I Remember When … I came to the Soo in 1847

In 1923, The Sault Evening News put together a booklet of recollections by its readers. I will be sharing some of these from time to time. I did take the liberty to correct some of the grammar to make it easier for you to read.  

-Laurie Davis

I remember when Roy Mead had the first bicycle that was brought to the Soo. It was one of those ancient specimens with a high front wheel and a small trailer. However, it was classy in those days. Speed depended upon how fast the rider’s feet could revolve. One day, he was going out by the cemetery on the hill and met a woman driving just where the fill is over the culvert on the north side of the cemetery. The horse was frightened by the queer sight. He retreated, but unwisely for the horse, buggy, and rider, they suddenly clattered down the side of the hill into the ravine. Roy, greatly excited, in trying to get off his wheel, fell over and was thrown down into the ravine on the opposite side. Strange to say that nobody was injured. Mead’s apologies weren’t well received. (George W. Bushman, 508 Spruce Street)

The arrival of the first boat in the spring was a great event. Business was suspended, schools were closed for the day, and the cannon at old Ft. Brady gave the boat a salute. (C.R. Moran, 104 Bingham Ave.)

When a death occurred in the village, someone would go over to the canal superintendent and “borrow” a couple of boards. They would take them to old man Gibson, the carpenter, who would fashion them into a coffin. The remains were either carried to the cemetery on the shoulders of the pallbearers or placed on Peter Launderville’s two-wheeled dray. (James R. Ryan, 113 Maple Street)

When I came to the Soo with my parents in 1847, the place was just a small village, and the Indians sold fish for a living. I only recall the name of Ryan and Bunno who lived in the Soo then. My father, Louis Bodie, was the first baker in the Soo, and he supplied bread for Barbeau’s store. I am 83 now and hope to be in the Soo next July. (Mrs. Harriet Motte, Owen Sound, Ontario)

There was a small vessel, “Flying Dutchman,” which sailed the St. Mary’s River. Her hull lies in the river just below Six Mile Point. I also remember the first grocery stores owned by Miller Woods and Abe Prenzlauer. (Sam Pryor, 1090 Cedar Street)

All the supplies used to come in by boat in the fall to last until the boats came up in the spring. “Grub” used to run pretty low in the early spring. At that time we often only had brown sugar, calico, coal oil, and of course fish to eat. John Busha took care of the fishing and other game. The great hardship was that we had no salt. (F.W. Roach, 236 Ferris Street)

The old cemetery used to be situated where Dr. Lyon’s house stood and where the Soo Hardware now stands. When the cemetery was being moved, the men working there found a large mud turtle and were having great fun riding around on its back. I also remember seeing the Indians drawing white fish on hand sleds and the fish were so large their tails were dragging on the ground. (Mrs. John Bayliss, 312 Johnston Street)

Our hard coal supply used to be brought here from Cheboygan on steamers in 25 and 50 ton lots for George Kemp. (R.L. Kemp)

We needed to bank here because we had little currency. The soldiers’ checks were about all that came in the winter. The three or four stores here issued little printed cardboard checks of various colors for various denominations. “Good for 50 cents -Thomas Ryan” or “Trempe and Brothers,” or “M.W. Boranton,” etc. This sort of currency passed around all winter and was accepted at any store. In the spring, the merchants held an exchange or clearinghouse. These cardboard checks were thankfully received on the contribution plates in the churches. (James R. Ryan, 113 Maple Street)

Laurie Davis, Columnist
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  1. patty lamma

    loved the stories being told !

  2. Lynn M Wolfe

    Interesting bits of history. My mother is from the Soo and we spent many vacations up there visiting family. The Soo has always been a fond place in my memory.

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