Friday, November 24, 2017

Christmas Pre-Season Favourite Old Photos from our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario.....

This is probably my all time favourite seasonal photo of downtown Fort William.  It was taken on Dec 1, 1969, the last year that Fort William would be a city.  
Fort William would be changed forever, firstly because our city, as well as our twin city Port Arthur in one month would become the new city of Thunder Bay, and secondly because our downtown district would soon be blocked off to traffic due to the construction of an all new state of the art mall called Victoriaville, a controversial decision that never seems to go away.  
This photo was taken from atop the Cooper Stitt block, which would soon to burn to the ground, leaving a huge void on this important shopping corner.  
The new landmarks you already see are the new City Hall which was to cover Thunder Bay city business, the Holiday Inn and just to the right of it you can see a small portion of the new IBM building on the corner of Donald St. and Syndicate Ave.
Some re-posted photos are here for new viewers to sure to click on each photo once or twice to enlarge.

This was a very interesting corner through the years as the next photo will show. (Sorry they are not winter shots).  It is difficult to believe that only about 30 years before the above photo was taken, the Agnew Surpass store in the Medical Arts building as it was called, was a wooden structure called Shop-Easy as shown below, and the other adjoining wooded structures would also be long gone.  The tower on the left in the photo below is the fire lookout at the Brodie St. fire station.  The recent photo to the right is the old Medical Arts building(the same place in the above picture) showing its deterioration through the years despite the efforts of many to rejuvenate that portion of downtown.

Looking a little further south down May Street in the 1915 post card photo below, the only recognizable structure would be the spire of the original Fort William City Hall.  The Royal Edward Hotel had not yet been built when this was taken.

Moving over to the corner of Victoria Ave. and Syndicate Ave. in about 1940 is this fabulous photo showing the old Victoria Hotel, Gillespie Drug Store, Rudil's Restaurant, McCartney Jewelers, and Mahon Electric.  A late 1930's vehicle is waiting for the light to change in very cold weather.  The black things above are the frogs to inter-connect all the trolley lines for this corner which today resides right smack dab in the middle of what is now Victoriaville Mall.

Here is an interesting circa 1930s photo loaned to us from the Ken Crooks collection.  It is taken from the roof of the Canadian Pacific Railroad Station on Syndicate Ave.  It vividly shows a streetcar heading south down Syndicate Ave.  The street branching off to the right is Isabella St.  Note the pretty lady in winter clothing on the billboard advertising Winchester Cigarettes.
 Fort William's city hall in all its glory decorated for the Christmas Season in the 1950's.

We all remember Elk's Peewee hockey.  Here, one lucky player looks like he has a breakaway and is heading to to score a goal.  This photo is taken at the city rink at McKellar Park...pretty much where the McKellar Park school is now.

There are a bunch of old memories in this old Port Arthur photo on Arthur St., now called Red River Road(renamed after the two cities amalgamation).  You would be standing on the corner of Court St. and Arthur St. facing east and towards Lake Superior.  Many of the structures you see here still exist today.

Back to Fort William just south of the corner of Donald and May Sts. in the 1940s is the city of Fort William's first snow blower, helping to remove snow from the streets and haul it away not just pack it all up along the side of the road.  S. J. O'Brien and Sons Sand and Gravel did a great business with the city handling much of the hauling.  Blake Funeral Home is the only building still standing on this block today.

Here's a couple of family photos taken while heading out for Christmas trees.  The first is my uncle Henry sitting on the hood of my dad's 1929 Erskine(later to become Studebaker) taken in about 1939 and the second is my son Darren in the blue toque and his cousin Jason....all of us out getting trees near Kakabeka Falls in about 1979.

Here's a re-do of my friend Roger Rickards just completing his snowman on the corner of Lillie St. and Victoria Ave. in the early 1950s.  Checking out the today photos and where the buildings are now gives you an idea how much the Victoria Park area had grown since then.

Remembering incinerators.... everyone had a 45 gallon drum that they used to burn unwanted scraps.  It greatly reduced the amount of garbage that would head to the my mind, still a good idea today....but just put a screen on top.  :-)

The boys of Loch Lomond.  A nice photo here of myself with ski buds circa 1960.  Left to right are John Ritchie, Dwight McIntosh, myself and Scott McCallum.  Dwight and Scott were both in my wedding party years after this photo was taken and John Ritchie became the coach of the Crazy Canucks, the famous Canadian Olympic Ski Team of the late 1970s.  Sorry for the quality of the old photo.

