Da Bears…… Remembering the Bears of Actinolite

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Da Bears…… Remembering the Bears of Actinolite

 

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 Joe Vinkles at Sharbot Lake. Mike Dobbie sent this photo in to Perth Remembered

 

There were so many responses about the Bears of Actinolite I decided I had to document it for generations to come. Of course most of today’s folks would not approve of the condition that these bears lived in– but, according to a member of the family she said they knew no other life. Maybe not what you want to hear– but times were different in those days.

 

Chances are if you ever drove down Highway 7 you have fond childhood memories of visiting those bears in Actinolote. Joe Vinkle had quite a little menagerie in Actinolite at one time, and having lunch at Joe’s restaurant was a treat. I remember the fries and a shake along with the smell of the bears and some say Joe probably never gave those bears a a bath. I don’t doubt it for a second.

Jim Cassidy said that before the bears arrived they gave Joe a fawn that showed up at their home on the Zealand road. That apparently was the beginning of Joe’s mini-zoo. The deer’s name was Nancy who lived a long life, and always responded to her name when the Cassidy family visited. Joe also had a monkey when he owned the service station across the highway. Unfortunately he wasn’t Michael Jackson’s monkey Bubbles and he was deemed a “nasty boy” and bit people.

 

Buster or Bandy, the two caged bears who in the 1960s were the star attraction at the popular service station and restaurant on Highway 7 near Actinolite  called Price’s, or the Log Cabin. People loved to stop in and watch those bears. (Photo almost certainly by my grandfather, J.A.S. Keay)– From-Meanwhile, at the Manse

Jeremy Stinson said his grandparents lived in Norwoods and he remembers stopping at the Actinolite Junction on a trip up with his older brother, and the whole way up his sibling was talking about visiting the bears. But, they had been gone for some time. Maybe a year? This would have been in the early 1980s, but Jeremy had no idea what he had missed, but his brother seemed quite saddened by it.

 

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The bears loved their Coca Cola and ice cream and on their cage the sign actually said something like ‘our favourite foods are Coca-Cola and ice cream’. It was said that sometimes they would drink up to 30 bottles on a hot summer day. I remember them pacing back and forth in the cage and wondered what kind of an existence they had.

The family said they were “rescue bears” The bears were found as orphaned cubs and knew no other life and probably would have died had they not been given homes. So what happened to them? The bears lived into their 30’s and just passed away of old age. Teddy, the first of the bears died first. Of the two bears everyone loved, Buster died first and then Bandy  – missing Buster I guess.

The last few times I’ve had the occasion to drive past Kaladar I’ve wondered about those bears among other things that disappeared like The Mohawk Trading Post.  If only life had an ‘undo’ button sometimes.

 

 

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THE LOG CABIN WAS A BUSY SPOT AT THE TIME THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN AROUND 1950. WITH HIGHWAY 7 ESTABLISHED AS A MAJOR ROUTE CONNECTING TORONTO AND OTTAWA, CARS AND BUSES WOULD OFTEN PULL IN FOR FOOD AND GAS.  PHOTO COURTESY TWEED HERITAGE CENTRE/TWEED NEWS

 

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Lee Huddleston– There was another bear between Delta and Phillipsville. The owner apparently had come across the black bear cub and brought him to his farm. As the bear grew he was moved to a large cage. We rode our bikes as young lads to his cage. There was a drink machine where we would buy a pop and one for the bear. The owner would come out and stick the bottle of pop in the rungs of the steel cage….the bear gulping down the bottles of pop. Teeth were rotten and the smell I still remember. Big tourist attraction for that area early 1960’s….
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Nancy Clark
My sister in l in 1959 giving the bears a drink of Coke. Those poor bears….

 

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

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About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

2 responses »

  1. I am a little older than most of the folks who have commented about the Actinolite Bears. In the summer of 1936 and 1937 I lived with my grandparents- Joseph and Beatrice Yanch in the Stewart House in Flinton. The owner of the service station at Actinolite had a bear that we stopped in to see when we went into Tweed for shopping. However, the real adventure was when the bear owner took his bear on a tour around the countryside. You could buy bottles of pop or beer from him and hand them to the bear. For an extra fee he would allow people to have their picture taken handing the bottle to the bear or standing beside it while it guzzled the refreshment. I have an old photo of me standing beside the bear who was chained to the front bumper of the owners old truck. We were all standing in front of the Stewart House.

    Carl Yanch

    Like

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