Monday, August 30, 2010
Swiss Chalet had served up its rotisserie chicken to diners in other parts of Ontario for a quarter of a century by the time it opened its first locations in Windsor in 1980. One sign a proofreader may have been asleep on the job—it's Dougall Avenue, not Dougal Rd.
The Dougall location was a frequent dinner destination during childhood. Our orders varied little: Chalet Salad (chicken chunks mixed into shredded cabbage) and a side of fries for Dad, quarter chicken breast dinners for the rest of us. Maybe a chicken sandwich once in awhile. Fulfilling my role as a human garbage disposal unit, I drank anyone's leftover Chalet Sauce that hadn't been used to coat chicken, fries or the half of a hamburger bun that came with dinner. It was fun to dunk my hands into the finger bowl filled with water and a dainty shred of lemon at the end of the meal (sorry Swiss Chalet management, but wet wipes are a wimpy substitute). My grandmother sometimes accompanied us and I wonder if a meal there was a comforting reminder of home after she moved from Toronto to Amherstburg.
Both of the Windsor locations were heavy on the faux-Euro trappings during the 1980s: medieval castle-style carvings, dark lighting, waitresses in Swiss Miss finery. Ever years after the chain switched to casual ware and a brighter atmosphere, it still feels a little odd not to see chickens rotating behind decor appropriate for a minor German prince.
Two tenants in the plaza behind the Dougall Swiss Chalet were an interesting pairing. Operating next to each other were Baskin-Robbins...and Weight Watchers. When the plaza was rebuilt years later, both remained.
Swiss Chalet currently operates three locations in Windsor, none of which are the pair that established their presence in the city.
Source: The Windsor Star, May 2, 1980 - JB
Friday, August 27, 2010
Every year before Dad (and later Amy and I) had to return to the classroom, we’d visit my grandparents in Leaside and spent one day of the trip at the Ex. While the rides were fun, the Food Building and its array of cheap/free delights from local and major vendors was often the highlight. The odds are good I was running around (or tethered to my parents with a leash around my wrist so that I wouldn’t disappear into the crowd) the Food Building in 1980 when Canadian Grocer magazine prepared a special report/advertising section about the fair.
Even in 1980, it seems patrons were dismay by the dwindling amount of freebies exhibitors handed out each year. In an effort to bring back the “good ol’ days,” the CNE Food Products Association gave away over 10,000 food and food-related prizes on Food Products Day (August 20). Coupons were handed out that made patrons eligible to win items ranging from candy bars to Cuisinart food processors. Pipers were used to draw people to the coupon booths.
The special section provided profiles of what several key vendors offered the public that year, accompanied by colour photos. Here are the highlights (with apologies for the grainy quality of the shots).
A&P Food Stores
Besides their long-running cooking demonstrations at the Kitchen Theatre in the Better Living Centre, A&P operated a booth in the food building in 1980:
This new booth served A&P’s own Bokar Coffee for 25 cents a cup, which included cake. They also offered a new deluxe 100 mL tub of ice cream for 25 cents. It was offered in four flavours...Another CNE special was Bokar Coffee at $3.50 or 8 O’Clock at $3.00 for a one pound bag. There was also a pamphlet available at the booth with an entry form for $200 worth of groceries...The booth was managed by Loretta Ring, who also manages the two cafeterias at A&P’s head office. Loretta’s staff of 14 were colourfully dressed in red jackets and caps.Perhaps those outfits were then donated to nearby stores, as they resemble those seen in Amherstburg’s A&P for years. As my sister notes, those working the booth are smiling awkwardly.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Every so often in the midst of scrolling through reels of microfilm at the Toronto Public Library, I'll find an ad or story with loose connections to Amherstburg. While researching the coverage of the death of Sir John A. Macdonald in Toronto's newspapers, I came across this ad for a company who, just over a quarter of a century later, became one of Amherstburg's largest employers.
Built between 1917 and 1919, the Brunner Mond soda ash plant provided Amherstburg with both jobs and an improved water supply thanks to a filtration facility the company built. Later known as Allied Chemical and General Chemical, the plant operated until 2005. The Brunner Mond name lives on in a boat launch along the Detroit River (Bru Mon Harbour Marina, formerly used by plant employees as the Brunner Mond Yacht Club) and a side street near the plant where the company once built homes for its employees (Brunner Avenue).
Note that the Mail had a header specially made for advertisers in the alkali business.
Source: The Toronto Daily Mail, June 10, 1891. - JB
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
A lesson in how to make a retailer's leftovers sound attractive.
Question: were there any special, unprinted deals for regulars of the mission across the street (say, very special odd pants or suits to help somebody down on their luck climb back up the ladder of life)?
Source: The Toronto Star, July 6, 1928. - JB