Below is a photo of Mary and Bill Irwin  looking out from the top of the Giant Slalom at the Loch Lomond Ski Club, circa 1960's. They were the original builders, owners and proprietors of Loch Lomond here in Fort William. I spent many years skiing here and actually helped in my small way to build the South side. To read a little more about Bill and his family click on this link, then come back and enjoy the photos.

Finally in this post we have the swing bridge heading to the Mission with Mount McKay in the background.  We are still waiting for it to open to vehicular traffic after a fire that destroyed a portion of it.  Hope you enjoyed some of these winter shots in my home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"Lest We Forget"....pre-Remembrance Day 2017 - some Fort William and Port Arthur Memories and War Effort Advertising....

Lest We Forget.....This is such a compelling photo of the Lake Superior Regiment marching to the trains at the most eastern end of Arthur St. (now Red River Road) in Port Arthur, Ontario in 1940.  (these are two photos stitched together from the north and south side of Arthur St. Port Arthur, On.) on all photos once or twice to enlarge them.

 "In Flanders Fields" was what we memorized and recited every year when remembrance day rolled around.  It made us realize the utmost sacrifice our soldiers of war made to make our country free, so that we could live in peace with prosperity and love.....most of our fathers served and this is a tribute to all of you.

I was given a number of newspapers recently dating from my birth year during the second world war by Maureen Croissant/Prairie and Brian Prairie of which I am very grateful.  The following are some of the advertising pieces in them...note that they are all related to the war effort in the day.   On the left is an ad for the Canadian Lakehead (Victory) Exhibition.  The photo on the right shows Joe DiMaggio and Peewee Reese autographing baseballs for Admiral Ghormley.

This one shows a recruitment advertisement for the Canadian Women's Army Corps.....claiming that women are also needed like never before, and another asking everyone to save waste paper for the war effort.

Here's another from August 1944 advertising B.F. Goodrich Tires, advertising that the mileage you can get from the new design is equivalent to pre-war.

Another familiar sign of quality was Coca Cola and just as it would be today.....a welcome home from a weary soldier would include a Coca Cola.  The Prestone Anti-Freeze advertisement states that it is more important for it to serve all military vehicles before the common automobile.  Click on each.

One final note on this upcoming remembrance day on November 11, 2017

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Final Notice - October 13th "When There Was Thunder" in your home town.

Don't miss this historic two day event in your home town Friday evening October 13th THIS WEEK at the CLE Coliseum from 6:30pm until 11:00pm....Saturday the second day is the self guided tours to Russ Wanzuk's from 10:00am til 12:00noon and to the Duke Hunt Museum's racing collection from 1:30pm to 4:30pm.  MAPS will be available at the Coliseum for day 2.

Prizes from Sponsors will be given away at the Coliseum and at the Duke Hunt museum.

Tickets are available for from the CLE office on Northern Ave.,  from Dave Cano, Lil Stieh, Ron Hebert or anyone else on the committee, or at the door. $5.00

In case you haven't read the article in this past Sunday's Chronicle is a copy.  Click on Each of the images TWICE to enlarge to screen size to read.

Monday, October 2, 2017

"WHEN THERE WAS THUNDER" an historic event in your home town...don't miss it.....

Read the poster below and all of this post to see 4 generations of racing photos.  Be sure to free up the time to attend this historic event being held at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Coliseum in your home town, Thunder Bay.

We start off with a couple of original Murillo Speedway photos from 1950.
In these two photos you can see the huge Murillo grandstand packed with people.  The fan base in Fort William, Port Arthur and Murillo Ontario was always very supportive.  Click on each picture to enlarge them for more detail.
#77 was Clyde Ditmars of Kakabeka and #37 was Glen Kettering

The 00 Snitch Special Plymouth was none other than Barry Kettering
 Next came the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition and the Lakehead Stock Car Club in 1952

Then came the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition track in 1952 to the delight of local race fans who did have to or want to travel out to Murillo in the day.  This famous logo became the benchmark iconic sign of The Lakehead Stock Car Club, which appeared on numerous programs and racing jackets in the 1950's and 1960's

The Massaro Brothers Tony 87 and Albert circa 1953/4

 The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition half mile race track.  Most of the homes and businesses in the area are still there.  You can still see the Memorial Ave trees, and in this particular picture, the rides at the CLE across the river.

