THOUGHTS: Wintario had strong ties to Perth County

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Wintario was the first province-wide lottery game offered by the Ontario Lottery Corporation. From May 1975 it was designed by the government to raise money for worthy community projects. The first draw was held at the Ontario Science Center in Toronto on May 15, 1975. In October 1975, Wintario became a regularly televised event on Global, and was initially hosted by Fred Davis and Faye Dance.


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Towns, towns and villages across Ontario would apply to host the show. After all, who wouldn’t want free advertising? The community would create a video to promote themselves, their history and local sites. Often, entertainment by local talent would be included. Wintario grants have funded almost every recreation center, arena, theater, art gallery, museum or local non-profit group in Ontario. The draws would take place at theaters, high schools, recreation centers, arenas and other unique locations, such as a barn in Varna, or on the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry docked in Tobermory.

Wintario visited a number of communities in Perth County, starting with a visit to Stratford in January 1976. The Beacon Herald covered the event:

“For $ 1, it was a good deal. Most of the 2,000 spectators at last night’s Wintario draw at the Festival Theater found the show to be well worth the $ 1 entry. First up came the hour-long concert by The Peaches, a trio of young blonde sisters with songs that have something for everyone. Randy Lotz, 15, of 26 Dorland Dr., thought the Peaches were great.

“Initially we came tonight for the draw and because it was something new happening in Stratford,” he said. “We had never heard of The Peaches before, but we certainly have it now.

“Their Elvis Presley stuff was great. I love all their rock and roll … “

At the end of the concert, the audience wanted an encore but, with the draw scheduled live at 9pm, time was running out.

Everyone seemed to have at least one ticket and everyone had brought them in to check out while the winning numbers were read. More than half of the spectators stayed in their seats during the intermission, watching with interest the stage being prepared for the live broadcast. ‘


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In the photo, Dale Bast is seen pressing the activator button, held by Faye Dance.

Wintario would come to Stratford several times. In 1988 he visited twice, once broadcast from Central High School to kick off the city’s annual celebration of Shakespeare’s 424th birthday. The second time around, it aired from the Stratford Coliseum, where viewers were entertained by the Listowel District High School Choir. Additionally, in 1988 Wintario visited Shakespeare where it was broadcast from Shakespeare and District Optimist Hall. The Milverton Kinsmen managed to bring Wintario to their village in October 1984.

There were also a number of local winners from across the county. Many won the grand prize of $ 100,000, while many others won a bonus prize of $ 10,000. Counting only the articles that exist in the Stratford-Perth Archives Wintario newspaper clipping file, there were 10 winners of $ 100,000 in Stratford, with 11 other winners of $ 10,000. The title of a victory in 1985 read: “Pirate Company Finds Treasure: Will Share $ 100,000 in Loot.” “

The 44 members of the Penzance Pirates Stratford Festival production shared the prize, each winning $ 2,273. The $ 100,000 prize was also won in Listowel, St. Marys, Sebringville and Milverton. There could be more, but you would have to comb the newspapers to find out.

It is the local communities who have really benefited from Wintario. Grants are too numerous to list, but organizations large and small received a share. Looking at just one small example reported in the Beacon Herald during the lottery, we learn that $ 45,558 was given to recipients in Perth County in October 1976. The biggest grant went to the Stratford Lawn Bowling Club for the construction of its pavilion. . Elma Township received $ 10,000 to strengthen the Monkton Community Arena. The Mitchell Golf Club received $ 9,150 for its irrigation system. The Listowel Rifle and Revolver Club received $ 6,000 for the construction of a recreational shooting facility. The Kiwanis Club of Stratford received $ 4000 for Anne Hathaway Park. The Mitchell Public Library received $ 2,000 for the purchase of books. The St. Marys Minor Ball received money for the purchase of equipment, as did the Stratford Rotary-Y Hockey League. Stratford Minor Ball received a $ 1,000 grant for a video cassette player for coach and player development.


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Whatever the need, the money was granted, provided that the candidates could match the sum. It was a sad day in 1990 when the government chose to end Wintario and much needed and appreciated community support.

The Stratford-Perth Archives are once again open for in-person research by appointment. Phone and email service so you don’t have to travel is always an option. But, if you are ready, please contact us to make an appointment to use the collections or to meet with the archivist to discuss possible donations of archival material. We can be reached at 519-271-0531, ext. 259 or [email protected]



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About Marco C. Nichols

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