Paris in Postcards
These postcards are part of a large collection of Paris postcards that long-time PMHS member Bob Hasler has accumulated over the past 30 years.
Bob has generously donated his collection to the museum. These are some of his favourites.
The West Family
The West family lived on Ayr Road above the Nith River. Bobby West and his father William are pictured in front of the West family home.
Bobby was an entertainer. His gramophone, mounted on a 3-wheel bike, was used to entertain family parties in the community.
William West was called 'The Bard of the Nith' for his poetry, some of which is in the PMHS archive collection.
William and his family built boats, which they used to take tour groups up the Nith River to places like Poverty Flats.
During the summer groups would hire the boats and enjoy an afternoon on the small islands. Sometimes Bobby West would entertain them.
Seated is Mrs. West. She was the daughter of a Laird in Scotland and William was the stable hand. She and William fell in love and considered eloping. The Laird got wind of their plans and told his daughter that if she did elope, he would cut her out of his will. They did and he did. Mrs. West ended up sitting on the banks of the Nith weaving rag rugs.
The Arlington Hotel
A view of the Arlington Hotel in its glory days. The balconies were quite grand! They were removed in the 1970's after a fatality. A patron was seated on one of them to watch a parade and the balcony separated from the building.
Another thing to note in this picture is Mr. Fry's stage coach on the right side of the photo. The stage coach travelled between the railway station and the hotel taking visitors and salesmen to and from the station. The Arlington remains the largest hotel in Paris.
Central Public School
Central School was built in 1909. It was a very imposing structure overlooking Grand River Street North and the Grand River.
From the second floor it had metal tubes/chutes used as fire escapes. People who attended the school remember being both terrified and excited sliding down these chutes during fire drills.
The columns and other stone work were created on site.
This original school is gone, replaced by a more modern building.
The Congregational Church
The Congregational Church faced Grand River Street North beside the original Central Public School.
The land the church sat on is now part of the second Central School playground.
The architect was John Turner, a well-known Brantford architect. It was a mirror image of the Baptist Church also by Turner.
The interior of the Congregational Church was quite beautiful.
Note the ceiling timbers. There was also fresco work in plaster on the ceilings. It had a large Rose window.
In 1926 there was an amalgamation of the Methodist Church, some Presbyterian Churches and the Congregational Church across Canada. They formed the United Church of Canada. The Methodist Church in Paris became the United Church, as it is today, and the Congregational Church was closed.
The building and land was sold to the school board in early 1930's. The building was torn down by 1934. Much of its material was salvaged to build homes in Paris.
The Post Office
At one time Paris had a beautiful Post Office, located on the west side of Grand River Street North.
It had the post office on the main floor, customs office on the second and the caretaker's residence on the 3rd floor.
It was torn down in the 1960's.
As time went on the post office had a four-sided clock tower added.
Another feature was the two-sided drinking fountain in front of the building. The fountain was erected by the organizing committee of the Old Boys Reunion of 1905. On the street side was a drinking fountain for horses and on the sidewalk side was a drinking fountain for people.
The drinking fountain eventually disappeared too.
The CNR Station
Our second train station, located on Helen Street.
It was a miniature version of the Brantford Station, built between 1903 and 1907. It was opened on July 1, 1907. At the time it was part of the Grand Trunk Railway. Station number one was in the Paris Junction.
The Junction station was still used for passengers from St. George after this date. Note the gazebo and gardens across from the station.
The Cenotaph as it appeared in the late 1930's.
Much more has been added to it since then.
Note the Marvel Flour Mill in the background. The mill was a huge structure located where the parking lot is today.
This view from the lookout shows the market grounds before the cenotaph was constructed.
There is a good view of the flour mill and the New Royal Hotel.
Note the iron bridge over the Nith River.
The Grand Valley Electric Railway
The Grand Valley Electric Railway ran through Paris from Preston (now part of Cambridge) to Port Dover. South of Paris the Grand Valley Electric Railway line ran parallel to the Grand Trunk/CNR line.
