The Tao of Hespeler

Recently at the Cambridge Times a side discussion has broken out on the use of the old town names of Galt,Preston and Hespeler and how we should stop using them and just conform to the name Cambridge. For that reason I have decided to run this little story again to try to explain the reasons why.

This article is in no way trying to attack anyone for their views, but just trying to explain why we in Hespeler hold the name and our past so dear.

So why do we hold on to the Hespeler name? Technically it no longer exists, and half the people living in Hespeler probably are not really concerned with it, and I don’t hold it against anyone for that, but those of us that grew up here have a strange mysticism about the Village on the Speed.   And I am going to tell you why.

Many of us have family members that go back two or three generations, some even more. Many of the Old Hespeler residents had family members that were responsible for building what was once a thriving little town and like to think that we are keepers of our ancestors flame.  Anyone under 40 may not understand what this town meant back then.  Our location puts us in a weird spot as it is, but can you imagine what it was like even before the 401 cut through us? To go to Galt meant a bus ride, and not  a Grand River transit bus, it was almost a day trip way back when. Now the 401 separates  us from the rest of Cambridge(so it seems), and at one time,yes we were self-sufficient. A fully operating mall, movie theater etc..

It was always a tight-knit town, the Textile Mills employed many of the residents and everyone knew everyone. You could go to almost any local store and there was always credit waiting there for you, many times I was sent down Cooper Street to Eatons variety store to pick up grocery’s with no money, just get what was needed and My mom or Dad would pay when they had it.  We had a volunteer fire department and when something happened almost everyone in town would hear the fire siren and go to watch the men fight what ever fire there was.  Hockey Sticks and Fine furniture were made here and the Speed River was majestic.  Frank Brix used to come to your house to cut your hair if you were sick or unable to get out.  The textile festivals were something to behold, with a big parade and everything. Christmas eve would include a visit from Santa down at town hall and a little something for all the kids.  You knew the Police and of course they knew you. For my generation things changed a bit and not for the better of course, at one time all kids from  went to Preston High School, but we were the first that had to deal with going to Galt Collegiate and that “here come the Hespeler rowdies” attitude.

So Hespeler holds something over us, as I am sure residents of Preston,Galt and every other small town in the 60’s and 70’s felt.  Change is not what scares us, it is inevitable and ongoing and we know that, all we are trying to do is save a little piece of our Soul, and if we are wrong to do that then as the song say’s”I don’t want to be right”


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6 Replies to “The Tao of Hespeler”

  1. I have a strong affinity for Hespeler. I am descendant of the rowdy “Ziegler” bunch who lived in the big house on Kribs. The 11 boys could field their own ball team and clear out the pool hall with a brawl. I also have heard that they sold hotdogs from their house when the creek (which was actually ponded beside then – no houses there) froze for the village kids came to skate. The other 3 children were girls and all survived birth. What a big family! No wonder Great Grandma died in her 50’s!

  2. James, I do appreciate reading your articles. I’ve been living in Alberta for the better part of 14 years now. I see many towns that remind me of Home (Hespeler). I was born there in 1964 and have fond memories of the parks and places you write about. I have to say that the best memories are of the Old Hespeler Arena, our whole family had something to do there every week.Roller skating in the summer was also very cool, I am happy to hear that Hespeler Minor does well. I am going to add your site to my favs, nice to read about the small town I truly miss.

    Hockey still does well

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