Monday, May 2, 2016

A 1950's Canadian Tire Story in our home town of Fort William Ontario.....(Thunder Bay since 1970)

This post is relatively short compared to the last few posts but I feel that this is a stand alone story from our Hot Rods and Jalopies era.
If one waits long enough, a picture that you've been waiting for will always turn up.  This mid 1950's photo is the Canadian Tire Corporate Store which was once on 235 Simpson Street now part of the old Adanac Hotel (The Addy).  The only giveaway today is the window configuration on the second floor.  The address later became 235-237 Simpson Street after an addition.  I'm sorry, but I can't recall the source of the first photo.

This is how the building looks now at 235 Simpson Street on Google Maps. 

Pertaining to this same location, this Times Journal news clipping is from June 18, 1957.  It is pretty self explanatory,  so....... click on it and all the other pictures to enlarge them enough to read. 

CTC Vintage Emblem

1957 receipt from the Simpson St
We all saved these.....

Check this page from a 1960's Canadian Tire Parts catalog.  WOW...Chrome wheels $23.95 and a floor shift conversion kit for less than that.

Hope you enjoyed this little post.....thank you for all your emails and continued interest in my blog pages.... Dave

Saturday, April 16, 2016

More Legendary CLE Racing Stories from our hometowns of Fort William and Port Arthur.....

This post starts with a Then and Now picture so as to imagine where the 1/2 mile dirt track named the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race track (Lakehead Stock Car Club) was actually located.  The golf dome was built just inside of what we used to call turn 2 of the track, and Silver City movie theatre is located smack dab where the grandstand used to be.  Many of the perimeter out buildings still exist today, however the major change was the re-routing of the river to incorporate the newer floodway.  We lost the walking bridge to where the CLE midway used to be, as well as much of the property on the north side of the river which was eventually sold to the intercity mall area.  #1 - Dorothy Dove building.  #2 - CLE Auditorium building.  #3 - CLE Coliseum building.  #4 - Judges Stand.  #5 - Grandstand.  #6 - The Original CLE Midway area.  #7 - The Original Walking Bridge to the midway.  #8 - Fort William and Port Arthur Transit turn around terminal.
Top photo thanks to Richard Huston.  Click once or twice on all photos to enlarge.

Once you get the idea then we can proceed with a great story remembered by my friend and proof reader Alan Yahn...but first, a little more history thanks to Tom Dow.  If this superb picture below of a very young Tom Dow on the left and Barry Kettering on the right could speak...they would likely be discussing plans to race their "bug's" as Tom Dow would call them at the Murillo track back in the early 1950's, and maybe make some plans to make some cash as well.  Tom told the story about bringing their bugs to Murillo to race....and...they would pay participants cash money to come and race their cars...some actually driven daily on the street.  They would charge spectators one buck (which was high for the day) to watch.  Tom said they couldn't believe that at the end of a race day they would have collected many cardboard boxes full of dollar bills.  They did have their first meet at Murillo in the 50's but soon headed to a much larger and better track at the CLE.  It wasn't the first time that cars raced at the CLE.  The famed King's Special being one...

Barry and Tom became great friends, as Tom initially worked with his brother at Dow's Auto Electric on May St. before starting his own electroplating business on Vicker's street near the Fort William Gardens, and Barry initially worked for Thornes-Sargent (shown here on Violet Street), an Automotive Service Centre just across the laneway behind Dows.  The property is a present day parking lot since a fire in the 1950's destroyed Thornes-Sargent.  This recent extremely rare photo find (Thanks to Russ Wanzuk's photo album collection) although a double exposure, nicely shows where Thornes Sargent was on Violet Street.  The long building at the end of Violet Street was Northern Engineering.  It's now a parking lot too.  This is the first and only photo I have ever seen of Thornes-Sargent Motor Service.

This is how the Thornes Sargent property looks today.....from May St. you can now look all the way over to the old James Murphy Coal Company building on Simpson St.

The story continues and gets a little better.....Alan Yahn remembers that Bud Heidrick of Bud's One Stop Service, sponsor of the famed silver #47 car and future employer of Barry Kettering had stated to Barry that he had to stop rolling his '37 Ford over.  To assist Barry in accomplishing this, Bud had a pair of roller skates welded to the top of his race car and promised to remove them when Barry completed the feat to stay on all four tires...No more rollovers.  History has proven that he did that and much much more.

closeup of the photo above

Below is the front and back photo of the original Dow's Auto Electric (still there today at 112 N. May St.) which was across from the old Times Journal building.  Dow's Auto Electric moved to 785 Memorial Ave by the late 1950's, and Tom Dow had started his Chrome (Electroplating) business at 327 N. Vicker's St.
Barry and his brother Glen would work for Bud's then have their own Husky Service Station across from the CPR station on Syndicate Ave.  Sometimes it is extremely difficult to put certain people in certain service stations during the booming automotive service days of the 1950's and 1960's, as mechanics and service station owners moved around quite a bit.
Front at 112 N. May St.
Rear of 112 N' May St

If you look at the rear of 112 N. May St above, you can see a blocked in entrance where vehicles would enter and be attended to.  The two photos below are of Tom Dow and his brother working on their #2 car nicknamed "Nipper"...from the comic strip of the day in the shop shown above.

This last Then and Now was originally posted to my facebook page, and shows another photo of Barry Kettering's many race cars (thanks Al) parked at Bud's Service in the 1950's.  The actual service station building still exists today As Dave Knight Optical on the corner of McKellar St. and Victoria Ave.  McKellar St. was originally called John St. before amalgamation of the twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur into Thunder Bay in 1970.  
We hope you enjoyed another episode from the Hot Rod and Jalopy days in our home town.

