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Then & Now: 1200 block of Bay Avenue in Trail

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

Another in a series of negatives I bought a few years ago showing Trail in 1953 or so. This one shows the 1200 block of Bay Avenue, looking north.

Starting on the far left, we see the Doukhobor Block at 1288-98 Bay, then home to Mackenzie, White, and Dunsmuir Ltd., an automotive wholesaler, and the Club Cafe. This building was erected by the Christian Community of Universal Brotherhood in 1919 and was the original home of the CM&S Company Store from then until 1925. The building was demolished in 1978 and replaced the following year with a squat CIBC branch.

The next lot over was a parking lot then as now.

Car buffs can tell me what model is seen on the next building, which the 1953 civic directory indicates was Empire Motors, a used car dealer. The building was demolished within a year and replaced with what’s now a real estate office at 1252 Bay. Bill Burns provides some more background:

The current building 1252 Bay was constructed to house Mitchell Building Supply in the 1950s. Chartered accountants Yolland, Soligo & Byers purchased the building in 1959 and moved their practice from the Trail Credit Union Building, 1440 Bay, to the Mitchell Building. D.B. Merry Lumber Co. on Spokane Street became Merry-Mitchell Building Supplies. The chartered accountant firm now named Leo Soligo & Associates purchased the old Trail Credit Union building at 1440 Bay and relocated back in the 1970s.

Next building over at 1234 Bay is the Eaton’s mail order office. The facade is covered with some highly reflective material, making it look almost like it has a mural on it. The building was constructed only a couple of years earlier. On the site previously stood the Palace Hotel, which burned in 1950. Eaton’s arrived in Trail in 1953 after buying out the Trail Mercantile Co.

The civic directory indicated it was home to a whole bunch of other businesses too: Northern Electric; H.K. Naruse, optometrist; the Credit Bureau of Trail; Montrose Homesites real estate; Wilson, MacBeth & Co., general accountants; Central Mortgage and Housing; E.T. Bodard Adjustment Co.; Consolidated Employees Benevolent Society; the Trail Credit Union; and R. Wilson office furnishings.

From at least 1963-72, this building was home to Overwaitea. Later it was Fields, then a sporting goods store, then a video store, then Hall’s Basics office supplies and now it’s Mills Office Productivity.

Next door is a vacant lot and further down the block we see the Melrose Hotel at 1200 Bay, which I’ve written about before. It was supposedly built in 1912 but doesn’t show up in the civic directories under that name until 1920. It was demolished in 1967, at which time a garage was built adjacent to the Eaton’s building, now known as Brost Auto Worx.

A couple more noteworthy buildings are on the next block over, including the Victoria Hotel annex, demolished sometime before 1963 and now the site of Kootenay Insurance Services; and the back of the Trail-Tadanac hospital, demolished after the present hospital opened in East Trail in 1954. It’s now the site of A&W.

At the end of the street, while the Cominco Arena had been built by this time, the library and curling rink had not. So a grand total of one building (Eaton’s then, Mills now) is easily visible in both shots.

With thanks to Bill Burns

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First car on left is a 1950 dodge tudor, 2nd car looks like a 35 Ford couple, 3rd car looks like a 40 or 41 Chev and last car appears to be about a 49-50 Austin A40. Pickup truck on right about a 50-51 Chev. Hope I'm at least close on a couple of the cars. Advertising board on the building looks like a 51 Meteor.

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