Friday, January 29, 2010

The Importance of Sponsorship....Fort William 1950's

Jim Manduca and P. Macko were very fortunate to have not one but two sponsors back in the 1950's to help with their jalopy racing expenses. Their major sponsor however, was the Venice Grill, actually on 636 and 1/2 Simpson street and was one of the many hot spots for great food back then. #73 was also sponsored by the Martinuzzi brothers(maybe they owned the Venice Grill....does anyone know that? Here is a now photo of the Venice Grill. It looks as though someone is actually living there but never removed the sign, lucky for me as it was quite easy to find. Click all the pictures to enlarge, but be sure to click on the little ad between them as well. Johnny Zatti is next......

Here is Johnny Zatti's Potter and Kerr sponsored Ford 3 window coupe(no wonder these cars are so hard to find today...I wonder how far under the ground it is now...). Johnny's #11 was sponsored by Potter and Kerr(The flying goose with P/K on it was their logo). His number 11 P/K panel truck(tow vehicle) is also shown here.
Thanks to one of our blog followers Craig Chisamore, we have the following two staff pictures and quote: Craig wrote: "Potter and Kerr were one of "THE" post war auto parts wholesalers following the 2nd world war. My Dad was their outside sales rep after he got out of the Air Force at war's end. After a number of years with Potter and Kerr he went to the Mercury Dealer, Jessiman Motors as their Wholesale Parts Salesman. Shortly thereafter I believe Potter and Kerr was acquired by Acklands Ltd. As I recall, the photo was taken in front of their Port Arthur store on Algoma St." Craig continues to say "Looks like their fleet of vehicles covered all bases with a Ford, Chevrolet and a Plymouth." Thanks Craig.

Here's a very nice Potter and Kerr ad which appeared in the 1953 CLE racing program with Johnny and Johnny's car. Following that is one of Craig's photos as well as the one below.

This photo shows the late 1940's Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth company vehicles parked in front of the business address. My sources tell me that this address is not 235 Bay Street as previously thought, but actually 182 South Algoma Street in Port Arthur. A new today photo will be forthcoming soon. Next...a look at Kam Motors again.

Here is a new find and very interesting tidbit from the early 1940's. Kam Motors Limited had the following ad in the newspaper..."Our Used Car Prices were low in 1940". This used car lot was located on the south/east corner of Dease and May street, but the interesting fact was that Hubert Badanai had erected an arch where you enter the used car lot which was pretty much a clone of the the famous welcome to Port Arthur arch that was near the can read further down this blog, much more about the arches. Way at the back was a "stage" like spot where they would feature "today's special", and at a Chevrolet/Olds dealership was a very rare 1936 Ford 3-window coupe....wonder who bought it??

The two arches!

This is the later spot where the used car lot was, across from the old Kam Motors showroom and shows how the old Kam Motors front looks today. Kam Motors was also a major sponsor of stock car #34 back in the 1950's, driven mainly by Canary Trevisan.
Click on all photos to enlarge!

Friday, January 22, 2010


This first photo(taken in the summer months in the 1940's) shows the building of the newer club house shown in the little film at the end of this post, the rope tow shack at the bottom of the picture, and also the bustling Great Lakes Paper Company, on the Kaministiquia River.
In the summer months in the 1950's here in Fort William, there was always hot rodding, jalopy racing, push mobile racing, bicycle racing, etc.....but with the snows we have here in the Lakehead cities, and not much in snow mobiles as yet(or we just couldn't afford them when they came upon the scene), we took out our need for speed on the ski slopes.
Note: Some of these items are not in chronological order and will be noted as such.

Here on the left is a Mount McKay Ski Area Inc. brochure from about 1964. Our mother saved this for us with personal notes attached(Thanks Corey). The Mount McKay Club was formerly named The Fort William Ski Club and that's how I remembered it most, even until it sadly closed a number of years ago now. This was The ski club in Fort William from the 1920's until the Irwin family started Loch Lomond(another story later) in the mid 1950's. The next photo is an unknown skier at the Olympic Trials and National Senior Championships in 1955 at the Fort William Ski Club.

