Saturday, November 27, 2010

Progress and Deterioration in Fort William....

Our fair cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, combined now into Thunder Bay in 1970 has seen many changes, and a great percentage of these have taken place in the past year, counting a dozen or so buildings either razed or burn to the ground this past year. It is wonderful to see the progress, but many things we remember from the past have also deteriorated to a point of no return. Here are a few reminders of what it was and what it looks like now!

Here is 1969 and the thriving corner of May and Victoria Ave. It is Christmas and the shoppers are out there on the east side of what is now Victoriaville. You can see that even in winter, the area looked clean and bright. The photo was taken from the roof of the old Cooper Block which burned down soon after this was taken. The next photo here shows the same corner with a greyed structure that once was the Agnew Surpass shoe store in the Medical Arts building. The north west corner still houses the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Here is a wonderful postcard photo of May Street circa 1915 before the Royal Edward Hotel was built. Two of the buildings still stand, the lighter coloured brick building on the far left of the first photo here and the building on the right with the long facade. In the newer picture from google maps, the same building is white on the left(the I.O.O.F. Temple) and the long building is on the right. It's nice that some things don't change. In the old post card photo you can see a water delivery horse and buggy on May Street and the spire of the old city hall, which was on the same property as the newly renovated city hall today.

This is an incredibly sad reminder of deterioration and decay. The once thriving Fort William Ski Club, to later become the Mount McKay Ski Club is shown here near the end of its useful life in 1977. It was my Alma Mater in the skiing world here at the Lakehead and myself and my sons miss it very much. You can see that it was a thriving club by the photographs, then left to deteriorate.

Even in the summer months from the other side of the Kaministiquia River you can see all the ski runs as they were once cared for during the whole year. The ship on the river is at the former Great Lakes Paper Company loading dock and is the well known Gaspedoc. Myself and many friends had loaded this ship with newspaper for many US destinations back in the 1960's. The next picture here is a portion of a brochure from the 1960's showing all the runs at Mount McKay Ski Club that were available.

These photos were taken in the last few years. The area has even deteriorated more since these pictures were taken, as Mother Nature slowly but surely reclaims the land once cleared for one of the most popular ski hills here in Fort William....the place that kept me out of trouble for many winter months and years back then. NOTE: Another web post for the Fort William Ski Club was done last year as well....To see it, CLICK HERE, then come back
Click on the photos to enlarge...some are smaller format and will not fully enlarge to screen size!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What Makes a Ron Limbrick....

Many coffee klatch discussions between friends of similar interests get very philosophical at times, and hot rod discussions with my friend Ron Limbrick and others at our meetings are no exception. Ron is a very meticulous and talented hot rod builder who has nothing to be shy about and everything to be proud of. I have known Ron since the early 1980's and get-togethers always bring out the best (or maybe the worst) in all in attendance. The following excerpt of a portion of Ron's philosophy on life is one I can't agree with more, or even change for that matter. This post definitely fits into the "Hot Rod" portion of these posts and may not be of interest to local historians, but Ron, born and raised right here at the Lakehead wrote this and I added a series of photos to help explain the philosophy. The photos below are shown in the same order they are stated in the article. Be sure to click twice on each portion of the article and also on the photos that follow, to enlarge them.

Here is a photo of Frank Lloyd Wright and the only service station he designed, located and still seen to this day in Cloquet, Minnesota, just south of Duluth. You can read more on Frank from this link

Here is the infamous Dick Flint Roadster as it appeared in the May 1952 Hot Rod Magazine with a small photo of the car as it looks today.

Here are a couple of photos of the Granville Bros. Gee Bee R1, in flight and in a Museum.

A 1946 Offenhauser Midget Racer and the most beautiful Matranga Mercury.

Here's a small colour shot of the Matranga Mercury and the long snouted Baby Bootlegger.

Nothing can beat the styling and looks of a 1948 Indian Motorcycle with the pure flowing design. Next we have a 1951 Jaguar, in black with wide whites(All Ron's Favorite stuff). This particular one doesn't have the V10 Viper engine but of photo of it comes next.

Here's the V10 Viper, along side the Streamliner Locomotive. One can imagine a beautiful locomotive such as this huffing into a train station in the 1930's.

One more I can add to Ron's list is the General Motors 1950 Futurliner Bus designed by the legendary automobile designer Harley J. Earl. The next photo is the graphic on the tonneau cover of Ron's latest venture, "The Ghost Rider".

Here is "Ghost Rider" in the 99% finished mode, just as it was being loaded into Ron's trailer for a winter home in London, Ontario awaiting the Detroit Auto Show this February. The only things missing in these photos taken by our mutual friend Al Yahn are the tonneau cover and the full hood. What a wonderful machine...Kudos to Ron for capturing the true vintage "Look". Look for a construction post of this car in the new year.
Last but not least is Ron's '39 Ford Coupe in her full "Black" glory....can you guess what Ron's favourite colour is?? Great work Ron!! ...and thanks for your constructive opinions through the years....Dave on photos to enlarge!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Johnny's Texaco Service - Johnny Zatti, prop. from the late 1950's...

It's amazing how matchbook covers bring back memories and thoughts of another time. An empty lot on 520 N. May Street today was once Johnny's Texaco Service, and sadly I don't have a picture of the spot from that time frame, but these pictures may bring back a few memories of what it was like.

Here we have Johnny Zatti standing in the ditch on corner three at the CLE track in Fort William in the 1950's after a rollover in his #11 1930's Ford jalopy coupe. This matchbook cover(front and back) shows that Johnny proudly sold Willard Batteries at his Texaco station. This matchbook cover was from about 1961, as the "MA" prefix for the phone number was only used for a year or two then.

