Kathryn's blog

Barn Dances, Square Dances, and Dance Halls

It wasn't too long ago that prime entertainment on a Saturday evening was taking a twirl around the dance floor. Stories of square dances, dance halls and the antics that followed are always popular. Do these stories bring out some memories for you?
My mother (former Innisfil girl Gladys Spring Fralick Hepburn) just turned 96 on Saturday Feb 13th. She still enjoys playing bid euchre and scrabble, as well as solving jigsaw puzzles. During a recent visit with Ross Wallace at Lakeside Retirement, he shared with me the fact that he credits my mother with teaching him how to barn dance at a Valentine's Day party at SS#11, Craigvale School in the 1930's. Now 86 himself, Ross dancing with my mother presents quite a vivid mental picture for me!


-Donna Fralick Wice
black and white photo of couples dancing
Square dancing in the 1950s
You can find more stories of dancing, frolicking and fun-having in Innisfil if you look hard enough. Does anyone remember Peggy's Dance Hall (Parson's Dance Hall)? What about dancing at Tent City? Or in Cookstown? Some of the videos here talk about these great dancing landmarks of Innisfil, and there are some fabulous stories highlighted in the Innisfil Historical Society's publication of Skunks and Scholars. Here's a great passage that can be found on page 62.


"I remember getting up on my first square dance at the age of fourteen. Two or three of we young bucks that chummed together asked our favourite girl friends to dance and we formed a set. Well, it didn't take is long to find out that the good looking girls we skated with, and played games with at church young people's, were fine for that but when Mullholland's orchestra started sawing off the Old Irish Washer Woman and Charlie Sproule started to call the square dance, they didn't know beans about how to dance and we knew less. So after going in circles and getting in the way of other sets, we sneaked off the floor to watch how it was done.


My chum and I didn't take too long to figure it out. The next dance we excused ourselves from the cute young girls and went and asked a couple of married ladies if they cared to dance. They were a little surprised, but as their husbands were at the back of the hall talking, they said sure and we went into a set with people old enough to be my parents. But by gosh they sure knew how to square dance and although we weren't quite sure what was going on most of the time, we weren't long in learning how to doo-see-doo, dip and dive, grand change, and swing. Most of these ladies were a mite large to get your arms around to swing. We sure enjoyed the fun and it didn't take long to learn how to square dance, schottische, waltz and two-step."


- Bill Wright, Stroud


dance hall dancing with fiddler