Friday, February 21, 2014

Winter Memories of our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario plus a few other tidbits......

With the accumulation of snow this year, it brought back an abundance of winter childhood memories.  At our coffee/gearhead weekly meetings we talked about the fact that the snow that has fallen with the recent storms is pretty much the same type of weather we remember having in the 1950's and '60's.  
As the streets get narrower around town due to the heavy snowfall, the city has been clearing many of the snow banks on major streets. I remember as a kid seeing these incredibly large snow blowers sucking up the banks around town and in turn blowing the snow into large trucks to be dumped down at the waterfront, either in Fort William and/or Port Arthur.
This is what one would have looked like in the 1930's....and would be a spectacle to watch to the delight of many kids and also adult kids.  Unfortunately this is not a local photo, as Fort William and Port Arthur wouldn't have a snow blower until the late 1940's and early 1950's, as you will see in next photo.

This next photo is in fact Fort William's first snow blower dutifully working on south May Street.  You can vividly see the O'Brien and Son's sand and gravel truck hauling the snow to somewhere along the Kam River or the Waterfront.  In those days, the city would contract out these trucks for their need. 

The next picture here is the actual location today, just across May Street from our City Hall, and just south of Blake's funeral chapel.  Blake's can also be seen just to the top left of the above photo.  As usual, click on all the photos for enlargements.

The next winter photo is of myself and my little sister (no I wasn't sleeping) in front of our home on east Arthur Street in Fort William.  The big building is St. Joseph's Boarding School (well...that's what they called it back in the 1950's).  They had huge skating rinks there and welcomed any kid that wanted to come over to play scrub hockey any evening or weekend.  Also, the Canadian National Railway line came down Arthur Street right through the city of Fort William.  The tracks turned east from the main line, came down Arthur, then started to turn north at Mark's Street and continued to the CN station which was just south of the Fort William Gardens along Vicker's Street and finally reconnected to the CN main line at the end of Vickers.  Notably there was ton's of snow back then, pretty much like we have today in Thunder Bay. 
This is how the same property looks tracks, no St.
Joseph's Boarding School and not very much front yard anymore
where we lived there on Arthur Street.  Off in the distance on
the left is Pope John Paul school and the tall building on the
right is Arthur Square on the corner of Marks and Arthur.  The
Pope John Paul property was the old St. Patrick High School

The following winter photo was taken about the same time as the one above and is my little sister sitting on a small sled.  I posted this photo to show you that every home in those days had a 45 gallon drum incinerator in which we burned (burnable) garbage or discarded building materials or what have you and only placed non burnable garbage items out for the city to pick up.....It was a great way at the time to reduce the buildup at the city landfill site, and you didn't need a permit to do so.  Also, most people still hung their clothes on the line even in the cold weather.  I remember my dad's frozen long johns standing up on their own.

Here is a wonderful picture of the corner of Victoria Avenue and Syndicate Avenue taken in the winter of 1917.  You know that if you stand where this picture is, you would be smack dab in the middle of our favourite indoor mall in our town....the one we love to hate, "Victoriaville".  The building on the left is the north/east corner.  A wonderful Trolley Street Car is headed for a turn south on Syndicate Ave.

Screw Driven Vehicle
The following few photos are not taken locally but are very interesting to say the least.  The first vehicle here is a screw driven sled which would be pretty versatile and very innovative back in the early part of the 20th century.  The little film below shows its concept in 1929.  It's about 4 1/2 minutes long but worth the look.

Propeller Driven.
The mail must go through with this model "T" Ford conversion.

Finally here, we have the same version of the mail vehicle above, on a Ford Model "A" chassis, taken in Alaska....what a great way to get around on the snow.  I would love to own one today.
HR&J hopes that you enjoyed this and thanks for watching.

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