Massey Fair 2023 melds old with the new

magine what an agricultural fair looked like 116 years ago. Some traditions go back a long way, and Northern Ontario’s largest fair celebrating the harvest is not only continuing those decades-old traditions but adding modernized activities for every taste. What is it? The Massey Agricultural Society’s Annual Massey Agricultural Fair.
According to the Massey Area Museum archives, the local farming community saw a need to support good farming practices in a friendly, yet competitive environment and the first Massey Fall Fair was held in 1906 as a result.

Small at the time, it featured what was considered modern agricultural equipment, fresh produce, healthy animals, and a competitive spirit to win that “Best of Show” ribbon. That competitive spirit continues today with fair supporters from across the North gathering to compete in different classes in the Winifred Mooney Hall from quilts to sculpture, children’s art to premier artists, food stuffs such as veggies, jams, jellies and so much more. It is so fun to compete and bring home a ribbon to mark accomplishments. If you are crafty or a gardener, take a look at the entry book and hopefully, you make the decision to take part … it is an experience …

According to the archives, Winnifred (Winnie) Mooney (1966 – 1976) was a major contributor to education in the North Shore corridor. The history of the fair is very much wrapped up in this woman who contributed so much to the local area in so many ways. It reflects the hard work, vision and focus of the people of the area who have continued the traditions of the fair.

Ellen Mooney, her daughter provided a little of Winnie’s story before she came to the Espanola Public School, “Mom first came to Massey at 18 years old (as Winnifred Savauge) to teach in the one room schoolhouse (Mooney School). She boarded with the Mooney’s during her time there. She then went back to her hometown of Seaforth Ontario.

“She didn’t come back and marry dad until 18 years later. In that time mom taught for a bit and then went to Sweden to study weaving and art. She also studied weaving at Banff School of Art and went off to teach weaving at Banff for a while.
After coming back and marrying dad, she went on to teach at S. Geiger Public School in Massey after the schoolhouse closed. She went to Espanola Public school as a teacher but went to summer school for many summers to get her librarianship. In those days the library was highly valued in schools and when the school was expanding, mom submitted the design for the round library.”
The Massey and District Public Library was one of Winnie’s passions and she spearheaded the fundraising for their new building. 
In later life the one-room Mooney school house became home to Winnie’s loom, and she became a member of several weaving societies.

She was also the AB Ellis Public School’s librarian with a strong interest in all aspects of the arts.  During that time, she worked with various groups of children to create murals using a wide spectrum of materials.  These she entered with great success in the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.  The murals are prominently displayed on the walls of the school.  Always anxious to share her skills and enthusiasm, she published a book entitled “Mural Stories”.

Winnie joined the staff of the Espanola Public School in September of 1966 and in 1967 the school opened a new library in the basement of the original building and called it the Centennial Library.  Four years later, the library moved above ground to a purpose-built element of the 1971 extension.  This was the round library that Winnie had a strong hand in designing.

Today the Guild of Canadian Weavers offers a scholarship in her name and the Massey Agricultural Society also named the hall in her name to commemorate her contributions over the decades.

She would be proud!

Over the years, the Fair has grown to be the largest agricultural fair in Northern Ontario, with approximately 15,000 attending each year.

Join them August 25, 26, & 27 for family friendly fun. This year’s fair will feature Western and English Horse Shows, 4-H shows and displays, live entertainment, Kid Zone activities, motorsports, Heavy Horse Pulls, vendors, and midway rides.

They are also excited to offer several Grow Your Show activities including Grow a Chick, Let your Sunflowers Shine, and Zucchini Mania.

Want to know more, contact the fair at 705) 865-2070 or via email at:

Check out their page at:

This entry was posted in Local, News. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *