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

Pillon Family Nearly Auto Pioneers

My dad’s family originally settled in the Amherstburg area around 1790 or 1800 and used a lot of the old French names, as that area was primarily French in those days. My dad was given the name “Theophile Albemee Pillon” although he was known in Walkerville only as Phil or T.A. for obvious reasons. His father and grandfather were blacksmiths and had a shop on the Pike Rd. not too far from what is now Walker Rd. At one time dad’s father and uncle operated a wagon works in conjunction with the blacksmith shop, making carriages for the local gentry. Who knows? We might have been early automotive pioneers except that the shop closed before 1900. There are pictures in the Amherstburg historical museum of the Pillon Carriage Works.

To add to my letter (Issue 23) re: my dad’s Walkerville Fire Department days, when my dad was in our house on Monmouth Rd., the alarm system was set up so that it would ring in our house and Dad would pull on his boots and gear and run to either Wyandotte or Walker Rd. corner to jump onto the rig as it passed by. He explained to me that the horse harnesses were suspended above the stalls and were dropped on to the horses to save time. He was very proud of his experience with the department and during the war years in Walkerville, when we used to have air raid drills and blackouts and he acted as block warden in charge of “incendiary fire action.”

Those were strange days!

Incidentally, my mother, who was a Drouillard, was a descendent of an early French Canadian settler family who established the first grain milling shop in the River Canard/LaSalle area. But that is another story.
Ray Pillon, Mississauga

Sandwich Slices

We have just finished reading The Times and as usual enjoyed every page. But there were a couple of errors. Virginia Bastedo of Brampton was not right on several things. I quote – “She lived on Askin Blvd in Sandwich.” Askin Blvd is not and never was in Sandwich. Also she says the hotel was in Sandwich – wrong. It was in Shore Acres.

Also, Sandwich High School is not now J. L “Hoirster” Collegiate. It is Forester High School. She also states that the two Bob-Lo boats, the St. Claire and the Columbia, were also used as ferry boats. Not true. The two ferry boats were the LaSalle and the Cadillac. My grandfather, William Wear, worked for the ferry company and I spent a lot of time down by the river watching the boats.
Nancy Carter, Windsor

Ed: The eastern boundary of Sandwich was approximately Josephine or Bridge until 1935 when Sandwich was amalgamated with Windsor. The Shore Acres Hotel, which once stood between Rankin and Bridge, was therefore actually in the former town of Sandwich. Ditto for Askin.

1215 Chilver History

My husband and I have subscribed to The Times for a year and thoroughly enjoy every word. Having grown up in Old Walkerville and South Walkerville, each publication brings back great memories.

In answer to Barb (Reid) Margerm’s query in the April 2002 issue, I have a little history about 1215 Chilver Road; I spent a lot of time growing up there. My grandparents, Bertha Jane and Thomas McKenzie Smith bought the house somewhere around 1926, or possibly when it was built, and lived there until 1947 when they moved to Leamington.

Unless the interior of the house has changed, I can still remember every room in it. For a child there were lots of interesting places to play and hide in. The attic covered the whole top of the house and was a source of adventure and make believe for all of us, especially with the trunks filled with old clothes from days gone by. Special holidays and summer vacations were always spent with my grandparents. Christmas was magical for the grandchildren because they made it so. Lots of happy memories of time spent in that house.

I had an occasion to meet some neighbours of friends of ours who live in the 1100 block of Chilver last year and, lo and behold, they used to live in my grandparent’s house until just a couple of years ago.

Other memories are of the horse-drawn drays for the milkman, or going to Borden’s Dairies for ice cream with grandfather. This was a nightly treat after dinner in the summertime before we went to bed.

My grandfather was the first skilled tradesperson to be employed by Ford Motor Company as a pattern maker and the fifth person to be employed by Ford. When I was born he was a plant superintendent of one of the plants.
Sharon Hocevar, Windsor

Miss Windsor Unveiled

I have just reviewed Issue #23 and found it delightful. I was pleased to see on page 20 Joan Fitzpatrick as Miss Windsor who soon became Miss Canada. She later moved on to Hollywood and acted in various movies.

I was a very close friend of hers, and went through school with her, and of course had many good times together. My brother even dated her for a while.
Lorraine Rebkowec, Windsor

Ed: Terry Beneteau also knew Joan and brought in a variety of newspaper articles and autographed photos of Joan. From these we learned she was a Walkerville resident, a stenographer in Detroit and worked with Terry in the Windsor Income Tax Office in the 50s. She played a secretary on the 1960s Dr. Kildare tv show. On the way to becoming Miss Canada, she won Miss Western Ontario (see photo above). Joan has good genes – her mother, who died recently, was a runner-up in the 1935 Miss Western Ontario contest. Joan is alive and well and living somewhere in the U.S.

Joan Fitzpatrick, Miss Western Ontario, 1956 (left)
#16 Joanne Verwey future log-rolling queen (right)

The Times = the Hope Diamond?

A couple years ago, as a Christmas gift to my Aunt, my wife and I paid for a subscription to your magazine. My aunt used to live in the Walkerville area and I thought she might get a "kick" out of reading it and reliving moments of her childhood. At that time Aunt Helen lived in Hamilton. Well you'd think I’d given her the "Hope Diamond" as a gift. She was most appreciative.

So next year for Christmas we renewed her subscription. Shortly into her second year of receiving the magazine she moved to Victoria, BC and was most anxious to ensure her beloved Walkerville Times moved with her. A simple call to your office did the trick and she now gets the hometown news in her new home. She tells me when The Times arrives she drops whatever she's doing and pours over every word.

Thank you for making this very special person in our lives happy.

Hello Aunty Helen!!!
Cary Wheeler, Windsor

Log Rolling Beauty Queen

The girl holding #16 in the Beauty Queens photo on page 20, issue 23, was my cousin, Joanne Verwey. She won the Miss Windsor title that year (probably 1949), and went on to win Miss Western Ontario.

I was about three years younger, and it all seemed so glamorous. I’m not sure how that led to exhibition log-rolling, but she became proficient at this balancing act in years to follow.
Barbara Snyder, Windsor

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