The sad memories are revived tommorow

When the local Legion fills up again this week and the stories are passed around as in the “wet canteens’ of the Forties, there will be loads of memories from the Canadian Army, Airforce and Navy veterans because Fort Frances and district was so well represented in every branch of the wartime services.
While I don’t have any personal overseas experiences to reflect on today, there are many around my age or slightly older who do. And every year more turn up like Jimmy Alton whose airforce photo and story were featured in The Times last year. Jimmy was in kindergarten with me at dear old Robert Moore.
So was Gordon McTaggart, whose father Roy, the popular storekeeper, went to Scotland as second in command of our Seventeenth Forestry Corps under the late Major Ray S. Holms.
The forestry composed the largest single unit sent out of this region, and its members endeared themselves so well in Scotland, it could be considered their second home! Several members brought back Scottish war brides to raise families here.
Probably the enemy country of least interest was Japan where two veterans were captured before returning home.
Jimmy James of Emo and the late Ernie Neal here were both imprisoned at Hong Kong as they attempted to defend it.
But the European continent became well known to many from our area as they were carried along, invading all of the countries that Germany had seized, before winding up confronting Germany itself.
Before that, some men here now became prisoners of war before the enemy could be overwhelmed.
And all of these old memories can be dusted off here again tomorrow, on the 60th anniversary of our official commemoration and following the salute to the fallen of both world wars.
Until quite recently, the First War was also represented here on Remembrance Day and some of those veterans managed to reach our cemetery for our annual service.
Yes, Fort Frances remembers!
• • •
Bruce Biddeson can take you way back in Fort Frances history, and he still lives in it himself with his life-long home being on the lower river where his grandpa, Daniel, built it in 1875! (This may be our oldest local home.)
Daniel helped the earliest settlers here and owned the first steamboat on Rainy Lake. He also owned a sawmill and was our first logger as well as a steam engineer. He brought in huge white pine sawlogs three feet through from his camp on Cherry Island.
Daniel also established a Bible camp for the young people here on White Otter Lake where Bruce kept going every summer in a canoe, and that’s away up north of Flanders.
White Otter Castle became part of local legend when it was created by a hermit as a home for an overseas sweetheart.
Bruce will also tell you about a very early preacher here, Rev. William T. Milliken, who looked after all weddings, funerals and Sunday School.
Daniel Biddeson was cited for bravery, and received medals from the Crimean War that Bruce can display. His grandfather was born in Birmingham, England.
The original Biddeson farm on the river here was 220 acres and became well known to our pioneers as well as visiting preachers.
• • •
But for modern history, contact Freddy Beck, a survivor in the large family that once dominated our local taxi industry. His father was one of six brothers, all taxicab owners, since departed. There was only one sister, Jennie Nastor. Her brothers were Mike, Joe, Bill, Fred, Andy and Gene. Their variety of experiences while wheeling their cabs here would certainly fill a book. And it takes Freddy to tell about them.
• • •
Over around Safeway, you’ll find “Rooster” making himself useful inside the store as well as around the parking lot. But he wishes they had not put his real name, “Danny,” on his workshirt because he prefers his much better known nickname!
• • •
Terry Munn can get the work, if not always the right weather for it. He does roofing and siding between showers when he can, but in one recent rainstorm, his three-man crew had to continue roofing through steady rainfall up the lake last week!
• • •
Jolly Nicke Baird, the new blonde waitress in the Harbourage, although unmarried, owns her own home where her skilled grandpa, John Hazel, comes in handy. Nicke works at two jobs, being also on staff at the Times office.
• • •
I met six young deer hunters, up from St. Cloud, MN., headed for Vermilion Bay where they had been successful on previous visits and knew that area quite well. Although in their early 20s, they did not need to see a picture of a jersey cow as not their quarry!!
• • •
Many of our local hunters for years would head east, sometimes aboard the CN Local, or “Blueberry Special,” which could get you all the way to Atikokan or even the Lakehead in the days before it was named Thunder Bay. There were numerous “whistle stops!”
The Local would make several stops before leaving Rainy Lake where it might require an hour or more to hook onto boxcars of lumber at J.A. Mathieu sawmill, then load fish boxes at Smith Fisheries before reaching Bear Pass where the Wreggitts and others were permanent residents.
Then it was on to Rocky Inlet, Farrington and the Olive Mine before stopping at Mine Centre where my family would join the first full community along the way!
Earlier stops were made for very few residents.
Beyond Mine Centre and Turtle Tank, there were Crilley, Glenorchie and Flanders, mostly bush camps for our cutters before Atikokan roared into life with Steep Rocky Iron Mines!
This meant the Local had travelled a full 90 miles in something over four or five hours. But with no highway available along that full route, we were grateful for the old “Local.”
There was always a night train called the “Speed” which made faster connections to the east. Our main train to Toronto—it was filled with uniforms in the war years!
• • •
Jean and Eloise Camirand both have distinguished backgrounds without boasting about it.
Jean’s father was the town’s best remembered police chief, Louis Camirand, and Eloise is the daughter of our long-term public works foreman, Buster Saunders, who died in 1983.
Buster’s widow, Clara has now moved back from B.C. and becomes 99 in February. Her address is now Rainycrest where the last Alf Russell’s wife observed her 101st birthday in September.
Part of Jean’s father’s history was Louis going about his early duties on horseback because he was first an RCMP officer. His former home was Quebec. The Mounties kept their horses in those days in a barn on downtown Church Street where the Bell Telephone building stands today.
One of Jean’s sisters was Josette Camirand who now, as Mrs. Ray Koss, makes her home on the west coast within 50 miles of famed Mount St. Helens.
I’ve known Jean since before he returned from our wartime navy and helped Eloise raise a family that included two of my Winnipeg Tribune paperboys, Jean Jr., and Kirk.
• • •
Yessiree. October went out with a bang almost a scary as some of those frightening masks making the rounds on Hallowe’en. Other events in that wild week included lineups for influenza inoculation and the return from Daylight Savings Time.
Not more exciting maybe than the World Series or U.S. presidential election which stole most of our TV entertainment, but the removal of the west end road construction barriers was thrill enough considering the long time that hazard existed with no known fatalities!
• • •
Now the weather is cooling off, Mike Dokuchie is promising more perogies and maybe cabbage rolls with be available again from his home kitchen, right where Scott Street meets the river.

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