You can go home again (The Sequel)

Joey Slinger, long-time columnist at the Toronto Star and winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour Writing, has been pummelling me with messages ever since my recent post about Guelph. Slinger also grew up in Guelph where he rose to the rank of sergeant-major in the cadet corps at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute. I was just a lowly private. Both of us wrote for the Guelph Mercury. He was full-time. I was merely a weekly high school news columnist while I was a student. So you can see he was always one step ahead.

Slinger took umbrage at my description of the bakeshop with the donuts. You didn’t name it, he pointed out, it was called Guthrie’s and the automated donut maker was right in the window. Some time went by and he must have woken in the night screaming because he remembered the name of the candy and nut shop I had also mentioned. Victoria Sweets, he emailed me, renowned for its caramel corn.

Before he starts sending me restaurant menus from Guelph in the 1950s and 1960s, I better get my cutlery going. I earned nine cents a column inch writing for the Mercury so I’d sit down at my typewriter Sunday night (the deadline was Monday morning) and write until I fell asleep. I’d earn about $4 which was enough to take my girlfriend to the movies at the Odeon on Friday night then to the Treanon for chips with gravy and Cherry Cokes. No worries about cholesterol in those days.

The local Junior A team, the Biltmore Mad Hatters, often contended for the Memorial Cup. They were a farm team for the New York Rangers, so Guelph saw such future NHL stars as Andy Bathgate, Harry Howell, Rod Gilbert and Jean Ratelle. I’m mentioning them because between periods there was enough time to scoot across the street right into the kitchen of the Green Rooster, get greasy fries wrapped in newspaper, and be back in your seat before play resumed.

There was also the Royal Dairy Milk Bar for tin roof sundaes and Dutch Toko for chocolates containing what I believed at the time was real liquor and Dopey Dutton’s where we’d buy Reinhart’s Flip, a locally made soft drink, for a nickel.

Some lads growing up in Guelph had a misspent youth in the pool hall above Ryan’s department store. Not me. My money went for treats the like of which I’ve never tasted again.

4 Responses

  1. Annie Graham says:

    Hi Rod…..I read with great interest your stories of dear old Guelph. But I have to correct Joey’s memory….the candy shop at the corner of Cork and St. George’s Square was “Goody Sweets” not Victoria Sweets! I remember gazing in the window at the huge candy canes at Xmas and then there was the custom decorating on the chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies.
    Do you remember the restaurant on Wyndham St across from the Odeon that served up a toasted Danish with our cherry cokes? It seems we girls thought a more sophisticated snack was in order. The Treanon was for date nights.
    Best wishes from
    Annie (and Garth)

  2. Rod McQueen says:

    I think the restaurant that served you toasted Danish was the Vorvis. I agree with you, the candy and nut shop was called Goody Sweets, not Victoria Sweets, as Slinger claims. But wasn’t it on Quebec Street, not Cork, at St. George’s Square?

  3. Silver Lady says:

    How could you and Slinger possibly forget the most decadent, sublime treat that Guelph had to offer at that time, the BUTTERSCOTCH SUNDAES at Scott’s Soda Bar on Delhi Street. They were made with real dairy ice cream, lathered in the most delicious butterscotch sauce, topped with real whipped cream and a maraschino cherry, all served in a huge tulip glass. The ultimate pleasure was to look into your boyfriend’s eyes as your tongue swirled around the enticing melting ice cream and butterscotch topping, the senuous melding of tastes and textures and perhaps of things unspoken. As you said, no worries in that day re weight or calories or cholesterol, just the experience of pure, guiltless, pleasure.

  4. karen abbott says:

    The peacock restaurant was the restaurant with danish pastry. The vorvis was across the street from the Treanon. Ah the memories of a misspent youth!

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