COVID-19 updates
Ask Nereda First
South Grey News — job ad rates


The top hat - an artifact at South Grey Museum

Charlie lever in hat and tux

BY ROBERT IANTORNO — This well worn top hat is made from brushed beaver fur, and is a model known as “The New Ventilator”. It’s from the late 1800’s, and was a real affirmation of social status back in its day. The hat belonged to Charlie Lever (pictured below) who wore it often. It was donated to South Grey Museum by his sister, Donna. To learn more about what kind of fellow would wear such a hat, I took a walk around Flesherton and asked a few locals.

A photo of Charlie Lever wearing the top hat with tux.


Everyone I asked about Charlie immediately smiled, recalling a loveable curmudgeon, and a fixture in the community. It seems that Charlie was a bit of a character (no surprise — the dude wore a freaking top hat!), known for his candor and colourful language. As Shawn put it, chuckling, “Oh Charlie would do anything for anybody — as long as they didn’t piss him off!”

Charlie drove around in an old truck collecting scrap, and seldom billed people for his trash collection services. On the side of Charlie’s truck was painted, “Satisfaction guaranteed or double your garbage refunded.” As a service to his neighbours, Charlie carried the keys to most of the houses in town on a huge keyring so that he could let himself in.

Terry, recalled that Charlie was “Mayor of Frontier Village” — a place that he helped build and which he enjoyed immensely. That’s where the top hat likely came from, and it was worn with a red sash and a tux with tails!

This hat is an artifact -a reminder of a lovable eccentric who was unashamedly himself, and remembered fondly for it.

Hats off to you, Charlie.

Robert Iantorno is the Curator of South Grey Museum, located in Flesherton.


At South Grey News, we endeavour to bring you truthful up-to-date local community news in a quick and easy-to-digest format that’s free of political bias. We believe this service is more important today than ever before, as social media has given rise to misinformation, largely unchecked by big corporations who put profits ahead of their responsibilities.

South Grey News does not have the resources of a big corporation. We are a small, locally owned-and-operated organization. Research, analysis and physical attendance at public meetings and community events requires considerable effort. But contributions from readers and advertisers, however big or small, go a long way to helping us deliver positive, open and honest journalism for this community.

Please consider supporting South Grey News with a modest donation and let us know that our efforts are appreciated. Thank you.

Subscribe for FREE to get the latest local news delivered to your email box.


South Grey News Comment Policy: 

Comments must be appropriate, respectful and related to the article. 

We reserve the right to edit, delete or not post any comment that we deem to be unsuitable. 

Updated March 12, 2020.

Your comments

your neighbourhood logo
South Grey News video sponsor
The Food Map
South Grey News Subscribe
ColourPix Tower Ad
Explore Grey Highlands
Matt Webb ad
Flato - Edgewood Suites
Bernards Ad July 31
SGN Thank you essential workers
Grey Bruce Animal Shelter
Shop Local
Forests Ontario
Book this ad for only $59 per week
Submit your stories 2019
Eugenia History Book
Barn Book--
Durham RBC - Kimberly Tone