This is a photo of the Gaspedoc, a ship at the Great Lakes Paper company(many guys who worked at GLP will fondly remember loading this baby many times).....It has nothing to do with skiing but this angle was the only way to show where the FW Ski Club was in the summer...yes....directly across from the present day Abitibi/Bowater mill(formerly Great Lakes Paper). The next photo shows the first Chair lift that was installed at the club. When I was a kid there were only a couple of rope tows and after a winter of yanking yourself up the hill, even then, I had some pretty good biceps. The memories of our young skiing days at Mount Mckay and Loch Lomond cannot be compared to any others. Basically skiing kept myself and my friends out of trouble all winter long...well not completely!!

Here are some ladies lined up to go for a run maybe late 1940's(sorry for the poor quality here). The next one is a 1933 photo of two jumpers going off the large jump side by side, Knute and Erling Hansen. You can also see the GL Paper mill across the Kam River again. I distinctly remember in the 1950's, smelling the sulphur used in the paper mill process, depending on the wind direction. It was so potent, it would give you a sore throat.

This first photo could have been taken at the same meet as above. This next photo is of Fred Hagglund in 1940 with his #23 attached to his chest. Up in the distance you can see the large jump. Thanks to Roger Rickards for some of these vintage B&W photos.

Here is another B&W photo of the out-run of the jump hill. Sadly this is what is left of the old club-house where we attended dances, had bean feeds....whew...., warmed up around old wood stoves after our White Falcon Ski School lessons, and made many long lasting friendships which continue to this day.
Thanks to Matthias Wandel for the colour photos. If you want to see more photos of abandoned or closed ski areas go to Matthias Wandel's site here It is very sad to see what has become of some of the ski hills around our area. Don't forget to see the great little film clip at the end!
Here is photo of a couple of abandoned chair lift shacks taken in the last few years.
The final photo is actually taken at Loch Lomond Ski Club in about 1958. From right to left is Scott McCallum(who, years later was an usher at my wedding), Myself, Dwight McIntosh(who years later was my best man at my wedding), and the little bit younger guy on the far left is John Ritchie, who became a famous skiier in his own right and as well was the Canadian Alpine ski coach of the famous Crazy Canucks so popular around the skiing world in the late 1970's. Dwight's brother Lyn McIntosh was a sprint car driver from here and raced throughout the midwest with great success, and his winter need for speed was also satisfied on the ski slopes here in Fort William as well. Lyn was also head coach for Canada's women's ski team for the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Finally a very short film showing the rope tow and the original club house at the Fort William ski club in the 1950's. The film clip was borrowed from the curling one shown in a prior post.
Click on all photos to enlarge!
Click on the tiny arrow above to start the film!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vintage Winter Shots in Port Arthur...Mainly in 1952..

Arthur Street East(now Red River Road) in the winter of 1952...standing on the corner of Court and Arthur looking east towards the lake(very cool old cars and truck). In the old photo further down the end of the street on the left is the Prince Arthur Hotel. The banner reads "Oliver Road Carnival, Feb 15/16 and 17". The best item in this photo is the Colonial Theatre(235 Arthur St...opened in 1935 and closed shortly after this was taken) about halfway down the street on the left. To place yourself today in the photo, the new photo shows the curved corner old Eaton's building on the right, and you can see the same curved corner in the old photo on the right as well.

