Snapshop in time shows Chatham in mid 1950s

The photo I have included, with this story, is one that I showed you in the Oct. 13, 2013 issue of Chatham This Week.

I was looking at the photo the other day and thought that it contained some other notable landmarks, other than the Sunny Spot Variety store, that I wrote about at the time.


To the upper left you can see the Canadian Filters plant which was one of several automotive related factories that Chatham gained so many of after the conclusion of the Second World War.

Originally known as Donaldson Air Filters, the local operation, at one stage, was managed by Erick Haynes who was a good friend of my parents.

In the mid 1960s the firm moved to the junction of Park Avenue East and the Creek Road where it thrived for many years under a number of different corporate names.

The firm also employed a smaller plant known as “The Bakery” at 513 Park Ave East. This would be on the north side of the street, a bit east of St. George Street. It was referred to as the Bakery because, in a previous life, it had actually been a bakery.

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The site of the original Donaldson plant, William and Queen, is now a vacant lot.

Though difficult to see in the included photo, the Red Rooster Restaurant is at the southeast junction of Queen and Beatty streets.

Kitty corner to the Red Rooster, Queen and Edgar streets, is Greg O’Rourke’s Grocery Store.

O’Rourke’s was the last of the old-time neighbourhood food emporiums. It closed in 1973 and its location is now a parking lot. Greg was the father of my old school chum, Dan O’Rourke, who has supplied me with a number of valued photos.

At the northeast junction of Queen and Beatty is a British American Gas Station which, at the time of this photo, was operated by James Miller (291 William St. South).

To the right of centre, at the southeast junction of Queen and Park Ave, is a large building that was operated as a bakery. The location is listed as 413 Queen St.

The building was erected in roughly 1929 and displaced two houses, which had previously displaced an ancient grain mill which had stood on this spot as early as 1874.

The new bakery was owned by a man known as Robert Mackey. I have seen three different spellings of his name. I think Mackey to be the correct one.

In 1931 the bakery is listed as that of the Dominion Bakeries with the former owner, Mackey, as manager.

By 1934 it was known as Mara’s Bakery and by 1937 it was listed as vacant. I am thinking the frequent changes were probably associated with the Great Depression.

With the onset of the Second World War, the bakery was restarted by Canada Bread. It operating the facility until the bakery was closed.

In the early 1960s, the bakery building was removed and the site became home to a gasoline station operated as Bill and Brian’s B. A. That structure, though devoted to different activity, still stands.

In looking at the houses at the southwest junction of Queen and Park Avenue, most were removed in the late 1970s, or early 80s, to make way for a strip mall.

It is amazing how much the content of a simple photo can change over time.

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