Sunday, May 25, 2014

Today I Lost My Wonderful Friend Ron Clark.....May 25, 2014.

Ron Clark (Big Daddy Hot Rod) was my inspiration, and one of the most courageous men I have ever known.  He lived his life making one feel that not one tiny thing was ever wrong...never complained and never showed any of the distress in life that he had to deal with.  Ron, with his disability never wanted anyone to treat him any different than you would anyone incredible man and I felt so privileged to have known him.
So, for you Ron, for Pat and all your are about 20 photos of some of the memorable and happy times we the Sensational Hot Rods in the early years, the great parties and the in-depth talks we shared many times over.  And Steve, if it wasn't for you and our involvement with the Sensational Hot Rods, Rosemary and I may never have met your parents Ron and Pat. Thank You!
Ron Loved his 1946 Chevy Coupe

Check that Smile!!

Be sure to click on all the pictures for enlargements.  Here's a great shot of Ron in my old Buick, Pat, Josh and my wife Rosemary when the Hot Rods played at Back to the 50's in the early 2000's....fabulous memories!
Here is a picture of Ron and I as co-managers back in the early days of the Sensational Hot Rods on stage telling everyone about the new and upcoming band's website, and announcing up and coming concerts.
Here's a great shot of Ron (drinking Diet Pepsi of course) and son Steve (NOT drinking Diet Pepsi). This was at one of those great after concert parties we all enjoyed...this particular one being at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino.

The pictures above and below are my all time favourites of us.  This is Ron and myself dressed as the Blues Brothers for a Halloween concert with the band at Armani's back when.......
We actually got on stage and sang "Ghost Riders in the Sky."  You can see the fun we were all having...again another memorable moment with our friends.

The above is a collage of the night at Armani' on it to enlarge.

Below are two nice photos of Pat and may have been one of their anniversary parties. We had so much fun in those days and would entertain ANY excuse to have a party of some sort.  This picture was taken at Riley's Tavern in Westfort where we all spent many a time at the microphone doing Karaoke tunes.  "Fun" was the word of the day!!

You guessed it...Ron and Dave doing a re-make of "Ghost Riders in the Sky" from the Armani's Concert!!

Great times together for birthdays, anniversaries and just regular old visits!!!

This was the first time I had seen Ron's first power chair.....of course I had to take if for a tool down his hallway.....damn thing was pretty fast!!

The above photos are from one of Ron's Birthdays I believe.....all of us cracking jokes and having fun as usual.

 Scroll all the way down....

We will miss you so much Ron, and Pat we are here for you for whatever you need.
with Love, Rosemary and Dave Cano
....Oh, one more thing.....He loved his Maple Leafs

Thursday, May 22, 2014

PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS....another then and now post from our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur Ontario....

For those who don't know, the twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario is now Thunder Bay, Ontario since our amalgamation in 1970.

Then's and now's haven't been regular posts on HR&J for quite some time but since I have tons of photos on's about time to do one.  Then's and now's aren't just places and things but as you see here, it can be people.
A well known face in the public eye especially with the Dave Letterman show and also being a local icon, I thought I would start off with Paul Shaffer.  Now here is a great clipping showing Paul, I believe in the 1960's when he returned to Port Arthur to entertain at The Corral at the Circle In on Memorial Ave.  Paul actually had quite a mop of hair in those days as well as a well appointed cookie duster.  Us folks from Fort William and Port Arthur are very proud of our home town heroes that made it to the big time.  The next photo is more recognizable as the Paul Shaffer we know.

This photo of the Prince Arthur Hotel from back in the early 1940's is one of my all time favourite local pictures, as it vividly shows the "McColl-Frontenac Products" "Red Indian" sign in front of their service station which was on the corner of Cumberland and Van Norman Street where the Everest College building is today. 

The McColl-Frontenac Red Indian sign here is actually the Holy Grail for automotive sign collectors today, fetching many thousands of dollars in the antique market. The one in the black and white photo above is exactly like the one shown here, and I'm wondering where it went to....If you find it, let me know...LOL.  The Prince Arthur today photo has not changed much in all these years as you can see here.

