1902

Lake of the Woods Museum Newsletter
Vol. 14 No. 3 – Summer 2004

by Rat Portage Miner

 

  • The manager of the Mikado Mine arrived in town with $7,000 worth of gold bricks.
  • D.C. Cameron was elected mayor and F.A. Hudson, A.S. Horswill, W.G. Cameron, C.W. Chadwick, G.E. Foster, and W. McCarthy were elected as aldermen.
  • Samples of tin ore were displayed in the offices of the Rat Portage Miner and were visited by countless prospectors on the lookout for the black ore. One man said that there were miles of it on Big Island on Lake of the Woods.
  • It was proposed that a street railway be built from the neighbourhood of Gould’s farm, running along the shore of Laurenson Lake to the corner of Second Street and Eighth Avenue, along Second Street to Main Street and thence to Keewatin.
  • At 3:12 in the morning, the fire alarm was sounded from the Hilliard House (located on the present site of the Kenricia Hotel). The fire, which had started in the kitchen, had spread quickly, being fanned by high winds. The furious blaze spread to several adjoining buildings, including the Queens Hotel. Estimated damage of $50,000. The smoldering remains were coated in ice as the temperature hit lows of 40 degrees below zero during the night.

The remains of the Queens Hotel and the Hilliard House after the fire in 1902.

  • Local businesses operating in town included: The Rat Portage Cold Storage and Provision Co., wholesale merchants supplying miners and contractors; G.M. Rioch, jeweller, optician, and issuer of marriage licenses; M. Nicholson, tailor and supplier of men’s furnishings; The Lake of the Woods Brewing Co., producer of Sultana Lager, Mikado Ale, and Regina Porter; The Glasgow House, a clothing store; Wood’s Drugstore; The Hilliard Opera House, host to singers, hypnotists, and theatrical performances; George Drewry Wholesale Wines and Liquors; Rat Portage Hardware Company, specializing in fishing tackle.
  • A new ferry dock was built at the foot of Fort Street (now First Street South) by the merchants along Fort, Matheson, and the north end of Main Street. A lease agreement was made with Captain Lewis of the Argyle that the ferry would use it as a landing place for the next 10 years.
  • Discussion regarding the changing of the town’s name began once again. Imperial, Portage Falls, No-ra-ke, Kenora, and Tresilva were just some of the suggestions. A writer to the editor of the local newspaper offered this in support of Tresilva… Its advantage over Kenora and Imperial consists in the fact that it can be written easily from beginning to end without raising the pen from the paper. However, this was the motion made and carried by council… That the mayor, the clerk, and the town solicitor be and are hereby authorized and instructed to do all things necessary to obtain from the Legislature of the Province of Ontario, a special act changing the name of the Town of Rat Portage to Kenora. The actual name change didn’t come about until three years later, in 1905.
  • The Rainy River Navigation Company was running overnight excursions to Whitefish Bay aboard the Edna Brydges, leaving at 10:30 on Saturday night and returning Sunday night. The fare was $3.50, and included meals and a berth.
  • A second flour mill was built in Keewatin. It eventually became Mill C of the Lake of the Woods Milling Company.
  • A heated letter to the editor of the local newspaper demanded to know why the town was employing three policemen at a cost of $2,200 a year when it wasn’t in a position to afford that for police protection. There is not a town in Canada of our size that pays one half as much as we do. We have just as much municipal machinery as a place of 10,000 people. The population of Rat Portage at that time was approximately 4,500.
  • The Kenora Thistle hockey team was making a name for itself in the Manitoba league, vying for entrance into the senior ranks. The Winnipeg Telegram had this to report of their game against the Vics: The visitors are a very busy crowd. Their forwards make the best intermediate line ever seen in the city. Hilliard was in no condition to play as he had just got out of a sick bed and was not able to do himself justice, but the others were fast skaters and good shots, also, they work together like machinery and their efforts are of the kind which would keep our defense rustling. And the Winnipeg Free Press reported this: The Thistles skated rinks around them, and ran in six goals in quick succession with the puck scarcely ever going past centre ice. With one or two exceptions, the Vics were dead ones, and seemed utterly unable to cope with the fleet visitors, whose fast style apparently bewildered them.
  • Local speed skater Gabe Bellefeuille was winning races in Montreal.
  • Miss McSweeney, artist and teacher, was offering free lessons in art needlework in Nicholson’s Hall.
  • This was from the June 10, 1902 Rat Portage Miner: A woman with a jag on started in to paint the town red about 9 o’clock last night, She tried to get up a fight on Fort Street, but without much success, as the boys all ran when she opened her batteries of vituperation. The police were staggered for a precedent and didn’t know what to do, as there is nothing in the city by-laws to prevent women from getting drunk, the town fathers being under the impression that the fair sex never got a skate on.
  • The Lake of the Woods Milling Company gave all their employees a holiday and a free trip to the Winnipeg Fair in July. Four hundred people went.
  • A heated letter to the editor of the local newspaper demanded to know why the town was employing three policemen at a cost of $2,200 a year when it wasn’t in a position to afford that for police protection. There is not a town in Canada of our size that pays one half as much as we do. We have just as much municipal machinery as a place of 10,000 people. The population of Rat Portage at that time was approximately 4,500.
  • The Kenora Thistle hockey team was making a name for itself in the Manitoba league, vying for entrance into the senior ranks. The Winnipeg Telegram had this to report of their game against the Vics: The visitors are a very busy crowd. Their forwards make the best intermediate line ever seen in the city. Hilliard was in no condition to play as he had just got out of a sick bed and was not able to do himself justice, but the others were fast skaters and good shots, also, they work together like machinery and their efforts are of the kind which would keep our defense rustling. And the Winnipeg Free Press reported this: The Thistles skated rinks around them, and ran in six goals in quick succession with the puck scarcely ever going past centre ice. With one or two exceptions, the Vics were dead ones, and seemed utterly unable to cope with the fleet visitors, whose fast style apparently bewildered them.
  • Local speed skater Gabe Bellefeuille was winning races in Montreal.
  • Miss McSweeney, artist and teacher, was offering free lessons in art needlework in Nicholson’s Hall.
  • This was from the June 10, 1902 Rat Portage Miner: A woman with a jag on started in to paint the town red about 9 o’clock last night, She tried to get up a fight on Fort Street, but without much success, as the boys all ran when she opened her batteries of vituperation. The police were staggered for a precedent and didn’t know what to do, as there is nothing in the city by-laws to prevent women from getting drunk, the town fathers being under the impression that the fair sex never got a skate on.
  • The Lake of the Woods Milling Company gave all their employees a holiday and a free trip to the Winnipeg Fair in July. Four hundred people went.
  • Total blueberry shipments from Rat Portage, exclusive of the local consumption, was 89 tonnes. At an average of $.10/lb., $16,000 was realized from the local crop. The shipment in 1901 was somewhat higher, at 109 tonnes.
  • Christmas dinner at the Russell House featured: raw oysters with sliced lemon, boiled fresh B.C. salmon with hollandaise sauce, saddle of mutton with Spanish caper sauce, ox tongue, beef tenderloin with mushrooms, domestic goose, wild mallard duck, haunch of caribou, fresh parsnips, Spanish cream puffs, English plum pudding with cognac sauce, mince meat pie, strawberry tarts, current bread, fruit, cheese, tea, coffee.
  • Paine’s Celery Compound and Burdock’s Blood Bitters could be found in the druggist’s shelves. The Celery Compound was for cleaning and purifying the blood for the life stream must be made pure, and health-wrecking laxity of the blood vessels must be corrected, and nerves and tissues must be nourished. Blood Bitter turns bad blood into rich red blood. Its claims included healing sores, ulcers, abcesses, and all eruptions. Internally, it supposedly restored the stomach, liver, bowels, and blood. If your appetite is poor, your energy gone, your ambition lost, B.B.B. will restore you to the full enjoyment of a happy vigourous life.
  • The Victoria Hall was open for ping pong two nights a week. A ticket for the entire season was $1 for men, free for ladies, or there was a 10¢ admission/night.
  • Rumours of a new hospital being opened in town by nuns who had been expelled from France were established as true. St. Joseph’s Academy, formerly a girls’ school, was taken over by the Sisters of the Order of St. Andrew de Croix. However, they were not successful and a year later, in 1903, the Sisters of Providence from Montreal opened St. Joseph’s Hospital.

