I do this as a rarity but once in a while it’s fun to look at a scene, as it was in the old days, and then look at it again from the same angle, a half century or so later.
The subject matter I have selected are two photos of Third Street, looking north from the point where Wellington Street West merges with Raleigh Street. This would be about in front of the Alexander and Houle Funeral Home.
The difference being that the photos were created about 50 years apart, but they were taken from almost exactly the same spot.
The first photo, circa 1920, depicts the intersection of Wellington and Third streets when it was covered by a gorgeous carpet of asphalt bricks which were laid out by artisans who designed the patterns in an intricate fashion; they were just beautiful. It can truly be said that you could not distinguish where, on seeing the blend, one street ended and another began.
What else is in the older photo?
Firstly, the house on the extreme left, at the southwest junction of Wellington and Second Streets is still there but it is about the only thing that is.
In the background is a south bound (moving toward the photo) CW & LE street car.
This would be the No. 8 Lake Car which traveled a radial route from Chatham to Erie Beach where the railway company owned an amusement park and picnic ground.
During the summer months this car would make up to 11 trips per day, return, to Erie Beach with each car packed with beach patrons.
At times, during the hottest days, extra cars would have to be added to the lake route.
On a sad note, this car was involved in the July 1908 rear end collision of two street cars in which four boys were killed. That accident happened on Queen Street, between what are now Sunnyside and Willowmac. The accident took place in what is now the parking lot of Mike’s Place Restaurant.
Continuing to look at the same 1920 photo, you can see a small portion of a large building at the far right of the picture; this would be the Stephenson Apartment block.
This was, in that era, an upscale building with seven flats and was constructed by Syd Stephenson who owned the Chatham Daily Planet.
As was the case with many business people, he entered the landlord business later in his working life to provide monthly income for the days when he would no longer have income from his business undertakings.
About four years after this photo was taken, he sold his newspaper but kept his commercial printing and binding business. He died in Chatham in 1948.
The second photo in this story was taken, I think, in the late 60s or early 70s. I am making that assumption based on the styling of the cars shown in the photo.
In looking at the picture, the two houses at extreme left are still there, but much else has been altered.
The most regrettable loss is the brick street surface which I much lament.
I, however, must concede that the brick surface could not stand up to the stress of heavy modern era vehicle traffic. The substructure of the streets was prepared for horse drawn vehicles; it was just not adequate. The engineers of that era could not have predicted the incredible stress caused by post-horse drawn era traffic.
The Stephenson Apartment Block was removed and replaced by a parking lot for a Christian Missionary Alliance church that was built to the immediate north of it. That church, in turn, has been replaced by a Tim Horton franchise.
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