Peeking into Alvinston’s past


People in Alvinston will be taking a trip back in time next Thursday as a long, lost movie about the community is screened.

Dana Thorne of the Lambton County Archives has set up a movie night at the Alvinston Library Jan. 29 to show two movies about Alvinston. And one of those movies is a rare gem.

Thorne says over a two-year timeframe a minister by the name of Rev. Roy Massecar traveled all around southwestern Ontario filming communities creating movies about the small towns.

“He was doing it as a fundraiser to supplement his small church stipend,” she says adding he would then return to the town to screen the film. “People would pay a small admission price and watch themselves on the silver screen,” says Thorne.

Roy Massecar was prolific producing the “Stars of the Town” movies – filming and screening 88 of them in two years – including Alvinston.

Thorne says the archives at Western University have many of the films but the one shot in Alvinston was not there. Alvinston resident Ruth Leitch had a copy which eventually made its way to the Lambton County Archives,

Leitch, who was a reporter with the Glencoe-Alvinston Transcript Free Press for 36 years was given the 8 mm film by the owner of the paper. “I know most of the people who were in it – it’s only just a few that are in it that are missing.

Western Archives website bills the 8 mm films as “the home movies of southwestern Ontario communities – communities whose day-to-day patterns of life in the late 1940s might otherwise be lost to history.”

“It’s a silent film, with no voiceover or anything,” says Thorne. “It’s obviously in black and white and it’s a lot of people downtown walking into shops and zooming into a lot of faces,” she says. “Sometimes you see horses going up and down the street.”

Thorne says it paints a picture of a bustling Alvinston.

Residents will be able to compare the 1940s film with one from the 80s or 90s, which will also be shown on the 29th.

Thorne is hopeful people will come out and enjoy the history but also possibly recognize some of the people in the film so it can become part of the community’s historic documents.

And she says the movie night is a good opportunity to show what can be found at the Lambton County Archives.

“A lot of people don’t even realize that this type of material is available,” she says. “If you ask people what does the archive had they’d likely say papers and books.

“This is a chance to show we have lots of interesting things including video – that it’s something more than paper or books.”

Leitch expects many people will come to the 7 pm show Jan.29 showing because “they would like to see what Alvinston was and dream a little bit of what it could be and will be again some day, I think.”


  1. Always enjoyed visiting Alvinston to see my Aunt Ioleen & Uncle Chuck Redick who owned the 3 Maples, my cousins, and their families. Aunt Ioleen was such a fun loving gal, and the Redick clan all worked hard to put on a mock wedding at the arena complex for my parents, Leone & Wes McMahen’s 50th Anniversary. They even surprised them with their brother Lorne Vokes, from Wisconsin, and the kids of all ages participating – even replicating the Sarnia Garrison Band my Dad played in 50 years earlier. Also remember having a tour with all the family on a wagon through the streets of Alvinston, and picnics with Doug & Pat, Bob & Anne, Bill & Diane Redick & Nina & Don Sutherlands. Enjoyed visiting Munro honey, and even had great fish & chips with Aunt Ioleen & my parents at the little restaurant in Alvinston. I have many happy memories of Alvinston!

  2. Grew up in Alvinston lived there for the first 18 years of my life. I would love to see these but am unable to attend the veiwing on the 29th. How else can i veiw these??

  3. Lived for enough years in that wee town to change my lifes path on a few occasions due to the people that became friends. Please put it on You Tube for us people that now are thousands of miles away. RMPM

  4. I also spent the first 18 years of my life in my home town Alvinston, it was a nice small town to grow up in and I always tell most people I meet where I am from which I am very proud of, quite a lot of the character I have today I learned growing up there. Lots of those young experiences of the time and the many visits since always make me smile with the great memories I have… You can take the boy out of Alvinston but not the Alvinston out of the boy!!! I would also like to see the movies on You Tube so I can watch them here in Vancouver where I have spent most of my life between travels to other parts of Canada and the world… Thank you Alvinston(aka The Big Apple)

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