Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The 1949 Fort William Winter Carnival -- with old cars, old buildings and great memories!!

Well, here we are January 31, 1949 with probably the best winter carnival Fort William Ontario ever had....there were others in later years but this to me was the best.  I was about 5 years old and I still remember it.  This picture to the right is my father who entered the beard growing contest then with the quintessential carnival chapeau, plaid fur lined jacket and a carnival pin stating that he had won the contest for the best "Van Dyke" beard.  My dad is still kicking today at 92 years looked great pop.  Hard to believe that this carnival was 63 years ago and my dad was a mere 29.  This is the largest post I have ever done but I couldn't do it justice in pieces and had to add all the photos to one BIG blog post......hope you don't mind!

Would you look at that, 3 Chevy's and 1 Ford in the old is the 1949 picture of the Victoria Block done up like an old trading post during the carnival.  It was incredible how the businesses went out of their way to add to the carnival excitement.  In contrast is a 2010 photo of the same building.....hard to believe that it is actually the same place with the urban deterioration going on here!  FOOTNOTE:  A very sharp observer noted that there were post 1949 cars in the above photo, and with further research, realized that that particular photo was from the 1956 Fort William Winter on comments at the end of this post!

 Be sure to click on all of these to enjoy them enlarged.  This is the corner of Brodie Street and Donald Street as you can see from the present day photo....the big church in the photo is St. Andrews and the city hall old and new would be just to the left of all these pictures.  Shaw's bakery was one of  "the" business icons in those days, as well as Ogilvie Oats, depicted in the float picture to the right.  The Ogilvie elevator now closed and deteriorated was just south of the CPR station on Syndicate Ave.

2010 Photo of Brodie and Donald Streets.

When I first saw these photos, I had to really think about where they were, but the givaway was the Noll's Motor Car building on the right.  It was a Studebaker dealer then.  It later became Kam Motors depot in the 1950's and after that was a drug store, the March of Dimes and a few other businesses.  You are looking at the corner of Donald and Syndicate ave., facing west and a bit north.  All the houses that you see except for a few way down the block are long gone to build...(you guessed it) ....the parkade for Victoriaville.  If you turn right at the street(Syndicate Ave.), you would drive right up the Parkade ramp or or go around it to go to the Income Tax office.
This left photo is the Kangaroo Court float and the one with the Bull on the front is the Great Lakes Paper Company float.  Another reminder to click on all the photos,

 Look at all the people that supported the city events in those days.  The photo to the right is how that corner looks today....what a contrast.

The is how the side of Noll Motors(Later Kam Motors depot) looked in 1949.
The float is the other Bread Company Parnell's "Mr Butternut, the best loafer
in town.

This is how the side of the building looks today.

Here's a nice photo of the Victoria Grill and Hotel decked out as Death Valley Scotty's as well as the barber shop next door as Silver Spur Barber.  Look at the optician next door.  The windows are like a pair of glasses....DO YOU REMEMBER??

This is the same corner as above but taken from a different angle.  Yes, the "Vic" was on the corner of Victoria Ave and Syndicate Ave....the same spot as the Royal Bank building shown here in 2010.  Well even the Royal Bank is gone from there now.....Time to tear it all down and rebuild the "VIC"  ....I doubt that!!!

This is the "White's Drug Store"corner of May Street(NE corner) and Victoria Ave, all decked out for the carnival.  The next small photo shows the complete corner in 1949 and how the corner looks today after a devistating fire back in 1963 that destroyed all the businesses and more that are shown in the first small picture here. 

Before the fire, many of the business had already changed names, but it was a drug store here called Drug World.  I remember going with my dad to see this spectacular fire and how it looked the next an ice palace.  It's bad enough that we lose so many historic buildings to fires but too many are blatantly torn dorn for a parking lot or other meaningless reasons.

This is the flip side (SW corner) of the old White's Drug Store building above and how it looked in 1949 and 2010.
This is the next corner west of May Street.  It is Victoria Ave and Brodie Street how it looked with all those 1949 parade supporters and the Kresge store on the left and how that same corner looks today.
Here is how Willson's Stationery and Rutledge Stationery stores decorated for the carnival and how that corner looked in 2010

Here's the Paul Bunyan Band marching right through what is now Victoriaville Mall.....note the Chapples Department Store in the background.

This is part of the Chapples Limited float parked behing Chapples with a big smoking Voyageur on board.  He is wearing the 1949 tam just as my dad and his friend did in the very last photo below.  The Ice Fort photo on the right is of unknowns(let me know if you recognize anyone in this picture).  The picture was taken in front of the old City Hall.  The picture below with the Ice Palace in the background was taken at the old McKellar Park, which was behind the present day Fort William Gardens and Curling Club.  It was a popular spot to gather and start parades from in those days.  There was a baseball diamond, a football field and small bleechers there.  The present day McKellar Park School occupies some of the large piece of property that is once was.
This final picture is of my dad John Cano and his friend and work associate at Kam Motors Archie Bott, taken just in front of the almost completed Ice Palace shown above at McKellar Park.  Wool Pants...itchy or what!!
  I must thank "Gateway to Northern Ontario History" for some of the wonderful pictures above but most of all I have to thank the original photographers of these pictures as without them, we wouldn't have these great historical shots.  Click on pictures to enlarge!


Anonymous said...

Just an observation on the "1949 picture of the Victoria Block with 3 Chevys and 1 Ford": Interesting that there appears to be a 1952 Chev, a 1953 Chev and possibly a 1953 Meteor in this photo.

Dave said...

A fabulous observation......more research and something I totally missed but should have noticed...This photo was taken during the 1956 Fort William Winter Carnival. Your observation is much appreciated... Thanks, Dave