The Rock Acres Peace Festival musical mystery is solved

Rock Acres Peace Festival poster

Thanks to reporter Brett Mann and the Central Hastings News (and Tweed‘s excellent By the Way Café, whose owner, Lisa Ford, owns the poster), the world can see this original poster advertising Queensborough’s Rock Acres Peace festival. Do you recognize any of the names of those early-70s bands? (Photo courtesy of Brett Mann/Central Hastings News)

I have good news for all of you who remember, or have an interest in, Queensborough‘s one and only (to date) rock festival, the August 1971 Rock Acres Peace Festival. I’ve written about that momentous event several times before (notably here, but if you click on the Rock Acres Peace Festival category that you’ll find on the right-hand side of the home page of this blog, you’ll find all the other posts as well). However, one very important bit of information about Rock Acres has – until now – remained elusive: what bands played at our rock festival? It seems like the music is one thing that people who remember the festival don’t really remember all that well. Until now, pretty much the best information I’d been able to come up with was that The Stampeders were among the headliners.

But that has all changed, thanks to an excellent article in this week’s Central Hastings News by Tweed-area reporter Brett Mann. Brett was on hand when I spoke as part of the Friends of the Tweed Library Writers’ Series early this month, and had asked me some questions about Rock Acres. He told me he’d heard mention of it, but had always thought it was more myth or legend than actual event; I was pleased to assure him (and others in the audience who were in Queensborough at the time happily backed me up) that the Rock Acres Peace Festival had most definitely, really, truly happened.

Well, Brett took that information and decided to do some digging of his own, and the result is the aforementioned article, which you can read right here. He’s found two people who were connected with the festival (an organizer and a chap hired on security), and they have some very interesting memories to share.

But for me, the absolute best part was the photo of the Rock Acres poster that accompanied the article. Because: not only is it a great artifact in and of itself, but it names the bands. People, at last we have a clue to the soundtrack of Rock Acres!

Now, I wonder whether all the bands listed on the poster actually appeared, and at this late date we may never know. But I have to assume that some, if not most, of them did, and so this is very excellent information.

Do you recognize any of the band names? Some are familiar to me: April Wine and The Stampeders, of course, but also Crowbar, Edward Bear, maybe Fludd, and maybe Creed. And I presume “Major Hooples” is Major Hoople’s Boarding House – not to be confused with the endlessly unfunny ancient comic strip of a similar name, or with the British band Mott the Hoople. But Allister? United Power? Piledriver? Spriggs and Bringle? I’m afraid you’d have to hum me a few more bars. Quite a few, in fact. Anyone else recognize these names?

But whether the bands are still familiar or lost to midcentury musical history, how utterly fantastic to have that list! Excellent investigative work, Brett!

12 thoughts on “The Rock Acres Peace Festival musical mystery is solved

  1. Well Katherine, you are a star. In the space of a few months you’ve brought back to life what was to many a distant memory. Cool enough the media clippings, the event tickets, the photos and first hand accounts. But now, the elusive list of artists! I gotta say, thanks so much.

    Of the artists listed, 19 or so of them are very familiar. Many of them were regulars on the Ontario circuit in the late 60s, early 70s. I saw many them many times. Of those 19, I’m hard pressed to recall with any amount of certainty who actually played at the Rock Acres Peace Festival. The Stampeders for sure. I’m pretty sure Crowbar, Syrinx, Mornington Drive, Edward Bear, Major Hoople’s Boarding House, Copper Penny, Tribe and Pile Driver did. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think Fludd made it, but 43 years later some things are fuzzy. As for the rest of them, someone with a better memory than mine will need to weigh in.

    Far out man.

    • Hey Bert, thanks for the nice compliment, and thanks even more for sharing your memories of what bands actually played at Rock Acres! But man, when you pointed out that it was 43 years ago, it gave me a start…

  2. interesting to note that Edward Bear’s road manager Bill Piton ended up years later living in Tweed.

