life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

Ford Tunnels

Relatives sent my wife and I a copy of your issue #17 (Sept. 2001) and we were happily surprised to see my wife, Phyllis (Helps), who was a member of the Walkerville Collegiate basketball team, pictured on page 26.

I was born in Walkerville on Dec. 17, 1913 and have always believed I was born at our home on Windermere Rd. between Wyandotte and the river. Maybe Margaret Meyers can enlighten me as my folks lived with her family in the same house. Maggies’ brother Malcom (Mac) was born 5 or 6 weeks after I was so I always felt close to the Myers family.

My father was a foreman at Ford Motor Co. when war was declared in 1914. Being a reservist with a British Regiment he had to leave Walkerville in the fall of 1914. I have passed on to my son the clipping from the Windsor Star reporting on my dad being the first Border Cities’ casualty – he was killed at Ypres in early 1915. My mother, being in ill health, had me shuffled among friends and relations living in Walkerville. When she died in 1919, I went to live in London with an uncle and came back to Windsor to work in the Ford Motor Co. mailing room in Sept 1929. I retired from Ford’s in 1969 and have lived on the West Coast ever since.

All but 5 years of my Ford time was spent in the Windsor offices, so I have many memories of places and people in Walkerville. Maggie Meyers’ father was a good friend and fellow golfer and many a story he told me when I visited his barber shop. I was a member of the AKO fraternity and thus had many acquaintances among the sport community. I was a member of the five plus ten-pin team in the Walkerville Bowling League and bowled every Thursday night on Pitt Street. I have fond memories of the post bowling activities we took part in at the Walkerville Brewery hospitality room on Walker Rd.

When I came to Ford’s as a 15-year-old mail boy, I lived with an aunt just off Pierre Avenue. I would walk to the post office on Devonshire every morning, collect the Ford mail and be driven to the office in a pickup. There the mail would be sorted for inter-office and interplant delivery by half a dozen of us mail boys.

Someone in your paper expressed curiosity about tunnels. From under the Ford Commissary Bldg. you could walk underground to Plant 4. The tunnel went along Sandwich Street, (Riverside Dr.) to the Power House. From there it went under the railway tracks to Plant 2. This was the heating and utilities tunnel from the Power House. From Plant 2 to Plant 4 it also had a conveyor system to transplant auto parts, engines, wheels, fender and other sheet metal parts not made in Plant 4. I used these tunnels many times in bad weather when picking up and delivering mail to the plants.
R.J. (Bob) Rose, Delta B.C.

Ed: Bob, thanks for sharing all your memories. Unfortunately, Margaret Meyers cannot help you with your recollections as she passed away in February.

Soccerball-eating Street Cars

Getting the Times every month has been a ray of nostalgic sunshine. I am truly a “Walkervillian” having been born in a Walker townhouse at the north end of Monmouth road in 1926. It was the same house my mother and dad moved into after they were married in 1910. Dad was a traffic manager with Parke Davis and served as a volunteer fireman with the Walkerville Fire Dept which was headquartered directly across from Parke Davis on Walker Rd. His picture appears in your Walkerville Times website archives standing on a horse drawn rig labeled circa 1900 although the actual date of the picture was probably closer to 1910 otherwise dad would have only have been a teenager when the picture was taken.

Walkerville Fire Department c. 1910
Reader Ray Pillio's father is at the far right

Even though my family moved to Vimy Rd. in “South” Walkerville in 1929, I attended the old St. Anne school on Monmouth Rd. until entering Walkerville Collegiate in 1938. And yes, the old 4-wheel street cars still went up and down Monmouth Rd. and still loved to eat wayward soccer balls. This small car was affectionately known as the “Toonerville Trolley”named after a then popular cartoon in the Border Cities Star.

It was at W.C.I. that I met my very good friend Al Roach with whom I have remained close. Ours was the graduating class of 1943 which never graduated due to a decision by the then principal Mr. Ball to cancel the graduation after the death of the former, well respected principal W.L McNaughton. It was an unfortunate decision as some who were to graduate never returned home from overseas duty after the war.

In the February issue of the Times I noted a picture of the Hugh Beaton School safety patrol. I attended W.C.I. with most of the boys shown in the picture. Hugh Beaton School is in an area where graduates could have a choice of Kennedy or Walkerville Collegiate and since they all chose W.C.I., I knew them all. The picture included Jack Creed, Vic Davies, Charley Rowe, Charley Cherrie, Howard Moore, Jack Purdie, Bob Bachelor, Fred Hawkesworth. I’ll check my W.C.I Blue and White of 1941 and find the other names later.

While at W.C.I we benefited from the dedicated teaching skills and guidance of the outstanding staff which included: Evangeline “Vange-Drama Club” Robbins, Fred “Latin-CCF” Burr, Mr. Ball, Bill Young, Charley “Put Put” O’Brien, Jim”Dentist” Hartford, Mary “Artist” Auld, Leo “Music” Malania, Archie “Chalk Flipper” Fletcher, Ian “Olympic Basketball” Allison, Cec “Cadet” Bunt, Howard “Physics” Hugill, Mr. “Smell This” Swanson, to name but a few. Bicycles were a main means of transport then, even for the staff.

I wonder how many readers will remember that W.C.I even had its own dentist facility in the ground floor east end with good ol’ Dr. Deans coming in when requested. Free dental work? It didn’t stay very long unfortunately.

I live in Mississauga now but my heart still is in the “Centre of the Universe” as my dear friend Al Roach calls Walkerville. I am in the Windsor area frequently and it is nice to see that the town hasn’t changed that much to upset the fond memories especially when I walk through Willistead and the beautiful old residential streets.
Ray Pillon, Mississauga

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