Friday, November 13, 2009

The Fort WIlliam Gardens and the Canadian National Railway Station 1956...




Here are some great photos of The Fort William Gardens(in what is now Thunder Bay, Ontario), and the Canadian National Railway Station(do you recognize anyone?) which was very close to the Gardens(actually right in the middle of Vickers Street) and across Miles Street. The vintage colour photos were taken during the 1956 Winter Carnival(note - button and wooden nickel from our collection) which I remember very well at 12 years of age. The station photo would be taken by standing right in the middle of the front of the Gardens and pointing your camera south/west towards Breeny's Auto Body. The then and now photos give you an idea of how things look now.
The Fort William Gardens was designed by local renouned architect L. Y. McIntosh, and was opened to the public on March 6th, 1951. Since then the Fort William Gardens has paid it's dues an incredible amount of times over by hosting stars and events such as Bob Hope, Gene Autry, The Everly Brothers, Sha Na Na and other stellar attractions and performers to name a few. Our local car clubs hosted many shows bringing in stars of movie and television, as well as a few Playboy bunnies. There were the Sportsman Shows, the Great Lakes Paper Company Christmas Parties, the Shrine Circuses, figure skating with world class stars, the annual Chapples Store Christmas Shows, with "George the Porter" and "Suzie Snowflake"....DO YOU REMEMBER....I sure do! I can barely begin to recall all the events held here at our Fort William Gardens through the years, and that doesn't even touch on the sporting events.
The Gardens to this day is constantly striving to keep up and improve, as evidence of the huge renovation that took place in the 1994/1995 season. This building through the years has become second to none in the country and was and still is a credit to Fort William, Port Arthur and Thunder Bay. Some day however we will give her up to a larger and more modern facility, hopefully near the water front, but in the meantime The Fort William Gardens stands up to what was represented back in 1951 as a place for world class entertainment and outstanding sports events in the small twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur.
Click on this link http://hotrodsandjalopies.blogspot.com/2009/10/old-canadian-national-railway-spur-in.html or scroll down to it to read more about the CN Station and tracks.
Thanks again for the great old photos Brian! The after pictures were actually taken today on a bit of a rainy day. Click on photos to enlarge.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

The station wasn't in the middle of Vickers Street. It was in the lot across from the gardens,

Dave said...

Sorry you are wrong on that one. If you look at the two photos above you can see that the station was right in the centre of what is now Vickers street between Miles and Victoria Ave. The tracks ran tight to the west side of Vickers Street and all the way north. North American Lumber also had a small spur there. The lot across from the gardens was always a parking lot for the Gardens and for the Station. I also have an aerial photo and at the city archives, the fire insurance photos show it right in the centre of what is now a much wider Vickers St than what it once was. Vickers Street took an "C" curve around the station at that time. I lived in the area and knew it well..... Dave

Anonymous said...

hm. I did not know that. Although now when I look at the photos I have of it I see it a bit more. Did you drive around the east side of the station if the tracks were on the left?

Dave said...

Yes, you did drive around the east side...and looking at the aerial photo, there is a tree line down the east side of Vickers St as well then the present day parking lot mostly for the Gardens, then the backs of the houses along McKellar Street. There was also a small parking lot on the south side of the station as well.