I Remember When… “On election day, the side that put up the most liquid refreshments won the election”

The Sault Evening News put together a booklet of recollections by readers of the newspaper back in 1923. 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. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I have.

Laurie Davis

I remember when 2′ rats ran off the breast line of the old steamer Sault Ste. Marie. Captain Mondor was in charge, and Henry Doench was the cabin boy. The boat was locking up when the rats left, running out on the line. Half the crew deserted at once. The boat was on her way up the lake with winter supplies. A great storm came up in the night, and the following morning, she was on a sand reef outside Grand Maris. But by lightening her cargo, she made port safely. – (Dr. J. F. Deadman)

Narcisse – That name will recall the memory of all old Soo-ites, the picture of a thin little old man who wore an overcoat winter and summer, with a big red sash around his middle, and carried a cane. He was the terror of all small children, and one look at his fierce visage sent the shivers running up and down little folk’s spines. The bolder youth would yell – “Narcisse, Narcisse,” at him and then run for dear life while he followed them with his cane. Narcisse’s particular hobby and pleasure in life was attending funerals. He never missed one. – (John N. Adams)

Forty-Five years ago, my husband took the first boat from Collingwood to the Soo, on April 4, 1878. It was a very mild open winter, but the following  winter, the snow was so deep that the men walked over the fences. We had to wait sometimes three weeks for our mail and even a spool of thread. Supplies were hauled overland by dogs. My husband started a harness shop next to William Ruehle’s shoe store on Water Street, afterward building and moving on the lot where the “Grand” now stands. Prenzlauer Bros. had the main store and carried everything from groceries to furniture. When we heard the first whistle of a boat in the Spring, everyone dressed up and went down to the dock. – (Mrs. John Bayliss, 312 Johnstone St.)

In 1862 and 1863, gold dollars were worth $2.50. All the money afloat was the mining company’s bills from one to ten dollars. Every business firm in town made their own money good for 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents. Everything went, and everybody was happy. Brown cotton sold for $1 per yard and calico for 50 cents a yard, pork was $50 per barrel, and whiskey was only 25 cents a gallon. That’s why everybody felt so good. I was working for M.W. Scranton at that time. On election day, the side that put up the most liquid refreshments won the election. You should have seen the Waiska Bay braves come down to take in the sport. – (J.E. LaLonde, 506 Division St.)

We used to shoot ducks near where the Woolen Mill and MacLachlan’s store now stands. In the spring and fall, it was swamp. Ashmun Street was only a trail. George Blank was not born then. – (David Sebastian)

Fred Roach and “Puss” Day snared rabbits where the Park school now stands near the old power magazine. – (George Blank, 717 Cedar Street)

My brother used to set snares and trap rabbits. I went with him a few times but thought it was too far because we had to go on snowshoes, the snow was so deep. I went with him for the fun of it to see the rabbits in the traps. It was all he could do at times to carry all the rabbits home. The traps were set in the woods where the Park school now stands. We lived, at that time, in a log cabin on Ridge Street on the site of the present Edward’s block. – (Mrs. Thomas Malloy, 513 Ninth St.)

I am enjoying the “I Remember” stuff but some of those old-timers have darned poor memories. For example, Jim Snudden was a contemporary of mine, not of George Blank and Gil Scranton. The same writer refers to Narcisse as “An old Indian.” He was a demented Frenchman who made his home with Narcisse Nault, one of the early contractors and called Narcisse because that was his benefactor’s name. No one ever knew his real name. I should think it would be interesting to get some reminiscences from the Campbells, Nault’s, Payment’s, Linke’s, and other old French families of the east end and the fourth ward that we used to know as “Down the Road.” – (Leo “Pat” Cook, Sheboygan, WI)

Thirty years ago, Henry Coulter was driving Comb’s Bakery wagon and selling large loaves of bread for six cents each. – (Mrs. Charles Deboer, 412 Ridge St.)

I remember, by gosh, when I first came to the Soo, nearly 25 years ago this morning, and I found out that there’s no rainbow trout in de Soo rapids. It made my heart hurt. About that time, I found one good fine gentleman, whose name was Harry Marks. who planted millions on millions of all kinds of fish in Lake Superior, the rapids, and other lakes. He raised them from the egg in the fish hatchery. He told me on that date, that he planted  twenty thousand small rainbow trout on the rapids. In 25 years, the Soo is the best place in the whole world for catching the big fish. I say, good man Harry, you are my friend, and all the fishermen will thank you when you’re gone. Well, my friend, Harry Marks, is gone. Better a man who never lived. He did his work well and to this day, when the fishermen, catch the big rainbow trout, my good friend Harry Mark seems to appear before us all, gay and happy to see the fishermen come from the four corners of the world to enjoy himself on the rapids at the Soo. Well, do I remember my good friend Harry and the good he did for this town. – ( Pete Vigeant, 406 Cedar Street)

Laurie Davis, Columnist
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