We’re definitely prepared for much more prosperity

So, welcome to Boom Town, Canada! Fantasyland indeed!
And after just one look around our west end, you’d have to agree that the California gold rush days had nothing on Fort Frances this spring. Not much gloom or doom around here, money-wise! It seems we are about to experience our own “glory years.”
There are millions of dollars in products to be sold lining our highway just beyond “Hamburger Alley,” where Mrs. Flinders’ milk cows formerly grazed.
Out there, we have hundreds of cars, trucks, boats, and trailers waiting to be sold. The display grows more impressive day after day as the luxury manufacturers find our shoppers driving to the vast new Wal-Mart and soon-to-be expanded Canadian Tire store.
Only our bankers may suspect where all our new money will be coming from, but somebody knows enough to alert suppliers and factories of all kinds.
There probably is still gold in the rocks around us, and some say our minerology even points to the presence of diamonds. But paper-making has sustained the local economy very well—and probably can continue despite forebodings in current conditions.
Will the re-opening of the U.S. border to our beef cattle industry have the hoped-for impact on our solvency? Or whatever is the answer to all this prevalent and obvious optimism? Growing tourism?
The building market, for sure, is climbing as the wood products and mountains of crushed rocks waiting to be turned into roads and concrete were never before so impressive here.
There are makers of windows and doors with their factories lined up between our huge car lots as if competing with the automotive people of Detroit. While every day the acreage of products awaiting sales has increased, apparently without end.
So far, it would seem the arrival of Wal-Mart alone out there has inspired a great amount of other money movement. Other firms may be willing to follow now.
And all this does not resemble conditions in this town only a few decades ago, which gave us the hungry ’30s and war years. The upbeat attitude of so many companies all converging here simultaneously has to be considered absolutely astonishing.
Of course, this being a popular U.S. border point provides many answers to many questions about sales expected for all the products being offered here so suddenly.
Because the tremendous display of goods lining our entrance today must have been motivated by great sales ambitions for such huge markets as the Americans boast—especially as they continue to move their armies around the world.
Today the U.S. is making itself at home in foreign countries all teeming with populations that eventually will be persuaded to leave their wealth on this side of the ocean. And the brightest manufacturers understand this while preparing accordingly.
What we see piling up to the west of us right now has little precedent in local history. Yet it could all make a lot of sense to many others we may never meet!
• • •
Occasionally, whenever I meet Jerry Arason, the International Falls garage operator, in McDonald’s at coffee time, I find out about his brother, Walter, the railroad executive at Edmonton.
Walter and Beulah, who was my wife’s cousin, went to high school here with me. The Arasons grew up in our east end and Beulah’s mother married Wesley, the late Shortreed of Chapple, who got me started in farming long ago with his old tractor and a flock of sheep.
Walter’s railroad, where he assisted the general manager, was started by Japanese in order to export from Canada.
Jerry also remembered that all of us boys, at least, would wait for May 24 to start our swimming season at Pither’s Point Park beach. Somehow, considering our backward spring, I don’t think we’ll be doing that this year.
• • •
In going back over Mine Centre history as I remember it, there was a sad number of drownings for its small population. Most memorable were three drownings of mining men, prospectors Arthur Stone and Doc Smiley, who perished together on Shoal Lake near Foley mine, and Angelo Paccico, whose truck went through the ice while hauling firewood on Bad Vermilion Lake.
Then there was Ben Johnson’s wife, whom I never knew.
• • •
I hear the cattle herds of Rainy River District may be making a comeback with word that the U.S. ban on Canadian beef seems to be ending while the mad cow disease scare fizzles out.
We went at it with all we could get together for years while introducing several new breeds of beef cattle. I remember Doug Carlson of Emo impressing everyone with his Charolais cattle from France, while Tom Morrish was setting up with the grey Galloway from Scotland and Ralph Hartry showed off his big Brahma bull, of the India breed.
Most of us had a mixture of British Herefords and Shorthorns, and everyone let them multiply.
Mel Newman, MPP, our garageman, was into Herefords big time at Emo. And probably our largest herdsman was Bud Cain of Devlin, who with help of his boys, and probably over 1,000 acres, was keeping more than 300 head!
• • •
I’ll miss Ed Fitzgerald, who was good company for one weekend last year in hospital. As an insurance man, he came here with the late Herb Cridland from Toronto to partner with Jack Gillon after Jack lost his father, Bert.
And now both Ed and Herb have left us in the past few months.
• • •
The Rainy Lake Hotel continues to bring out the Italian in me.
Although others do not believe that Meline Armstrong, the cook there, has no Italian heritage, nobody makes better spaghetti, as I keep on telling Larry Syrovy, the hotel owner.
Between her efforts and waitress, Lisa, I always walk away with enough left over from my weekly visit for next day’s dinner at home also.
Not that I have always preferred spaghetti to everything else, but since my father passed away, and he frequently made it for our home, I have tried plenty of spaghetti at other places, and I continue to insist that Meline has most everyone else beat in that life.
The secret is in the meat sauce. My father, when we lived in the bush, might use porcupine meat and you’d never find a tastier sauce. He also produced noodles or “nocci” with the same delicious flavour.
• • •
If our town councillors ever get their minds off garbage long enough, they might give more thought to better care of our roads and streets.
While our main roads are being punished by all those huge trucks like never seen here before, and our downtown sidewalks are being turned treacherous in wintertime because town workmen are leaving the curbs buried in snowbanks, the Civic Centre keeps digging up nuisance issues like garbage disposal.
Anything at all will serve as an excuse to fool taxpayers into believing the council is being thrifty when, actually, the reverse is true.

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