Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Central Fire Station #1...Fort William, Ontario.

Here on the left is one of the few images of the newly modernized Central Station in Fort William. This photo from the 1940's shows both the station and the department's new 1941 two-ton Chevrolet hose truck which included a Bickle booster pump and a water tank. At the far right of the photo is Harold Lockwood, who would become Chief in the 1950's, and Chief E. H. Dean. The colourised post card photo(circa 1914) shows an early motorized fire engine.
Fort William's Central Station was located at 120 Brodie Street, across from the Capitol Theatre. The original was built in 1903 after the first fire hall vanished in flames along with the original Fort William Town Hall....(that's a bit bizarre...a fire station burning down :-). It became the main station for Fort William and was named Fire Station #1. In the early 1900's it was the most well equipped of all the stations here as it housed the Hall itself as well as bedrooms where the firefighters could sleep, stables and a furnace room. As time went on the station was gradually modernized and improved through renovations. This station closed in 1963 and was demolished(Yeah, Thunder Bay...another historic building bites the dust!!). The firemen there were dispersed between the Brown St station and the Pacific Ave Station until completion of the new Central Station on Vickers Street. NEXT...Yup, they built a Holiday Inn on the property!

This left photo is the mural of Central Station #1 which can be seen today on the Sydicate Ave section inside Victoriaville. The next photo is of the Holiday Inn that was built on the Central Station #1 property in the early 1960's after the station was bulldozed down. It was a very nice hotel for awhile until Holiday Inn pulled out of Thunder Bay and the building was converted into Senior's Condominiums. Check the Rothman's Cigarette billboard in the above photo of the Holiday Inn taken in the 1970's.

Here is a picture of the lobby of the Holiday Inn in its heyday as well as a picture taken on the corner of Brodie St. and Donald Street facing north. In the second photo here you can just see the top of the Royal Edward Hotel in the distance.

Here is the building and sign as it stands today. It is the Independent Living Resource Centre which is part of a huge need in Thunder Bay to house all us aging baby boomers.
Click on photos to enlarge!
POST SCRIPT - I have had a number of email replies on this one, I guess they are afraid to make a comment to my post...LOL. Anyway, before it was called the Holiday Inn, It was called the "Canadian Inn", which tweaked my memory for sure, because the Beach Boys stayed there when they came to the Gardens back on August 14, 1966. I was only married 3 months at the time. One of the opening bands was the local band, "The Bonnvilles", and the admission was only $8.00.
My storied sources tell me that there was a big squabble due to the fact that there was a "Holiday Inn" on Kingsway St not in any way connected to the big chain. The Kingsway one was fighting to keep their name as it was in place long before the big chain ever existed, so the one on Brodie St was named the Canadian Inn until the squabble was settled. These are not documented facts and can't be backed up, but sure is interesting anyway.

Another email I received said it might have been named 'The Pioneer Inn". I don't remember that at all and if you know something about that, please post a comment....Dave


Anonymous said...

Dave: Ask around "Who owned a 'Vette and when they went to the Capitol Theatre in the cooler weather parked it in the Holiday Inn parking garage so as to plug it in?" So....that it would start after the show. A little bit of trivia related to me by an older gentleman

Dave said...

That's a good one and should be easy to find, because there were not that many Vette's back then. Will ask around for sure and thanks for your comment!