Car licensing here has colourful past

So many of our leading personalities and local events have been touched by the Fort Frances car licence bureau that it has assumed its own history.
The present manager is hard-working Bev Fraczkiewicz, who declined to be interviewed, but the bureau’s story deserves attention! So many prominent people have been connected with that modest building next to the huge old high school!
Bev’s tiny quarters—always crowded by licence applicants lined up two and three deep—was formerly home to the large and active Cousineau family who took over the Electric Bakery on Scott Street. This later passed into the hands of a younger son, Louis, and became the Bonnie Blue.
Several of Louis’ older brothers became Second World War pilots who served with distinction in both the U.S. and Canada, and the eldest, Bob, later went into the insurance business.
The bureau’s previous address was just across Mowat Avenue where the town-owned bus line was operated by Clarence Wright. Clarence shared his office with both Bev and a popular old mayor, Bert (B.V.) Holmes.
Bob Trenchard, a friend of Bert and Clarence, handled the licensing earlier at an old shack of an office on Church Street. This was located between the former liquor store and Louis Roseman’s popular furniture store, both long gone now.
Louis, now residing in Winnipeg, helped returned servicemen furnish their homes after the Second World War.
The Trenchard office stood just across the street from another mayor of those days, Mel Newman, who had a busy car agency. Mel also was the local MPP for several years.
Bob’s old building was earlier occupied by a rather famous old lawyer, C.R. Fitch, who had defended the men charged with our “hot stove murder” case in the early 1940s.
Three were hanged here afterwards while Fitch went on to explore local possibilities for oil wells.
Trenchard was not popular with district drivers for sometimes making them wait outside in line while he went away on a coffee break. (Since lengthy lineups may have benefited nearby businesses, including the liquor store, though, not everyone could complain!)
Later, after years of protests from those who had to wait hours after coming to town, a second licence bureau was opened at Rainy River.
There is no denying this business has become busier every year—along with increased regulations such as that pesky licence tag! Formerly, new licence plates were handed over the bureau counter every spring and it was known these were a prison product along with the manufacture of mail bags—and this could be understood better than buying a fresh sticker that cost $37 and is easily lost!
However, the stickers—a different colour every year—are easily seen by oncoming police! They must be an added headache, though, for the over-worked folks in licence bureaus!
Anyway, our bureaus here holds a significant corner in local history as well as the local economy, even though nobody remembers whether horses and buggies were ever licensed or how streets and roads were paid for in earlier times.
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A new correspondent suggests something I want to hear again after wondering for months why we put up with all that junk music on radio and TV today.
My letter writer, signing merely “Respectfully P.C.,” believes the “oldies” of 30 to 70 years ago like “Blueberry Hill,” “Tennessee Waltz,” and “Buttons and Bows,” or even older tunes, should be still heard today for real enjoyment.
And you know, I couldn’t agree more!
How well we remember this one from the Crosby and Hope movie: “Oh, East is East and West is West, and the wrong one I have chose! Let’s go where they keep on wearin’ these silks and satins and buttons and bows—and you’re all mine in buttons and bows!”
Those tunes would help us celebrate our centennial year very well! Others agree, “P.C.” We’ll do more!
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Since I knew him as a fellow construction worker back in the 1940s, Vernon Silver has distinguished himself as dance accordianist. I have not retained all of their names, despite knowing some so well, I recalled about four of the seven Silver brothers from Fritz on down.
Vernon got all their names down as Fritz, Erling, Vincent, Vernon, Elderlord, Gerald, and Ronald. This East End family also included three sisters.
• • •
Meeting Doug Bone in Safeway the other day brought up questions concerning his pioneer Crozier family that homesteaded miles of my River Road neighbourhood.
My farm was developed by the oldest Bone brother, Bill, and Steve Bone, (next to him) was Bill Mutz’s place. A mile closer to town was the Joe Bone farm, which changed ownership most often.
A fourth brother, Albert, settled further along the river, near the Mathieu estate in La Vallee.
Dave Marsh compares the Bone contribution to the Cauls in district importance. The Cauls farmed in Miscampbell and La Vallee. (Now I’m beginning to believe I’ll have lasted longer on River Road than any Bones).
• • •
Either my age is the trouble or several of our automatic doors in both business and public buildings are becoming much tougher to cope with. This is possibly due to such prolonged cold weather, but you can expect to be knocked flying almost any day!
Some of those doors close unexpectedly with a real wallop and children are in danger!
• • •
Sylvia Johnston of International Falls remembers our Fort Frances Brewery’s pop plant with yearning for its “honey cream,” the best she ever tasted!
Formerly owned by the late R.V. (Rusty) Green, the brewery made very popular beer, Columbine and Fort Frances lager, before a fellow from Germany bought it after coming out of Argentina with a world contest prize from Belgium for his beer.
However, it did not sell were here! Our last brewery owner died on welfare!
• • •
The last Friday of each month here again is our Legion supper night, always attracting a full house of around 800.
• • •
Our medical clinic is usually so busy that the quiet time this past week had to be explained! Apparently the March Break for schools sent many parents and students out of town!
• • •
Malcolm Douglas helped me operate the Winnipeg Tribune agency here, which I held for 22 years, but I found it hard to recognize him now with white hair. His daughter, Sheryl, now manages the Winnipeg Free Press distribution.
Before the Tribune closed, we had over 1,400 sales here against about 500 Free Press.
• • •
I can vouch for our provincial policeman as being the most courteous and polite people around, especially in their assistance of older or handicapped citizens.
In fact, I was rather nervous when some kind officer, seeing me climb into my truck while using my cane, reached out to help me! You might wonder what I have done now!
• • •
But my birthday came and went Saturday and the closer I come to 80, the more I need both the cane and truck! Fortunately, though, my problems is not arthritis.

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