From the first photo, take an abrupt right-face and look down the sidewalk on Court Street facing south. Firstly you will see an old Dodge then, Francey Drugs, a beauty salon, then the well frequented Birds Restaurant on 12 S. Court(to the right of the photo here is an interior shot of Birds back then, as well as a locator map), then a furrier store, then Farrant and Gordon Men's wear, Willson's stationery and finally the Paramount Theatre(the only original theatre still in business as a theatre today). I just can't quite make out what was showing in January of 1952, but it looks like Jane Wyman in ??? ....Maybe "The Blue Veil".
Here is a matchbook cover from Bird's Restaurant. The B&W photo also from 1952 is St. Andrews Catholic Church taken from Algoma Street facing south. To the very left of the photo today would be the entrance to St. Joseph's hospital. Looks like an early 50's Pontiac and Chevrolet parked there.
Finally, here is a picture of what looks like a Lakehead Motors tow truck yanking out what looks like a Model "A" Ford from the aftermath of one of our Northwestern Ontario snowstorms(photo taken on Feb. 2, 1939). This picture was taken near the corner of John Street and Memorial Ave. facing south(off in the distance you can see all the wonderful trees that used to adorn Memorial Ave., but are long gone). The colour picture was taken in the winter of 2005. There have even been changes to this spot since 2005. The Merla Mae ice cream drive-in on the right has been an icon on Memorial Ave. for many years and is still there today. The colour photo was taken very close to the same location as the B&W.
Click on all photos to enlarge!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dominion Day Thrills, Chills and Pulsating Excitement in Fort William July 2, 1956...

Don't miss this....Look closely at the newspaper advertisement from June 30, 1956(click on it to enlarge). The boxes at the bottom left and and bottom right of the ad shows some interesting stuff. The top American drivers from Duluth are Bob Croft #44 and Jerry Rock #41 as stated, and here are a few photos of their cars. These guys came to the CLE track often and did quite well for themselves in Fort William and in their home town.
The bottom right portion of the ad states "See Henri Nadeau, The Flying Frenchman". Well, you will see Henri in action in the film at the bottom of this further down!
Also note at the very bottom of the ad....The Dominion day special races were only $1.00 and kids with parents were FREE!

Bob Croft #44 and Jerry Rock #41....

Now...the above newspaper(not so great) photo shows Henri standing on the top of the #32 car(driver unknown) and heading around the CLE track here in Fort William. A better photo of the #32 car is shown here as well.
The picture below which was placed on this blog once before shows #10 Ross "Pappy" Fowler's car with "Pappy" at the wheel. The guy standing to the side of #10 with the white football helmet is Henri Nadeau. After his death defying ride around the track on #32 just holding ropes, he will now be strapped to the front bumper of Pappy's car and proceed at speed through a wall of fire. Note....the incredible amount of people on hand to view the Dominion Day excitement and race venue....look hard you may see yourself there!
After looking at the photo below, click on the small arrow at the bottom left of the film to view it.
It all happens very fast(in 29 seconds), but you will see Henri doing the two stunts that I mentioned above. You will have to view it a few times to get it all in. In the film you will also notice the CLE Coliseum building which still stands to this day!(locals will recognize it better!)
At the end of the film it seems that the track officials were more worried about the fire on the track than how Henri was!

#10 "Pappy's" car with Henri beside it and the must see film(SORRY IT'S NOT PERFECT and without's taken from 8mm film back in 1956..what do you expect!!)
Also click on all the pictures to enlarge them.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Malcolm and Conrad...6 sequence shots circa 1954...

MORE jalopies from the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition dirt track in Fort William. As noted in the program that year, #35 is Malcolm Galbraith, and he is driving a 1932 Ford 3-window coupe....he nicely manoeuvres through turn 2 and is headed for the long straight, but loses it and climbs the rub-rail. In the background of the first photo is the CLE Coliseum(this building is still here this blog to find more about that). The next shot shows Malcolm up against the rub rail(check out the guys building a house across Southern Ave).
As Malcolm is climbing the rub-rail, along comes Conrad Trombelli #49, in a '32 Pontiac 5-window coupe. It does look like a Ford, but it has parallel leaf springs and referring to the program it says that he is sponsored by Dominion Motors(a local Pontiac, Buick dealership).
In the left photo, Malcolm is upside down now, and a few eyes from the construction site are looking this way now as well as a few other cheapskates who won't pay the two bits to come in(I know, I said that before). Finally we have Conrad upside down just past where Malcolm rolled with an unknown person from someones pit crew looking on. Here you can vividly see the parallel leaf springs on the back.....and do look close, it really is a Pontiac, not a Ford. Oh, yes...and what are called artillery wheels are on the rear...very popular with some hot rod guys today.
If you drive down Southern Ave., all these houses are still there today!
Click on photos to enlarge!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1960 MacDonald Brier Fort William, and Port Arthur, now Thunder Bay, Ontario...short must see film at the end!!

