The Springs Restaurant


Perennial Problems Detailed in Century-Old Paper

Posted on

Thank you Ian Gillespie for this article in the London Free Press.

What’s that old proverb? “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”

I’m reminded of that while standing beside a Springbank Dr. construction site and carefully turning the pages of a 100-year-old copy of The London Free Press.

Local entrepreneur Tim Owen is building a new restaurant – it’ll be called The Springs and is slated to open next spring – on the site of the former Kensal Park Baptist Church at 310 Springbank Dr., just east of Kensal Park elementary school.

Owen says he wanted to incorporate as much of the old church as he could into his new restaurant, but he discovered the church’s foundation was crumbling. Now, he’s levelled the church except for its front entrance, which he plans to use as the restaurant’s vestibule.

Last Friday, one of the workers excavating the site discovered a time capsule – a bottle encased in mortar in the northeast corner of the old church.

Inside the bottle, workers found two objects. One was a handwritten letter dated Oct. 31, 1910 stating the cornerstone “of this Baptist Mission was laid today” by W.R. Pincombe, architect William G. Murray and contractor Thomas Fortner.

The second object in the bottle (which was smashed to free its contents) was a 10-page morning edition of The London Free Press dated Oct. 31, 1910.

The items were discovered Oct. 29, 2010.

“It’s kind of surreal,” says Owen. “My wife got goosebumps when I told her.”

That eerie coincidence is certainly interesting, but even more intriguing, I think, are some of the contents of the newspaper.

The main local story, for instance, describes a controversy surrounding the local London Electric company.

Bearing the headline Lawsuit With London Electric? the story describes how the power company refused to co-operate with the city “and make its poles the proper height so the city department would have a proper clearance for its wires on certain streets.”

The story states that it was city council’s job to ensure such things, but “the council has not seen fit to do so, believing it was a matter for the water commissioners to deal with.”

Seems it’s not just modern-day readers who are upset with their power providers and councillors.

But while that item seems lifted from today’s headlines, there are others that jar our modern sensibilities.

There’s an ad for all-wool Panama cloth skirts at $2.85 each.

Somebody at the Canada Trust at 442 Richmond St. (telephone No. 471) wants some manure.

The “once despised” Toronto Argos beat Ottawa in a rugby match described as “a tough battle from gong to gong.”

And in a story from Liverpool headlined Women Drunks Menace To Race, Dr. James Johnson complains about the “growing intemperance among women” and states that “the schools of Switzerland and Austria are full . . . of half-witted children born after vintage festivals.”

Here’s one item you wouldn’t see today: On the Of Interest To Women page, a story describes a concoction designed to help women “get fleshy.” The treatment – which contains “bi-essence of pepsin” and “syrup of rhubarb” – will “round out scrawny figures, improve the bust . . . and put new colour into the cheeks and lips of anyone who is too thin and bloodless.”

I guess some things do change, after all.

This was posted in the London Free Press by Ian Gillespie is the Free Press city columnist.

To view the article in the London Free Press ‘Click Here’