Queensborough, 1971: more scenes from our rock festival

Rock Acres Peace Festival, Queensborough

A second photo (I used the first in my initial Rock Acres Peace Festival post here) of Queensborough’s 1971 rock festival, taken by Don Weir and shared by him on the Facebook page Vintage Belleville, Trenton & Quinte Region. Peace, love, music, and great big sky, man!

I hope you folks enjoyed my recent post on the Rock Acres Peace Festival, the never-to-be-forgotten extravaganza that took place 42 years ago, in August 1971, on Quinlan Road just west of Queensborough. I suspect that my humble effort is now quite possibly the definitive record of that event on the internet. (Especially given that there was next to nothing on said internet on the topic before it.)

Anyway, since I put up that post, a few more images of the festival have crossed my radar, one thanks to the inestimable Facebook page Vintage Belleville, Trenton & Quinte Region, and three others thanks to the Hastings County Historical Society (an outfit that does a fabulous job of researching and preserving the county’s history) by way of my Queensborough friend (and fellow Queensborough history buff) Elaine. Those last three are all aerial shots, and are quite amazing. Here they are:

Rock Acres Peace Festival, Queensborough 1971, aerial shot 1

Rock Acres Peace Festival, Queensborough 1971, aerial shot 2

Rock Acres Peace Festival, Queensborough 1971, aerial shot 3

Wow – takes you back, does it not? Even if you weren’t there. Or for that matter, even if you weren’t even born yet. It certainly was a time.

And all I have to say after that is: do you have any photos, or memories, of the Rock Acres Peace Festival? If so, please share! Post your comments here, or send me your photos (to sedgwickbrassard@videotron.ca) and I’ll be thrilled to share them. Let’s pool our knowledge and memories and get the Rock Acres Peace Festival story down, oral histories and all. Posterity demands and deserves it!

14 thoughts on “Queensborough, 1971: more scenes from our rock festival

  1. Katherine, maybe it’s just the two of us struck by the total awesomeness of this event. Pics are amazing. The half-assed hillbilly woodstock wannabe rock festival! Look at those cars and tents!!! What were they thinking?!
    Somewhere those Quinlan boys are regaling their kids with stories of how they had a mini Woodstock, and their kids and grandkids are just blowing them off.
    “Son, once, the Stampeders played at our family farm…”

    • Thanks again, Dennis – yes, on doing some further research into your Rock Acres album, I saw that Barbara had taken the photos. How cool that you guys were both there, didn’t know each other at the time, and ended up together – and are still together! Am I going too far in calling it a happy hippie love story?

  2. Hi Katherine,

    Thank you very much for researching this.

    My family moved to the next house south of Quinlan Farm, at the end of Cromwell Road, in 1976, and while I had heard of this “mythical” concert that had occurred a few years previous, I had never found any evidence until now. I imagine there would have been quite a few folks “passing by” our quiet farmhouse that weekend.

    Wes Cromwell,
    Kingston NS

    • Hi Wes, and welcome! Apparently our paths just missed crossing each other in Queensborough, with my family moving away in 1975 and yours moving in in 1976. I’m so glad you found my Rock Acres post to fill in the gaps in the local legends you heard about that “mythical” weekend to remember. I’ll tell you what: if you had been there in August 1971 it would have seemed a lot more real (and loud) than mythical! And yes, you and your family would have seen a lot of long-haired kids in various states of being high on life passing by your farmhouse…

  3. I remember hearing about this festival when it was happening, I was just a ten year old kid from east of Tweed.
    In the early 80s I was working with and older Tweed guy that said he went to that rock festival just to see what it was all about,every one was saying what a bad thing it was.
    He said it was great because all the people where very nice to each other and that some girls offered him some water and then walked a quarter mile just to get it.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this memory, Lorne! You’re just about my age – and thus too young to have attended Rock Acres, though I was lucky enough to live in nearby Queensborough where we could dimly hear the music. I really like your long-ago co-worker’s story; quite a few people who’ve written in to Meanwhile, at the Manse with memories of Rock Acres have said that overall it was a happy, peaceful event, and this backs that up some more.

  4. I was there. About 6 of us from Pickering got a ride, hopped out and jumped the fences. We had a huge borrowed tent. The News crews kept filming and I was dodging the camera’s because I had told my parents I was at a friends cottage for 3 days, and was afraid my news watching mother would see me! I remember(which is amazing considering my hallucinogenic state for 3 days, sitting on the hill and watching the red lights around the stage..either ambulances or ice cream trucks? Music was great..I remember born to be wild playing..but who played it? I dunno..Steel River was AMAZING..that I remember. I also remember lying in the tent looking at the canvas patterns moving..that was a little scary. It was an incredible experience even though I think I ate a raw potato on the 3rd day because I was hungry, and I was washing with someones Noxema cream because I didn’t want to get in that water with all the people doing who knows what in there..you’d also see toilets just sitting in the field because the wood from the stalls were taken off to use as firewood..lol..was a long crazy wonderful 3 days.

    • Jackie, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story about being at Rock Acres. Wow! I’m kind of thinking, re the possibility of ice-cream trucks… I don’t think so. Funny idea, though! I am intrigued by your memory of Born to be Wild. Is there any chance Steppenwolf was there? Surely not. They were way too big. I would guess that another band decided to hitch onto the song’s popularity and cover it. I just love the details you’ve recalled, and the sense of happy abandon that your story conveys. Hey – did your parents ever find out?

      • lol no they never did find out. But you know I really wish we could find out if steppenwolf was there..because it sure sounded like them! You know, there were alot of great bands that played at my highschool like Steel River and April Wine..and let’s not forget the “Beggers Banquets” Parks all around Toronto one summer had great bands free you just sat on the lawn! Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull just to name a few..and FREE!!! I remember ALice Cooper throwing fruit from wooden crates out to the crowd..Sigh…those were the days:)

      • Those were the days, Jackie! It sounds like you had an amazing 1960s/70s Toronto young adulthood, and as someone who was just a tiny bit too young to experience that, I am deeply envious. April Wine at a high-school dance – wow! If it turns out that Steppenwolf – Steppenwolf! – was at the Rock Acres Peace Festival in tiny Queensborough, I will be thrilled beyond belief. The research continues… Please let me know if you come upon any clues!

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