Ron Burns

75 Wellington Street


My name is Ron Burns, I grew up at 75 Wellington Street around 1940. The River was a big attraction for us, both winter and summer. The summertime was a time that we were on the River all the time. And we ended up finding these, these islands. And it had like uh, the way the River flowed it came around and left a sandy beach, which we then called Bare Bum Beach. We weren’t the only ones that swam there, we’d get there and there’d maybe be two or three others. We were all friendly and, and we would swim in there. The River in those days was pretty clear. You know, you could see stones and everything, it was quite clear around the bottom.

But then again, when the wintertime came along, and the River had frozen over, we would get on the ice floes in behind the Victoria Hospital. And the ice floes were pretty big chunks of ice—they’d be probably 10 by 12 or somewhere around that size. And we would ride those ice floes down the river, underneath the Wellington Street Bridge and down through as far as the first really main bend in the River before it turned to head north. And we’d get off on that bend in the River, which was right behind the houses on Grand Ave., and we’d get off those ice floes and run up the banks and would run back down Grand Ave. until we got back to the Wellington Street Bridge and watch the firemen on their boats probably looking for us. But I understand later, at some point, a couple of boys were riding ice floes and didn’t get off and went over the dam and lost their lives. They went to Simcoe Street School like I did.

So, the River was a big attraction year-round for us.