Thursday, September 29, 2011

906 Victoria Ave.....A Hot Rod and Jalopy Haven........

Staff at Darlings circa 1953
906 Victoria Ave, a service station for many years that can be traced back to the 1930`s and progressing into the 1970’s was a hot rod and jalopy dream-haven for kids my age especially in the 1950`s and 1960’s.  Well known names enter my mind such as Ken Taylor, Ralph Darling, Norm Hogan, Ross “Pappy” Fowler, Glen and Barry Kettering, Bud Heidrick, Don Marsh, Charlie Miller and Ray DeFoy to name a few.

Every one of these guys were gentlemen in their own right and as car-crazy kids that we were, they all treated us well, because we were shortly to become regular patrons of 906 Victoria Ave as we entered into our adult years.

Darling's as it looked at its grand opening circa 1953
There are many gaps in dates and changes in ownership through the years and anyone that has anything to add to this post is very welcome to do so.

Pappy Fowler's car sponsored by Darlings Texaco Service
Somewhere along the line it changed to Bud's Service(or so we think due to the fact that the #10 Fowler car said Bud's Service on the side), owned by local businessman and entrepreneur Bud Heidrick.  My father was an old friend of Bud's until his passing a few years ago.  This next ad was used while Glen and Barry were working for Ralph Darling and just before the Kettering Brothers started their own business in the Husky Station directly across from the CPR Station on Syndicate Avenue.  This ad was shown in the 1955 Canadian Lakehead Exhibition track program.
Glen and Barry at Darlings Texaco
Here is a photo of Ross "Pappy" Fowler's car with "Bud's Service" plainly seen on the side.  Many of the #47 Barry Kettering's early to mid 50's cars also sported the "Bud's Thing" logo on the side.

Here is a clipping of one of Barry's cars after a serious accident with "Bud's Thing" painted on the side.  This picture was taken in front of "Darling's" at 906 Victoria Ave facing away from the station at a a north east angle.  Note the YMCA Building in the background, no longer there!  That property is presentlly being used to build the new courthouse.  Check the next picture to see how this exact shot looked just before the YMCA building was destroyed.

The photo shown on the right is the same shot as above taken just before the YMCA building was taken down.  In the above photo there were only billboards on this property.....I remember that well.  The Natural Health building was originally built for a Gov't Liquor Control Board store.

This photo has been shown on this blog before and is a picture of yours truly on the left and Joe Cooper on the right with Charlie Miller's '57 Chevy hobby stock in front of the same station and address at 906 Victoria Ave.  We had just lettered and painted Charlie's car.  Joe and I were on his pit crew until I had my own #67 car in mid summer of 1967.                                               This photo was taken earlier in 1967.  The station at this time was owned and operated by Charlie Miller and Ray DeFoy as "Ray Charles Texaco" ...catchy name eh!!  These were truly the good old days as Charlie and Ray and all the other guys that ran this station through the years treated all us kids incredibly well.  The signage in front was Marfak Lubrication, Washing, and Tires & Batteries.

These two old ads were other proprietors of 906 Victoria Ave through the years, and I don't remember either.  I don't remember "Jake's Service Station" as I wasn't born yet, but it is the same address.  I also don't remember "Bob Schnaufer's Service Station" from a 1957 CLE Racing program, but it is the same address at the Corner of Victoria and John Street.  John Street was changed to McKellar Street after the two cities amalgamated into Thunder Bay, and the giveaway was that it was opposite the Safeway Grocery Store on Victoria Ave.....and Safeways was directly across from 906 Victoria Ave.
The last photo here is how the building looks today and still standing....hard to believe it was all this!!!
Yes!  It is Dave Knight Optical at 906 Victoria Ave.
Many thanks to those who donated photos and clippings including Google Images.  Some of these clippings and ads are from Barry Kettering's own scrap book.
Be sure to click once or twice on the pictures to enlarge them!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thunder Bay Co-op, The Bear, The Bottles, Horse and Buggies and Divco's....thanks to Niels Maclam!

It was with great pleasure that we met Niels(yes that is the correct spelling) and Chris Maclam while on vacation this past winter.  When we got home we had a great conversation about old photos and what came up was a story about a couple of photos from Minnesota Dragways in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.   The two pictures included Niels’ 69 Camaro and were taken in 1971.  These pictures will appear in a later blog post.......which led to the following.............

Co-op Building as it stands today
with remnants of the past! 
AND...........while talking about old pictures in general it so happens that Niels is the grandson of Niels C.(Chris) Hanson who was manager of the Thunder Bay Co-op Dairy from the early 1930’s until the late 1960’s(except for a couple of years).  The Co-op dairy was located on the corner of Secord and Queen Street right behind the present day Tim Horton’s on North Memorial Ave.   Niels had some incredible photos to share with me as you will see.

