I am starting off here with a couple of my most favourite photographs of downtown Fort William even before my day(photo source unknown). They are both taken circa 1930 by the vehicles in it. The first one, facing west on Victoria Ave is taken just before the May St. intersection where the Model "A" Ford sedan is making a turn to head north on May St.. The second one is taken a block west on Victoria Ave. Making a comparison in the second photo to today is sad because as we know, Victoriaville takes up most of the street, and with rumors of its demise....we are still waiting.
This is a fairly long post as I have been working on a few things separately but I'm just going to put them all together into one.....and as usual be sure to click on all photos to enlarge them and if you get a + sign...click once more for x-large.
|White's Drug Store is just past the Cigars sign on the right...the intersection in 1930 is May and Victoria...|
|The intersection coming up is Victoria and Brodie...the Victoria Hotel is on the left and this all would be Victoriaville now.|
By printing this following collage we would hopefully encourage the city to preserve a very historic building that apparently is coming up for demolition ..... Jan Starr wrote this comment last month. The property in question is located on the old Ogilvie Elevator property, as shown in one of the photos below....Click on to read...
Only stickers now appear to let you know where your vehicle was purchased, but in the middle to near the end of the 20th century, very cool little metal pieces of advertising were added to your car when you purchased it....and to mount some, holes were actually drilled in your vehicle to do so. The following pieces some of which I have in my own collection and some photos were donated by Boris Krystompol to add a few more to the local list.
The original location of the dealers is shown with the trunk advertising.
Hillman Sales and Service was originally located on the corner of Edward and Gore Sts. in Westfort
Twin Port was a Studebaker Dealer and located on the corner of May and Bethune Street in Fort William near the original Spicer's Tire Service and Kam Motors Depot.
One of the Jessiman Motors locations on 730 Memorial is where Parts Source and a flooring store is today......I wish Boris would sell me these to add to my collection... LOL.
Gibson Motors was where the Power Centre is today.....and that whole area was always called "Intercity".....which we all knew meant somewhere between Fort William and Port Arthur...
The last one is Port Arthur Motors which was located where Tony and Adams is today on the corner of Pearl and Court Street. The Chevrolet/Oldsmobile dealerships, Port Arthur Motors and Kam Motors Ltd., were both originally owned by Hubert Badanai Sr...... later to become one dealership on Memorial Ave.
NEXT - remembering Al's Wonderland. Albert Massaro was not only a very well known stock car driver in the 1950's and 1960's but was quite the entrepreneur, business man, hockey coach etc etc. I had the privilege of knowing Al in the day, and did some work for him when he had his Al's Wonderland. I painted this sign for him as well as built many of his picnic tables for him and also painted and lettered many of the Go-Karts he had at his place....so here's the sign I did and glad I had photographed it just when I finished it....who knows where it is today. The present day picture beside it is courtesy Google Earth and still reveals the spot where Al had his Go Kart track and his last "Wonderland"... we sure miss Al and all the good work he did for hockey, racing and everything else he was involved in. RIP Albert Massaro.
NEXT - We have some then and now photos.....The first is The Thunder Bay Co-op building which still exists to this day proving that great structures can be re-purposed over and over for a much cheaper cost than ripping them down and re-building....and also preserving local history....
The next then and now is Wanson's Lumber on 277 John Street. It is interesting to note that the original building on the left in the first photo is still being used today, and apparently some of the original office building is still in use as well.
This Fort William photo showing two Brill buses, one a gas powered and the other an electric powered trolley is quite interesting. Of course we all know the Chapple buildings...the large one in the middle and just a bit of the home store on the left of the late 1940's photo. When you enlarge the photo, you can make out the word Hurtig just above the bus in the centre of the photo. Hurtig Furriers owned the corner building until the early 1950's when the property was purchased by Heintzman's, which was mainly a music store, but also sold some furniture, radios, early tv sets and of course records. Heintzman's had booths where you could take your record into a booth and listen to it before you bought it.
When you view this old photo, it's hard to believe its the same building.... "The Victoria Block" as in the photo below it. The "then" photo is of Walkers Dry Goods all decked out for the Christmas Season in the early part of the 20th century. The facade was changed drastically through the years and modernization pretty much diminished the desire to even go inside....however I do remember Walkers Department Store in the 1950's when at Christmas time they would have their windows all decked out in the current toy trend and had an American Flyer model railroad layout in the basement that would bring shouts of glee to any child, and likely empty pockets to many fathers wanting to please their kids.
The Victoria Block now houses Barbie's Bargains which I believe is still there.
WOW...the CPR station after over 100 years still looks pretty much the same. The first photo is likely taken in the very early 1900's. I remember riding my bike there as a kid and seeing the model of the big lake ship which is now housed at our museum, and punching out a disk about the size of a toonie on a machine with your name and address on it for a dime.....oh...and having to pay a dime to use the toilets...so one of us would get voted in to crawl under, use it then hold the door open for your friends to continue to use it....LOL...great fun...
We watched the trains come in from destinations east and west and dreamed of traveling by steam train to some of those unknown places.....It's great to see that beautiful building stand the test of time.
Awe....the Embassy Grill....Sundays after church heading to the Embassy with your family to have coffee or chocolate milk and toast.....things like that were a rare treat when I was a child...but the memory lives on today, as the building still exists as the Amethyst Gift Centre...and as it says on the newspaper ad "next to the Odeon Theatre"..... great memories...
I know I've posted this before but the memories of hanging out at Ray Charles Texaco in my teens and twenties is still quite strong....When Ray and Charlie were there, they embraced all us teens, letting us use tools, have small credit accounts and we would reciprocate by cleaning up after ourselves and respect our other friends that hung out there....it was awsome times. The photo is of my own '55 Chevy sedan delivery and on the trailer behind me was Ken Pawluk's Camaro Late Model... we were heading to Riverview for a test run.... Roger Rickards and I are slowly working on a great story about the service station history of this spot...which will be coming up soon.
This is the last part of this post and not so much a then and now but just a "THEN".....I was truly a huge Roy Rogers fan and the wonderful childhood memories of those times are still with me, as my saved so many things for us(bless her heart). I still have my Post Cereal Roy Rogers button set because many of the buttons I collected as a kid were pinning to an old beanie, and were saved in my bottom drawer of my dresser from when I was a kid to the present day......I will have to get rid of this stuff eventually...but for now I can still enjoy them and write about them.......
Thanks to everyone for being patient with my posts....I still have a lot to write about. I'm getting older and slowing down a bit....but if us local history buffs don't preserve the memories, no one will!