Carleton Place 1940’s —- The Popularity Contest


A fictional account with actual events from The Carleton Place Canadian, Carleton Place, Ontario: November 25th, 1948 edition


Picture of one of the actual prizes from Okiliman’s in Carleton Place  now located at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum. See it in the Eaton’s Christmas Catalogue room display beginning December 6th.

Dear Cousin John,

After my father read the Carleton Place Canadian this week he told me a decision has been made to cancel a few Christmas events due to a power shortage. The Carleton Place Business Men’s Association unanimously made a decision to forgo the annual Christmas treat for the local children at the Roxy Theatre. It was to be held this year on a Wednesday which represented the day of the largest power consumption in our small town of Carleton Place. They considered rescheduling the Christmas event on another date, but felt it was inadvisable due to unforeseen cancellations. The town, however, assured everyone our annual Turkey Fair Day would still be held on December 16th. Mother was relieved even after I told her the last time I looked, no one had to plug in a turkey.

I was also glad to hear there was no mention of a power shortage that might affect the annual Okiliman’s Popularity Contest. Just this week I saw nine beautiful prizes worth over $175.00 in their window. Anyone making a purchase from the local store would result in a chance to nominate someone for the contest. The grand prize is either a boys or girls juvenile bicycle and goes to the child with the most votes. Can you imagine how excited my sister and brother are?

In what would seem a not so shy quest for purchases Okiliman’s did have some rules everyone must follow:

Make sure your name was on the contestant list and be under the age of 16.

No  one could solicit votes in the store. (I heard that was an issue last year.)

No votes could be recorded before the contest.

Votes would be given only at the time of purchase in the store.

The prizes would delivered to the store after 10p.m on December 24th, 1948. (Oh, the excitement!

Cousin John, I must admit it is a clever retail ploy, as they rally their customers young and old to shop at their store. With such fine prizes as: dolls, dainty tea sets for the girls and electric trains and hockey sweaters for the boys, why would we not shop there?

So a vote with each cent of purchases might nominate my sister or brother for a chance! I have been saving my pennies for Christmas but yesterday the sight of some peanut butter taffy and few lost in a penny vending machine for some trinkets has made me a bit short.

But on a good note I am going to apply for work at The Toggery as they have advertised the right applicant would have a  bright future. Father has assured me this might be the beginning of a good career. We must stay united and hard working John, as we all belong to a common cause. We have to stick to our guns and hope another war does not cross our paths, as my Father says there never are really any winners.

Would you like to meet me at The Roxy Theatre next Saturday? My Mother has suggested I treat you to “I Remember Mama.” Are you up for it?

Your cousin,


Author’s note: Imagine if a Popularity Contest was run today in your town? What would people say? I never realized there are things today which simulate Okiliman’s Popularity contest until Shane Edwards of Carleton Place, Ontario commented on Facebook.

Shane Wm EdwardsUnfortunately in some of school fundraising projects still done today we have a similar incentive program. Children get rewards based on their sales and for some of the younger children it probably does not seem to be much different than a popularity contest.

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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