This photo of the track was taken from the May Street side....look close and you can see the old Arch between Fort William and Port Arthur, and this one was also during fair week.  The course of the river was changed over time due to the construction of the new McIntyre flood-way.

In 1967 came a new state of the art track built by the combined efforts of The Northern Ontario Timing Association and E. J. Bernosky

 A 3/8 mile oval which was the pride of our organization...a perfect location.
Here's high flying Merv Dove, former Lakehead Stock Car Club driver and Riverview flagman, flagging Stan Anderson to a Victory.  Merv claims to this day that he can still jump that high.

Yours truly picking up a checkered flag in 1968....the photo on the right is #98 Al Brescia and #17 Lonal Lajoie.  You vintage Sprint car guys have to fill me in as to who the driver below of #2 was...(was it Jerry Richert?...He drove the #2 Super Mod for a few years).                             The last photo of the group is one of the early fall Championship races at Riverview.

Finally, we have Mosquito Speedway who now hosts a fan filled fall classic early each fall.
You can see by the number of cars and fans at Mosquito Speedway that the need for speed has not slowed down at all in our home town of Thunder be sure to come out and support this great two day event, meet some of your old friends and meet some of the great guys that started it all back at Murillo and the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition race track.

Finally....please note that Jeff Caldwell will have his final run of hats from Murillo, CLE and Riverview available for sale at the event....don't miss out.

Thank You

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Battle with the Fence at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Race Track in the 1950's in our home towns of Fort William and Port Arthur, Ontario...

The photos on this post may have been the best of the best when it came to keeping the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition carpenters in gainful employment during the 1950's.  The wooden fence was to keep non paying cheapskate fans from viewing the unprecedented dirt racing excitement for free.  The fence was built without even an eye width crack in between the boards and I had heard that even knot holes were covered with an additional piece of wood.

However, this didn't stop the jalopy jockeys from helping the non paying customers to a free show by continually cleaning out yards and yards of fence.  Initially there was just a wooden fence beside the track.  Along Northern Ave., and just outside the wooden part was a wire fence with a barbed wire top.....The fair folks weren't fooling around when it came to discouraging free viewing.

Obviously that didn't deter the stock car pilots from tearing up most of the fence, so the fairgrounds opted for wooden beams all round the track, just inside the stockade.   Some people thought they were only railroad ties, but closely scrutinizing some of these photos, the wooden "rub rail" as we called it was more like 12" X 12" beams....well, maybe some of it was RR ties.

As you can see in this first photo, Bill Kruse driving the #41 Bolduc Tire car very systematically  took out about 20 feet of wooden fence, around turn #2 along Northern Ave.  Here it doesn't look like there was much of a rub rail, but you will see in some of the following 28 photos that there was a very heavy duty rub rail installed as early as 1953.

Here is a 1953 newspaper clipping on the problem.  The problematic fence destruction at the CLE track never actually ended until the very last race was held here in 1966.  Be sure to click on all the photos once or twice to get a full screen size rendition of all the photos.

In the picture to the right Louis Tocheri #19 did his share of fence destruction while the fans outside the barricade jumped for joy, as there was a huge gap in the fence where they could watch the whole nights events in full colour for FREE.

 On the left you can really see how high the rub rail became early in the 1954 racing season, but it didn't deter #88 Albert Massaro from tearing out a few yards of the track's enclosure.
On a side note here, Rea's Esso Service was located in the exact spot as the large parking lot for the Spence Clinic building (Arthur Square).  That's on the corner of Arthur and Mark's St.

Here, Mike Guzzi's #4 is sitting on top of some very large beams of wood....I can't imagine what it would be like to jump up on those rub rails.  Hitting a tire on the infield of Riverview Raceway was a hard enough hit in the day.

 Here Glen Kettering #37 and Fred Danis #22 mix it up on top of the rub rail as Tony Massaro #87 goes speeding by.  You can also vividly see the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition Coliseum building in the background to put this photo in perspective.

In this photo we have Jerry Whittaker #75 and a very rare photo of Tom Dow's black and white #2 car mixing it up coming out of turn 4 and heading towards the grandstand stretch.....again the beams here are quite large, but sort of protected some of the fence on the west side of the track.

 Tony Massaro had wrecked quite a few vintage cars of the day and this one is no exception....when this car drove out onto the track, it still had its original hubcaps in place and the license plate as you can see here is still intact.....and....oh yes, 40 or 50 feet of fence was gone in this incident.

