Preserved Stories Blog


John Steward of Wiarton has shared some photos of the fire that destroyed the Long Branch Hotel in 1958

Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enrol it further.

Slide 1. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

An earlier post is entitled:

John Stewart of Wiarton has added a comment to a previous post about the 1958 fire at the Long Branch Hotel

John Stewart lived for many years on Arcadian Circle in Long Branch.

I met with John in Long Branch on July 12, 2017, and had the opportunity to scan some slides from the 1958 fire at the Long Branch Hotel. I use an Epson Perfection V550 Photo scanner for my scans of photos and slides. I bought the scanner some years ago, when I was on my way to scan some historic photos in the Quebec Laurentians. On the trip, I had brought along another scanner, but had forgotten to bring along the required cable to connect the scanner to my laptop. (Since then, I’ve used a checklist to keep track of such accessories.)

Slide 2. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enrol it further.

Slide 2. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

I ended up buying, along the way, the scanner that I now use. It’s more of a high-end scanner than scanners I have used in the past. I would not have realized, until I bought this one, how handy it is to have a scanner that works really well, and has a range of functions and capabilities that come in really handy, for scanning photos for this website.

I did not know anything, about how to scan slides, until John Stewart contacted me, and said he had five or six slides, that would be good to add to my posts about the 1958 fire at the Long Branch Hotel. Before John arrived for his visit, I spent some time reading an online instruction manual for the Epson V550 scanner, and got up to speed on how to set it up for the scanning of slides.

I also established the procedure for getting the size of jpeg files, from slides, that would provide sufficient detail, for posting to the Preserved Stories website. I am really pleased, that I now know how to scan slides, as I have plenty of other slides, some of historic interest, that I can now scan, when time permits.

Slide 3. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enrol it further.

Slide 3. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

The slides at the current post were taken by John Stewart’s father, Alex Stewart. I could tell, just by seeing the slides, that Alex was an accomplished and experienced photographer. Among other things, the slides that I scanned today include both establishing shots – that is, shots that take in the whole scene – as well as closer shots providing more detailed views of a given scene.

John Stewart, formerly of Long Branch and for the past about 14 years a resident of Wiarton, Ontario, has also shared with us an aerial photo of Long Branch, taken by his uncle who was a reconnaissance photographer during the Second World War.

As well, John has shared with us a hockey crest from when he played at the artificial ice rink on Arcadian Circle. The rink was originally an open-air facility; the roof was added later.

Slide 4. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enrol it further.

Slide 4. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge further.

Long Branch Hotel burned down in 1958

I was very pleased that John Stewart contacted me, some time back, to ensure I got some of the details correct, regarding the fire at the Long Branch Hotel. During his visit on July 12, 2017, I recorded an interview with John, while I was scanning his slides. It will take me some time to transcribe the interview, and to post it. Rather than waiting for the transcript, which in many cases can take me forever, I am posting the slides today, along with the aerial photo and crest, and will share a few highlights from our interview, based on my recollections (imperfect as my memory of such conversations is) of the interview.

Marie Curtis officially opened Marie Curtis Park

John spoke about the official opening of Marie Curtis Park, which he attended along with other students from James S. Bell School. He said it was a great occasion. Students got some kind of ice cream sandwich or similar treat (as I say, I would have to check the transcript of our conversation, to ensure I have the correct information) for the occasion.

Slide 5. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enrol it further.

Slide 5. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

John was supposed to serve an after-school detention, at the school that day. However, after the event at Marie Curtis Park, at which Marie Curtis herself officiated at the opening ceremony, John decided to skip the trip back to school to serve his detention. After he did not turn up, he received word, very clearly and forcefully expressed, that the skipping of a detention was a very serious matter, that must be dealt with.

John also spoke about the actual day of the fire. He said the fire lasted for a long time. When he had left the school at 3:30 pm that day, he was not immediately aware where the smoke was coming from. At first, he figured it must be a house that was on fire, but as he made his way closer, he realized it was the hotel.

Slide 6. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

Slide 6. Caption details regarding the 1958 fire at Long Branch Hotel will be added down the road. Alex Stewart photo. Click on the photo to enlarge it; click again to enlarge it further.

He mentioned that, after the building had burned down, you could see the thick walls that remained in place, heavily encased in ice from the fire hose (or hoses: I don’t know whether one or several hoses were involved in fighting the fire). You could also see these iron (I think it was iron, that John mentioned) drainage stacks, that were still in place, sticking up in the air, after the embers had died down.

John also attended Parkview School, which is the school whose story got me interested in local history in Long Branch in the first place. John has memories, as he explained in our interview, of the principal at the school, who used to be a teacher at James S. Bell.

Aerial photo of Long Branch, taken by John Stewart's uncle (I will get the name later), who served as a reconnaissance photographer in the Second Wold War. The photo is I think from the 1950s (I will check).

Aerial photo of Long Branch, taken by John Stewart’s uncle (I will get the name later), who served as a reconnaissance photographer in the Second Wold War. The photo is I think from the 1950s (I will check).

View of reverse side of the photo

View of reverse side of photo

Registering a 22-calibre rifle

During the Second World War, or maybe after (again, I will need to check the audio recording that I made, on my Zoom H5 audio recorder), as John explained in our interview, people had to register their firearms.