In the postcard you can see one of the trolley cars about to stop and pick up and let off passengers at Grand Valley Park. Grand Valley Park was between Brantford and Paris at the end of Oak Park Road near the bank of the Grand River.
This is a very rare postcard of the first railway station for the Grand Valley Electric Railway Company. This station was located at the north-east corner of Willow and William Street. The building is still there, although it is now a home.
The people are waiting for a trolley to arrive to take them on a special outing.
The White Horse Restaurant
The White Horse Restaurant was the gathering place of local folk and many a traveller. It has been said that Louis Armstrong and his band would stop there for a meal on their way to a dance hall in southern Ontario.
Often people would go there as a half way point from wherever they lived to meet, talk and eat then go home again, each in their own direction.
We have the original cookbook for the White Horse at the museum.
At one time, where townhouses now stand along Willow Street, sat Penmans mill #2.
Between the factory and the street was a raceway for the water used to power the machinery. Note the head-gates to let the correct amount of water in to drive the turbines. The footbridge was for the workers to enter and leave the factory.
Also along this strip of land between the street and raceway were the tracks for the Grand Valley Railway.
As seen here looking south, Willow Street is on the left, the raceway is in the middle and Elm Street is on the right. In the foreground is the Grand River with the head-gate to the raceway.
This is a group of Penmans workers on strike. They are gathered on Elm Street in front of the Palace Roller Rink where a live band would play on Saturday nights and couples would roller skate around the arena. This building burned down in 1920. The strikers marched along William Street to Willow and down Willow to the Penmans head office. Many in this group were very young workers.
This is a group of men cutting ice on the Nith River above the dam that supplied water power for Penmans #1 mill on West River Street. The mill has been turned into apartment/condos.
The ice was cut into blocks, loaded onto sleighs and taken to the ice house located on the east bank of the Nith River. This ice house was owned and operated by George E. Taylor of the Junction. He had Bobby West deliver ice to local homes.
The ice blocks were used in the ice boxes made by Sanderson-Harold Company located on Railway Street, the current location of Paris Kitchens.
In the 1850's, the Great Western and Buffalo and Lake Huron railways were built through Paris. The area where the two lines crossed at the west end of town became known as Paris Station or Paris Junction.
A Brief History of the County of Brant
by County of Brant Heritage Committee
We are standing at the corner of Market and Capron Streets, sometime around the early 1900's. The Station Bakery sat at the corner in the red brick building. Beside it on the left was the American Hotel, an imposing two-story building with verandah. Next to it was the Junction fire department building.
The American Hotel featured in an exciting (for that time) capture of a murderer. A man had been killed and his body dumped in a swamp near Princeton.
The murderer fled to Paris to get on the next available train. It turned out that the train was not due until the next morning, so he waited at the American Hotel.
Little did he know that a famous detective, Inspector John Wilson Murray,
had been called in on the case and had followed him to Paris. The murderer was captured, taken to Woodstock Jail,
tried, found guilty and hung and buried in the Woodstock Jail yard. A moment of fame for Paris.
(more info...Inspector John Wilson Murray)
As a busy railway centre The Junction saw some tragic railway accidents.
Here is a train wreck that happened at the Paris Junction. You can see the station roof in the background. The first train, carrying gravel, was stopped. The second train, for unknown reasons, did not stop and plowed into the caboose of the first train. A conductor and a trainman were in the caboose at the time of the collision.
A view of Market Street at Paris Junction. On the left is the Milton Hotel, now Wright's Variety and on the right George E. Taylor's mercantile business. It hosted a dry goods store, groceries, hardware, grains, coal, wood etc. Today it is Tito's Pizza. Beyond it is Henry Rehder's boots, shoes and clothing store. It is now a vacant lot as the original building burned down a few years ago. Next on the corner of Spruce and Market was J. W. Hillborn's store. On the other side of Spruce was the “Bucket of Blood” Hotel, a two-story full verandah building. It was gone by 1921.
These postcards were part of the keynote address by Bob Hasler at the 2020 Annual General Meeting of the Paris Museum and Historical Society.
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