Friday, November 24, 2017

Christmas Pre-Season Favourite Old Photos from our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario.....

This is probably my all time favourite seasonal photo of downtown Fort William.  It was taken on Dec 1, 1969, the last year that Fort William would be a city.  
Fort William would be changed forever, firstly because our city, as well as our twin city Port Arthur in one month would become the new city of Thunder Bay, and secondly because our downtown district would soon be blocked off to traffic due to the construction of an all new state of the art mall called Victoriaville, a controversial decision that never seems to go away.  
This photo was taken from atop the Cooper Stitt block, which would soon to burn to the ground, leaving a huge void on this important shopping corner.  
The new landmarks you already see are the new City Hall which was to cover Thunder Bay city business, the Holiday Inn and just to the right of it you can see a small portion of the new IBM building on the corner of Donald St. and Syndicate Ave.
Some re-posted photos are here for new viewers to enjoy...be sure to click on each photo once or twice to enlarge.


This was a very interesting corner through the years as the next photo will show. (Sorry they are not winter shots).  It is difficult to believe that only about 30 years before the above photo was taken, the Agnew Surpass store in the Medical Arts building as it was called, was a wooden structure called Shop-Easy as shown below, and the other adjoining wooded structures would also be long gone.  The tower on the left in the photo below is the fire lookout at the Brodie St. fire station.  The recent photo to the right is the old Medical Arts building(the same place in the above picture) showing its deterioration through the years despite the efforts of many to rejuvenate that portion of downtown.


Looking a little further south down May Street in the 1915 post card photo below, the only recognizable structure would be the spire of the original Fort William City Hall.  The Royal Edward Hotel had not yet been built when this was taken.

Moving over to the corner of Victoria Ave. and Syndicate Ave. in about 1940 is this fabulous photo showing the old Victoria Hotel, Gillespie Drug Store, Rudil's Restaurant, McCartney Jewelers, and Mahon Electric.  A late 1930's vehicle is waiting for the light to change in very cold weather.  The black things above are the frogs to inter-connect all the trolley lines for this corner which today resides right smack dab in the middle of what is now Victoriaville Mall.

Here is an interesting circa 1930s photo loaned to us from the Ken Crooks collection.  It is taken from the roof of the Canadian Pacific Railroad Station on Syndicate Ave.  It vividly shows a streetcar heading south down Syndicate Ave.  The street branching off to the right is Isabella St.  Note the pretty lady in winter clothing on the billboard advertising Winchester Cigarettes.
 Fort William's city hall in all its glory decorated for the Christmas Season in the 1950's.

We all remember Elk's Peewee hockey.  Here, one lucky player looks like he has a breakaway and is heading to to score a goal.  This photo is taken at the city rink at McKellar Park...pretty much where the McKellar Park school is now.

There are a bunch of old memories in this old Port Arthur photo on Arthur St., now called Red River Road(renamed after the two cities amalgamation).  You would be standing on the corner of Court St. and Arthur St. facing east and towards Lake Superior.  Many of the structures you see here still exist today.

Back to Fort William just south of the corner of Donald and May Sts. in the 1940s is the city of Fort William's first snow blower, helping to remove snow from the streets and haul it away not just pack it all up along the side of the road.  S. J. O'Brien and Sons Sand and Gravel did a great business with the city handling much of the hauling.  Blake Funeral Home is the only building still standing on this block today.

Here's a couple of family photos taken while heading out for Christmas trees.  The first is my uncle Henry sitting on the hood of my dad's 1929 Erskine(later to become Studebaker) taken in about 1939 and the second is my son Darren in the blue toque and his cousin Jason....all of us out getting trees near Kakabeka Falls in about 1979.

Here's a re-do of my friend Roger Rickards just completing his snowman on the corner of Lillie St. and Victoria Ave. in the early 1950s.  Checking out the today photos and where the buildings are now gives you an idea how much the Victoria Park area had grown since then.

Remembering incinerators.... everyone had a 45 gallon drum that they used to burn unwanted scraps.  It greatly reduced the amount of garbage that would head to the dump...in my mind, still a good idea today....but just put a screen on top.  :-)

The boys of Loch Lomond.  A nice photo here of myself with ski buds circa 1960.  Left to right are John Ritchie, Dwight McIntosh, myself and Scott McCallum.  Dwight and Scott were both in my wedding party years after this photo was taken and John Ritchie became the coach of the Crazy Canucks, the famous Canadian Olympic Ski Team of the late 1970s.  Sorry for the quality of the old photo.

Below is a photo of Mary and Bill Irwin  looking out from the top of the Giant Slalom at the Loch Lomond Ski Club, circa 1960's. They were the original builders, owners and proprietors of Loch Lomond here in Fort William. I spent many years skiing here and actually helped in my small way to build the South side. To read a little more about Bill and his family click on this link, then come back and enjoy the photos. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Irwin_(skier)

Finally in this post we have the swing bridge heading to the Mission with Mount McKay in the background.  We are still waiting for it to open to vehicular traffic after a fire that destroyed a portion of it.  Hope you enjoyed some of these winter shots in my home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Lest We Forget"....pre-Remembrance Day 2017 - some Fort William and Port Arthur Memories and War Effort Advertising....

Lest We Forget.....This is such a compelling photo of the Lake Superior Regiment marching to the trains at the most eastern end of Arthur St. (now Red River Road) in Port Arthur, Ontario in 1940.  (these are two photos stitched together from the north and south side of Arthur St. Port Arthur, On.)...click on all photos once or twice to enlarge them.

 "In Flanders Fields" was what we memorized and recited every year when remembrance day rolled around.  It made us realize the utmost sacrifice our soldiers of war made to make our country free, so that we could live in peace with prosperity and love.....most of our fathers served and this is a tribute to all of you.


I was given a number of newspapers recently dating from my birth year during the second world war by Maureen Croissant/Prairie and Brian Prairie of which I am very grateful.  The following are some of the advertising pieces in them...note that they are all related to the war effort in the day.   On the left is an ad for the Canadian Lakehead (Victory) Exhibition.  The photo on the right shows Joe DiMaggio and Peewee Reese autographing baseballs for Admiral Ghormley.






This one shows a recruitment advertisement for the Canadian Women's Army Corps.....claiming that women are also needed like never before, and another asking everyone to save waste paper for the war effort.























Here's another from August 1944 advertising B.F. Goodrich Tires, advertising that the mileage you can get from the new design is equivalent to pre-war.

Another familiar sign of quality was Coca Cola and just as it would be today.....a welcome home from a weary soldier would include a Coca Cola.  The Prestone Anti-Freeze advertisement states that it is more important for it to serve all military vehicles before the common automobile.  Click on each.





One final note on this upcoming remembrance day on November 11, 2017



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Final Notice - October 13th "When There Was Thunder" in your home town.


Don't miss this historic two day event in your home town Friday evening October 13th THIS WEEK at the CLE Coliseum from 6:30pm until 11:00pm....Saturday the second day is the self guided tours to Russ Wanzuk's from 10:00am til 12:00noon and to the Duke Hunt Museum's racing collection from 1:30pm to 4:30pm.  MAPS will be available at the Coliseum for day 2.

Prizes from Sponsors will be given away at the Coliseum and at the Duke Hunt museum.

Tickets are available for from the CLE office on Northern Ave.,  from Dave Cano, Lil Stieh, Ron Hebert or anyone else on the committee, or at the door. $5.00

In case you haven't read the article in this past Sunday's Chronicle Journal...here is a copy.  Click on Each of the images TWICE to enlarge to screen size to read.
DON'T MISS OUT!