Sunday, July 2, 2017

Broad Perspectives......Then's, Now's and More History From Our Home Towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario....

Top photo #24 -?, #88 Albert Massaro, #87 Tony Massaro, #10 Don Marsh.......

We love to confront our broad perspective on history by seeing what was and of course what is now.  As historians we enjoy placing pictures over pictures to visualize how it was.  This one of the CLE Coliseum building taken in about 1957 is a perfect example along side the same Coliseum building we can still see on a daily basis if you're so can actually go and stand on the same spot today where Albert Massaro's #88 car was.
Double click on
photos to enlarge.

The next photo is a little different....It is John Panvica driving the #83 1952 John wanted this pretty ugly car mainly because it had a V8 engine 3 years before General Motors started putting them in their 1955 Chevys.
John didn't care what his car looked like.  It was still faster than your typical flathead Ford and faster also because the Studebaker was only one year old.  John had purchased a wrecked newer car and did do pretty well that year, and oh, you can see the Coliseum building behind the fence too.  How his car might have once the nice new 1952 Studebaker 4 door sedan below.

The program line-up for 1953 below shows a picture of John and also shows him listed in the roster squared in blue.
A note here is that Jessiman Motors at that time was located on the South/West corner of May and Bethune Street where the new Tim Horton's is today.  Many of you will well remember the names on this stock car jockeys list from 1953.
This is what the SW corner of May & Bethune looked like before the new Tim's was built.....Jessiman Motors was right on this spot.    

Just as all those CLE racers did, many of us young racing enthusiasts had to find some great race car  material when we dug in our heels at Riverview Raceways.  Mind you, the old jalopies at the CLE could very well have been some very cool hot rods today.  Now all these years later we realized that we destroyed some pretty cool cars too.  The nice Teal car top left is a 1956 Pontiac 2-door sedan....the race car of the same vintage is my own that I raced at Riverview in 1968.  I had actually destroyed 4 old Pontiacs, 2 1955's and 2 1956's in total until I retired from racing.  The bottom photo in the left group photo is the location the race car picture was taken, near the corner of Brock and Frederica Street where I lived at the time.
The top of the two photo collage on the right is an advertisement for Bear Safety Service located at 519 E. Brock St.  Sam and Aldo were incredible front end men, and I brought many a vehicle there for a flawless front end alignment.  The building still exists today and near the top left of the bottom photo you can make out a bit of the original sign down at the southern end of Syndicate Ave.

Here's a nice photo of the Uncle Franks's Supper Club sign just before the building and sign were being readied for a total makeover.  My friend and HR&J proof reader Al Yahn and I decided that we should take a picture of our cars in front of the sign before it was gone forever....we're so glad we did.

 Uncle Franks was a pillar of the community for many years, and it was very nice to see someone purchase the old building and re-purpose it as another already well known eating establishment, known as Beaux Daddy's Grill House.
It's nice to see that the building was saved from the wrecking ball.
Kudos to Beaux Daddy's.....

Red Top Cabs was located on the north/east corner of Leith and Simpson Street as noted on the business card in the following collage.  I've had the metal flake decal from quite some time...and can't remember where it came from or actually how old it is.  It is quite large and likely would have been used on the doors of the cabs.

The following group of photos are such a part of my younger years.  We lived on Arthur St., about half a block east of Vicker's Park.  The CNR steam trains would go right down Arthur St. from a spur off the main line, and right past the house where I lived, then make a slow turn to the north starting at Marks St. towards the CNR station just before the Fort William Gardens....heading right down Vicker's St and re-joining the main line at the northern end.  The picture is taken just east of Marks St......the little grain elevator in the background is a Davidson Elevator (There were a few small Davidson's around the Lakehead including one on Hardisty St. which is now Boles Feed).  To put this all in perspective the photo below shows Arthur Square on the corner of  Marks and Arthur St. which is the exact location of the little Davidson Elevator.....there were many other small businesses in the area as well.

Continuing on with my neighborhood, I was quite a Roy Rogers fanatic as you can see.  At this young age and as I stood in the back yard of our brand new house on Arthur St. there was nothing to be seen between Franklin and Selkirk....everyone was just starting to do their landscaping, garage building etc.

Here is our house, how it looked in about kid sister is leaning out the window as I stood on the train tracks across the street and took this picture.  Try to stand on Arthur St. on this spot today and you'd be run over.  My dad's mint refurbished wreck 1952 Chevrolet midnight blue, parked in front of our home.  If you go by there today, nothing much of the house has changed.

