Musical memories at pep rally for Mulmur

May 5, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Locals who remembered the musical glory days of Rock Hill Park gathered to exchange memories and stories last Saturday, April 16th, as they listened to musical performers and enjoyed a free barbecue outside at Dufferin County Museum and Archives.

Rock Hill Park and camp grounds, located on County Road 17 between Masonville and Mansfield, was the inspiration behind a national nomination as one of five finalists in the Air Miles Detour competition that would bring Grammy award winner Meghan Trainor to Mulmur for a live concert should the township win.

“The Township is excited to be chosen for this opportunity,” said Mulmur Deputy Mayor Heather Hayes, who was at the pep rally along with Mayor Paul Mills. “Mulmur’s history includes music in many forms, from concerts to local jams in community halls. Our Township is now home to many musicians who have found a quiet home in the magnificent hills of Mulmur.”

Rock Hill Park was owned and operated by Elwood Hill, father of Mavis Wilson, former Liberal MPP for Dufferin-Peel (as it then was). Promotions Coordinator for the Museum, Nanci Malek says the concerts “started at Rock Hill Park during the 1950s when country music acts came to entertain the camping crowds. During the ’60s we started seeing more folk and rock-style acts, and by the 1970’s big time artists like Willie Nelson, Barbara Mandrell, Lighthouse, the Guess Who, Wolfman Jack, Crowbar, Chilliwack, Edward Bear and many more Canadian and U.S. bands, headlined the Rock Hill festivals.”

“Former Mayor of Melancthon and Warden of Dufferin County Bill Hill drove down from Orillia to support Mulmur with his family. Apparently, Mr. Hill had more than a little fun ‘back in the day’ at Rock Hill Park, finding a way to satisfy his youthful curiosity and get close to the star performers while playing the role of “security guard” – even finding his way onto Willie Nelson’s bus with the band.

Real-estate dealer Ginny MacEachern recalled picking up singer Freddy Fender at Pearson Airport in her station wagon, along with Mavis Wilson, and the thrill of meeting the celebrity.

She described the island in the middle of the pond where performers played by the light of the stars as “a fabulous setting.” She said, “Elwood Wilson’s ideas were ahead of his time.”

Elizabeth Weatherall remembers, that well before the big performers, the park held talent shows in a building on top of the hill on Sundays. Local performers such as Gord Henry, Joe Firth and The Promised Land, Grant Middaugh, and her brother Glenn Gall were a few of many who competed for prizes. Karren Wallace has many fond memories of her Dad playing with the Pine Ridge Ranch Boys there and area musician Alex Alcorn says he did not see Willie Nelson, but remembers hearing him from the Honeywood arena.

It was the incredible acoustics of nature and the rambunctious nature of teenagers that became a problem for neighbours, and eventually the music stopped at Rock Hill Park in the 1980’s, but not before Willie Nelson drew 80,000 listeners to the park.

Beginning on April 12th, Air Miles collectors can visit and register for the town they want to win. After registering, Dillon Crosby says “every mile received during the month of May, will become an additional vote for the town.” Primary partner locations in the area include: Shell Stations, Foodland, LCBO, Best Western, Metro, and Rexall Pharmacy. Once the winning town is announced, they will be awarded with a special VIP concert, by a Grammy winning artist – in their town. Vote at Vote for Mulmur at

Written by Marni Walsh

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