitchell, Morrow, Munro, Murphy, Myers, Paul, Perkins, Pettigrew, Popplewell, Radford, Scott, Siebel, Somerville, Stafford, Stiller, Truelove, Turnbull, Tysick, and Webber





For more memories of Hallowe’en in the 1960s and 1970s:

“Recipes & Recollections: Treats and Tales from Our Mother’s Kitchen”


available in local stores, and online



(photo of Cavanagh’s store courtesy of JoAnne (Cavanagh) Butler)