In the last two pictures taken from our doorstep facing north, you can see the train tracks across the street as well as a good view of the south side of St. Joseph's Boarding School as it was called then.  In the distance in the black and white photo to the right was St. Patrick's high school where I went for 3 more years after Selkirk High and where I met my future wife.
With my dad being the body shop manager of Kam Motors, he was able to fix a few wrecks for himself, but the '57 and '58 Chevrolet's you see below were actually company cars....the managers would get a new car to drive in the day...soon to end when the 1960's came along.  Oh, by the way, that's my little sister Daryle sitting on the hood of the '57.....she wasn't quite 5 years old.

Hope you enjoyed this new post....

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Fort William Times Journal.....and we deliver,,,

Read the Daily Times-Journal, Fort William, Ontario.  This is an old sign I was very fortunate to photograph lately as I had never seen one of these before....believing its from around 1950. 
The Daily Times-Journal was created in 1899 when the Fort William Journal merged with the Fort William Times.  In 1902 the Daily Times-Journal became the second newspaper in Canada to adopt a weekly payment plan for paper carriers, and I was one of them but not until 1955.

This 1953 Times-Journal coverage of local Stock Car Racing in the day was phenomenal as each story was published like a mini-novel with photos included.  Ross "Pappy" Fowler was a fan favourite of the day and the fact that the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition grandstand could hold over 5000 spectators.  Both of these photos advertised the above two important advertising components needed for the CLE to keep local racing rolling along for 13 more years after this coverage.  Be sure to click on all photos and clippings once or twice to read.

 In 1963, the Daily Times-Journal covered one of the most momentous stories of our time.....The Assassination of President Kennedy to the finest detail.

......and of course we delivered these newspapers either as a newsie on the street corner or door to door.  In 1955, if you nailed a newspaper route your were known as a very tough had to ride your old CCM down to the Times Journal building here in Fort William to pick up your papers....they didn't deliver them to your doorstep as they do now, and you had to fight off the tougher kids to find your place in line.  Once you got your papers, you'd have to load them into your bicycle as shown below without it falling over, then off to your route which could be quite a distance from downtown....then fold them all (a very special way so they wouldn't come apart on a toss)...then deliver them.  You would then try to collect your money from your customers weekly who invariably would likely not pay for weeks or maybe not at all.  It was a tough job, but a pretty good job for a kid.  You learned responsibility and entrepreneurship to maybe start a business of your own one day.  The CCM with a large carrier was the bicycle of choice of the time here in Canada anyway.

 In this picture the paper boy would get a kick in the butt from a customer because he folded the paper wrong and it would come apart on a toss.


 CCM was the bicycle of choice in Canada, and the Daily Times Journal in Fort William was my employer..........
My actual paper bag...still have it.

The Times Journal building on May Street in Fort William still exists, but it has changed a ton over time from a beautiful structure in the 1920's to a fairly modern uninteresting building, however they still circulated and shared world and local news for many years until the amalgamation of Fort William and Port Arthur into Thunder Bay in 1970.  The new newspaper, The Chronicle-Journal was a combination of the Daily Times-Journal and the Port Arthur News Chronicle....a fitting name for two tremendous newspapers.

 This door and alleyway on the side of the Times Journal building was the pickup point for all the Fort William newspaper delivery boys.....I was a little skinny kid back in 1955 and usually was one of the last kids to pick up my papers....I was a lover not a fighter...LOL ...........they were great times😊

This is not an actual local photo, but a delivery truck bringing newspapers to all the corner stores and there were literally 100s of corner stores in the day, would likely look like this in the late 1920s.
Above is a super photo donated by Richard Houston showing May St. in Fort William facing North and the old Times Journal building in the bottom left hand corner.  There are many landmarks in this photo that are long gone....Circa mid 1950's.

This is how the entrance of the old Times Journal building looks today decorated to the 9's by Victoria's Cupboard who now inhabits the building.  They maintain its unique architecture and continues to look like a very strong and important edifice.

If you were lucky enough to have given your paper boy a tip at Christmastime you might have received a card something like this back in 1952.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Old Cars, A Great Find, Go Karts, and Some Surprises in Our Home Towns of Fort William and Port Arthur

   We'll start off this post in Kam Motors used car lot in about 1939.  Here is my father Jonnie Cano in the front trying to look cool sitting on the fender of a who knows what, with a couple of co-workers taking a break from filling oil bottles or replacing a windshield on an old Chevy or Oldsmobile.  It looks to be a mild winter day.
   The "Kam Motors" proof is the portion of the sign in red and shown close up after.  Obviously the houses are no longer there as that whole area to the lane way ended up being a car lot in the day.
I always say it, but it is a reminder to click on every photo once or twice to enlarge.

Here's an old circa 1950 Kam Motors brochure showing where the lettering was at the top of the building front, and a fairly current photo of the same building on Leith St. today.

