Stephen Vance, Editor
Former Meaford Mayor Gordon Crapper passed away on Saturday, August 20, just a few weeks after he reached his 90th birthday.
Gordon Crapper served this community as mayor for 12 years from 1979 to 1991 – well before I moved to Meaford. I didn’t know Gord well, and if not for this newspaper, I quite possibly would never have known Gord at all, but he became quite a supportive fan of this newspaper, and, knowing that like him, I have a great interest in small town history and in old small town photos, he would pop into our office every now and then with an old photo of Meaford’s past.
“Do you know where this is?” Gord would ask me with a hint of a mischievous smile on his face, knowing that he would likely stump me. One of those photos, the last one he brought to our office, sits on my desk right now. It is a very old black and white photograph of what is now known as Fred Raper Park – and yes, he did stump me, as I have stumped everyone I have shown the photograph to.
The Gord I knew loved to reminisce about the past, and he was a pretty good storyteller. I have a fond memory of sitting in his modest living room overlooking the bay for several hours a few years back as he told some ghost stories about various buildings in Meaford, including Meaford Hall, where the mayor’s office was located during Gord’s time as mayor. To this day, every time I enter Meaford Hall, I think of Gord, I look up to the balcony to see if I can see anything mysterious, and I listen for sounds that shouldn’t be there.
In the seven or eight years that I knew Gord Crapper, I was struck by more than his storytelling and the wealth of local history stored in his brain. I was also struck by the fact that though he was in the nasty business of small town politics for a dozen years, I had never heard anyone say anything bad about the man. No doubt he would have had his opponents and detractors while serving as mayor of the old Town of Meaford, but he seemed to have survived his time at the helm of Meaford quite well, given the many kind things I’ve heard people say about him all these years later.
I’ve heard long-time locals tell me that the beautiful harbour in this town might not be what it is today if not for the efforts of Gord and the council at the time, who acquired the property along the harbour area from rail companies and turned a run-down industrial area into parkland for all to enjoy.
If there’s ever a park named after Gord, I hope it will be in the harbour area in recognition of that part of his legacy.
While there will be much written this week about Gord’s time as Meaford’s longest serving mayor, that was just 12 years of a 90 year life, and Gord always had some interesting stories to tell.
He also shared with me many fun stories about the old Paul’s Hotel, which was owned by his father and was managed by Gord in the 1950s until it burned down in 1960. One time, as we sat on a bench together outside Meaford Hall, he told me about some of the characters that would frequent that establishment, and he laughed as he told me about the ‘pop machine’ that wasn’t a pop machine at all in a dry town.
I will miss those surprise visits to my office, I will miss those stories and old photos, and I will miss that mischievous smile.
To Gord’s family I extend my condolences. My time around Gord was extremely brief, but it is treasured. From the limited time I was able to spend in his presence, I know this – Gord loved his family, he loved history, he loved telling stories of days gone by, and he sure did love this community.
So long Gord, it truly was a pleasure knowing you.