Monday, January 17, 2011

Artie Lee....Old Enough To Know Better...still too young to care!...and MORE Car Club stuff!

Something I've been wanting to do for some time......Last week I had the distinct pleasure having coffee with Artie Lee, and old friend from way back. Even though I am just a couple of years younger than Art, we knew each other in the 196o's for a number of reasons, one being that he had an awesome huge slot car racing track in his basement and when we weren't supplying our need for speed on the real dirt at Riverview Raceways back then, we used up our frustrations racing 1:25 scale slot cars...there were a number of tracks around the Fort William area. Artie was gracious enough to bring his photo album for me to peruse and bring home to scan a few photos....As you will see. Artie was a typical gear head in the Fort William area along with the rest of us, who over time all became good friends.

Here's Artie's '49 Ford before it was yellow with Cruiser Skirts and '49 Mercury Grill. Hey, Art's buddy had a not too shabby '53 Plymouth custom convertible in the background. The next picture here is the interior of the '49 Ford in all its glory back in 1959. Hey Artie, you were drivin' already and I still had a year to go...had to wait until 1960 :-(
LOVE the wide whites....DUH!

Here is how the '49 Ford looked in yellow. These pictures were taken just east of Kam Motors, across the lane way and behind "The Palace" confectionery......(this is where I bought all my car magazines during this time).

You know I have to say sure to click on all pictures once and twice for extra big, and if you do you will see the name painted on the rear quarter of Artie's car "The Lady Lee". We had all done that in those days, I had "Wild One" painted on the side of my '49 Chevy 2-door sedan until my dad sanded it off after a minor traffic infraction! The picture looks like it was taken on Selkirk Street next to Vickers Park(which thankfully still exists today).
More of Artie's cars NEXT!

These photos were taken in the winter and spring of 1962 and like they say in "American Graffiti"....Where were you in '62. Anyone my age can recount tons of stories from that era.
Here is Artie's 1950 Oldsmobile with Dodge Lancer hubcaps. What a beautiful car. I believe that Artie and Tom Nesbitt were the only two guys around with these cars. Artie had the torpedo back and Tom had the 2-door Coach.....with very fast factory V8 Engines "The Oldsmobile Rockets". Love the Mooneyes on the front fenders! The coloured picture has a little sign on a garage that says "CTC Parking Lot" which means Canadian Tire Company and at that time it was actually on Simpson Street. A story about that is forthcoming!!

Here in the winter of 1963 is Artie's incredible '54 Mercury Convertible with power everything. Ford surely did make wonderful cars during this era too! BUT...even incredible cars break down at one time or another......NEXT!
Who is this??? ...under Artie's Mercury and standing beside it!!.....None other than Tom Nesbitt. In the summer of 1963 Tom and Artie decided that a trip to California in Art's car was in off they went.... They found that clutches do break down occasionally and heading into mountainous areas they decided that before it got any worse, it needed changing....but in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the searing heat in a parking lot?....and holy crap Tom even had to remove the intake manifold to get the engine low enough to change the clutch. Nice Job TOM!! ....and off they went to California!
NEXT - The '34 etc..
Here's a younger Artie Lee in 1981 at the Fort William Gardens and Curling Club car show with his newly completed and first time shown 1934 Ford Coupe. The next picture shows Art's coupe and also his '68 Dodge Monaco convertible in deep lime green. Artie said the Dodge started out with only a $200. purchase.....beautiful cars Artie. The yellow coupe now belongs to Rick Stokaluk who did a complete makeover again with the car.
Here is Artie Chauffeuring around Thunder Bay's own "Elvis", Daylin James(a fantastic Elvis Presley tribute artist). I have heard him many times...and he is great. The last two pictures here are Artie in about a 30 year span......and like the title says "Old enough to know better....and still too young to care"!! Looking good pal!
NEXT - All the following except for a couple were also in Artie's photo album...WOW!
The next few photos are calling cards for a number of clubs that travelled the roads of Fort William and Port Arthur. Some of these I don't remember but these cards are living proof that they existed. Here are the "Freewheelers" with the words "Hot Rod" used more than once. We all tried to help the public realize that we were not a bunch of hoodlums, but sincere auto enthusiasts that are always willing to help someone in distress. The "Knights" auto club was started by Dave Foreman.
Here is the Twin City Road Angels card and the "Purpose" stated is pretty much what car clubs were about back then. The Lakehead Road Gents Car Club and the NOTA was already mentioned in previous posts on this website. You can click on these two links then come back to read the rest:
The Road Gents card is courtesy of Jerry McKenzie.
NEXT - The Untouchables and why they changed their name!!!!
Here is an "Untouchables Car Club" calling card and also a picture of Artie Lee's "Untouchables" car club jacket hanging in the rear window of his '50 Olds.
Clicking to enlarge these two 1964 clippings will help you understand how the Untouchables became the Northwestern Ontario Timing Association. I myself joined the N.O.T.A. shortly after this photo was taken when I owned my '57 Chevy. We used to have our meetings at the Blue Swan Inn on Kingsway Street then at the Emergency Measures building which used to be on the corner of Waterloo and Victoria Avenue on the north/west corner of that intersection near Friendship Gardens.
This first NOTA calling card is Artie's card and the last one here was a later card and was my own.
Many thanks to Artie Lee, a great guy and for his input along with the photos. Artie did own a few other cars such as a '56 Ford Wagon, a '69 Gran Torino GT, a'74 Pontiac Ventura, a '33 Dodge plus many others that we can't add at this time.
A final note to click on all the photos to enlarge!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