The following is a very interesting advertisement from Nicholson's Tire back in the 1930's.  It wasn't just called a repair was called a Tire Surgery shop, saying "you don't have to wait" and "don't cuss, phone us".  As well as repairs, they also sold Goodyear tires.  This same building many years later become "The" Goodyear Tire Centre and now I believe it's just a gift shop.

The picture on the right is how it looked just before it became a gift shop at 271 Bay Street last year.  The building truly stood the test of time over the past 8 or so decades.  Many of the buildings our city wastefully destroys could easily be re-purposed for other business as shown here.

This is a very difficult picture to recognize, as literally nothing looks familiar...but if you click on this one you will see runners from the 10 mile road race in the background in the 1920's.  They are running towards you as you stand in the intersection of Donald and May Street facing north.  The only give-away is the name on the building on the left..."City Hall Garage" scroll down to see how that intersection looks today. 

The Royal Edward Hotel wasn't even in the above photo.

                                                              THE WHITE LUNCH

If you are as young as might recognize The White Lunch.  A well known establishment in the 1950's and a bit later, it catered to the younger generation and families.  It, like the old Lorna Doone was a great place to hang out after roller or ice skating at the Fort William Gardens.  Click on all to enlarge
   You might recognize this spot before all these wonderful buildings
    were torn down.The parking lot shown was where the White Lunch
    was on 117 Syndicate Ave.  Of course we all know that the new 
    Court House takes up all this property and more.

Three pictures of highway 61 coming into Fort William Ontario (now Thunder Bay) are shown here.  Highway 61 was historically known as "the Scott Highway" named after lumberman William Scott who had much to do with Pigeon River Timber.  The construction of a highway on only a trail to Pigeon River began in 1913 and was completed by 1916.  Much more detail can be found here  Be sure to click on ALL the photos on this post for higher detail.
Scott Highway 1916

HWY 61 - Scott Highway 1957
HWY 61 - Scott Highway 2013

This is a great clipping from the opening of Darling's Service on the corner of  Victoria and McKellar street...McKellar was originally called John Street and had to be renamed after amalgamation of our two cities back in 1970 due to the fact that there was a John Street in Port Arthur too.  
In the clipping is Mayor Gordon Carson shaking hands with the proprietor Ralph Darling...also with Zennie Dubinsky on the left and other "service" station attendants in the background.  The building behind with all the glass blocks was the old "Pilkington Glass" building.  This service station location today is Dave Knight Optical.  Click on this link for more on Darlings in this blog, then come back...

A time when this cap meant

Note that the modern photo
below left shows the glass
block windows the same as
shown in the clipping.
Click on each to enlarge!
Dave Knight optical taken from McKellar Street 2013

Thanks to my friend Shaun Hopkins, Hot Rods and Jalopies has this great photo of Glen Berger's Porsche powered Dune Buggy.  It was parked along Memorial Ave in front of Thunder Bay Volkswagen I believe in the 1960's.  The history is - Where Thunder Bay VW was is now the Dulux Paint store, the dark coloured house across the street is now the entrance to the Future Shop off Memorial Ave, and the Dow's Auto Electric building became the blue and yellow "Easy Cash" building all shown in the second photo here.  It's truly hard to believe how many changes have been made in our city in the past 50's surely fun to look back....especially if you remember.

It's very interesting looking at these two photos...not exactly sure of the dates but comparing the two probably over about 40-50 years the changes jump out at you....and the bottom one is at least 30 years old itself.  The orange roofed structure in the top photo is the old CPR station (I will do an exclusive post on that alone one day).  Water Street today travels right through the station, and notice how close the water line was to the tracks.  In the second photo you can see the station gone and then the beginnings of Water street and Marina park.  Ton's of fill was added to the water line and most of the park you see today would still be water if the massive many-year project would have never been started.  The property across from the tall PUC building will likely soon be our new Arena/Event Centre.....changes, changes, changes....some good some not so politics here!  LOL


137 W. Frederica Street West Fort William Ontario
HR&J hope you enjoyed this post.....once more, Thanks to Shaun Hopkins for the dune buggy photo and all the other photographers whom through history had the sense to take all the great photos we have to enjoy today.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Murray Simmons and The Lakehead Stock Car Club in the 1950's.......