Love the old snub-nose Divco trucks
to the left of this staff photo.....if you
know anyone in this picture,
please let me know by email.
A 1936 Ford Coupe and a late 1940's
Pontiac parked out front - look closely
in the green square behind the horse
wagon, is a model "A" Ford Coupe.
Niels C. Hanson(more favourably known Chris Hanson) was hired by Thunder Bay Co-op in the early 1930’s as superintendent and by 1932 he was its manager, and with his reorganizational talents slowly got the dairy back to prosperity it once had known.
When you enlarge this you can read "Universal Auto Parts"
on a sign in the distance...Universal was on Fort William Road
Chris Hanson’s first brain child was the first ever "Iced Milk Rink" built in the winter of 1939 using surplus skim milk from the dairy and implemented by Helen Hietanen on behalf of the dairy.  It was located on the east side of Memorial Ave., between Queen and Lisgar Street.  The Milk Rink was featured in news articles and broadcasts across Canada and the USA and was also on “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not”.  The rink was so popular that it re-opened in 1940 as well.
Bottles from my collection
Approximate present day site of the
Milk Rink!

Co-op purchased the milk delivery business from Fred Scollie in Fort William, with stables built on Southern Ave in Fort William, and in 1947 a new barn and garage was completed at the Secord and Queen property.  Chris Hanson’s second brain child was the milk bottle shaped building at the Lakehead Exhibition Grounds, and from here the dairy sold milk and ice cream during fair week.  I remember you could buy half a brick of ice cream for 10 or 15 cents.  The well-known logo “Meet me at the Bottle” was printed at the top.  The bottle building became the meeting place during fair week  for friends or if you lost your children or whoever.  A similar smaller bottle was built on top of the dairy plant with the well known Co-op label on it as well.
No one really knows who the bear or trainer was in these photos with the bear.....probably just someone who was entertaining at the CLE with a trained bear.  Does anyone know who the sales person is?  Niels, these are incredible shots!
Click on all of these pictures(some twice for super size)to enlarge them!

This is a closeup of the inside of the
Co-op Bottle Building showing all the
5 cent prices!
A few more Co-op
items from my collection

With all the modernization completed by the late 1950’s, Chris retired and had offered his expertise elsewhere, but in about 1964 with board of directors in disagreement over the way the dairy was being operated, Chris Hanson returned to try to help out again, however new government rules and regulations governing proper storage for milk products, many farmers chose to close their own businesses rather than go into debt.  By March of 1969 Thunder Bay Co-op was sold to Palm Dairies and the staff went to work for Palm.  Niels Chris Hanson officially retired in 1970.
 Many Thanks to Niels Maclam for his own story and photos and also to Wayne Pettit and Dave Maclean for letting me use much of the above data from their very informative “Milk Bottles & Dairies of Thunder Bay and Area 1906-2003” available for purchase at the Thunder Bay Museum.
Be sure to click on all photos once then twice for super size to view best!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

More Fort William and Port Arthur Then's and Now's.......

Here we have 'The Home of Burney's Taxi".  Does anyone remember where it was?  It was at 111 N. Brodie Street and now there is no such address.  The two pictures following this one are almost self explanatory.  Wow, talk about "urban renewal", and how fast it all happens.  I hate that statement, because in our case here at the Lakehead it meant intercity improvements and downtown deterioration.  Let's hope things will get better in the future with all the goings on downtown Fort William.

Be sure to click on these pictures to compare from the 1950's one to 2009 where you can still see the YMCA building and the Twin City Gas building and most of the Victoriaville parking area, and finally to the present day.
This picture was taken yesterday from the same spot as the two others above and shows the progress at the new Court House.
NEXT is a series of West Fort William photos, some of which have been on this blog before.  It is the Dowswell Sheet Metal Co. building on the corner of Brock and Ford Streets in Westfort William.  The building still exists to this day as the "MASH Sewing Centre"
This became a famous corner in the mid 1940's as the place where a city rail trolly actually rolled over onto its side to the chagrin of passengers and the fellow standing on the balcony there!
These are photos of original street car signs that adorned the panels above the windows inside our rail streetcars from the 1920's to the 1940's.  This type of advertising is still used to some extent today on city buses.  Click on them to see the detail.

The next item on this post is another Westfort William building.  The 1913 photo was in a local advertising brochure naming the two lakehead cities of Fort William and Port Arthur as THE destination for major business ventures in the centre of Canada.  This is the "Donald Block" on the corner of Frederica and Brown Sts. in Westfort William and was the hub of 1913 financial doings in that part of town for the Royal Bank of Canada.
 The NOW picture here is the same building and today almost 100 years later is still standing as the well known Schwartz Men's Wear store.
Finally in this post we jump to Port Arthur, to a 1948 photo of Nicholson's Tire and Battery Service which was on the corner of Bay and Machar Sts. The smaller photos show how the interior looked back then, and the old time ad(Nicholson's Tire Surgery) was copied from a 1933 local hockey sports book.  Check out the old short phone numbers.

Here's how the building looked two years ago, as Bay Motors.  It was also the Goodyear Tire Centre before that for a number of years.

Thanks again to all who donate or loan photos to us at Hot Rods and Jalopies.  All we ask here is that any photos used from here are given publication credit to this blog page.  We also welcome comments at any time and corrections if you feel they are needed. 
Always be sure to click on all the pictures once and sometimes twice to see them in a larger format!
Thanks for looking....Dave