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Richard J. Thomas
Richard J. Thomas




What do the creator of little theatre in Canada, a famous gunsmith, Academy Award winning actor and the founder of the first hospital in China to train women have in common? They are all from Owen Sound, and here I tell their stories in a series of biographical essays accompanied by photos. Did you know that one of the first automobiles in Canada was built in Owen Sound? Or that an Owen Sounder was the first woman nominated to be Moderator of the United Church of Canada? 

Read about them all in THE OWEN SOUNDERS: Profiles of People Who Made a Difference.


Saints & Sinners

The Story of Owen Sound: Canada's Last Dry City


Owen Sound was the heart and soul of the prohibition movement in Canada. The ferment against alcoholic beverages in The Corkscrew Town began in 1874, with the formation of the first Canadian chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. In 1906, Owen Sound voted in local option and became known as Dry Gulch, a condition that would last for 66 years. As you will read the new history book from Richard Thomas,  Saints and Sinners, there were numerous booze referendums until a vote in the early 1960s finally allowed both the LCBO and Brewers’ Retail to open in the downtown core. It took until 1972 for the long drought to completely end, when Owen Sounders voted to approve liquor sales in bars and restaurants.


Over the years, bootleggers and moonshiners quietly supported those voting against legalizing alcohol because it was good for business. Drinkers continued to drink, law or no law, and an entire industry sprang up around making sure there was never a dry throat in Owen Sound. Churchgoers and other friends of sobriety rallied against the demon drink, saying it caused orphaned children and joblessness. The "wets" and the "drys" divided the community into saints and sinners.

With a remarkable selection of early newspaper clippings, personal interviews and research, Saints & Sinners describes a century of tension around alcohol and its effects in Owen Sound. A bibliography of resources is also included, along with a listing of contemporary wineries and breweries in the area. Enjoy this significant coming-of-age story of Owen Sound.

The Port of Owen Sound: 1840-1912


Located at the mouth of the Sydenham River and surrounded by the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, Owen Sound has a signifcant history as one of the busiest ports in Canada. The Port of Owen Sound: 1840 - 1912 tells the story of this remarkable community, from the handshake that created it, to its emergence as the gateway to the settlement of western Canada. With proles of many of the community builders and illustrated with many rare historic photographs, The Port of Owen Sound provides readers with an entertaining glimpse into the history of ‘Corkscrew Town’.

The Motorists' Shortcut: 100 years of the Owen Sound Transportation Company
ISBN: 978-1-897502-36-5
Author Richard Thomas draws from his huge personal collection of heritage photographs, audio records and video documents as well as contemporary images and memories to tell the story of one of Canada's significant companies, The Owen Sound Transportation Company. The story is rooted in the rock-solid narrative of the pioneer settlements around Georgian Bay. Thomas traces the story through to the present configuration of a modern and valuable corporation serving the tourist, agricultural and commercial foundations of the region. 
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