OPINION: Police tourism booklet offers old snapshot of business

James Torrance was Sarnia’s Police Chief in 1958 and host of the Ontario Police Association convention, headquartered at the old Colonial Hotel. Photo courtesy, Cal Gardner

 

In late August of 1958, Sarnia played host to the 26th annual Ontario Police Association convention.

For each of the guests coming to town, a 50-page booklet was prepared, packed with ads. It offers an interesting glimpse of the time, and what city businesses were eager to sell to visitors.

Six hotels took out ads. The Hotel Vendome at Front and Cromwell streets offered the “European Plan” (lodging only) but served its 78 rooms with bath or shower from its new Edgewater Dining Room.

Sarnia’s newest hotel was The Colborne, at 117 Christina. The nearby Colonial was the headquarters of the convention, while The Guildwood Inn promised nothing less than the “finest food in Ontario,” a cocktail lounge and nightly entertainment.

The Morden House at 162 Front promoted rooms with a private bath. At 132 Front, the St. Clair was a 25-room hotel overlooking the river.

Three miles east on Highway 7, the Americana Restaurant specialized in Chinese food. Other eateries hoping to entice the police officers and their families included the Town Coffee Shop, Belmont Restaurant, Imperial Restaurant and the Crystal Grill on Christina. Latners’ had two locations: 145 North Front and Northgate. Even the A&W Drive-in on Michigan Avenue in Point Edward was included.

Though the convention delegates were coming from all across Ontario for the three-day event, the poorly worded booklet revealed a weak grasp on geography.

“Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Tourist and all your fine little Tourists,” it began. A tortured metaphor continued: “If you could put hinges on the southern tip of Ontario and then swing it over onto the United States, it would cover most of the eastern, central and southern states including a good chunk of Texas.”

Looking for china? One could try Scott’s China Hall at 144 Front, or Fowlie’s – another importer of fine English china at Front and Cromwell.

Tip Top Tailors had a new store at 130 Christina, while Bill Cox Men’s Wear at Northgate touted “English and Scotch tweeds.”

Woolworths urged the delegates not to go home empty-handed by picking up “souvenirs, lingerie and china.”

White Rose service centres at Christina and Exmouth and on Colborne Road offered gasoline, as did the Supertest station on London Road, and Sherwood Texaco at Exmouth and Capel.

For an evening out, delegates could “dine and dance” at Faye N’ Kaye Drive-in Restaurant, which was located at Lakeshore and Colborne.

One page was devoted to Ontario’s strict liquor laws. Just in case they’d forgotten, the police delegates were reminded that drinking a beer or liquor in a public place could bring a $10 fine.