With spring finally here, thoughts of the old 1950's CLE race days come flooding back.  As you know if you read into this blog on a regular basis, Stock Car Racing here in Fort William and Port Arthur was one of the largest attended events in the history of our city (now of course...Thunder Bay), especially at the CLE fairgrounds bringing fans by the thousands to view the best entertainment around.  Names that you remember were Merv Dove, Barry Kettering, Louis Tocheri, the Massaro brothers, Pappy Fowler and Lyn McIntosh to name a few.  Sadly one doesn't always remember the unsung hero's who came out week after week to entertain and put their lives on the line for a few dollars of prize money.
One of these unsung hero's was Murray Simmons.  Although I never knew Murray personally, his family donated some photos to Russ Wanzuk's collection and I thank Russ for loaning them to me a few years back.  As usual be sure to click on all the photos and posters to enlarge them.

A 1950's CLE racing poster.
The 1950's Lakehead Stock Car Club logo.

A nice younger picture of Murray in his racing helmet .

Here is another photo of Murray all buckled up and ready to race.

Here is Murray's first race car.  It's a 1934 Dodge 4-door sedan which had a 6 cylinder T120 truck engine installed.  Murray drove it exclulsively and the sponsor was Western Tire, the Port Arthur store.
Here is Murray again standing on the track with his helmet on, pretty upset at his car sitting in an infield ditch in about a foot of water.  Also check out all that board fence that was ripped out by many a race car back then.

The above photos...circa 1956, still of the Dodge 4-door without an engine at the end of a season of racing.  Murray was likely planning on a new and better car for the following year.

Murray's next car was a 1935 Dodge Business Coupe.  He still used the Dodge T120 6-cylinder engine, but added dual carburetors to it.  The car was co-owned by Murray and Russ Vester, and was driven exclusively by Murray....still with Western Tire Port Arthur as sponsor.

The final car Murray raced in the 1950's was a much faster car.  It was a 1938 Dodge Business Coupe.  It started out using a 292 CID 6 cylinder 1953 DeSoto engine that was bored, stroked, ported and relieved with larger valves.  Later in the year Murray and the boys took the 6 cylinder out and added a new 270 CID 1956 Dodge V8 engine...also bored, stroked, ported and relieved.  It ran a 3/4 Isky Cam and had 2 4bbl carburetors.....WOW, what a difference from the 6.  Murray and Jean Simmons owned the car and Western Tire from both Fort William and Port Arthur sponsored the car.
Murray and his crew travelled to Wisconsin and Minnesota racing this car, as well as a number of cities in Canada as far away as Edmonton, Alberta, and North Battleford Saskatchewan.

This picture is one of my all time favourite ones actually showing Murray's tire high in
the air with the centre totally removed from it.  This picture also shows the North end
of the CLE Coliseum building, giving you an idea where the track was located today.

A nice picture of Pop Simmons, Roy Gardiner and Murray.  The
photo on the right is the car with Roy.

Here is Murray mixing it up with the boys around turn

two and along the backstretch.  The houses you see are along

Northern Avenue and are still there today.  The photo on the
right is Murray and the boys taking a rest

A more recent picture of Murray holding his #79 racing helmet shown in many of the photos above. Sadly Murray passed away almost 2 years ago on May 15, 2012.  We want to remember these unsung hero's who gave us their all.
 click on...
This photo taken in about 1953 was the heyday of the early racing days here in Fort William and Port Arthur Ontario.  Even though I did some racing during the beginning of the Riverview Raceway years, I hold the fondest memories of Stock Car Racing from the CLE track in the 1950's.  HR&J hope you enjoyed this post.  D.