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Remember This? Helen Hayes and the Bruce Mines Parade

That time the First Lady of American Theatre led the parade in Bruce Mines. 'This parade was the finest I have ever led,' she said
Helen Hayes, First Lady of American Theatre.

From the archives of the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library:

Born in Washington DC in 1900, Helen Hayes became known as the First Lady of American Theatre and had a career that spanned 82 years. She was a recipient of an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy, and a Tony award, making her an EGOT winner, among many other awards, so what is her connection to the town of Bruce Mines?

In August of 1951, Bruce Mines was celebrating its Third Annual Community Day Parade. As chance would have it, the famous actress was vacationing in the area of Bruce Mines, at the MacArthur summer residence at Kensington Point. 

The Kinsmen Club executives decided to ask her if she wanted to participate. In an interview with the Sault Star Miss Hayes said she was “Thrilled” to be leading the Community Day Parade. The Kinsmen Club hoped that such a high-profile guest would help boost the Community Hall funds. Miss Hayes was also tasked with drawing the grand prize ticket for a 1951 car. 

During the festivities, Mayor Albert Griggs (78 years old) who was the oldest town magistrate in Ontario extended an invitation to “visit Algoma as often as you wish”. 

The Community Day events included aquatic sports; and planes from Air-Dale Airways were at the Bruce Bay docks waiting to take visitors on airplane rides.  A country supper was set up and served at the Community Hall by Betty Phillips and the Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary from 5 – 7 p.m. 

The parade then kicked off at 7:30 p.m., with Helen Hayes leading the way with about 4,000 spectators cheering.  In the evening, beginning at 9 p.m., a community dance took place in the main auditorium of the Community Centre. Tony Dionisi’s Orchestra from Sault Ste. Marie provided the entertainment for the dance.

When asked about her participation in the parade Hayes said, “I shall always be indebted to Algoma. I always wanted to be in a parade, and I want to say that this parade is the finest I have ever led”. 

Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provide SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at and look for more "Remember This?" columns here.

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