Saturday, March 27, 2010

Interesting Fort William Fires - Then and Now....

It's always interesting to find out why an empty lot was between two larger structures for no apparent reason. Usually it was because there was a fire there at some time or another and the building was never rebuilt. Occasionally a photo surfaces to fill in the blanks. This next one is no exception and the other two fires will bring back a few memories.
Also, I always try to incorporate an old car or two into the local history posts. Read below the photos for the information and click on each photo to enlarge.

Here is the Canton Cafe which was located at 309 E. Victoria Ave near Simpson Street. In the today photo, the arrow points to the exact spot, right next to Fresh Air Experience and I believe they use it as a parking lot. The nose of a 1937 Ford makes the photo more interesting and easier to date. Apparently the fire took place in 1939 and the building was never rebuilt.

The 1957 or '58 Plymouth is shown in front of The Fitzsimmons Fruit Company at the end of Leith Street at 147 Hardisty Street in Fort William. I remember this one well, as it was just down from Kam Motors Ltd, where my dad worked. The fire was in 1959. We were both watching it from the 2nd floor lunch room at Kam Motors which was in the next block west of the fire. Even with the winter cold and the lunch room windows, you could still feel the heat from the fire. Interestingly the roof burned out first, which made the fire burn upwards and not heating the brick structure enough to collapse. The brick structure was saved to rebuild again from the inside...the building still exists to this day as seen in the coloured photo, however I'm not sure who owns it now.

Graham's Allbest Products Ltd, better known at Batters Storage and Distribution Ltd was on the corner of Vickers St and 1001 Donald Street. What I remember most was the amount of times that the warehouse was broken into in the 1950's and 60's. With a great variety of items they distributed from there, cigarettes seemed to be the item that most burglars were after. Reading about the Canadian National Railroad and the Fort William Gardens posts in this blog, the CN spur went right by Batters with a siding for them as well. This picture however was after the tracks had been removed. The fire took place in 1958. The building was eventually demolished and Versa Care Centre was built, which is a long term care provider, much needed as all us baby boomers get older.
Keep your comments coming....Thanks D


Miss Batters said...

That was my granddad's warehouse. I enjoyed reading this & seeing the photo. Thanks so much for posting.

Dave Cano said...

...and thank you for your comment...I wish more people would make comments.

Will S said...

Found a photo of the inside of Fitzsimmons Fruit Company Warehouse on Gateway to Northwestern Ontario History site while looking up something else - click on photo to enlarge:

Dave Cano said...

Thanks for the link here Will...published for our readers. D.