It’s here and it’s vast!
Wal-Mart will be selling almost everything you’ll need except cars—and it has one U.S. store even doing that, too, reports local manageress Cynthia (Cindy) Killett!
She is now interviewing about 500 job applicants before hiring up to 130 workers to look after sales of groceries, clothing, shoes, furniture, and electronics.
The big new store here also will contain a McDonald’s to give shoppers a rest during their walks around.
And right away, as always happens after a Wal-Mart opening, there also will come a big new Canadian Tire outlet—and maybe other emporiums. We are discussing a commercial expansion for Fort Frances of somewhat the same impact as the current Chinese earthquake!
This will be Mrs. Kellett’s fourth store. She opened the Wal-Mart last in New Liskeard, Ont. Her husband Ross is an RCAF retiree. Their oldest child still lives there but son, Brian, 15, is a Grade 10 student here.
Just don’t think the big companies currently arriving among us are completely unaware of the benefits of doing business in a contented community!
For just over 100 years officially now, we have enjoyed our great mixture of nationalities—the French from fur-trading days along the river on the south edge of town, the Scandinavians with their skills for woodwork and sawmilling in the east end, and paper-milling Ukrainians on the north side mostly.
Our Britishers, or “wasps,” fill in very well across the centre of town.
Long ago, all these races learned to practice harmony and blend into a happy and proud society. Also, the crime rate stayed low!
As I think back on old Third Street East in the 200 block where my first five Fort Frances years were so much enjoyed, a colourful mixture of names springs to mind. And I doubt there could be anywhere a more homogenous locality.
We all knew harder living conditions by far than today because these were the terrible ’30s! And yet the street ball games and kids’ laughter dominated the scene. My dad made a backyard slide for all of us beside his outdoor rink.
This was next to his rabbit hutch that helped keep us fed—providing meat for his homemade pasta.
There were other Italians in that block, Gino Coran with seven kids and a lane for “bocci” ball games, next door to the Del Pops, while three doors east, the Ukrainian Fichuks—with a similar-sized family—ran a farm on a corner lot that provided them and customers with milk, beef, and vegetables.
Everyone worked but made it all seem like fun to the rest of us kids around, especially the Fichuk twins’ bikes for milk deliveries.
We had the Hammens ladies from England almost next door with their horse for delivering their Electronic Bakery bread, while the Irish Callaghans and O’Learys across the street helped the British stance, along with Jennie Sawkins from London, who kept house for Frank England.
He came from the Deep South and was believed to have bossed construction gangs of blacks before supervising local building.
So, there were Tighes, Flanagans, Kiniskis, Bodnars, Porters, and the French-American Boileaus all occupying the same small, quiet block and proving to the world that racial discord was nowhere present!
Add a few natives to this mixture of races and nobody was surprised at how well we all fit in together.
And nobody mentioned things could improve with more money available because the papermill was doing its level best and regardless of who you were, the town welfare or “relief” supplied groceries for those of greatest need.
Fort Frances indeed was pulling together!
And that same healthy attitude persists here yet today, leading to better living conditions right along. And those companies looking for investment centres have learned not to overlook community spirit.
And so they come in, as lately, with Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart, Tim Hortons, and others known to be eyeing us right now in our fresh rush to create a bigger, better economy where this town is fast becoming a city!
Our progress was spasmodic and uncertain at times, it’s true, but have another look around and see what our harmony has achieved merely by always being here and standing ready to put up with each other so admirably.
We’ve come from almost every corner of this earth and made our mixture work very well.
What’s ahead yet in terms of future prosperity will be accepted here while other places may begin to wonder how we’ve managed to become so successful.
We have managed to avoid too many mistakes along the way—and our ethnic mix probably deserves full credit!
• • •
Lyn McPherson and his wife went to a Hallowe’en ball at Rainycrest about 10 years ago and won the costume contest as a pair of gorillas for which she had made the costumes.
He recalled how much they enjoyed those Rainycrest events.
• • •
They are more to be pitied than laughed at. The town works crew, that is, with miles of watermains to be dug up and replaced, their superintendent reports.
The problem across the older part of town is whole blocks of disintegrating lead pipe. Installed about 80 years ago, the old pipes are causing complaints daily from residents reporting sounds of running water everywhere and dampness.
And lead is a known health problem!
Superintendent Doug Brown let me know it’s not the fault of his workmen that holes on the streets have to be opened regularly and filled again while the old pipes fail to hold—and this must be done on a big scale before long.
“The whole infrastructure is getting rotten and will have to be replaced,” Brown announced. His guys are vexed by criticism they’ve been receiving over the situation while becoming a target for the town’s troubles.
• • •
It’s definitely not too late yet to help Nick Andrusco laugh his way through his 85th birthday, which occurred more than a week ago amidst all his merry-making friends in McDonald’s.
His good buddy, John Myers, the chief coffee-maker there, was merely overwhelmed by all the orders for free coffee as Nick celebrated in high style, and the handshakes came from far and wide.
Myers helped the festivities along by passing out Nick’s birthday card and coffee invitation for days ahead, also including the best muffins you ever tasted because they were free also.
For once in his rather noisy life, Nick was speechless while treating hundreds of friends he never knew he had made all through his boisterously loud career.
You must know Nick, who played accordian when he wasn’t tooting his own horn in the town band.
His brother, the last bandmaster, Walter Andrusco, made it out to McDonald’s for the party while wondering what all the shouting was about because Walter is now 96 and never had so much fuss made over any of his birthdays!
But maybe Nick has started a trend with free coffee and muffins at McDonald’s for everyone who was ever born—providing John Myers can keep up to demand!
It’s here and it’s vast!