We've talked about Dinty's many times in the past on this blog site and of course you know by now if you are a reader of this blog how Gordie Crompton came to use the word Dinty's.
Below we have more to add to the story beginning with Dinty's Sea View Motel....The Sea View still exists as shown in the following photo but not called Dinty's.

We talked about how Gordie was offered a neon sign from a sign company left over from an unpaid customer.  It didn't have Gordie's name on it but had the word "Dinty's" on it and he ended up taking it, then obviously making some of his future business ventures called Dinty's.
Below is a photo of #57 Jalopy Stock Car built by the Provincial Paper Mill who actually hired a guy named Barry Kettering to drive attention now because many of HR&J's stories are inter-twined.  The race car is parked on Cumberland St., right in front of the first Dinty's (red square around the sign).....and you know later that Gordie ran a few KFC's (Kentucky Fried Chicken) places after the Dinty's ones finally closed.
Today's KFC is two properties just to the left of the original one.  When you do research you have to look hard at old photos....the backgrounds tell many other stories.
There are two different photos here to see the original neon Dinty's sign.  The person standing and the kid in the car are unknown.  If anyone recognizes them, please let me know.


Here you can read Dinty's very well....
 In this U2 with well known American driver Dean Harrington in the foreground, Dinty's is the building on the left with the upright facade, and the building on the right was a McEwen Husky Fuel depot then.  That building still exists today and the original Dinty's is now an empty lot.

This is how the property looks today...the empty lot was Dinty's and as previosly noted, the KFC is two properties to the north of the original.
.....the building on the right was Ron Wilson's Lakehead Speed and Custom shop in the 1960s.

Here's a truly historic then and now.  The then photo of course are those great jalopy stock cars that we write about from the 1950's kicking up dirt along the backstretch of the old CLE racetrack.(I can name them all.)  Behind the race cars is a tall fence to keep out freebee onlookers.  Behind that is the old bus turn around between Fort William and Port Arthur remembering at one time one would have to change buses to go to Port Arthur or back to Fort William.....
At that same time the Electric brill buses existed which powered themselves from the overhead trolley lines.
The bottom photo is taken basically in the same location as the one above it.....that corner of the CLE grounds of course is paved now and is to the east of the now damaged golf dome....all at the corner of Northern Ave and Fort William Road.

Here is some 1950's memorabilia from the Lakehead Stock Car Club days(human and other..LOL)...The handsome guy on the left is Merv Dove and if you remember, he ran the famous white #31 Maple Leaf Service car in the 1950's, was more than once or twice voted The Most Gentlemanly Driver at the CLE and later became one of the top flagmen at Riverview Raceways....A guy that could jump higher than a car while waving the checkered flag.  Merv is wearing his original jacket from the day...and to the right is a closeup of the Lakehead Stock Car Club logo and a closeup of Merv's crest.

Below are samples of the club cards from the actual Lakehead Stock Car Racing Association from 1957...the white card being the driver's card and the red being the pit crew's card.  The first card is circa 1953 and actually called the event a Jalopy Race.  The light blue one is from 1963 and was likely one of the last racing cards from the CLE days.

GO KARTS....those little 4 wheel powerhouses that started something which was considered a fad in the late 1950s and has continued over time to be an important tool in race car driver training.
Well, yes we did have go karts in those days and yours truly had one too...already written about in this blog, but most people don't remember guys racing them in the Sears parking lot in the day.  Parking lot racing ended with businesses having to kick everyone off their property because of insurance issues....they didn't want the liability of someone getting seriously hurt and making a claim against the businesses or company's that had large paved parking areas.  After that, specific Go Kart tracks had to be built designed for their type of racing and had to carry some serious liability insurance.  The last parking lot organized racing was in the late 1970's at K-Mart on Arthur St.

I don't know the source of these following photos, but they are truly incredible.  In the Go Kart below is none other than Ross "Pappy" Fowler well known in the 1950's for his #10 Jalopy Stock Car and racing at the old CLE grounds.  These photos were all taken at the Intercity Plaza parking lot in the early 1960's.  Most of the faces I don't recognize, so if you know anyone else in the photos please let me know.
Ross "Pappy" Fowler #10 CLE

I don't know for sure but it looks like it could be Barry Kettering on the far left....he used to wear that type of hat.  Here the photo faces north and you can see the northern end of the Intercity Plaza property showing the bank and the life insurance the left would have been Loblaws Grocery Store where I worked in high school.

My son Darren at K-Mart 1980
Pappy Fowler here again....and also the south end of the plaza...

The last part of this post is a memory of Red Top Cabs.  I've had a large door decal around my house for years and here it is along side one of their business cards

Here is where Red Top Cabs was in the day on Simpson Street......Hope you enjoyed this post and always remember you can make's easier than you think.  Thanks for watching....Dave