Local tornado remembered!

Whereas we enjoy freedom from such storms as have wreaked havoc across the southern states lately, I have talked to old friends who were papermill workers here when an expensive and high pulpwood conveyor was blown down in the very centre of town.
They are generally agreed the year was probably 1947, while I was still away at college. I remember being impressed by that structure. It stood about 25 feet high and went all the way from the log booms on the upper river to the mill’s woodroom (maybe 200 feet in length).
The tornado came whipping all along the river, strewing damage from the J.A. Mathieu sawmill’s smokestacks to the east and below our stores. It also destroy watercraft tied up all along the river, including the RCMP boat.
It ws some job to clean up the debris afterwards!
More than one skiff was thrown ashore and some were impaled on fence posts.
Roy Legaree talks about his bad time for 30 hours straight at work in the woodroom after the tornado had seemed to be rocking everything! Dick Collett and Gerald Lambert contributed their memories from the grinder rooms in the mill.
They recalled the huge conveyor, which had dominated the south side of our downtown area, was built at Kenora but never replaced.
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It was the largest buck deer ever reported as taken out of Northern Ontario, according to Wabigoon visitors here Saturday. But when it ws taken into the U.S. without a game licence, the “lucky” hunters were pursued by an Ontario fine of $3,000!
Only one deer larger has been reported around Canada so far this fall and that was taken in Alberta.
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Unlike many disappointed gardeners here this year, Metro Badiuk reports satisfaction with his backyard produce—except for his cucumbers!
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I remain thankful for such a great Thanksgiving family dinner complete with roast turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, fresh carrots, and corn on the cob that we were served by daughter-in-law, Laureen, on Sunday.
Now, there’s a lady who should be giving cooking lessons!
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Betty and Barry Cox, among our town’s friendliest citizens, observed their 60th wedding anniversary on Oct. 7. Betty was in my high school graduating class while Barry, long a member of Don Law’s orchestra with Carl Blasky, supplied our town with dance music for years.
The vows were exchanged in Knox Presbyterian Church.
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Jenny Wonfor reported the event above when I met her in Safeway to say we all appreciated the story on the visit of her youngest brother, the judge whom we knew simply as Jimmy Fontana.
Older citizens recall all the Fontanas from the days their father, Andy, operated a refreshment cafe on Mowat Avenue by the CIBC bank.
My own father obtained a job in the 1930s through a chance meeting there with another Italian, Angelo Paccito, who ran a pre-war gold mine at Mine Centre.
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I keep on promising myself a red pepper chicken sandwich at Tim Hortons when I get up the nerve—and it should prove a memorable experience!
But after eating out at least once daily for months now, I find it will be hard to top the great hamburger I enjoy at the Harbourage.
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Boyhood friend John Solaryk of Toronto, having obtained a $1,000 soldier’s travel grant from Canada, phoned me again to find out if I could accompany him yet on our discussed trip to Italy.
He said the grant also applies for a Holland visit.
I replied I wouldn’t be going along because my walking is poor, but hoped he would find my father’s relatives at Campobasso in Sicily.
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One noon time last week, I met local relatives of the Tibbetts family, well known here for many years, and got into discussions on Paul Anderson, the former publisher of the Falls Daily Journal, my first employer after college.
A niece of his was dining with Mrs. Al Tibbetts Jr., and I told her how Al Sr. had helped me keep farming with a lower farm interest rate for all my borrowing. He was our CIBC manager.
Anderson was married to Al’s sister, and their mother was our Children’s Aid director for many years.
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Hopefully there will be a rebirth of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian parish because the community already misses its presence among our older churches.
I can well remember some of its clergy, including Rev. Lookman, who came from Holland. My late father-in-law, Andy Shortreed, the town’s grader operator for many years, sang in that choir.
Whatever went wrong for our Scotsmen who founded the handsome church on the corner?
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Lately, it seems our immigrant European farmers, the Hollanders and Mennonites from Switzerland and Germany, who have been forging ahead so well, are being forced to bear the full load of district agriculture.
But at least one long-term Canadian family with a strong background of bushwork has taken the bull by the horns and is mixing our oldest industry with cattle raising. When Bud Cain quit, son, Billy, of Devlin went ahead in that line.
At one point, and possibly even yet, the Cains commanded more sections of land than any other district farmers—and their pasture acreage was loaded with marketable poplar that Billy harvests today.
Some 70 Dutch families have been forging ahead determinedly also to keep the district looking prosperous—and most will continue despite U.S. President Bush’s ban on live Canadian beef imports.
All these people are carrying on determinedly. They will continue milking their cows and making hay and grain while selling beef as a sideline whenever possible with hopes high for better cattle prices.
They are seen as so strongly committed to their way of life that there will be many others following along in this valley, where long ago it was declared that “clover is king.”

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