Now and Then: Recalling Flin Flon's flashy Fifties

The Fifties in Flin Flon were fabulous. Mine production was booming, Provincial Trunk Highway 10 was finally opened, and teenage boys were driving their dad’s flashy new cars around town.

Three major events come to mind in this flashback to the Fifties.

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It was on a sunny, June day in 1953 that the loyal citizens of Flin Flon and area celebrated the coronation of their new Queen, Elizabeth II. A massive parade to salute Her Majesty wound its way from its assembly point on Third Avenue at the bottom of the Hundred Stairs. It snaked its way up Callinan Lane to Main Street and on to Phantom Lake. I shuffle-marched the route as a member of the Elks Band.

The Legion Colour Party and the HBM&S Pipe Band led the way. The Elks Town Band played in the centre of the parade amongst scores of commercial and community floats, decorated cars and bicycles.

A marvellous replica of the coronation carriage, along with our very own “Queen” and her costumed escorts, was the highlight. The carriage was the work of the many talented hands at HBM&S and the local artistic community.

This carriage was on display at Phantom Lake for a number of years. Its ultimate fate is unknown to me.

The Fifties also brought the fabulous Flin Flon Trout Festival, which was first held in 1950. My dad, Art Dodds, took me to one of the first organizational meetings that was held in the sewing room at the Jubilee Hall. I was about 10 years old at the time and recall that Jack Freedman, Tom Dobson and Bud Jobin were among those in attendance. Everyone seemed to agree that the town needed a summer festival. Someone made a motion, it was approved by all and thus the festival was born.

The Trout Festival featured big events all around, including Bakers’ Narrows Day with water skiing demonstrations in the channel, and Beaver Lake Day with junior prospector competitions, flour packing and jigging contests. Phantom Lake Day brought out the whole town. There was the Main Street Fair, talent was brought in for the evening stage shows at the community hall and the dance at the Jubilee Hall. Of course, the Gold Rush Canoe Derby was the highlight as local and visiting canoeists fought hard for honours.

The Fish Fries of that era saw lot of beverages guzzled down at Willowpark Curling Rink, all in the name of northern celebration.

Aside from enjoying the festival festivities, I made a few hard-earned dollars selling car or boat and trailer “Share In the North” raffle tickets on Main Street. You had to have a ticket to participate in the fish derby, vote for your favorite Queen Mermaid and enter to win the draw prizes. Paydays were the best days for ticket sales at Ostry’s corner.

The most memorable Fifties event of all was in 1957, when our fabulous Flin Flon Bombers defeated the Ottawa Junior Canadiens to bring home the Memorial Cup. The Bombers received massive hometown support, including a telegram that included the names of several hundred Flin Flon fans. I think it cost 25 cents to have one’s name included on the telegram.

The winning game was played in Regina and broadcast live on CFAR. I’d bet there wasn’t a car moving on the streets during the game, but the town just exploded with joy when our boys took the cup. A massive crowd gathered on Main Street that night with shouting, cheering fans wild with delight. CFAR had live reports from the scene and there was even a conga line formed.

The Bombers returned home via train and were met by a delegation at Channing Station. Convertible cars carried the team as they toured the town down Green Street to Willowvale and then uptown via Third Avenue. A stage had been built in front of the post office and a massive crowd gathered to honour “Our boys. Our Bombers.”

The Bombertown tribute show at the Community Hall was a deeply moving experience for me. That time and those days, I think, are part of the DNA of anyone who experienced them.

Boy, this sure stirred up a lot of memories for me and, hopefully, for those who lived “on the rocks” in those fabulous Flin Flon times.

End note: Thanks to Hugh Spencer for noting the correct Modern Dairies slogan (last month’s column): “You can ‘whip’ our cream, but you can’t beat our milk.”

Got any comments or reflections on this column? Contact Vincent at vincent.murphy@sasktel.net.

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