John’s father had a 22-calible rifle, which he kept disassembled inside a bag. He asked his wife to take the bag, with the gun inside, to the police station at the Village of Long Branch, to get it registered, when she went grocery shopping.

John’s mother took the bag to the police station, and the Police Chief, Smythe, had a look inside the bag. Smythe had a chuckle, and put the parts together. He then gave it back to John’s mother. The latter said (and I paraphrase), “How am I supposed to walk into a grocery store, carrying a rifle?”

Smythe answered, again with a chuckle: “I guess you’ll get your groceries for free, today.”

I asked John to explain. He explained that what Smythe was going on about was the fact that, if you walk into a grocery store carrying a rifle, you can load up all the groceries you want, and nobody is going to ask you to pay. Smythe, as I have heard from many sources, in my interviews over the years, was a man of good humour.

Long Branch Minor Hockey League

The hockey league that got started, around the year (1962-1963) when John was awarded the hockey crest, was a league where all young people, who wanted to play hockey, could play. That is, it wasn’t for only the players who were the most skilled at hockey.

Everybody could play, and enjoy the excitement of the game.

I mentioned to John that 1962-1963 was also the year that I graduated from high school, in Montreal. I mentioned that there is a lot of material, at the Preserved Stories website, about the high school that I attended. I also mentioned that I was able to help out, some years ago, with the organizing of a reunion for the latter high school, in Toronto in 2015.

Championship crest: A prized possession of John Stewart.

Championship crest: A prized possession of John Stewart

Reverse side of crest

Reverse side of crest

I still have videos and photos from the reunion, that I want to get around to posting. Just thinking about is now, as I write this post, is most helpful, as I need reminders now and then about how many projects, that I have begun, remain to be finished, while time and energy remains.

This post has gotten quite long, longer than I had originally anticipated. That will work out well, as I like to have plenty of text in place, so that there is a layout into which the images, chosen for a given post, can fit.

Hockey crest

John Stewart mentioned that he made a point of keeping his Bantam Champions hockey crest in good shape (it looks as good as new), as a cherished keepsake. He decided not to have it sewn onto his hockey sweater. The sweaters were passed down from team to team, over the years. Players did not get to keep the sweaters.

Humber College Fitness Centre

I am also reminded of the fact that, since February 2017, I have been a regular participant at the new Humber College Fitness Centre on Lake Shore Blvd. West near the eastern boundary of the former Village of Long Branch.

I work out regularly at the centre, and have been working out regularly (by way of strength training and cardiovascular fitness) for several decades, at a variety of fitness facilities.

Long Branch Hotel map. Bill Rawson, May 2013

I much enjoy keeping fit, even though I have never been any kind of elite athlete (except maybe in Grade 4, in the estimation of my peers). I just so much enjoy getting exercise, and I am so pleased that I’ve been able to arrange my life, in such a way, that I usually have time to get plenty of exercise every week.

By way of strength training work, I currently work out intensively using three separate workouts, to ensure that the muscles that I’m focusing on have a full week of rest, between workouts. I’m at an intermediate level of strength training. After every six weeks, I take a week off (for less intensive exercise) to ensure that I follow a periodization schedule, which works out better than just working out intensively every week of the year. From time, to time, a person needs a rest. Research indicates that a periodization schedule ensues a person gets optimal, long-term gains from their strength-training workouts.

By way of cardio work, I have a routine where I run at a very fast rate, just about to the limit of my capacity as a runner, for two minutes at a time, after which I walk or run slowly for three minutes – after which I run close to as fast as I can, once again. I go through this routine several times.  At times, the prospect of an upcoming high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session has been daunting, when I think about it early in the day. Once I am warmed up, however, the running gets very easy, and I’m pleased to be involved in such pursuits.

A map from the Long Branch Historical Society shows the shoreline of Lake Ontario as it existed during the years before the Long Branch Hotel burned down.

I have worked out at all kind of places, over the years, including university gyms, commercial gyms, and community gyms. After a while, a person learns so much about how different layouts, how different ways of organizing space in gym facilities, affect the experiences of fitness and strength-training enthusiasts.

I much enjoy the layout and quality of the equipment, as well as the atmosphere at the Humber College (Lakeshore Campus) Fitness Centre. The staff are friendly and enthusiastic, and there’s enough space so that people are not running into each other. I very much like having enough space to move around in. I didn’t realize what a major variable the presence or absence of space, as part of the layout of a training facility, can be.

As well, it’s great to be using a treadmill on the third floor, while observing the lake to the south, and people walking by on Lake Shore Blvd. West.

We owe many thanks to John Stewart for sharing these Long Branch photos with us. Jaan Pill photo

We owe many thanks to John Stewart for sharing these Long Branch photos with us. Jaan Pill photo

It’s my day for an intensive workout today, so I will post the photos and I will be off to the gym.

Note regarding orientation of the colour images, scanned from slides

In the event any of the images at this post have ended up incorrectly flipped from left to right, which can happen when slides are scanned in order to create jpeg files, it’s my hope that in time we will detect any such errors, after which we will correct them.

 

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