VICTORIAVILLE....The place we love to hate!!

Constant harping really gets us nowhere when we talk about Victoriaville Centre in the heart of Fort William Ontario(now Thunder Bay). Yes, it was our cruising strip, harshly taken away from us when cruising was at its peak. This blog site has spoken about this in the past on each of these three links now or later then come back to read the rest. ,here and here .
This city has opted to keep it there for no specific reason, maybe hoping for some business there after the new courthouse is built, but I have my doubts that the enclosed mall will be able to resurrect itself. Our city will have to continue to shell out upkeep expenses as well.
Here are some great historical shots of the place called Victoria Ave and Syndicate Ave in a better time!!

These 4 photos are the exact same north/east corner taken in different era's. Gillespie's Drug Store, then Crooks Pharmacy, the Brill Trolley turning at the Crooks corner and finally it is now a Robin's Donuts and of course now inside Victoriaville. The first B&W photo is from about 1939 and shows an old car(Buick?) at the intersection, Rudil's restaurant along the side(far left) and a bit of the McCartney Jewellers sign as well. The next one shows the hustle bustle on any typical day down Victoria Ave in the early 1960's.

Avco Finance had an office along side somewhere about where the Rudils Restaurant was, and at this point it was still Crooks Pharmacy taken about 1968. The final of these 4 photos shows the Robin's donuts store at the same corner...note the curved top....the same in all the photos.
The strip as it appeared in 1939 with rail trolley tracks taken on about Christmas Day(low vehicle traffic). You'd have to be older than I, to recognize the black and white photo, but the next one taken in about 1962 is more recognizable to me. Shopping in the beautiful Chapple building on the left in both photos brings back tons of memories. I was a regular at the small restaurant on the 3rd floor(I think) when I worked downtown in the early 70's.....they made the best chili around.
This photo was taken in 1974 at about the same spot where the Western entrance to Victoriaville was constructed....that picture shown on the right.
NEXT - The Victoria Hotel, Restaurant and Tea Room....
I am not sure exactly when the "Vic" was built, but it did appear in a 1913 periodical about Fort William and Port Arthur as shown here. The next picture here backs down Victoria Ave a little. Be sure to click on this one in particular once or twice to read all the bubbles and notes. The booklet read that Fort William and Port Arthur would become the Toronto or Montreal of the north due to its close proximity to the railroad and the natural harbour of Prince Arthur's Landing(Port Arthur). WHAT HAPPENED!
Here is an old postcard from about 1940 showing the "Vic" on the right and the sign Victoria Grill and Tea Room. Many eateries were called tea rooms in our area at the time. The next photo is a plate from my own collection from the 'Vic"
Here is a close-up of the decorated plate(would you believe a yard sale find)! This picture shows the side of the hotel and a bit of a sign on the side that can be easily read. There used to be a door to the bar on the side with a sign saying "Ladies with escorts only".
This is the actual spot where the Victoria Grill, Hotel and Tea Room stood, on the south/east corner of Victoria Ave and Syndicate ave.
The next trolley photo was taken in 1941 in front of Chapples Ltd, and would be right inside Victoriaville today.
Be sure to double click on this one to read the note. The blue and orange rectangles shown in the next two photos are the same corner where the today photos at the end of this post were taken. The Brill trolley buses were such a part of my childhood memories here in Fort William.
These two photos are just close-ups of prior ones to show a little more detail.
The Chapple Building(used to be call the Grain Exchange Building) corner with the beautiful stone work is still there today to be admired, but locked away in time in a place we all love to hate....The Victoriaville Centre
I still believe that in my lifetime this area can resurrect itself but only if Victoriaville is torn down.....a pipe dream? Maybe!
Be sure to double click on all the photos to enlarge them!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


