By: Jack Jackowetz
The rapid adoption of the automobile after the war not only added to the congestion of the downtown shopping district but facilitated the development of suburban amenities because the automobile made them quickly accessible; and parking was plentiful.
The earliest area of suburban development occurred most rapidly along Colborne Street, between Rawdon Street and Garden Avenue. This area became part of the City of Brantford with the 1955 annexation of Brantford Township lands. It had a higher population density than the lands along King George Road. Development along King George Road began in earnest in the 1960’s
Strobridge Motors was the Mercury and Meteor dealer; Brant County Motors sold Ford, Monarch, Falcon, and Ford Trucks; Kett Motors was the dealer for Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth, Valiant, Imperial, Simca, and Fiat; Forbes Brothers was the Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac dealer; and C.W. Smith Motors replaced Andreasen Motors as the Pontiac, Buick, and Vauxhall dealer.
In 1960 Gordon’s IGA at 67 Erie Avenue at Eagle Avenue becomes Gordon’s Red & White. The IGA Foodliner opened at the Pleasant Plaza, 164 Colborne St West. The Brant Motel (now the Grand Motel) opened at 780 Colborne Street, west of James Avenue. Brantford’s first Pizzeria, Little Caesars, operated from 37 King Street at Darling Street but only lasted about a year. Stan’s Variety Drive In at 212 King George Road and Forsythe Avenue opened. It is now a Cash 4 You payday loan store.
The Mohawk Plaza next to Pauline Johnson Collegiate consisted of: Steinberg’s (originally Grand Union which opened in 1956, it became Steinberg’s in 1959), Mohawk Bowl, Frank Chapel Department Store, Mayfair Hair Styles, Vince & Tony’s Barber Shop, Mohawk Pharmacy, the Toronto-Dominion Bank, Home Economics Food & Freezer, Speed Wash Laundry, Beese’s Delicatessen, and the Shake ’n Burger.
The Oriental Restaurant (104 Market Street) next to the Bell Telephone building opened. The A & W Drive In opened at 67 Charing Cross Street. The Quickee Drive In at Colborne and Puleston Streets was renamed Robertson’s Drive In. The White Horse Carry Out, serving Kentucky Fried Chicken, opened at 55-57 Erie Avenue. This is currently the empty lot at Erie Avenue and the BSAR.
A number of motels in the city got a new name: the Beauview Motel (950 Colborne Street next to Cainsville School) is renamed the Twin Gates Motel, (the motel was renamed The Galaxy Motel in 2015) the Brant Motel becomes the Grant Motel, and the Gage Motel (568 Colborne Street opposite Iroquois Street) is renamed Four Star Motel.
The Paramount Theatre on Dalhousie Street closed on 6-May-1961. Bell City Cabs began operating from 1 1/2 King Street. John Hogewoning opens Hogewoning Motors at 60 Waterloo Street. John was a mechanic with Andreasen Motors. Hogewoning Motors will become the first Toyota dealer in Ontario in November-1965.
The Sherwood Inn (700 Colborne Street at Locks Road), next to the Sherwood Motel, opened. A fire at the Bodega Hotel at the corner of Market and Darling Streets on 4-March-1962 gutted the top floor and the roof. The hotel was subsequently torn down. Canada Permanent Trust built the building on the Bodega corner that TD Canada Trust now occupies in 1964. Terrace Hill Dairy at the corner of West and Dundas Streets was sold to the Borden Company on 1-August-1962. The Farmer’s Dell Plaza at the corner of King George Road and Somerset Road opened. The Alexander Motor Motel at 123 King George Road, next to the Farmer’s Dell Plaza, opened. The motel is now rental accommodation and Angel’s Family Restaurant occupies the front of the building.
The Brantford Plaza, Brantford’s first large scale suburban shopping plaza, opened. Woolco, the anchor tenant, opened on 1-November-1962. The plaza could accommodate 2,000 cars. It was built for $1,250,000 and required the demolition and relocation of the Tranquility Fire Hall. The plaza featured the following stores at opening: Discount Foods; Woolworth’s, designed to keep Zeller’s out of the plaza; The Chalet Restaurant, featuring Gentleman Jim’s steaks; United Cigar, Store; Reitman’s; Carlton Cleaning Carousel; Boyce’s Stationery; Scarfe’s Decorating Centre; Terry & Lynn Shops; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce; Kern’s Jewellry; Agnew-Surpass Shoes; Styletex Textiles; Wally’s Barber Shop; Bridie Shoe Repair & Luggage; and the Flash Gas Bar with its three distinctive umbrella shaped concrete canopies.
The Hamilton Automobile Club opened their first Brantford office at 431 St Paul Avenue, kitty corner from the Loblaws on King George Road. Beaver Lumber moves to their new location on King George Road and Fairview Drive. The College Theatre, 310 Colborne Street closed. It became Talk of the Town Billiards in 1964. It is now 310 Sports Bar & Grill.
The last horse drawn milk wagons in the City made their final trip on 31-May-1963. Terrace Hill Dairies had six horses remaining in 1963, down from the 35 they used in 1959. Traffic conditions in the City were cited as the reason for removing the horses from the road.
Dingwall Mercury replaces Strobridges Motors as the city’s Mercury dealer. Stanley Motors on King George Road and Wood Street becomes the city’s Studebaker dealer.