St. Joseph’s Hospital was opened in 1903. 

  • This scathing review appeared in the local Miner following a performance by Professor Parks at the Hilliard Opera House: The show given in the Opera House last night was one of the lamest apologies for an entertainment that has ever struck town. The $10,000 electric display’ was a pure and unadulterated fraud, as nothing was shown but a very imperfect magic lantern arrangement, with a few worn out vioscope pictures at the wind up. Professor Parks operated his stereopticon and lectured at the same time from the back of the house, there being no music, nor no specialty of any kind to break the monotony of the 75 minute show. The Professor should have stayed in the Klondike
  • The Keewatin skating rink burned down in the early hours of January 28. The owner, Mr. Fisher, stoked up the fire for the night, for he lived in the building. When Charlie Fraser was taking people home from a dance, he saw the flames, sounded the alarm, and then went into the rink to get Mr. Fisher out. The building, worth $2,000, was completely destroyed.
  • The wild strawberry crop was so enormous that it was expected to interfere with the domestic strawberry trade in town.
  • On October 23, Thanksgiving night, there was a total eclipse of the moon, with the eclipse beginning at 11:19 pm and ending at 12:47 am.

Did you know?

Joseph Sanchez from Professional Native Indian Artists Incorporated was once struck by lightening!  He said that he felt the energy in his body for over 6 months and it changed the course of his artwork.