A Willard Battery sign, similar to the one shown above was likely fixed to the side of his station as well. The next matchbook cover clearly shows only a 5 digit phone number putting it before the Willard one above. "Texaco", "The best friend your car can ever have". What a great logo.

During the time Johnny was burning up the track at the CLE grounds, he was sponsored by an automobile and industrial distributor called Potter and Kerr, which was located on Algoma Street in Port Arthur. Click twice on the newspaper ad above to read it in full. This next black and white photo shows what Johnny's service station and pumps might have looked like back then.

Another little coloured picture here also shows what Johnny's Texaco might have appeared like. The Sky Chief and Fire Chief signs above are porcelain pump signs which would have been fixed to the front and back of the premium and regular pumps as shown in the black and white photo further above.

This is an early 1960's map cover showing a great illustration of a station and the large porcelain signs that could be seen for miles in either direction. This next b&w photo is Johnny and his car taking the checkered flag as he had done many times during the 1950's.

This is how the address at 520 N. May Street looks today and how it has looked for many years. The property is on the east side of May Street just north of the old Dominion Motors building and the old May Auto Parts building. This next b&w photo is of Johnny himself with a very lucky young man, Orin Maki. Orin's dad was on Barry Kettering's pit crew, and consequently Orin spent a lot of time in the pits and also had his picture taken with many of the local stock car jockeys of the day.

Johnny's son Don is a great guy and a gear head hot rod builder like myself today and I'm still wondering if the kid on and inside Johnny's car is him...Is it Don?? Here Johnny is racing a very nice '34 Ford 3-window coupe. The huge bumper in the last photo proves that he wants to protect it, or at least push every one else off the track.
Be sure to click once or twice on all the photos to enlarge them...some however are smaller file sizes and the largest that I could get.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lest We Forget....Remembrance Day November 11, 2010...of local interest!

How will you remember? What will you tell your children and grand-children? However you remember, make it known!
Starting off with a quote by G. K. Chesterton - "Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live, taking the form of readiness to die!" twice on each photo to super-enlarge!

Reciting "In Flanders Fields" was always an important event on Remembrance Day in school as a child. The next photo on the top taken in 1914 is the first group of soldiers from Fort William, Ontario sent off to fight in the first world war. The photo was taken an the newly built City Hall in Fort William, and on the same site as our present city hall.
The photo below that is the 52nd Battalion Bugle Band taken in Port Arthur prior to the battalion's departure in the fall of 1915. Note the Canadian-Pattern service dress tunics with seven buttons and crisp peaked caps. Also notice the Pagota in the Background, the Royal Bank on the right and a bit of the Prince Arthur Hotel on the left....all on the corner of Arthur Street(Red River Road) and Cumberland Street.

Here is the Cenotaph at the Fort William City Hall....if you read the print on the bottom of the post card, it says "War Memorial, presented by the Fort William Women's Patriotic Society, unveiled Oct 19, 1921.
The next photo of the Cenotaph was taken during the demolition of our old city hall to make room for the new one in 1966. The poor old soldier looks a little neglected here.

Here today is our Cenotaph proudly displayed directly in the front of our newly renovated city hall. How many of you actually know what is written on the monument? It states, "OUR DUTY DONE - In proud and grateful remembrance of our honoured dead and those who carried on in the great war, 1914, 1918, 1939, 1945, 1950, 1953.

This is an incredible photo of our soldiers marching off to war in 1940. They are headed down Arthur Street(now Red River Road) in Port Arthur towards the CPR station. The Zellers Store on the right of the b&w photo is on the corner of Arthur Street and St. Paul Street....note the beautiful but long gone "New Ontario Hotel" on the left. Do you know anyone in this photo??
The next colour photo is at approximately the same location and taken in 1958....Wow, how that area changed in a mere 18 years....and right in front of all the cars as an icon of the 1950's, a 1957 Chevrolet.

This colour photo recently taken is at the same location showing the changes to this area of Port Arthur through the years. The next b&w photo above is taken further to the right of the one above. Here you can vividly see the Zellers store on the St. Paul Street corner.

This one is a little further to the left side of Arthur Street and the last one clearly shows the "New Ontario Hotel", the "Commodore Tea Room" and the "Caporal's Taxi" signs all along the now named Red River Road in Port Arthur.

Air Cadets smartly dressed in white shirts, ties and berets, march past Flight Lt. Ball and Lt. H. Bryan outside of Hillcrest High School in about 1942. The house on the right of the photo no longer exists as Van Norman Street now heads right through it.
The next photo is taken in the woodworking shop at the Port Arthur Tec High School (Hillcrest High) in 1942. It shows members of the Port Arthur Air Cadet Squadron learning to identify aircraft from models.

Circled in red is my father in the Remnants division 2nd ack ack battery, Royal Canadian Army, Canadian Artillery taken in Victoria BC on July 20th 1942, about 2 years before I was born. "Ack ack, AA or AAA" means Anti Aircraft Artillery.
This next photo is of the Fort William Girls Military Band in a formal Fort William city parade at the end of World War II. Here you can see the street car tracks, and further down, the Cooper Block with Whites Drug Store at the corner of Victoria Ave and May Street. You may also recognize a few other businesses or buildings that survived through the years.
Finally....guess who!!

Yes, this is yours truly, at my grand parents home in Fort William on VE(Victory in Europe) day on May 8, 1945 waving the British and American flags while my dad was still away serving our country.
LEST WE FORGET....We cannot forget our fallen comrades during all the wars through all the years who have given their lives so that we may live ours in peace and in love.
Some of the photos...thanks to Ken Crooks and our Museum.
Click on the photos to enlarge them...mostly twice to super enlarge them!