As you all know Barry Kettering passed away many years ago from an unfortunate racing accident, however Tom Dow is still with us to help us all remember those wonderful days at the old CLE race track....and Barry's legacy lives on......

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

School Days at St. Mary's RC School..... 1950's in our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario.......

I've been waiting for some time to do this post, but a photo of the original St. Mary's School had eluded me for quite some time.  Thanks to facebook friend Keiran Patrick, I now have a photo of the original school.  This building was originally built as an army barracks for the WWI years and also was used during the WWII era as well.  There were two buildings built, one set further back on the eastern end of the property and was later used as St. Mary's School (not sure the exact year), and the other building closer to the Selkirk and Victoria corner was an "old folks" home as we called it then named The Fort William Manor.  The red markings on the current overhead photo below shows the approximate position of the two buildings.  St. Mary's built a newer school in the early 1960's on the same property and removed the two old barracks buildings.  When St. Mary's finally closed, the building was vacant for a few years and later became (and still is) The Nu-Wave School of Hair Design.

Here is the Google Maps photo showing approximately where the two old buildings were.  Victoria Ave. runs along the bottom and Selkirk St. runs up and down along the right side of the photo.

This class photo is from the 1952/53 School year.  It is grade 2 and 3.  I actually remember lining up for these pictures.  Most of my years in St. Mary's were double grade classes, and if you were in the lower grade and a little on the ball, you could pick up some extra learning from the advanced side of the classroom.  As noted in the photo yours truly is the second from the left on the top row.  If you click on this photo and all the others, you can zoom in and see that I had a couple of front teeth missing.....likely because I was such a sweet tooth and still am.   However, it was the typical age to begin to grow our adult teen....and as the year progressed most kids had a few front teeth missing. As noted in the names, Bill Hay, the 6th kid from the left in the front row, lives right across the street from me many of us didn't end up too far from each other over 60 years later here in our home town we now call Thunder Bay.

The Fun with Dick and Jane books were typical readers in the first 6 of our elementary school years.  
As you know I try to add an old car or vehicle of some sort to each of my blog posts and this one is no exception.  Here you see Baby Sally driving her cute little green pedal car(her being a little older in the third pane at the top with a bit newer one) in a few of the pictures in this collage.  Dick, Jane and Sally's parents had a typical looking late 1940's vehicle to drive as you remember what their pet's names were????  Answer at the bottom of this post.  Click on all photos to enlarge them. I would never admit this was my Grade 3 report card but as you can see the name was removed to protect the innocent..... We had two teachers that year, Mrs. Connolly and Mrs. Begin.  All my grade school teachers were great, especially Mrs. Begin as you will read about as you scroll way down below.


This next picture is our grades 5 and 6 class.  In that particular year, I was in the senior class and had to listen to all the lessons all over again that I had done the year before.   In this picture, I was the handsome guy third from the right in the back row.  I always seemed to be in the back row....guess it was my height.  If you are in any of these photos, please make comments to this blog post or at least on my facebook page.  Also, if you know anyone in this photo that isn't named, let me know and we can add them.  Mrs. Marigold was also an excellent teacher.

In those days there was no such thing as Junior High went to the same elementary school from grades 1-8.  This is our grade 7 and 8 class and I do recall when these pictures came back that Mrs. Marigold was so upset because she didn't remember to remove here feathered hat.....we teased her about that all year.  Yours truly at the back again just to the right of Mrs. Marigold with the halo around his head....LOL.  Again in Grade 8, I was in the senior class and had to listen to Grade 7 stuff all year.
Look how low the classrooms were....In the 6th grade, I could touch the ceiling, and the lighting was very limited.  In today's standards, it was not a very healthy environment for learning, but we did fine.

Here's a clipping from our Field Day after graduating from the 8th grade in 1958.  My dad took the day off work to volunteer for this.
Unlike today with the fancy graduation from grade 6 and then again from grade 8, we attended all years at the same school and had a nice field day at the end of the 8th grade school year, and for the whole school as well.

As mentioned above, one of my favourite teachers was Thelma Begin.  The most incredible thing about her is that she had a wooden leg....YES a REAL WOODEN leg.  She would even take it off and show it to us.  There was a monthly publication from "The Fraternity of the Wooden Leg" called "Courage".
The article in "Courage" is a must read to see how important this wonderful lady was to us, and co-incidentally she was also my good friend Roger Rickard's aunt.  I write about Roger's cool Christmases in these blog pages.  Click once or twice on all these to be able to read them.

All Roman Catholic Schools in Fort William and Port Arthur were always connected to a Parish, and St. Mary's was part and parcel of St. Patrick's Church and Cathedral.  St. Pat's was and is located on the South/West corner of Archibald and Donald St.  Here's the then and now photo of this corner.  As you scroll down, you will see why these pictures were added.

Nearing the end of our Grade 1 year, we celebrated our First Holy Communion with our sister school St. Stanislaus which was located on Miles St. east.  That building still exists today.  It's too bad we don't have all the names so, if you are here, let me know.  Yours truly again in the back row 2nd from the left.....I was a chunky monkey until about mid year in grade 2....LOL.  
Funny but for whatever reason a have a great recollection to this day of posing for these photos.  It's odd that we remember stuff like that but can't remember what we had for dinner yesterday....LOL again.

The little girls even got their chance.....they all looked like little brides with the veils.....all adorable.  It was different times from today but great times to remember.  Help us to fill in some blanks.

REMEMBER AND ENJOY...................................

A final thank you to all the wonderful teachers who put up with us kids in those days and for all the people who took such wonderful photos for us to remember our roots.  Thanks once more to Keiran Patrick for his photo of the original St. Mary's building.      thanks, Dave
PS....answer from the Dick and Jane question      SPOT AND PUFF.