Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition....coming soon....but not like it was!

A number of emails in the past month for requests about photos of the milk bottle that was once in our fairgrounds brought a number of childhood memories flooding back.

This first photo was taken from a calendar that our museum put out a few years ago. It's not great but shows the Co-op Dairy milk bottle with people lined up to purchase a half brick of ice cream for probably a dime or a quarter back in 1947.
A kid could easily get lost in the vastness of the midway, displays and booths that dotted the large landscape at the time, and you could easily find your mom or dad by saying "meet me at the bottle".
Here is another of the wonderful Brill Bus photos taken from the turn-around between Fort William and Port Arthur. The bus turn-around was just north of the corner of Northern Ave. and Fort William Road. Circled, you can see the milk bottle which was always a well known landmark at the CLE grounds. Remember changing buses if you were going farther than the CLE from either Fort William or Port Arthur?

Not a great clipping taken in 1962 but you can see how large the midway used to be. The left photo arrows and ovals are as follows: Yellow - Northern Ave., Orange Oval - CLE Coliseum, Yellow Diamond - The Grandstand, Green Oval - CLE Auditorium(bingo hall now), Pink Arrow - Memorial Ave., Purple Oval - Super Sonic Car Wash, Red Oval - Welcome to Port Arthur Arch, Blue Arrow - Fort William Road.
The configuration of the river was actually changed when the new floodway was created.
The Google Earth photo next to the B&W one is: Yellow Oval - CLE Coliseum Bldg., Green Arrow - Northern Ave., Pink Arrow - old Super Sonic Car Wash building(no car wash but the building is still there), Red Arrow - Memorial Ave., Black Arrow - Fort William Road.
I hope I haven't missed anything, and I'm sure you will all notice other things in the pictures.

This photo shows approximately where the track would be today, over top of the golf dome, with the grandstand taking up half of the Silver City movie theatre. the markings aren't as clear as the other photos but noted as follows: A - Silver City, B - Golf Dome, #1 - CLE Coliseum, #2 - Dorothy Dove building, Purple arc - this is where all the cattle barns were, Orange rectangle - would be the grandstand, large red oval - would be where the track was(the end was very close to the river where many stock car jockeys ended up), E - Northern Ave., Pink 2-way arrow - Memorial Ave, Green Arrow - Fort William Road, and finally C - Intercity Plaza.
When the Royal American Shows came to town for the CLE, it was a childhood event to be topped by nothing else each summer. A number of midways came here but the Royal American Shows was the largest and best that I remember.

These photos were taken here in Fort William in August of 1958 mostly up and down Northern Ave., adjacent to the fairgrounds. Look at those kids - they are so excited(I remember it well)!

The bumper cars and the Gargantua!!

The Tilt-A-Whirl and another Royal American Shows truck!

These two are not local photos, but I remember a ride like this coming to the midway where you actually had some control of the plane by tilting the wings with a steering wheel(very cool). The midway mainly came here by truck but occasionally a train would bring actors, acrobats and equipment.

Well here is our CLE sign as we see it today on the Coliseum building on Northern Ave, and the last photo shows the old arch that was above the main entrance to the CLE for years. You can see this today if you look towards the fairgrounds on May Street just south of Silver City theatre.
Conjure up your own memories and if you have any CLE photos from the past, email scans to me and we can put them on the web page.
Also, if you want to read more history on the CLE, click here http://www.cle.on.ca/content/CLE_History/
Click on photos(SOME TWICE) to enlarge then enlarge more!


Oats said...

I remember the milk carton: http://img816.imageshack.us/img816/816/milkc1.jpg

They should never have been allowed to build so much crap on that site.

Dave said...

Hello Oats...Yes I remember that too. Its a great photo...could you send me a larger format of the photo to my web page email address at dcan@tbaytel.net...and we'll get it on the web page as other photos come in.
Thanks, D

Oats said...

I don't have a larger version, I don't even remember where I got that one.

Dave said...

Thanks for trying...D.

Dave said...

Here's a comment I received by email from George in Winnipeg that deserves to be added...

Hi Dave..

The timing of your CLE post was remarkable. Just the day before your post I’d said to my wife – who grew up in Winnipeg – just how much I’d love to be able to go back to the Circus of my childhood (we always called it “The Circus”, not CLE). I used to look forward to that week all year; it ranked up there with Christmas on my scale of anticipation. I’d cover every inch of the territory – every hog barn, every canning display, all the vendor displays, but of course the highlight for every kid was the midway. What a thrill when I was able to run errands for the guys who operated the bumper cars in exchange for free rides! Can’t imagine how a parent would react to hearing about that sort of thing from a young boy now… And the draw for a new car – in the ‘50’s I recall there were seven different makes offered, all basic no-option cars I think. A Ford, Chev, Plymouth, Stude, ? Nash, ?? I used to lay awake for my parents to return home late to see if they’d finally won the car; alas it never happened. Then when I was about 14 I discovered that if you could sneek on to the property after the fair had left, you could find a ton of money that had been lost in the wood chips. Unfortunately the next year I had a job and so I was never able to really capitalize on that knowledge.

Thanks for the memories

Dave said...

One more great email comment from Marilyn in Edmonton:
Hi Dave…great stuff again…I sure remember The CLE…always wondered what went on in that Harlem in Havana tent..LOL….Hillcrest Park was also a good place to watch the sub races….never could see them however as the windows were too fogged up.

Dave Cano said...

Here is an interesting email I recently received and it was noted OK to publish:
"Hello my name is Kenneth Coghlan and I live in Oxford MI. I was born in Port Arthur. Back in 1968 , me and my best friend Bill Speak, who I was friends with since we were about 4, and who very sadly passed 1-1/2 years ago, in 68 we walked to the CLE and somehow we ended up working 2 nights in the grandstand show. Which was the Hollywood Animal Stars, The first night in a race, I rode a llama that spent the whole race trying to spit at me and the people by the fence, which the crowd loved, they also had a local girl who knew how to ride, ride a camel, i believe in a race against an ostrich, which I remember the ostrich being very strong and stepping on my foot as we held it back, I think someone rode him too. The second night I rode a Zeony, which was part zebra and part pony, and he actually won the race, but I was no longer on him. I also remember the cheetah they had. The second night they asked for a volunteer to wrestle with a tiger, I did it and the tiger had his paws on my shoulders and head in my face and they told me to push him around, which I don't think I pushed too hard. The tigers name was GT (geetee). I saw him later on Truth or Consequences, where they had two ladies waiting in a room and had the tiger walk into the room.
Kenneth Coghlan
in memory of Bill Speak