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Land registry, power agreement topped 1928

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In January, 1928, the establishment of an up-to-date Land Titles and Registry office at Fort Frances marked another step in the progress of this district.

Over one year ago, work had started on the building that opened on Jan. 3, 1928. The building’s construction embodied the last word in modern fireproof construction with walls of solid brick and facings of cut stone.

With 17-foot ceilings, windows protected with metal rolling shades, and concrete floors covered with battleship linoleum, the vault was calculated to provide 25 years of storage.

The first registry office was established in Fort Frances in 1903, with a registry building opening in 1904 on Portage Avenue. Mr. W.J. Keating completed his 20th year as Master of Land Titles in 1928 at the age of 80.

Also in 1928, the Fort Frances Service Station, which opened on the corner of Scott and Portage by Mr. Jura Stinson, featured one of the best-equipped stations to be found anywhere.

Of a “pleasing architectural design,” a covered grease pit also was cited as a “novel idea.”

The 1928 appointment of town officers included the following salaries: J.W. Walker, clerk ($200); R.E. Readman, fire chief, building inspector, and caretaker of the Town Hall ($140); and R.A. Taylor, pump station engineer ($125 with a free house, light, water, and fuel).

Also in 1928, the Board of Education was busy with the opening of an addition to the high school and the construction of a new public school.

In August, sod was broken for the new school in the west end. A two-room brick school (known as Alexander MacKenzie today) was being constructed for $27,055.50 by the John East Company.

Due to the congestion in the central 24-room school (Robert Moore), the primary rooms were alternating with half-day shifts so the need for the new school was identified.

Located between Colonization Road and Third Street West, the original intention was to erect the school adjacent to the cemetery. Instead, the property was left at the disposal of the town for a central park.

The Board of Education also disposed of the old “Scott Street” school for $4,000 to the Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League.

In March of that year, an official banquet opened the new club rooms. The newly-renovated upper floor presented a real gala appearance with framed pictures of their majesties decorated with wreaths and framings, and panels with British flags profusely dispersed.

Four tables laden down with viands and sparkling glass, snowey napery, and shiny silver each featured a suckling pig.

The Legion also wished to allay any fears, stating that “the canteen conducted in the building would be a strictly dry one so as to bring no discredit on the association or the cause.”

By the spring of 1928, the Calm Lake power dam was completed in record time. Rock excavation had started on March 26, 1927. Flooding of the basin began March 26 to reach an elevation to start the power units.

Meanwhile, a rousing farewell banquet was held at the Backus-Brooks mess hall on March 31 for the purpose of getting a number of men together who were getting through with their work and departing to other locations and activities.

Finally, the negotiation of a power agreement soon was at the centre of debate when the citizens of Fort Frances protested against the town council consenting to the export of power (to International Falls) developed on the Seine River.

The 60 or so businessmen of Fort Frances who recently had organized a Board of Trade took an active interest in the protest against the agreement between the Town of Fort Frances and Mr. Backus’ Ontario-Minnesota Power Company Ltd.

One hundred years! One hundred ideas! One hundred volunteers! 2003 should be a year for celebrating community—let’s make it one to remember.

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