  3. Just seeing this now… too cool. Two things: Street Noise a Kingston band that morphed into something else that still plays around here. I bought an amp from someone connected that had Street Noise spray painted on the bottom. Traynor amp. It was likely at the gig. Also, Katherine, remember that time you came to Kingston to see my shitty cover band play in Brandee’s? The guitar player in that band used to play in Mornington Drive, and claimed he played the Queensborough rock festival. I didn’t believe him because he had some issues with truth and reality… but it looks like he wasn’t totally making it up. Small world.

    • First thing, John: is there anyone you haven’t bought an amp from? But anyway, that’s cool about the still-extant Kingston connections to Rock Acres. I was so glad to get that list of bands, because ever since you asked about the music it’s been bugging me that no one knew. Now we do!

    • Oh my gracious, John! How incredibly exciting to hear from a musician who played at the Rock Acres Peace Festival – that’s a first! I would love to hear more about your memories of the event, and I know readers would too.

      • Spriggs and Bringle were Kingston folksingers Mark Haines and Colleen Peterson. Some of the other Kingston bands’ photos can be found on the Facebook page “Kingston – History of Bands”. (Bramble, Belbuekus, Streetnoise) Colleen went on to play with Sylvia Tyson, Cindy Church and Caitling Hanford in “Quartette”. Colleen passed away about a decade ago, a victim of cancer. Mark Haines is now based in P.E.I. The BDA agency was the Bernie Dobbin Agency. They booked bands into all the venues in Eastern Ontario. (bars, colleges and high schools) No DJ’s back then, even at high school dances, so there was lots of work for bands.

      • This is fantastic information, Doug – thank you so much! It makes me very nostalgic to think about those days when bands – real bands – could be booked at all kinds of things (including dances at my own high school, Centre Hastings Secondary in Madoc) and, as you say, actually had paid work to keep them going. It probably wasn’t easy for them most of the time, but there were gigs. And Colleen Peterson – she was so wonderful. I well remember her work with Sylvia Tyson and the rest of the Quartette gang. What a sad loss when she died so young.

  4. Hi Everyone, How great it is to read some of the accounts of the Rock Acres Peace Festival in 1971. The festival was hosted and held at my grandparents (Jim & Margaret Quinlin -both deceased) farm in Queensboro, Ont. The entire festival was organized by my two uncles, Leon Quinlin (deceased) and Jimmy Quinlin (deceased)
    I myself, was in attendace but was not permitted to wander around the farm during the festival as I was just a young child at the time. I did get to venture outside periodically with an adult just to witness the thousands of people that had gathered and some of the goings on.
    My dad (Stafford Quinlin) took part in the building of the stages as well as outdoor toilet facilities and other construction projects, and my mom, (Katherine Quinlin – deceased) was a money counter in the house. All money collected at the gate would be brought in every hour for her and my aunts to count in a locked room.
    It was a steady stream of people coming in the gate at all times as well as rock bands playing the entire weekend. It was wall to wall people! Most were calm and respectful, but there were a handful of idiots too. I remember a volkswagon beetle getting set on fire, and also a transport truck full of Bikers coming in without paying and raising hell.
    Overall it is a memory that I will have for life, and one that we often share laughs about with other family members.
    Although the original founders are all deceased, I will say that they certainly put Queensboro, and the Quinlin name on the map.
    In memory of Jim Quinlin Sr., Margaret Quinlin, Leon Quinlin and Jimmy Quinlin. What a memory you all have created, Love and miss you, xoxo

    • How absolutely wonderful to hear from you, Patricia! Thank you so much for sharing your first-hand memories of the Rock Acres Peace Festival. It seems like little by little, we are piecing together the history of that amazing event here at Meanwhile, at the Manse. Having a recollection from a member of the Quinlin family is fantastic! You are absolutely right that your family put Queensborough on the map for a lot of people; since I first began writing about Rock Acres here I’ve heard from several people who have very pleasant memories of attending the festival. What a grand time it was!

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