Remembering the early days in Huron Park
Keeping the Peace
By Tom Lessard
The air force had recently moved out of Huron Park when we moved from London in April 1968. There were very few tenants in the community, so when five of us army guys moved in, we had our choice of houses. Gradually, as time passed, word got around and the houses filled and the community came alive.
It’s probably hard for people who haven’t been to Huron Park to realize how good of a place it was to live.
For example, we had an arena and a curling rink, two swimming pools (one public and one private), a four-lane bowling alley, and recreation centre with basketball and volleyball courts. There was a tennis court, a walled-in lit baseball diamond, and a quarter-mile track surrounding a soccer field. All of the above were situated on the industrial side of the county road.
On the housing side, the elementary school had two ball diamonds, and a play area with slides, teeter-totters, and a sand box. The school had a large gymnasium with the standard basketball courts and a stage.
The school contained classes for kindergarten to Grade 8, and later included Huron Hope school for special needs children.
There was plenty of employment in Huron Park. We had a postal outlet, IGA grocery store, fire department with full- and part-time firemen, and a garage with a mechanic and gas pumps. The airport had (and still has) a well-lit combination of runways and a searchlight. Centralia College of Agricultural Technology occupied dormitories and classrooms vacated by the air force. There was a veterinarian department with meat inspectors and labs. There were roughly 300 students at any given time, and the college employed cooks, kitchen staff, caretakers, cleaners, teachers and administration staff.
Numerous companies occupied the various large hangars and smaller buildings. Hall Lamp (450 employees) leased most of the hangars assembling taillights and mirrors. Hughes Boats built sailing yachts for customers from around the world. Accumold blasted dies for the mining companies. Dunline built pads for the oil fields. Acme Neon Signs employed crews. The Club Albatross supplied after-hours refreshments for the tired workers. They also ran a snack truck for the industries.
I have probably left our some of the smaller outfits that operated in the early years. My apologies.
Many changes have been made since that time. Companies have moved out and new ones have moved in. We, too, moved out only a few years ago, but it remains a great place to live.
(Editor’s note: 1960s RCAF Centralia is the setting for former resident Anne-Marie MacDonald’s 2003 novel The Way the Crow Flies, a fictional account of Lynn Harper’s murder at RCAF Clinton, of which Steven Truscott was convicted and eventually acquitted.)