Highland Creek Heritage Festival history, written over time
by Highland Creek Heritage Festival Founder, Terry Woods; Former Chair for many years, Clancy Delbarre and David Adamson 2019 Chair
In early summer of 1986, a Village merchant, Terry Woods, suggested that a Festival could be held in Highland Creek similar to those held in other rural communities. He fought and worked to eventually gain the support of other merchants and the Highland Creek Village Business Association in co-organizing the event scheduled for September 20, 1986.
Terry Woods volunteered to chair and lead the project. He was joined by Tom Kreimes and Clancy Delbarre as the lead hands in the organization. Assistance was sought from Alderman John Mackie and Controller Ken Morrish who helped pave the way for obtaining permits from Police, Fire, Liquor Board, City, street closures, etc.The festival included a parade starting at Highland Creek Public School, a beer garden, and a street dance later that night in the Village.
The total revenue of the event was $6,487 and produced a surplus of $1,158 despite a loss of $1,400 on a T-Shirt promotion mostly offset by the beer garden net profit of $1,089. $158 were donated to the Red Cross and $1,000 retained as a reserve for the following year’s festival.Overall the event, day and evening, was enjoyed by the participants although the weather turned out quite chilly and It was decided that it should be repeated in 1987 but earlier in June instead of the Fall. Old English style lettering was adopted as the logo type face for the name of the Festival. Costs for that year were $4,737 and the excess revenue of $167 was donated to Centenary Hospital. Held again in June 1988 with 4 Parade bands participating:- the Legion, Salvation Army, Lady Godiva (UofT) and Royal Air Cadets #611.
The Highland Creek Community Association joined in organizing the event and members of that group have been involved ever since as has the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 258 .In 1989 the event was again switched to September 23rd. and the parade route was altered to start at the Legion lot. Starting in 1990 the event was scheduled for June and has remained in June (the third Saturday) of each year. In 1991, the Villager , the Highland Creek Community newspaper, became the major fundraising vehicle through an advertising sales program which continues to this date. The 1991 event was led by the Lions Club and the final surplus generated at that year end was $1,065.In 1996 a major program was undertaken to include a high profile band but rained out and the Lions Club who had sponsored the event suffered a significant financial loss. Georgie Murphy, owner of Albion Book, who had put in seed money was eventually partly repaid by proceeds of a garage sale of items donated from residents and Village businesses.
The following years “97. ‘98 and ‘99 were modest successes with the Centennial Community and Recreation Association joining in as one of the lead hosts along with the Highland Creek Community Association, the Highland Creek Village Business Association, and other community service clubs who provided financial and/or personnel assistance.In 1997 the parade started from Centennial Public School then switched to Oliver Mowat for the next two years. It was decided to undertake a major celebration for 2000 ( Scarborough East 2000 Festival) taking in all of Southeast Scarborough to be held in Adams Park with entertainment, beer garden, fireworks, carnival rides, etc. etc.
Professional fundraisers were engaged but proved unsuccessful and a preceding heavy rain left the site as a mud bowl. Over the years various supplementary events were undertaken; street dance,Sunday pancake breakfast, dinner dance, etc. but public participation was less than hoped for and most committee members who had worked long and hard on the main event were too exhausted to remain enthused.In 2001 and to date, the Festival has returned to its more modest roots with one day’s activities in the Village featuring four popular attractions; a crafters market, children’s entertainment area, beer garden and parade.In 2002, the parade route started at Centennial School (Lawson Rd and Centennial Rd.) and has been repeated every year since then. The Royal Canadian Legion Br. 258 on Lawson Road has over the years been of great assistance in carrying out the Festival in addition to participating in the parade.In 2002 the Highland Creek Heritage Festival was incorporated by Letters Patent issued on February 22, 2002. Costs of the festival in the past few years has varied from 10 to 15 thousand dollars.
Fast Forward a few years to 2014, to when The Heritage Festival partnered with the 100th Anniversary of Miller Lash House. A wonderful Heritage Celebration with games, activities vendors, BBQ. The day was sunny and warm.
The Festival has been a popular event with a history of large parade participants, banners hanging across the street at Morrish/Old Kingston Road, beer garden with tent and featuring a pancake breakfast on Father’s Day along with many children and adult activities. It indeed has a history for family and residents to get together, renew acquaintances have fun and to appreciate the community in which we reside.
Due to increase costs for such things as parade participants, permits, insurance, barricades, ‘red tape’ in installing banners, along with no longer getting a financial donation from the Plaza that was once received from Ken Morrish and family plus not knowing until the last moment if the Festival would have use of the parking lot in the Village. It became apparent with the newly elected Board of Directors that a new and proactive approach had to be taken if the Festival was to continue. The Board was supportive in continuing the tradition and the first item on the agenda was to develop a strong fundraising committee. Under the leadership of Bill Yarn, a Gala Dinner/Dance was arranged to take place at the Miller Lash House on May 25, 2019. The funds raised will go to support the Heritage Festival, Beautification of the Highland Creek and the Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans Care.
The next step to address was what could be done in reducing our costs and still maintain the integrity of a Heritage environment. Following discussion with the Board, it was determined that another location should be investigated that would present a cost saving and be community friendly. Following review and discussion with City officials, approval was received to use the Highland Creek Community Park on June 15, 2019 located on Ellesmere Road, east of Military Trail and West of Meadowvale Road. The Park is conveniently located, has a baseball diamond, well treed and grassed, is large and can easily accommodate more visitors, more children and adult activities, more vendors
and importantly at a significant cost saving.
In 2019 the Festival was a huge success with over 3300 in attendance. The entire park was filled with laughter and smiling faces, activities, rides, artisans and business' of all kinds. The Zoo experience was a huge hit and thankfully the sun shined all day!
Riding on the success of 2019, the 2020 Fundraiser Dance was sold out early, with a sure successful and well attended Festival to follow. DUe to cirucmstances beyond our control the DInner Dance was cancelled for 2020 along wtih our beloved festival. Looking forward to future years when we can gather again.
In 2022 we are bringing the Highland Creek Heritage Festival to life again, to be held on Saturday, June 18th, at The Highland Creek Community Park located at 3500 Ellesmere rd. We look forward to seeing our community gather once again after these years of isolation. Come out to celebrate with your friends families and neighbours!