This photograph of the St. Marys Marching Band on parade ca. 1963 provides a great view of Queen Street, particularly the businesses near the Water Street intersection.
The picture, from Bandmaster Andy Hoe’s collection of memorabilia at the St. Marys Museum, was taken by a photographer from the Stratford Bureau of the London Free Press. He must have balanced on the stone wall of the old Queen Street Bridge to get the height and angle of this shot. Looking up Queen Street to the east, a familiar landmark, the old water tower, is just visible on the horizon. In the foreground on the left, the Royal Edward Hotel advertises “Rooms & Meals.” Lai Yeun Restaurant, offering Canadian and Chinese food, is another dining option. Although cars line both sides of most of the street, the space directly in front of the Royal Edward is reserved as a bus stop.
The magnificent limestone commercial buildings on each corner of this intersection stand out, particularly the two on the south side of Queen. Crest Hardware is on the southwest corner with Jackson’s Pharmacy across Water on the southeast corner. Today, these buildings are home to M&M Variety and Coffee Culture. There are no stoplights at the intersection and large, overhanging, fluorescent light fixtures on ungainly, wooden poles are prominent features of this streetscape.
The warm clothing worn by some of the spectators and the leaves on the trees in the background indicate that the band is marching to the west ward for the annual Agricultural Fair, held in early October. The puddles on the street suggest typical fair weather: cool and wet. The band has fewer marchers than appear in some other pictures. The fair parade was at noon on a weekday. Although local students were traditionally given an afternoon off school so that they could attend the fair, not all adult band members could arrange time away from work for this occasion.
Some of Andy Hoe’s enhancements to the band during his 10-year leadership are evident, such as the colour party carrying the flags of the provinces. One of the two glockenspiels is visible behind the colour party. These instruments were necessary for the band to perform its signature tune: “The Bells of St. Marys.”