Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fort William and Port Arthur Streetcars.....

Public transit in our city was first established in 1892. The silver boom had recently ended destroying Port Arthur's primary economic purpose. Compounding the matter was the Canadian Pacific Railway's decision to build its grain elevators and rail yards in neighbouring Fort William 4 miles away. With businesses and population vanishing, Port Arthur decided after much debate to build a street car line to connect the town with the rail yards in Fort William, much to that town's chagrin. So in 1891 Port Arthur was authorized to construct and operate the first municipally owned street railway in Canada. The Port Arthur Street Railway (PASRy) commenced operations of a private street railway in neighbouring Fort William, which connected the PASRy's southern terminus at Fort William's northern town limits into the downtown core of Fort William. Although Fort William wanted nothing to do with Port Arthur's municipal railway, PASRy gained control of the McDonald and Company line on June 1, 1893 and extended its operations into Fort William.
In 1907 Port Arthur and Fort William became cities, and the Ontario Railway and Municipal Board forced Port Arthur to sell its section of the railway in Fort William to that city on March 11, 1908 and to submit to operation by a joint commission until Dec 1 1913. Thereafter, each city ran its own street railway - Port Arthur's was the Port Arthur Civic Railway in 1914 and Fort William's was the Fort William Street Railway.
The Street Railways continued operation until late 1948, when the gas and electric Brill Buses took over, and the tracks all around both cities were either paved over or pulled up. Some South Syndicate Ave. track was pulled up just last year during that street's makeover.

Here is what it would look like from an operators view, and next is a ticket for each of the cities electric railways.

This is a familiar photo of a street car in about 1941 coming up Arthur Street(now Red River Road) in Port Arthur. You can vividly see the Prince Arthur Hotel in the background as well as the Pagota stating "Tourist Information" on its roof. The little Ford Model "A" is sitting at the lights at Cumberland and Arthur Streets, and a nice baby blue Lincoln is parked along the Streetcar. The next is a very familiar Fort William stop in front of Chapples Limited, the area which is now fully enclosed by the unpopular Victoriaville Centre area today.

These two photos as well as the next one were taken at the Port Arthur Car Barns which was on Front Street in Port Arthur, one street down from Cumberland Street. This is the present day site of the re-cycle area on Front Street.
Again, this first photo was taken at the Port Arthur Car barns. People would call this streetcar the Toonerville trolley(well this is what my 91 year old dad told me), as it had only one pair of trucks front and rear and was much shorter than other cars were. The next shot here was taken along north Cumberland Street.
Another familiar spot, also presently enclosed withing the Victoriaville Centre is the Streetcar in front of Mahon Electric and McCartney Jewelers. The two story building further down is the F.W. Woolworth store and next to it is the Metropolitan store. The next photo here shows car #564 at an unknown location with the word "Neebing" on the car's destination card.
Here are two black and white photos of different streetcars in front of the Fort William car barns on Walsh Street between Selkirk and Franklin Streets. There is a block of houses there today.

Car #64 is on its way down City Road to Chippewa Park and the B&W photo shows car #33 at the Chippewa Park terminal.
This final picture is a scan of an old post card showing a Fort William streetcar heading towards the camera on Victoria Ave. The picture is taken facing east and shows the old Commerce Bank building as well as the St. Louis hotel on the left side. The huge structure at the end of Victoria Avenue was one of the many huge grain elevators from the time(Elevator "B").
Click on photos to enlarge!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Bub" Kellough and Dairybest Dairy.....

Allan "Bub" Kellough, his wife Helen and their three daughters were like family to us. Helen and Bub were my parents best friends back in the early days, and as children, my sister, brother and I had stayed at their home and visa versa as needed when either sets of parents had to be out of town. To us kids, Helen, Bub and their girls were like aunt, uncle and cousins.
Bub was the owner and operator of Dairybest Dairy on the south/west corner of Dease and May Streets in Fort William from July of 1947. Bub and his brother started with their father at the Kellough Brothers dairy. After being in the armed forces during WWII, and by 1946 they had decided to start their own dairy. They purchased the property at the corner of May and Dease Streets and by 1947, the plant was in full operation. The business also contained an ice cream parlour in the front that sold directly to walk in customers.

This is how the first Dairybest Logo looked and the next picture is as the building stands today on the Dease/May corner which now houses "Beebe Mechanical Systems".
Bub picked up the milk himself in milk cans from dairy farmers in the Slate River Valley area. It was bottled originally in the blue printed bottles in half and full pints as well as quarts. I remember riding bicycles with my friends to Uncle Bub's dairy bar for a "free" half pint of chocolate or cherry milk on a hot summer day. Regular cream and whipped cream were also bottled there. Most of the daily delivery was done in Fort William, however Dairybest did have some Port Arthur customers.

