Sunday, January 4, 2015

FIELD OF A's - near our hometowns of Fort William and Port Arthur, in Kakabeka Falls in 1960....thanks to George Rogers.

Prologue - Dave says:
At about 14 years old  I had already  “borrowed” my dad’s car on a few occasions (without being caught of course) and after spending much time at Kam Motors body shop where my dad worked, the intoxicating effects of exhaust fumes and the scent of body filler, began running through my veins.  To add to this, in the early 1950's the wonderful world of local dirt track racing entered into the mix at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition grounds. 

These were the beginnings of being a full-fledged gear head.  Now, 55 years later, George Rogers writes this wonderful article titled “Field of A’s”.   Reading George’s story brought forward a flood of memories of the cars George described in detail, and he even had photo proof. these two photos are not George's, but you could well imagine the excitement of any 14 year old seeing something like this in the 1950s.  These both scrap yard photos feature mostly Model "A" Fords and you can click on each of them for enlargements.  George's local photos will appear at the end of the article.

So, with George Rogers approval, read his story next and I will comment more at the end.

FIELD OF A's - by George Rogers 
(formerly of Fort William, Ontario (now Thunder Bay) - George now resides in Winnipeg.

     As a teenager growing up in Fort William Ontario, my time was divided between schoolwork (in limited doses only), my part time job, and lots of cruising.  This was at the time when cruising actually involved driving, long before it came to mean sitting for hours in a lawn chair on a parking lot staring at your trunk lid.  Typically Sunday afternoon cruising led me to back roads out in the country, checking farm yards and abandoned buildings for old cars.  
     Near Kakabeka Falls, some 20 miles west of town on a side road south of Hwy 17, there was a property where a few old cars could be glimpsed out back of the house through the trees.  However, they could be seen only from a distance because local legend had it that anyone venturing onto the property would be met by an angry old man with a shotgun.  Although I wanted to get a close look at the cars, I had no interest in confirming the legend.  
     Now, it happened that my part time job was at the Safeway store, and somehow I came to learn that one of our customers was the wife of the angry old man.  She would periodically take the train to town for a shopping trip.  She’d get her provisions at Safeway, and I’d often take her boxes a block or so to the CN station where she’d catch the train home.  She was a lovely lady, and once I became aware of her relationship to the objects of my interest, I’d make a point of steering our conversation in that direction.  After a few fairly broad hints she invited me to come out to see their cars. I did so the next day, camera in hand.  
     They had four A’s, all different models.  One, a two door sedan, was still licensed and in regular use.  Out back there was a Phaeton, equipped with a non-original barnboard roof rack, which they explained had been used to carry a boat when the car was driven through bush on fishing trips to remote lakes.  The others were a rumble seat equipped Sport Coupe, and a rare Victoria.  With the exception of the Phaeton, which bore the scars of its off-road duty, all appeared to be in decent condition.   After that first visit I went out to see her and her husband, who proved to be a good fellow, on a number of occasions.  More than once I asked about buying one of the cars.  The answer was always no, until a couple of years later when one day over a cup of tea they told me they would sell me a car, but only if I’d take all of them.  That just wasn't feasible for me, and I believe the cars were still there when I moved away a little later.  
     Incidentally, during those years I did buy a Model  A, a very nice low mileage one owner four door sedan.  Ironically, it had been stashed for many years in a garage on the adjoining property, a short walk from these cars.
     In 1960, when these photos were taken, Model A’s were very old cars.  However, doing the math, it’s clear that they were the same age as a 1985 car is today.  I find it difficult to get my head around that!
George Rogers - December 2014

THE PICTURES (as you can see, they were all taken in October 1960.  Click on all to enlarge!

The angry old man's wife (sweet looking lady)
'28/'29 Model A Ford Coach

1930 Model A Ford Sports Coupe

George must have liked this one the most, as there are more 
pictures of this one than any other.

Very Rare 1928/29 "Bush Phaeton"

Very Rare 1931 Ford Victoria - Larry Pugh in picture

1931 Ford Model A Victoria
George taking a "SELFIE"

After reading George's story and viewing the pictures, I couldn't believe my eyes, because I actually remembered these cars and where they were....I recognized some of the buildings in the photos as well, .....but before we go on, I must say that the cars are NOT there anymore and the family is NOT either.  There is a newer home on the property now and the area is pretty well built up.
When you pass Kakabeka Falls, head up hwy 590 which is just past the falls.  At the top of the hill, there is a road called Luckens Road which branches to the left.  The cars were right there on the south/west corner, and back from the main road.  It was definitely the shot gun that we were afraid of too...the rumors were true.  A couple of years later, the last car I remembered being there was the '31 Vicky stacked to the brim inside with firewood.  All you had to do was stop by the owner's driveway and he would head out with the gun and say "Get the hell off my property, you kids don't have a damn cent to spend on anything"....and he was pretty much correct.
One more note:  At coffee this morning(Jan. 4, 2015), my friend Ron remembered the rumor that the reason everyone was shooed away with a shotgun is that this fellow had coffee tins full of cash stashed everywhere around his property.....well, it was only a rumor.

The following maps show the exact spot where the cars were

This is how that corner looks today....HWY 590 goes off to the right and Luckens Road is to the left.  Luckens Road was named something else back then and was used a few times for racing hill climb runs.

Many thanks to George for this article and photographs.  George has contributed to Hot Rods and Jalopies before, and you can read more of George's input but clicking on this following link, then scroll way down past the current story -

1 comment:

JOHN kelly said...

I use to also drive with my girl friend from about 1968 on until one day all of the cars had disappeared. The part about the gun was true as for as I had seen and if I remember correctly the owner had passed away and within a few days all of the cars were gone in the early 1970's