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COLUMN: A compendium of interesting tidbits from Sarnia’s past

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Randy Evans

* When he died in 1960, Bert Lindsay had been living in Sarnia for four years. His obituary correctly pointed out that his son was hockey hall-of-fame great Ted Lindsay. Omitted, however, was the fact Bert was the winning goalie for the Montreal Wanderers in the first-ever NHL game.

* William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States. Seven years after leaving the White House, Taft visited Sarnia on March 4, 1920 and spoke about U.S.-Canadian relations at St. Andrew’s Church.

* And speaking of U.S visitors, industrialist and assembly line pioneer Henry Ford came to town on April 26, 1929. He bought from James Lucas of Lucas Livery three horse-drawn carriages that had been made in London around 1882. Reportedly, a handsome price was paid – not bad for vehicles that had been dormant more than 15 years.

* It is a well-known fact that Sarnia and Canada experienced a baby boom following the Second World War. Interestingly, the same did not occur after the First World War. It’s likely the influenza epidemic of 1918-20 20 had something to do with that.

* Beverage story #1. In 1871 Mr. John Smith (no kidding) introduced Sarnians to soda pop.

* Beverage story #2. On Dec. 27, 1858, the first train arrived in Sarnia, via London. Aboard were civic and railway dignitaries, as well as several kegs of beer from Carling Breweries.

* Whatever happened to the funnies? On March 22, 1924, the Sarnia Canadian Observer began to run a weekly comic entitled Boob McNutt. As suggested by his name, Boob was a well meaning but incompetent klutz whose zany adventures normally ended in disaster.

* The 1938 Irish Sweepstakes was kind to a couple of Sarnians. Mrs. Dora Smith pocketed a cool $8,000 in winnings. Arthur Eldridge won $2,100 when his horse “Snake Lightening “came in.

* When Sarnia coal merchant W.B. Clark passed in 1910, his estate included a 12x 20-inch painting that had been in the Clark family for half a century. Montreal art expert Purvis Carter authenticated it as a 1521 work by German Renaissance painter and printmaker Albrecht Durer. It’s not known what happened to the treasure.

* For their service and contributions during the Second World War, 10 Sarnians received Royal induction into the Order of the British Empire.

* After serving in that war with the elite Black Devils commando forces, Sarnia’s Derrick Haney adopted the stage name Ryck Rydon and headed west to seek fame and fortune as an actor. By the end of his career, Rydon had 13 television series and 14 movies to his credit, including an appearance in the Elvis Presley classic movie “Harem Scarum.”

* Sarnia’s first party store. In a Sept. 5, 1872 Observer advertisement, M. Mausseret boasted that his “Bonded Warehouse“ inventoried “OYSTERS, OYSTERS, OYSTERS…FRESH DAILY“ together with 870 cases of assorted booze. The libations he offered to his thirsty town included Champagne and Guinness Dublin Porter.

Randy Evans is a Sarnia resident and regular contributor to The Journal




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