Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Few More Then and Now`s in Fort William and Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay, Ontario.....

One of my favorite hangouts in my teen years and up was the Palace Confectionery, on the corner of Leith and Simpson St. This is where I purchased all my Hot Rod and Rod & Custom magazines and bought very cold Cokes out of a water filled Coca Cola Machine. Thanks to the Scalzo Collection this photo of the brill bus was taken in front of the Palace in about 1965. The building still exists today in the now run down Simpson Street area. Our city is still trying beautification tactics to keep Simpson Street alive. Some of the huge air-brushed art pieces there are great but it`s like flogging a dead horse to try to keep this area decent.

Thanks to our Sports Hall of Fame, I have this wonderful photo of the old Port Arthur Arena which was on the corner of Court and Camelot Streets, now home to the Safeway Store.
Port Arthur's first indoor rink was known as the Lake City Rink, which was constructed in the early part of the century on Cumberland Street near McVicar's Creek. In 1923 the Arena Rink was built on Court Street, financed and operated by a group of citizens from Port Arthur and Fort William, known as the Arena Rink Company, at a cost of $65,000. Destroyed in a spectacular fire in 1931 that rink was replaced in 1932 with a 4000 capacity arena constructed on North Court Street. Residents still recall the controversy surrounding the fact that it took many a wrecking ball to finally tear down this "condemned" building in 1959.
I remember as a kid taking the bus to Port Arthur and going roller skating there occasionally.

Above is a great(albeit fuzzy) black & white picture of the Cooper Block which was on the north-east corner of May St. and Victoria Ave. Cooper`s ladies wear was at the far right, then left of that was Wishart`s Fashion Craft men`s store, where I worked at my very first job. I worked an hour or two every day after school and all day Saturday for $5.00 a week, great money when you were 12 years old, making deliveries on my bike and cleaning display cases. On the corner was Whites Rexall Drugs and soda fountain. They made the best milk shakes and Cherry Cokes anywhere.
This building burned down in a spectacular fire shortly after Christmas in about 1971. At that time it was called Drug World. The colour pictures were taken after 1970 due to the words Thunder Bay Fire(not Fort William) on the side of the fire vehicles. Fort William and Port Arthur became Thunder Bay in 1970.
Researching our local directories, it was called Lord's Supervalue Pharmacy in 1970. In 1962 the main floor of this building was vacant. In 1959 it was called White's Drug Store. In 1947 it was called White's Rexall Drug Store. In 1944/45 it was just White's Drug Store, and in 1933 this address was called Mackenzie Telford Tobacconist. My friend Allan Yahn did the research for this(thanks Al).
The last 4 photos were added on Monday Oct. 19 and are courtesy of my friend Clarence Merko. You can see how cold it was and note the open cockpit ladder truck. These were obviously still used in the early '70's. The picture beside the black & white, shows the property today with H&R block on site.
POST SCRIPT! John said the the fire took place in January of 1973. Click on "comments" below and see how he remembered the year it burned!!!
Click on photos to enlarge!


Anonymous said...

fire took place in january 1973 as my wife lost her wedding dress in cooper stitt next door on victoria ave (which the sales staff assured her the store was safe and would not burn so you don't need to come down and remove your wedding dress for safe keeping) as our wedding in august 25,1973. i was able to walk up to the fire and take photos myself. john

Dave said...

Thanks for the actual date John: What a nasty surprise that was! Hope she got another one from a fireproof place...LOL.
I also heard a story that a gentleman had purchased a suit there, picked it up a day before the fire but hadn't paid for it yet. All the records were destroyed, and he apparently got it for free! I will correct the date blog post. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I remember that night. We all came out of Albert's Billiards to watch the fire. Quite spectacular with all the water freezing on the trucks and everything. They put it out that night but it started up again the next day and burned the rest of the block down.

Anonymous said...

I was in school the day it burnt down,right behind the building The school was st. stans,its now the board of education,we watched it burn from our class window,the next day we went back to school in the morning and it started burning again,across the lane from the school was gondola pizza remember that?? they delivered with mini austins P.S. thanks for the memories

Anonymous said...

White's Rexall Drug Store, moved out of the
original location and reopened across the
street from Pilkington Glass. Just around the corner from Fort William Gardens. The soda fountain was gone and the new location served only as a drugstore.

Dave said...

Yes, I do remember that...on the corner of Vickers and Victoria. I have a White's drug store measuring glass around the house here somewhere with that address on it! Thanks, Dave

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the stock cars, designed
by Malcolm McAuley for the Massaro Bros? The
first was called the Checker Board Special, and
the second was called The Popcorn Box Special.

Does anyone remember Greg Larson or Gary Richardt?
They were stock car drivers from Wisconsin, and Indiana, who used top come up to the Lakehead to race.

Dave said...

If you type in "Popcorn Special" at the very top left hand corner of this web page to do a search, you will see a post with a photo of the Popcorn Special with Malcolm in the photo. You may be thinking about Russ Laursen or Jerry Richert. There are stories on this website about both these guys but you will have to do a search the same as the popcorn special above or check through all the archived posts. Thanks, Dave

Will S said...

Is the middle photo of the arenas a picture of the arena that replaced the one that burned down?

Dave Cano said...

That's Correct Will...I never did say that...did I?
Thanks Much, D.