Scott Street can take pride in its first century

Many of our wonderful downtowners are gone now and sadly missed. After all, it’s been 100 years since Scott Street started.
Alas, our main street probably will never get back to the sociable shopping centre it once was.
Many of us will always cherish memories of the old-time merchants who made us their friends for life and frequently performed far beyond ordinary expectations.
For instance, consider Gillmor and Noden, not merely as the hub of the wheel because of its corner location, but out front also in politics as Bill Noden represented us at Toronto for several four-year terms as a busy MLA.
Meanwhile, Walter Gagne kept both drug stores—the Rexall on the opposite corner and City Drug managed by John Gibbons, a school board member.
Ray S. Holmes, who led our Forestry Corps into the Second World War, was located halfway down the 200 block near popular Otto Polenske’s Royal Theatre, which sadly has never been revived.
There were other mainstay Scott Street operators long before the vacancies started popping up, when most of our shoppers walked to market or sometimes pulled a wagon.
Halfway down the block, Stedman’s attracted everyone for something or other with their variety market while Elliot’s sold china and knick-knacks where Bert Grover fixed your timepieces.
Ed Wilkins provided flowers next to the Legion where a First World War machine gun stood on the lawn while two WWI veterans, Irish Walsh and Scotty Beath, kept their arguments going while the Rainy Lake Hotel was well-managed by Carl Gray.
Looking eastward, past Neil Stinson’s gas station beside the post office where Oliver Busch presided as postmaster, at an earlier time you could find the Hallikas steambath and ski maker John O. Herrem toiling away in his window, bereft of his left-hand fingers from an early accident but ready to start a regular sash and door factory on Victoria Avenue and hiring summer students under Tom Kiddle.
Almost next to Forsberg and Lindberg’s clothing store, there was Sam Silver’s fur store, where I bought a mink coat for my wife.
Jewellery stores included Brennan’s and Gledhill’s, as well as Brockie’s—all well-respected. And let’s not forget Joe Vanderhorst and his daughters, who grew their vegetables just west of town by the river, working hard for us, too, in a small market near Gillmor-Noden while Forsberg-Lindberg sold good winter clothing.
Our butchers once included Bernardi’s, by the old Baptist church, and Victor Belluz close to the papermill while “Tud,” quite central, liked to see kids accompany parents shopping so he would throw us a weiner sometimes.
Others were located around the corner onto Mowat Avenue, like Andy Fontana’s family at the confectionery counter beside the Bank of Commerce before it added “Imperial” to its name.
The Fort Frances Hotel next door was under Coun. George Pidlubny for quite a while and his oldest son, Mike, ran his first bowling alley on Scott Street before moving east next to White Pine Inn.
Meanwhile, upstairs above Gillmor-Noden, offices were long occupied by Connie Hollands, school board secretary, and Moffat Burr, a lawyer.
Art Whiddon and sons practised tinsmithing east on Scott long before he got behind our high school curling champions of all Canada soon after the Fort Frances Canadians claimed the Allan Cup—with plenty of Scott Street help—in 1952.
The most notable post-war development in the two or three blocks of old Scott that we call our downtown was to the east end, including the new Safeway.
This followed The Fridge meat and cool locker store when George Turner returned from the Second World War as an experienced fighter pilot and son of a retired bank manager, Adam Turner.
They had another veteran, John Stewart, establish his garage and Meteor agency next door, back or west of the newest Safeway, which took the rest of that block for customer parking.
West of The Fridge was Eaton’s last stand here. So, as it turns out, not every business along Scott became successful, but so many have been happy there.
Scott Street continued to flourish long after then, but lately it has not looked nearly so busy.
Progress was never hindered by our old-style businesses. They helped build the town with employment more steady as the Second World War triumph led to prosperity that is still carrying the town along.
But can our old downtowners hold on against the fresh challenge from the new west-end giants, or will the powerful newcomers create a greater shopping district?
• • •
This being the “year of the veteran,” the six uncles of Mrs. John (Doty) Wickstrom, who all saw wartime military service, will be recalled for Times readers, she promises.
All returned from the First World War safely and then one went back for the Second World War.
Incidentally, Doty, who gave out her real name as Rebecca Josephine, has an aunt at Rainycrest who is now 97 and one of our oldest citizens.
• • •
I cannot remember the last time our summer heat surpassed 100 F. No doubt everyone’s glad it cooled off after those blistering two days, and the 75 F we got Saturday was more nearly normal for us.
But yes, swimming in the lake became possible, if not for everyone.
• • •
The Daily Bulletin tribute to Donald Mayhew, who retired this year as a high school teacher, is where I can share his pride because of his earlier good work as a carrier with me as the local Winnipeg Tribune agent, possibly just before he started high school as a student.
With a brother and sister (children of my old friend, George Mayhew), they looked after a fair part of the town very conscientiously—a permanent feature of Don’s personality as he insisted on doing everything properly.
I would hear from students regularly about what a great teacher Don was. His paper carrying days still seem so recent.
I enjoyed another connection with his family through his father. George was a forester who also ran marathons, including a great run in Hawaii where I was present as his guest, along with my late wife.
The Mayhews were bound to attract attention and praise for whatever they did.
Incidentally, their old home on Scott Street is still in the hands of my daughter and family, the Dave Allisons, who are soon to leave for Des Moines, Iowa.
• • •
A radio news report on how much the high school principal’s position is paid annually aroused a discontented remark that he should be paid much less because “he allows kids to go to school looking like that” (referring to fewer clothes adopted by the girls and the lack of boys’ haircuts!)
Our old principal, Townshend, was a stricter disciplinarian! As a reserve army office here himself, I’d guess he was getting us ready for military training!
Mr. Townshend lost his life during the Second World War when his ship was torpedoed before reaching England. He is buried in Ireland.

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