By Craig Cole
Written history dealing with the early years of Port Stanley is sparse, but postcards have proved an invaluable record of what life used to be like in our then little village.
With the first major snow fall of the year on the ground, it is perhaps appropriate to think summer, and let’s go back in time just over a hundred years.
The message on this card, which comes from the collection of Ron Blair, is dated August 24, 1920. The large building shown here is Port Stanley’s first major dance hall, which was called the Casino.
Regular readers of this website will know that it was not a casino in the modern day sense of the word, but rather a dance hall with a dance floor measuring 134 feet by 80 feet. It was situated at the south end of what is now William Street, just west of the old Orion Hotel.
It is interesting to note the cars that are parked beside the casino on this photo. The first Model T was built in 1908. Perhaps some of our readers who are car enthusiasts can tell us if any of the cars shown in this photograph was a Ford Model T. The first car owned by a Port Stanley resident was said to be an Everett.
It is always fun to read the messages on old postcards. This one says, “Larry has had good success here with the ladies and I don’t think he is particular about leaving, but his wife says he must go, so go he must. Back to work on Monday. Remember me to the boys.”
Could we say that Larry had done well at the casino?
Dr. Cole has been a summer resident of Port Stanley for the last 80 years. He was a medical researcher, teaching medicine and physiology at McGill University for many years. About 20 years ago, he and his wife retired to the old family summer cottage on Orchard Beach. He is the co-author, with Robert Burns, of a book entitled Port Stanley: The First Hundred Years.
Other posts by Craig Cole.