Like everything else, changes had started in the dairy retail industry and Uncle Bub was always an innovator and had to be one of the first to start something new. Bub started using the newer rectangular glass bottles with the smaller neck. The above milk topper with the skirt around it was the one used for those bottles. Printed cardboard cartons also came in at this time...a half gallon one is shown below.
Here is an annual give-away by the dairy for phone numbers.
By 1960 Dairybest was producing large numbers of other products such as "Frozen Chilly Willy", sold in wax dixie cups as shown above, as well as skimmed milk, homogenized milk, light, heavy and salad cream, cottage cheese, chocolate and cherry milks, whipping cream egg nog and a variety of ice creams. They even got into packaging their own juices such as strawberry and raspberry and "Beep". Remember "Beep" orange juice?
By 1964 milk cans were no longer used, so Uncle Bub purchased a shiny new "White" tanker truck, one of the first of its kind here at The Lakehead.
In 1968 Bub opened the first "Cow Palace" store on North May Street and seven more stores were opened after that. The first black and white photo here is Uncle Bub parked in front of the newly opened "Cow Palace" store with his shiny stainless steel tank truck. The photo is how the same building looks today as 'Dusty's Car Care Centre". Most of the Dairybest products were sold through the eight Cow Palace stores in Fort William and Port Arthur. Bub was also one of the first dairy's to use the plastic jugs with the red handles and also one of the first to use plastic bag milk that we still see in supermarkets today.
By 1978 Uncle Bub was ready to retire and sold his dairy business and Cow Palace stores to the Gleesons, who were by then operating Kellough Brothers Dairy. Bub was careful to have most of his blue silk-screened glass bottles destroyed so no other dairys could used them, making them some of the most sought after bottles by collectors today.
These were great memories that both our families fondly remember to this day.
Here is a half gallon carton with the Dairybest Logo on one side, their "commitment to quality" on another side and most of their "product line" shown on the third side.
Here is a dixie-cup type lid for stawberry ice cream sold by Dairybest Products Limited and finally how a phone book ad looked in the 1960's.
Thanks to the Kellough family for a lifetime of friendship and memories, and thanks to Dave Maclean and Wayne Pettit for their book "Milk Bottles & Dairies of Thunder Bay & Area 1906-2003", which is great reading and can be found at our local museum on Donald Street.
Click on pictures to enlarge!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kam Power Company Limited Building...then, last year and now...

The Kam Power Company Limited(Kam is short for Kaministiquia - The Local River which drains into Lake Superior). Kam Power was acquired by the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario in 1949. In this first picture you can just make out the Kam Power sign on the building at 1101 S. Syndicate Ave in Fort William Ontario. Also, you can just make out a local rail streetcar just in front of the building.
After Kam Power the building was left vacant for some time, then purchased by Dresswell Laundry and Drive-in Cleaners who used the building for quite a number of years. The urban deterioration is noted in the following photos.
Another note on Kam Power - In 1949 as mentioned above the business and assets of the Kaministiquia Power Company was purchased from the parent Abitibi Power and Paper Company in Toronto by Hydro. The assets were purchased at a price of $5 Million. This included the Kakabeka Falls generating station as well as the storage dams and other associated facilities in the vicinity of the plant. Hydro later amalgamated all the power resources of the northwestern part of Ontario into one system and the Commission was able to guarantee better electrical service.

The poor old building was left to hoards of pigeons. They had a difficult time finding new quarters after the building was leveled.

This first scan was taken from a 1958 phone book and the second was was from a 1961 phone book....note the MA and DI. MA stood for Mayfair which is 62 on the telephone and DI was for Diamond which is 34 on the telephone. The 62 and 34 exchange is still used today but MA and DI only lasted about a year and a half.

One last photo of Dresswell and the last photo is of the empty property. This building along with a huge number of other buildings around the Thunder Bay area were destroyed this year.
Thanks to Roger Rickards for the old Kam Power photo.
Click on pictures to enlarge!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jimmie Lynch's Death Dodgers were right here in Fort William at the CLE in 1947...

Memories of the Dare Devil Thrill Shows are always foremost in my mind when I think of "Going to the Fair", or "Going to the Circus" as some would say. As a child this was one of the highlights of the summer. Even though I was very young when the following show came, many different Dare Devil Driver shows came here through the 1950's and into the 1960's. The thrill shows and dare devil driver shows date back to when automobiles first made the scene.

Here is a clipping from the Fort William Times Journal on July 28, 1947, also showing that Royal American Shows did the midway and that they also gave away a 1947 Mercury Sedan. The next photo is a local CLE poster from a prior or later year promoting Jimmy Lynch's show in full colour coming to Fort William and Port Arthur for "Two Special Matinees".

Here is a clip from the 1940 Worlds Fair in New York showing Jimmie Lynch in action(PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH THE SLIGHT PAUSES IN THE FILM...IT'S WORTH THE on the small arrow bottom left to play). I particularly like the car jumping over the two "Borden's" Divco milk trucks and using another car for a cushion. Jimmie destroyed future possible Hot Rods back then too.
The next picture, a little blurry but advertises Jimmy Lynch and his Death Dodgers.
Here are a couple more photos of Jimmy in action in the 1940's and into the 1950's
He even did a Human Torpedo thing....and was famous enough to do commercial advertising for B. F. Goodrich Tires....even in cartoon format!
Finally a couple of Souvenir Program covers in his Red/Yellow and White colours.
Be sure to check on other Thrill Driver posts in this Blog Site!
Some pictures are small format but others will enlarge well if you click on them and some twice!