Thanks to my brother Corey for requesting this post and suggesting the great film below. Also before we start, YES there will be more jalopy and hot rod stuff coming up soon! The above photo was taken on the corner of May Street and Miles Street. The corner building(south/west corner) housed my friend Des' dad's barber shop....and finally dig those big white-wall tires on the float...very cool!
Wondering where the Curling Rock at the front of the Fort William Gardens came from?
Well wonder no more as it all started way back in 1960 when Fort William and Port Arthur hosted the MacDonald Brier Tankard, emblematic of Canadian men's curling supremacy.
A parade started off this national championship from the event headquarters at the Royal Edward Hotel and ending at the Fort William Gardens on March 7, 1960(believe it or not, there was not a drop of snow on the ground as you can see from the photo above).
One of the most impressive floats in the parade was entered by the Fort William Curling and Athletic Club which carried eleven individuals, and a curling rock reported to weigh well over 3000 pounds.
The rock had been built at the former Canada Car plant in Fort William(now Thunder Bay), and after the parade it was moved off the float and placed in front of the Fort William Gardens, welcoming the over 26,000 spectators who attended the Brier that week.
After the championships the curling rock became the property of the Westfort Kiwanis Club whose president was a strong curling supporter. A decision was made to display the now famous rock at the Totem Tourist Court on the old highway 17 near Mount McKay to let tourists know about the importance of curling to the Lakehead community.
The rock remained at the Totem until work began to re-route highway 17 which would actually draw traffic away from the monument. Not wanting the rock to lose its significance as a tourist attraction, members of the Northwestern Ontario Curling Association took up the challenge of having it returned to its place of origin. So with the permission of the City of Thunder Bay, it returned to its present resting place in front of the Fort William Gardens.
Local curlers restored the rock at that time and added an historic element to it by adding the names of curlers from Thunder Bay who had claimed national championships and the winners of national events held here in Thunder Bay.
The rock was officially re-dedicated in 1975(after amalgamation) being christened with a bottle of Chivas Regal by the President of Scotland's Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Mr. Allan Johnston, who was in Thunder Bay at the time.
Since then the famous rock has deteriorated somewhat and could use a 'bout it local curlers!!

Below is an incredible 1960's film(the original was too long to place here....over a half hour long). The beginning of this film is a wonderful 1960 tribute to the Lakehead region, showing the Royal Edward Hotel at its peak of splendour. Highlighting excerpts from the parade is next, showing the above float, many other folks from Fort William, as well as store fronts at the corner of Brodie Street and Victoria Avenue including Kresge's, Metropolitan Stores, Woolworth's, Gerry's Hardware and the Lorna Doone. It also shows the front of the Fort William Gardens and a little of how the interior looked then including a shot of the mayors of Fort William and Port Arthur. The Port Arthur Mayor at the time was Norman Wilson, and the Fort William Mayor was Catherine Seppala. She was my great aunt and sister-in-law of my grand mother. She was a great lady. Click on the little arrow at the bottom left of the picture below to view film!!
If you want to see this complete film or other vintage film of famous curling events in other cities, go to the Canadian Curling Association's website here:
Thanks to the Canadian Curling Association for the local film clip, and also thanks to the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame as well.
Click on all other photos to enlarge!