Lambton Heritage Museum
Grand Bend, Ontario

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Grand Bend - Our Stories, Our Voice

 

 

THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAYED

Grand Bend had its own Grey Cup team 85 years ago. In those days, it would not have been necessary to huddle around the box with a beer in one hand and something fattening in the other. You could just put your coat on and go down to one of the local football fields situated either where the Grand Bend United Church stands or else on a field close to the local cemetery.

Although the football team did not then consider helmets and shoulder pads necessary, the players did have uniforms much like the ones the Edmonton Eskimos sport, and they were a mighty handsome lot as they sprawled on the grass to have their picture taken.

"When he was 92 Emery Desjardine was able to identify only six of the players because he was only eight at that time. They all bore original Grand Bend names: Tom Webb, Cyrus Green, Joe Oliver, Bill Oliver, Fred Stebbins, Eddie Desjardine. "Of course, football was not their full-time occupation. Rather, it was recreation after a busy day of barn-raising. Elmer Webb told me the rules of that game. Two teams raced to see which side could complete its half of the barn first. The winners chose a team for football and challenged the rest to a game. Jackie Parker, please note."

"If you would rather go to the sulky races, you could wander down to the raceway where the Green Forest Motel stood and pay to watch the horses. It might be tricky viewing the whole field (they raced through the woods) but the added challenge of avoiding trees at full speed must have added to the excitement."

"Another pastime which compares favourably to the Indianapolis 500 was the Ford Model T race to the Lake. Starting at the Brenner House (now Colonial Hotel), each driver revved to top speed to see how close he could come to the lake before bogging down in the sand. Elmer Webb says that Joe Brenner usually won, once getting within 15 feet of Lake Huron before he was stopped. A team of horses was on hand to pull the cars out.

 

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