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History: Scouting and the Wooler School 1955 – 1979

1st Wooler Scouts, 1955
Back row, left to right:  Donald Smith, Michael Lloyd, Phillip Forsythe, Raymond Casselman, Laird Nelson, Bill Demille, Teddy Crews, Gary Radcliffe (behind) Gary Adams, Jack May, Ed Smith.  Front Row, left to right, Jerry Casselman, Jerry Anderson, Allan Thrower, Ralph Richards, Boyd Nelson, Peter Gabourie, Douglas Adams, Stephen May, and Ross Chambers.

1st Wooler Scouts 1955-1968 – Getting Started

Scouting started in Canada around 1908, inspired by Robert Baden-Powell’s work to encourage boys to learn outdoor skills such as tracking, wilderness navigation, hiking, and camping.  It offered adventures with knives, axes, tents, and canoes, and lots of fun around campfires for boys aged 8 to 19.  

Scouting began in nearby Brighton in 1910, and Presqu’ile Park near Brighton became a popular camping location for Scouting groups after the Ontario Department of Lands and Forests granted the Scouts their own campsite in the Park.[1]   In May 1958 groups from Brighton, Colborne, Frankford, Batawa, and Carrying Place formed the “Presqu’ile District Scout Committee,” to share resources and encourage inter-group activities such as annual camps for Cubs for Scouts.[2]  By the early 1960’s there were over 500 Cubs and Scouts registered in Presqu’ile District.[3]

Scouting in Ontario was given a boost in 1955 when Canada hosted the Eighth World Scout Jamboree in Niagara-on-the-lake, featuring 11,000 Scouts from 71 countries.  With a World Jamboree just hours away, it was probably not a coincidence that Jack May invited local parents to a public meeting at the Wooler Town Hall in the spring of 1955 to discuss the introduction of Scouting in Wooler.[1]

The official 1st Wooler Scout Group Charter recognizes that the group was formed on 14 April 1955, and lists the names of 35 Wolf Cub Pack members aged 8 to 12.[2]   

The first Cub Leader was Wallace Reid, supported by Mac Anderson, and James Scott.[3]  A condition of the Charter was that the community name “at least three representative citizens” to a “Group Committee” which would provide oversight for Scouting activities in accordance with the polices of The Boy Scouts Association. 

Scout Camp at Gazley’s May 22-24, 1966.


Much like any minor hockey association, the new 1st Wooler Group Committee was largely made up of parents who oversaw the operations of its Cub and Scout groups and raised funds to support their activities.   The Charter lists Hilliard Morrow as the Group Chair, Faeola Crosby as the Secretary, and Vaughn Adams as a member.[4]  A number of these first Wooler Cubs would go on to become Leaders and Group Committee members over the years such as, Earl Arthur, Doug Adams, Noble Crosby, Dale Mallory, and Laird Nelson.

The Wooler School quickly offered its second story classrooms to 1st Wooler for their meetings, recently vacated by students now attending the new East Northumberland Secondary School in Brighton.  The first meeting of the “Wooler Scouts and Cubs Women’s Auxiliary” was held on 3 March 1958, and was focused on attracting new members and raising funds for scouting activities.[5]

Group Committee Chairs during this early period were: Hilliard Morrow 1955-58; Harold Haggerty 1959-60; and Doug Dorland 1960; Ray Palmer 1961-63, Murray Thomlinson, 1964; and, John Robbins 1964-65.[6]  Members of the Group Committee at this time were Noble Crosby, John Korin, Lloyd Dorland, Wilbur McColl, Ada Dalmas, Pearly Smith, and, Jim Dorland.[7]  By early 1959 the Group Committee had raised enough money to buy camping equipment and pay for Scouting insurance.[8]  Success at fundraising kept costs down for boys and their families, with typical membership costing about 1 to 2 dollars per year.[9]

The Wooler Scout Hall –

Opportunities and Challenges 1968 -1979

In May 1967 the Committee voted to buy the School for a dollar from the School Board. The Wooler School was well known to the 1st Wooler community.  The Scouts met in the School for several years after 1955, as had the Group Committee.  It was decided that the two second floor classrooms would be painted by parents in September 1968 and used as the primary spaces for the Cubs (East) and Scouts (West), with the ability to close large pocket doors to separate the two rooms. The third story would be used for storage of dozens of the School’s old press-back style classroom chairs that could be retrieved when needed for meetings and public events.  

The Wooler School was ideally suited to be re-purposed as a Scout Hall.  Its large halls provided spaces for active games that would otherwise be held in a gym, such as ball hockey.  Large open spaces upstairs were ideal for drying and repairing tents and tarps and were used for extra-curricular activities that ranged from skateboarding to Frisbee games.  The old school ball diamond on the north-east corner of the property was frequently used by 1st Wooler and others in the community.

The 1970s was a successful decade for 1st Wooler.  District membership information shows an average annual 1st Wooler membership of about 50 leaders and boys for 1970-1979.  Group Committee information shows an average of about 35 leaders and boys as members each year during the 1960s.  Brownie and Guide membership remained steady over this time.

Pictured left to right: 1st Wooler Scouts leave on a 10 mile, 24 hour hike, May 21, 1972. Henry Poland, Harold Dalmas, Dan Radcliffe, Ray Pineo, Fred Powell.

Click here to read more about Scouting in Wooler from 1968-1979

Scout Christmas Party 1975- Back Row Left to Right:  Fred Powell (Scouter in Training), Glenn McColl, Bob Lawson, Terry Ohl, Tom Payne, Chris Rose, Vic Poland, Mike Smith (Scout Leader) Middle Row:  Al Hennessy, Dave Powell, Tracy Ohl, Terry Grummitt, Randy Ohl, Doug Payne, Don Pineo, Larry Payne
Front Row: Peter Fox, Tim Tunstead, Jim McColl, Steve Terry, Steve Trower.
Scouts before Fall Hike, November 4, 1972
Left to Right: Bob Lawson, Steve Fox, Jerry
Powell, Fred Poland.
Church Parade 1967
Fishing Contest Oct 11, 1969, Left to Right: Paul Turner, Grant Webb, Bobby Turner, Harold Dalmas, Ted Poland, Henry Poland
Paper Drive, April 8, 1967
The Rovers singing around the campfire,
Left to right: Mike Smith, Tony
Hoard, Grant Gazley, Dennis Turner
Tower at summer Scout training camp at Crowes, 1975
First hike, Venturer Company, November 17, 1972
Left to Right: Henry Poland, Dan Radcliffe, Fred Powell, Ray
Pineo, Harold Dalmas, unidentified scouts.


[1] “History and Formation of Presqu’ile District”, Wooler Group Committee Files.

[2] “History and Formation of Presqu’ile District”, Wooler Group Committee Files.

[3] GCM, 3 May 1962.

[1] Interview, Laird Nelson, 22 March 2022.

[2] Application for Scout Group Charter, Group 1 Wooler, The Boy Scouts Association, 2 Nov 1955.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Secretary’s Report, Wooler Scouts and Cubs Women’s Auxiliary, 3 March 1958.

[6] Group Committee Minutes, hereafter, GCM, 24 May 1958, 30 Oct 1959, 14 Jan 1960, 12 Mar 1961, 20 Jan 1964, 1 Feb 1965.

[7] GCM, various, 1958-1969.

[8] GCM, 16 Jan 1959.  

[9] Secretary’s Report, Wooler Scouts and Cubs Women’s Auxiliary, 16 Mar 1961.