Tuesday, June 19, 2012

More Port Arthur and Fort William, Ontario history.....with a few vintage automobiles!

Here is a load of 1926 to 1928 new cars(exact makes unknown...most are not Fords) just unloaded, likely from a lake freighter to either be sold here or shipped by rail to other Canadian destinations.  The picture is taken at the Canadian National Railway pier which today would be right smack dab in the middle of our present day Marina Park.

The picture with the automobiles above would have been taken just to the left of
this photo showing the curved track on the bottom left side.  The famous
Sleeping Giant is in the distance.  Out present day Marina Park at the base of
Red River Road was a very bustling passenger and freight shipping point.

 Near the same location as the above photos is this harbour tour boat likely taken the the 1920's and the well known Welcome ship photo to the right was taken in the 1970's.

Here is a pair of then and now photos of the Bay Street building which presently houses Ed's Pawn Shop.  In front of the Giardetti Brothers photo here is their 1935 Chevrolet Delivery Van with the very vivid sign on the side of the building showing a N.1714 phone number("N" meaning north or a "Port Arthur" number).


 Green's Hobby Craft and Novelty Shop at 229 Park Street in Port Arthur was "the" hobby shop in Port Arthur.  Us Fort William boys also frequented Green's but was a long ride on the bus to get there.  I bought my first string flight motorized model plane there.  The Green's were wonderful people.  The total cost of the used plane including the motor was $10.00....a large sum for a kid, but they let me pay about 50 cents a week from my part time job until it was paid off.
Click on the printed copy below to read in Craig Chisamore's email from some time ago describing who is in the picture and when it was taken.  A huge thank you to Craig for the great photo.  WOW...look at all those vintage model kits!!

To the left is a Green's Hobby ad that appeared in our local phone book in 1958.  The photo on the right is the OLG Casino parking lot on Park Street, the exact location of Green's Hobby.

Next - A little known fact!!
You are looking at the corner of what is now Red River Road and Algoma Street.  Red River Road runs left and right of this
photo.  The building on the far left is the original St. Joseph's hospital, the peaked roof building with the cross was the original St. Andrew's Church and the building on the right was a schoolhouse.

The above two photos are of the original St. Andrews Roman Catholic Church located at 294 Red River Road.  The new church of course is on the corner of Algoma Street and Red River Road.  This building in later years stood the test of time and is presently used as the Dew Drop In shown below. 

Here are 4 small surviving stained glass windows from the
original church later to become the Dew Drop In.  These are
presently in my own collection since about 1974. 
They each measure about 12"X24".
The peaked roof building was the actual original
St. Andrews Church which is shown in the B&W
photos above.  The building to the left of it is the
present church rectory building.

Another then and now is the Totem Tourist Court.
This is an old post card photo from the 1950's showing the wonderful "White
Rose" sign and the cabins that surrounded the Totem Tourist Court.  It was and
still is located on old highway 61, at the Mountain Road turn off.  Driving
out to this building you would have to drive under the old Welcome to Fort
William arch....do you remember??

This is how the building looks today, still sporting the sign under the eve.

Another old landmark which was near the Dutch Church on highway 11/17 about
half way to Kakabeka Falls was the old Wooden Shoe gift Shop....long gone now!
 One final then and now was the Oikonen's taxi stand on Lorne and Cumberland Street....great old vehicles here!

Lorne and Cumberland Street today!

Many thanks to all those who supplied photos for this post including Craig Chisamore and Scotty Fraser.  Always be sure to click on the photos to enlarge them.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TOM DOW - Third and final post - more of his photos and business history...

The first seven pictures here are from Tom Dow's photo archives.
The home stretch at Murillo Speedway
circa 1952 - Glen Kettering #37 and
Clyde Ditmars #77.
This is called the #1 or Barn Turn at the
old Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race
track - Cye Kehoe #12 and Ed Cusson #13.

Always click on the pictures once or twice to enlarge!

