Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits! – Dec. 9, 2021

To view the original article and others, visit the Cottage Shack magazine

My name is Patti Turnour and I am curator of the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM). As we were putting the museum to be for the winter, I couldn’t help reflect on the past year. To say the least, the past two seasons have been far from normal. Without the revenues from our signature events such as the weekly Devon Cream Teas and Heritage Day, it has been challenging. However, our dedicated team of volunteers will spend this winter planning and preparing for what we hope will be a better, more normal 2022 season.

Cleaning our display barn last week, I came upon an interesting article from the Orillia Packet and Times titled “End of an Era in Coldwater.” It talked about the famous local barber Mr. Lloyd Bell who served the area for 57 years.

Born in 1911, Lloyd began work in the shipping department of the T. Easton Company rising to the position of head shipper before becoming a barber. Her apprenticed in Richmond Hill and then moved to Coldwater with his wife Edith and daughter Barb. Soon his little shop became a hub of activity. Good skills, reasonable prices and great conversation proved to make Lloyd quite popular with the locals. One of his long-time clients, Harold Greenwood was quoted saying; “It was just a good place to take a rest, for a few minutes.” Lloyd knew everything that was going on and was usually willing to share his opinion.

As far back as ancient times barbering included this social aspect. Greek men were known to gather in the agora (market square) to have their hair, and beards trimmed. Rowdy debating and idle gossip ensued. This notion of gossip was the main reason that school teachers in the 1800s were not permitted to get a shave or a haircut at a barber shop. How times have changed! As the years passed Lloyd became a mainstay of the community. This was especially evident on Saturday nights when local farmers customarily came into the village to do their weekly errands. Mr. Bell kept the shop open very late to accommodate every customer, some of whom came in just to chat.

A very polite and kind man, he would be seen wearing his renowned fedora hat, always tipping it to the ladies. His family, his shop and his Coldwater United Church were the things he cared about most.

Lloyd remained very independent in his later years, driving until the age of 94, and cutting hair at 95. Many devoted friends and neighbours helped him get his mail and groceries, as needed. He would often arrive at one’s door with flowers in hand, to show his gratitude.

Upon Mr. Bell’s passing in 2007, his daughter Barb Jefferies deemed his chair and all his barbering equipment be donated to the museum.

A tribute to this fine man lives on in the form of a dedicated room in our display barn. Gary Brandon and a group of volunteers constructed this mini shop version and therein staged all of the barbering tools. Front and centre is the beautiful, vintage barbers hair, surrounded by scissors, razors, mirrors, shaving mugs and brushes. My co-op student lovingly buffed and shined them until they all gleamed. Three pictures of Mr. Bell and his barbering certificates grace the walls.

This past summer one of our volunteers brought her grandson to Mr. Bell’s shop at CCHM to see the legacy of the man who had cut his father’s hair. Many of our visitors share stories of times they had spent in that very chair and delighted in a social moment in the company of this fine man. He touched the lives of so many local folks.

Mr. Lloyd Bell was a very special person who we are honoured to recognize and celebrate at CCHM. It is fitting that the Godfrey beauty salon – the subject of the previous story – is directly across from his barber shop in our display barn.

Some information for this article came from the archives of Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum and some from an article by Courtney Whelan of the Orillia Packet and Times. Mr. Bell’s daughter was another wonderful source.

Come and visit us when we reopen in the Spring and experience a walk in the past through our display barn. Then tour the many other attractions.

Cottage Shack Articles Museum Articles

Cottage Shack Articles: The Dreaded Hair Machine – Dec. 2, 2021

To view the original article and others visit the Cottage Shack magazine

As I have said before, being curator at the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum (CCHM) afford me many unique experiences. From reading instructions on how to use a mechanical dog walker to mending a crazy quilt, there is never a dull moment. Through these articles I am able to share some of my wonderful experiences.

My previous article on the slaughterhouse was selected because it is my favourite building. But to me the most interesting display has to be the Godfrey beauty salon. This resides in our display barn, an old structure that, many years ago, was dismantled and re-erected on the museum property. When my school groups visit, I tell them that it is like going to the mall.

The display barn houses a cooper shop (barrel making), barber shop, post office, laundry, carpentry shop, magistrate’s office and a remarkable hair salon. Being all under one roof keeps the artifacts inside safe and dry. We have only to worry about the occasional rodent!

Many of our locals have fond memories of Velma and Ernie Godfrey’s popular shop. Shirley Janet, a local resident has also written about this beauty parlour for a local newspaper. She provided us with some wonderful insight into hairdressing of yore.

Velma Godfrey began hairdressing in high school, cutting neighbours hair for ten cents. She honed her skills at the Graham’s hair salon in Toronto prior to setting up shop on Bush Street, Coldwater in a home built by her grandfather. Her big move was to a boutique on Main Street in the Abbott block across from the Denison hotel.

Our research shows that almost 70 years ago a finger wave cost 35 cents and a shampoo 50 cents. Perms were $1.95 for short hair and $2.50 for long hair. That’s how it was before that special day when Velma purchased the dreaded Naturelle Crokinole permanent wave machine for a whopping $385. What an investment that would have been! The year was 1935 and many women preferred long hair styles with curls at the ends. “This machine was worth every penny,” said Mrs. Godfrey.

The first person known to get a “super” permanent was Mrs. Lyall Gray who paid five dollars for the honor. Word soon spread about this magical machine as Velma perfected the use of it. This marvellous invention permed hair in seven minuted and then needed three minuted to cool down. If it got unbearably hot a cooling blower helped to ease the discomfort.

Buisness was brisk, and in 1941 husband Ernie joined the Buisness. Shortly thereafter they moved the barbershop to rooms above Tipping’s Dry Goods Store. A barbershop is also replicated at CCHM and will be covered in a later article.

Even after the Naturelle Crokinole permanent wave machine became obsolete, Velma continued to use it – long after the introduction of much more compact units. More. Edna Cornell, a regular Customer, is reputed to have been the last customer attached to that infamous perm machine. Shortly after Ernie’s death, Velma retired from the business and many of the articles from her shop were lovingly donated to CCHM.

One very interesting item is an old-fashioned steamer used for scalp treatments. A mixture of coal oil and olive oil was heated to produce clouds of steam. The hairdresser would massage the head through holes on the sides of the rounded metal hood. Exactly how this was done is a bit of a mystery to us at the museum. If anyone of our readers recalls this gadget and can tell us how it was operated, we would be in your debt.

We also have a collection of hair curlers and crispers that look dangerous, to say the least. But they pale in comparison to the dreaded perm machine. It is by far the focal point of our little shop. One visiting lady asked me if it worked; I simply asked the lady if she would like to give it a go. Seeing how menacing it looks you can imagine her answer. Someday I might just be brave enough to plug it in.

My next article will continue with this hair care theme. This time the focus will be on barbering and the subject would be incomplete without the story of Loyd Bell who cut hair in Coldwater for 57 years. His barbershop and many of the tools of his trade are on display here at the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum.

Come visit us when we reopen in the Spring and take a walk through our unique display barn.

by Patricia Turnour