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Mount Forest's Main Street was the happening spot on Saturday nights

A new Mount Forest Museum exhibit looks at the places where people would gather on Main Street from 1950-1975

MOUNT FOREST – If you were a Mount Forest teenager or young adult in the 50s, 60s, or 70s odds were you were going somewhere on Main Street on a Saturday night.

Maybe you were going to The Checker Inn diner to listen to the jukebox, a dance at the Odd Fellow’s Hall, grabbing a pint at the Pig’s Ear Tavern if you were old enough and finishing the night with a footlong from Ted Linder’s hot dog stand. 

It was a generation that was really good at going out, said Mount Forest Museum and Archives volunteer managing director Kate Rowley. 

This time period and feeling is what volunteer curators were looking to capture at the Mount Forest Museum’s latest exhibit “It’s Saturday Night in Mount Forest! The Places We Gathered on Main Street 1950-1975.”

Rowley explained they interviewed local people who were teenagers during that time period and there was a definitive “hit list” of popular spots in the memories of those who are now mostly in their 80s or older.

She heard Saturday nights either started or ended at Ted’s Place, which was a hot dog stand operated by Ted Linder who owned a garage on Main Street. She said on Saturday nights there would be hundreds of townspeople lined up for a hot dog.

“It was more than a hot dog stand, it was a real gathering place, a meeting place for friends and neighbours,” Rowley said. “Even though our research told us it’s really just a boiled hot dog on a warm bun, once you got his wife Emma’s homemade relish and mustard recipes on top it seemed to elevate it to the best hot dog anybody ever had.”

Linder’s family donated the original awning from the hot dog stand and this has been used to replicate the hot dog stand in the museum, complete with a photograph of Linder ready to serve a hot dog.

Another hot spot was the Checker Inn which Rowley said was “the epitome of a 1950s diner” with its black and white checkered floor, red soda counter, black countertop and a jukebox.

“The owners allowed teenagers to sort of nurse a Coca Cola all Saturday night and listen to the jukebox endlessly,” Rowley said. 

The museum doesn’t have the original jukebox but does have countless photos and clothing items which Rowley said shows the emergence of “teenager culture” in the context of small town Ontario. 

“This is really one of the first times a teenage culture starts to emerge, they have a little bit of freedom after the war to spend some money, to make some money and have a little freedom on a Saturday night and meet their friends,” Rowley said.

“The 1950s teenagers were really kind of pioneers in sort of establishing their own fashion and musical tastes.”

The exhibit runs all summer until the end of October at the Mount Forest Museum and Archives located at 102 Main St. N. in Mount Forest.

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Keegan Kozolanka

About the Author: Keegan Kozolanka

Keegan Kozolanka is a general assignment reporter for EloraFergusToday, covering Wellington County. Keegan has been working with Village Media for more than two years and helped launch EloraFergusToday in 2021.
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