Barry Kettering is sitting on the side bar of his #47 "Bud's Thing" race car with a member of his pit crew bent over being sure that Barry was OK after removing over 70 feet of fence and sitting on top of the rub rail.  The rest of the boys are wondering how to get it off the high wooden rub rail.  On the back of Barry's car it reads "Bass Ackwards" you remember that saying? .....and on the top above the back window it says "Royal Triton Motor Oil".
Jim Manduca #73 had his share of fence removal as well.  Read this post right to the end to see the best story yet with Jim involved.  As you can see there is quite a bit of fence gone here and also the barbed wire didn't stop anyone from standing on top of the wire fence in the background, and the guys on their truck roof now have a direct view of the whole race track.

In this photo the #21 driver is unknown, the #12 car was the Deluxe Flower Shop deuce coupe driven by Cye Kehoe, and just about to rip through the fence and into what was known as the cattle barns on turn 1 on our half mile CLE track is non other than Ed Cusson's #13 car.  The barns nicely curved along turn 1 and were a target for may jalopy in the day.
This is a great photo of John Stad's #6 car just inches away from being a river rat.  The angle of the track was such that if you left the track between turn 3 and 4, this is where you would end up.  Many jalopies met their demise on this corner.  Interestingly in the background you can see the old CLE walking bridge that would lead to the parking lot and the midway during fair week.  Below is Barry Ketterings cute little '32 Ford 5W coupe "Bud's Thing" with its nose into the river at a night time race meet at about the same spot as John Stad's car above......but Barry had some help from a higher source and had it proudly displayed on the back bumper of his little coupe....It stated "In God We Trust".... It must have helped because his little #47 never did go all the way in....they were able to get it out of the river and into the next race.
Here is #88 Albert Massaro eyeing up the front of his car wondering if they will ever be able to recover it from the outside of the wooden stockade.  This was actually an earlier photo when there was little or no rub rail to keep you inside the track.  It was truly amazing how many people watched from truck boxes and standing atop the barbed wire...If everyone was inside in the grandstand, they could probably have topped the 6000 fan mark.

Another picture showing the CLE Coliseum in the background.  This is #35 car driven by Don Deacon sitting high and dry atop the famed rub rail we talked about so much on this post.  Check out the size of that front bumper protecting the fragile radiator.

Yet another 50 feet of fence down.....truly I would have hated to be the carpenter or even one of a crew of carpenters to have to repair this fence every single week.  This is the #60 car driven by Don Marsh......and as we know, so many of these wonderful little pieces of hot rod material were destroyed.  The '32 Ford coupe was and still is today the most quintessential piece of hot rod material ever made by any manufacturer.  Click twice to enlarge all photos.

Read the story above and then click here on the two photos mentioned on either once or twice to enlarge them for a screen size view.

Now look at this unidentified jalopy literally hopping over the rub rail and wiping out another 50 feet of fence.... "How did I do that?" he said, and "Geez, I parked my vehicle right there before the races too.....Oh Nooo."
Here again and below is Jim Manduca in his #73  Ford coupe after about a 200 foot new gap in the CLE fence.....The ecstatic fans on the other side of the fence can watch the race for free now and they won't even have to stand on the bus turnaround shelter.  The scenery in the background is of course the bus terminal between Fort William and Port Arthur  on Fort William Road....remember transferring buses between the twin cities there?  The fair board is sure missing a ton of revenue here again.
 #79 was Murray Simmons, and the next two photos of Murray's cars were basically taken at the same time but one from track side and one from the other side.  You can see how dangerous the wooden posts would be splintering like this.  One of the most serious accidents that happened at the CLE track was to Wes Inkster in about 1957.  He lost an eye due to wood fragments and had many health issues later due to his accident.

Malcolm Galbraith is seen here on the right in his little #35  '32 Ford 3W coupe.  It almost looks like the little jalopy had a mind of its own and just wanted to jump the rub rail and tear down a long length of fence.  This again is along Northern Ave and a new home is being built there....obviously no complaints about the dirt and noise had yet been heard.

Here is the best photo of the post in my opinion.  It is Jim Manduca again in the ditch as he just entered the #3 turn, and guess what.....yes you did, another 30 feet of fence is down....but scroll down and LOOK at the next photo for the detail to see what or who is in the tree that was narrowly missed by Jim.

Click on the clip to read it better.... Hope you enjoyed this post...and hope you're all having a great summer.  Dave.