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.