Photo of the Ottawa Ex which was had a lot of rain in 1961 but 595,000 attended-Tennessee Ernie Ford– June Taylor Dancers and eye catching Anita Bryant for the youngsters:)
It was Saturday night in August of 1961, and Franklin John McGregor was quietly sitting in the Carleton Place home of his sister and brother-in-law. He got a phone call which changed his composure– and possibly his life. Franklin had won $25,000 which is about $196,000 today. Minutes before, featured artist Tennessee Ernie Ford had rolled up his coat sleeve in Ottawa and dug down deep into more that 100,000 “Ex” silver dollar tickets to pull out McGregor’s name.
It was a 50,000 to 1 shot– as Franklin had bought just two tickets. After the phone call he just couldn’t believe it. Sunday, he began to–when the local car salesmen began to call him from Bennett’s. He went straight home after the news, and his parents congratulated him. Frank tried to get his father George (Pete) McGregor (who worked as a mechanic at Uplands) to join him on the trip to Ottawa, but his Dad had been sick, so he declined.
His uncle Merrill Giles of Carleton Place volunteered to drive him to the Exhibition grounds. A friend, Harry Morris of of Carleton Place, who was with him when he bought the ticket, also joined the exursion to Ottawa. Twenty five minutes the three made it to the Coliseum offices of the Ex– but not before Frank’s car broke down. Yup, Frank’s fan belt broke on his 1955 car, and all he could say was that he would like a new car.
He quickly admitted that was all he wanted for now, and in fact, it wouldn’t be a big car or a sports car- he would wait for the new 1962 models. The Citizen also mentioned he was romantically unattached, and had a Grade 9 education, but had toyed with going back to school.
When he got back to Carleton Place to his father’s home on Moore Street a host of friends greeted him and they partied until 4 am. Frank had worked for the same company for five years, and always bought a ticket to win a new home which used to be drawn at the EX sponsored by the Ottawa Shriner’s Club. In the end Franklin decided to take the cash instead of a house— and with tickets at a dollar each his win was quite the steal!