The Shanghai Restaurant relocates from 89 Colborne Street West to 907 Colborne Street, next to the Bell City Motel. Koster’s Cream-EE Freeze ice cream shop and building is moved from Brant Avenue and Bedford Street to the Brantford Plaza and is renamed Dairee Delite.
Construction began on the water tower in the north end of the City, south of Highway 403 and east of King George Road, behind St. Pius X School.
The Inn of the Jolly Baron, 666 Colborne Street opened. The Inn featured a 40 unit motel and lounge. A banquet room accommodating 800 people was added later. The Inn, operated by the Bielak family, became Brantford’s premiere hotel and banquet facility.
Clark’s Discount Department Store opened at Colborne and Iroquois Streets. The plaza featured an adjacent and connected Discount Foods store.
The Royal Bank opened their new branch at Brant Avenue and Bedford Street, the former location of Koster’s Cream-EE Freeze. Robertson’s Drive In, across from Pauline Johnson Collegiate, rebranded as Robbies.
Checkered Flag Hobbies, a slot car racing facility, opened at Mohawk Plaza, next to the Steinberg’s. Pat Alonzo’s Music Studio opened at 37 Alfred Street.
Stanley Motors Studebaker changed to Stanley Rambler with the demise of the Studebaker automobile company. Dingwall Mercury moved from the corner of Dalhousie and Clarence Streets to 135 King George Road, the old Stainless Steel Products factory. C.W. Smith Motors moved to a new facility at 100 Market Street South. This location is now the Brantford Convention Centre. Hogewoning Motors moved to 249 Murray Street and became Ontario’s first Toyota dealer.
Discount Foods at the Brantford Plaza and Clark’s Plaza rebranded to Super City Discount Foods. Gordon’s Red & White on Erie Avenue became Gordon-Guscott’s Foodmaster with the building of a new store at 43 Erie Avenue (the area’s finest grocery store). Walker’s Department Store replaced Eaton’s in the Arcade Building on Colborne and Queen Streets.
A second White Horse Drive In featuring Kentucky Fried Chicken opened in the Farmer’s Dell Plaza. Robbies Carry Out opened their second location at 6 King George Road next to the Loblaws.
Cable TV arrived in Brantford. Jarmain Cable TV opened an office at the Clark’s Plaza and began service on 16-August-1965 in Eagle Place. West Brant and Holmedale were added in September, downtown and the North Ward in late September, and the north end of the city in the winter. Jarmain built 150 foot antennas on Old Onondaga Road, 2 miles east of Brantford that made 9 VHF channels available to local residents for $4.50 a month. Local community access television started in 1970.
Dingwall Mercury sold their Brantford location and became Northway Mercury headed by local entrepreneur John Czarny. Northway Mercury moved to the corner of Colborne and Alfred Streets. North Park Chrysler Plymouth opened at the former Dingwall Mercury location at 135 King George Road. The Pioneer Gas Bar with its distinct canopy opened at 281 Colborne Street at Echo Street. The canopy was hit by a truck in 2012 and had to be taken down.
Woolworth’s in the Brantford Plaza closed due to poor sales. Their worst day total sales since they opened in late 1962 was 25 cents. Burroughs Furniture moved from 318 Colborne Street, next to College Skate Exchange, to the former Woolworth’s store.
The Dutch Shop opened at the Mohawk Plaza.
San Frano’s Drive In opened on Charing Cross Street and Hill Avenue. The restaurant was started by brothers Sam, Frank, and Romeo.
Tim Horton’s opened their eighth store at 20 King George Road and Borden Street. Country Style Donuts opened at 198 King George Road, just south of Forsythe Avenue. Maria’s Pizza opened at 430 Colborne Street.
Clark’s Discount Department Store rebranded to Gamble’s Department Store. Dirty Dan the Discount Man opened at 67 Erie Avenue; they were noted for their cheap cigarettes.
Brantford’s first Datsun dealership, Highway Datsun, opened at 874 Colborne Street at Rowanwood Avenue, across from St. Peter’s School. Kett Motors at Dalhousie and Charlotte Streets becomes Len McGee Motors Chrysler Dodge.
The Holiday Inn opened on Holiday Inn Drive. It is now the Best Western Brantford Hotel and Conference Centre. Holiday Inn Drive was renamed Holiday Drive in the 1980s.
The Coca-Cola bottling plant on 20-26 Morrell Street closed.
Brant County Motors is renamed Brant County Ford. Stanley Rambler is renamed Stanley Motors – American Motors. Len McGee Motors takes over North Park Chrysler Plymouth to become a full line Chrysler, Dodge, Plymouth dealer and consolidates their operation at 135 King George Road.
Harvey’s opened at 578 Colborne Street across from Gamble’s. The Red Barn opened at 64 King George Road. Wendy’s built their second Canadian restaurant at this location after Red Barn closed in the 1970s. Burger Chef opened across the street at 45 King George Road. This became the long time site of the Pizza Chief restaurant which also opened in 1969, but at Morrell and Burwell Streets in Holmedale. Moose Winooski’s was located at this location and now the restaurant is known as Sociables.
The White Bakery opened their Brantford Plaza location. It closed 12-July-1988.