Left to right in this 1953 photo is Tom Dow, Jerry Whittaker, Unknown(does anyone know?), then Ross "Pappy" Fowler and finally wearing the #37(the old Glen Kettering number) is Al Robinson.  Both Glen and Al drove the Jessiman Motors #37 car.

Here is a great photo of John Panvica with his #99 Car...John was the first cousin of
a good friend of mine, Larry Pankuch.  John had lived in the Minneapolis area until his
recent passing last year.

A great story is connected to these two photos.  With all the damage to the cow and horse barns with the cars going through the fence on the #1 corner, the track officials decided to add a cable to stop the cars from going through and damaging fences and buildings, and STOP they did.  The second picture is of Clyde Ditmars car #77 completely tangled in the cable which caused much more damage to the cars and also more serious injury to the drivers.  It was soon decided that the cable be removed and replaced with a much higher wooden railroad tie rub rail.  This did help, but full time carpenters were needed weekly to repair all the wooden fences that were run down by flying jalopies jumping the rub rails.

Here is a photo of the #41 Bolduc Tire car driven by Bill Kruse.  Look at the incredible
condition of this car before it became a jalopy racer, and note the typical loss of fence,
and also note the cheap-skates that stood on trucks outside the fence to save a quarter.
They loved when a car took out 25 feet of fence, as they would be able to get a better
FREE view.

This is 112 North May Street in Fort William(now Thunder Bay and across from the old "Times Journal" building.  This building still exists to this day.  The Following is the  chronological order of the use of this building in the DOW family using the Henderson Directory:
- 1920-1927 - Thos. Dow Vulcanizer.
- 1933-1939 - Dow's Service Station.
- 1940-1954 - Dow's Auto Electric.
Dow`s Auto Electric moved to 785 Memorial Avenue in 1956, to a much larger shop.  The Auto Electric Shop was managed by Tom`s brother Don during those years.  A year after the move to Memorial, Tom started his own electroplating(Chrome) business at 327 N. Vickers Street
This is how the Memorial Ave Shop
building looks today as the home of
Nortec Computers.
This is how the ad for Dow`s Auto Electric appeared in the Henderson
directory in 1974.

 The paper on the left is a copy of an old invoice from "Dow`s Auto Electric".  The business on 785 Memorial Avenue ran from 1956 until it closed in 1993.
A BIG THANK YOU TO ALLAN YAHN FOR THE RESEARCH ON ALL THE ADDRESSES...with the help of old phone books and the old invaluable Henderson Directories. 
At the end of this block(Cummings Street) you can see what is left of the old "Dow`s Electroplating" business.  Tom left his chrome business in about 1977 to be taken over by "Industrial Chrome and Plating, and Thunder Bay Bumper Service & Chrome Plating".  A fire between 1978 and 1979 destroyed the business building to end the automotive chrome plating business here in Thunder Bay.  The building became vacant in 1980 until it eventually was taken over by "Thunder Bay Bearings" then finally ``PartSource Auto Parts`.

This is how Tom Dow`s ad appeared in the 1972 Henderson
This is how the end of Cummings Street
looks today.  The chrome business portion
was removed long ago to make room
for a parking lot.

Here is a close-up after the "Industrial Chrome and Plating" fire.  The white portion
of this building was later torn down to build a parking lot for "PartSource".

This is how this corner looks today.

       The Dow family businesses were predominant in the automotive trade here in the Lakehead cities of Fort William and Port Arthur from the 1920`s until the 1990`s.        This 1933 ad appearing in the Henderson directory of the same year shows the same 112 May Street North address as "Dow`s Service Station".
One final note:  Our own Custom King, Ed Stroszyn worked for years with Tom Dow at Dow`s Electroplating, turning out some incredible custom cars in the 1950`s and 1960`s.  Ed now lives in Victoria, B.C. and still runs "Mr. Ed`s" repair an polishing shop, doing specialized welding and all metals polishing and straightening.
A final thank you to all who helped put these three posts together, including of course Tom Dow himself, Roger Rickards, and Allan Yahn.....also a quote from Jeff Caldwell.  It took a bit of work and a lot of time. HR&J hope you enjoyed these posts.