In tune with the season...I dug up some old winter photos to share with you....and a few summer ones too!

Here is a picture of my '55 Chevy SD taken in 1968 stored in the back yard of where our apartment was on Frederica St. My wife's Nebraska relatives couldn't believe that all that much snow accumulated here....and I told them it was just a drop in the bucket compared to other winters.
The summer shot of my '55 was taken in front of my home on Arthur Street where I lived until married. Across and running down the street were the CNR tracks, where the trains travelled down Arthur Street to the CN station on Vickers street. Also across the street is the St. Joseph's Orphanage(boarding school) and in the distance, my old Alma mater St. Pat's High School. Do YOU locals remember these places and things?

Here's my father-in-law(bless his heart) out in his shirt sleeves in the cold of winter as usual, sweeping off my black and red 327 powered '67 Chevy Impala. The photo was taken in 1968 and this is typical of the kind acts that pop Wayne always did for everyone through the years.
The next photo is of my Deuce, 1932 Ford 5window coupe taken in the winter of about 1992. It was a nice cold crisp day and I drove it down the street from my home to a bush area to take some photos.
In my driveway, circa 1983 is a winter shot of my 1914 Ford Depot Hack(CPR Express). We were getting it ready for a car show in Duluth, Minnesota.
Next is a November 1972 photo of my better half, holding my son Darren in the back yard of our apartment building in front of my VW and travel trailer. No, I didn`t pull the trailer with the Bug, I pulled it with my '67 Impala and later with my '71 Chevelle SS....note the SS wheels were put on my VW for the winter. I drove that BUG to work all winter long without a heater...none of those gasoline heaters ever worked anyway. By spring, there were about 30 worn out windshield scrapers on the floor...from using them on the inside of the windshield.
This is a wonderful snowman and builder shot taken on the corner of Lillie Street and Victoria Avenue in 1955. It is my friend Roger Rickards doing the build job. The photo looks west down Victoria Avenue. The large house right across Lillie Street is also shown in the next Google photo...note the trees around it now. In the B&W photo you can see two houses that look similar down the street, and the next photo below shows how those houses look today................

.........................................Low and behold, there's Roger on Christmas Day a couple of years ago and still playing in the snow in his own back yard.....Hey Roger, you nuts or what!!!
For those of you who live in the south during the winter months.....we have to show you how complacent we are with our cold weather..........We are truly TOUGH CANADIANS!!
Here is another of Roger's photos that he donated to HR&J. It is of his uncle Eddy McIntyre driving what looks like an old Ford Panel delivery truck for Bowlker Farms (fruit, flowers and vegetables). The photo was apparently taken around the Syndicate and Mary Street corner.
Next is an ad for the Kakabeka Falls View Hotel, taken from a 1940`s advertising booklet. This hotel used to sit near the edge of Kakabeka Falls on the north side near where the parking lot is today.
Here is an older shot of Kakabeka Falls completely frozen over circa 1940, and the final shot is Kakabeka Falls taken only a week or so before Christmas 2010, both showing it`s icy splendor. Kakabeka Falls is about 18 miles west of Thunder Bay and has been a tourist attraction for a few hundred years, long before the logs were sent crashing down towards the Lakehead cities of Port Arthur and Fort William. I will be doing a post in coming months just on Kakabeka Falls. Thanks again to Roger Rickards for some of these photos....
Be sure to click on all pictures to enlarge them(some twice)!!