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.
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.
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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