Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DINTY'S, Gord Crompton and the Rest of the Story in Our Home Towns of Fort William and Port Arthur....

Icons of our past get lost in in our memories, but certain ones remain all our life.  We still have KFC because they are afraid to call it Kentucky "fried" Chicken anymore because saying that sounds like it's full of "fat"....Well folks, it still is!!!
Enough of that.....Kentucky Fried Chicken was always "DINTY'S" back in the day...and that's the name we will always remember.........BUT.......how did that come about??
Gordon "Gordy" Crompton was quite an entrepreneur (still is), but his claim to fame were a few interesting things as we will see....and many more I don't even know about......

Firstly it was DINTY'S Kentucky Fried Chicken.













In the phone book page from 1962 you can see quite a few Cafes and Restaurants....but one of the big two at the bottom was the well advertised "Dinty's".  Many ads were in school yearbooks, IODE recipe books, in the TV guide etc. etc.

"DINTY'S" as we see was a well known name....scroll down to see how it became Dinty's... ...be sure to click on all the ads in this post to enlarge them and read this right to then end...It's a good story.
OK.....Told by his daughter (yes his daughter) Sam.....Gordy always liked a good deal, and all his life he was well known for that.  Back when Gordy wanted to start the Kentucky Fried Chicken business, he went to purchase a Neon Sign that would have his name on it as well as the KFC logo.  He ventured to Deluxe Signs on Cumberland St., and found that it was a little expensive for Neon especially since his name was quite long and the price was likely by the letter.  Management of Deluxe signs offered Gordy a great deal.  It seams as though there was a sign made that was never picked up, but had something other than Gordy's name on it......You guessed it........ it said DINTY'S.  Gordy could not pass up the deal ......and now you know the rest of the story.  By the way, the TV above with the ad is thanks to my facebook friend Gary Spence.

LOCATIONS 
The Fort William location was where the "Burger Barn" is today on the corner of Walsh and Syndicate streets.  That is the intersection where you would travel up the Jacknife Bridge to cross over to Island #1 and #2 as we called them.


 The Port Arthur location was at 303 N. Cumberland Street.  The actual location is the next photo, but when Gordy gave up the business Kentucky Fried Chicken was moved a little further north down Cumberland St.




Now if you look back at the ad in the phone book page at the beginning, you will see that in 1962 it said there were 3 locations.  The last location is actually here at 380 John Street....John and Banning Street to be exact.  This is the location as it is directly across from Kangas Sauna and there address is 379 John Street.  This Dinty's location also had offices on the second floor.

Now for argument sake, many people think there was a Dinty's at the corner of Waterloo and Arthur St. in Fort William....the answer is no.  The property at 2013 Arthur Street in the day belonged to Percy Dacey, and was called Dacey's Drive Inn....later to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Gordy also ran a place called the 4D (The Fourth Dimension) which was a coffee house and the areas first folk club.  Gord Crompton opened the coffeehouse in 1962, which was formerly called "The Club Seaway" near the corner of George and McVicar St. (later the Simpson Street extension).  He couldn't call that Dinty's because it was part of a coffeehouse chain with locations in Regina and Winnipeg.  The building over time was demolished to make way to join Simpson Street to Arthur Street.
Local folk and entertainment groups played at all three locations of the 4D's such as The Rovers, Tom Kelly, and The Ramblers.  In April of 1965 Neil Young and the Squires opened for Stephen Stills group called "The Company",  Stills was impressed with Neil's band but the Squires broke up in the summer of 1965.
Many other groups and bands played there until it closed such as The Vendettas,...who returned in Sept 1966 with a new drummer from a local group call The Bluestone Five.  They left Fort William in October before the 4D closed for good.
The following maps show where "The Fourth Dimension" was.  Click on each.





Here is an excerpt from the Thunder Bay News Watch in 2012


Oh, and Yes there was a Dinty's Motor Inn on Cumberland Street called the Sea-View which still exists to this day without Gordy's DINTY'S name.



We couldn't end this story without a vintage car story....and this 1948 Buick Hearse is none other than Neil Young's Car he travelled in from gig to gig.  Gordy's daughter Sam tells one final story about the hearse being parked in front of the Crompton home particularly at Christmas, as Neil would enjoy had Christmas dinner with them.

Neil was and still is a car enthusiast, and one particular song he sung was about this hearse "Long May You Run".............Click to Play.... Many thanks to Gordon Crompton's daughter Sam for the memories, and Gary Spence for the Graphic work on the Television Set above.
We hope you enjoyed this long awaited story...thanks for checking back from time to time for new stuff.  Dave Cano at HR&J

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another great post! The 1962 phone book page of coffee shops and restaurants alone was worth the visit: I looked over every listing and, for some of them, the memories just flowed. The information about the Gordie Crompton (and Neil Young) was icing on the cake. Interesting to see a reference to CJLX and Ray Dee: that's a name I hadn't thought of for a long, long time, and I probably remember him more from his work at CKPR.

Thanks for the memories.

Dave Cano said...

Thanks to anonymous for the comments...always much appreciated...I wish more people would comment, then I'd know that the posts have been read.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's anonymous again. Excuse me for submitting twice to the same post but I wanted to add to what I said earlier. I don't live in Thunder Bay anymore but my mother still does, and I spoke with her on the phone last night and mentioned this post. As soon as I mentioned Gordy Crompton, she told me about first meeting him at Boulevard Lake. She's in her 80's now but, when she and my father were dating back in the early 1950's, they would often go to Boulevard Lake and she vividly remembered that Gordy Crompton was the "kid" who worked at the concession stand there. She told me that she always felt bad for him, such a young guy working in such a hot busy place when everyone else his age was out having fun. Still, she said, he seemed to like working there and she realized later that he put the experience to good use. My father was a plumber and it turns out that he did a lot of the plumbing in Gordy's businesses back in the 60's, and they got to know each other quite well. My father, who died a few years ago, was always running out to do weekend emergency calls at local restaurants when he was younger and needed the overtime. Now I wonder if, perhaps, he once fixed a leaky pipe one Saturday or Sunday at the Fourth Dimension Club and bumped into some starving folk singer who would later become world-famous. Ah, the questions we have for our parents, but didn't know to ask until it was too late ...

Dave Cano said...

Wonderful addition to this post...Thank You...