Alex History

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The Craft Revival | Alex Inspired - the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s here.
One of my most favourite events of the season… the Craft Revival.

revival |rəˈvīvəl|
an instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again: cross-country skiing is enjoying a revival.

This isn’t your old-school church basement bazaar, filled with crocheted dishcloths or reindeers made out of close pins. No, this is Craft Revival – an authentic and pristinely curated craft market. These artisans/creators are passionate about what they do, and what they make. Simply put, they are a talented group of humans and we are really fortunate to have them!

When I was asked to be a Craft Revival Ambassador, I was stoked (Thanks Kara, Maelyn and Heather!). It’s the perfect opportunity to write about an event I always look forward to, and the talented people that make it happen!

So let’s get real here for a second.
I was originally going to give a review of my favourite artists and creators, but I ended up telling my friend Brent what I was doing, and he had an entirely different idea, which I loved. First thing he said was: Cool. Second thing he said was: But here’s an idea, why don’t you do it in your Alex Inspired way? Find the history of the downtown buildings and where some of the vendors will be. Perfect combo, no?

YES, perfect combo. Genius!
The word revival takes on a double meaning; crafts and handmade goods have made a booming return, and Port Arthur is breathing in new life. We are walking down the same streets, and entering the same buildings our predecessors shopped/worked/lived in. It’s really amazing when you stop and think about it.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Now, I’m not going to give the history of each venue. Let’s face it, there are twenty-four different spots and my extent of Port Arthur history is great, but not that great. I have to send a big shoutout to Dave Cano, from Hotrods and Jalopies. Dave is a fountain of knowledge, and his blog is filled with amazing photographs and local history. He was instrumental in helping me with some of the history you’re about to read. So head on over to Dave’s blog, and check out what he has to offer. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

We’re going to focus on three main areas: Court Street, Red River Road, and Cumberland. Ready? Grab that Craft Revival Map – it’s time to get down to business.

The Ruttan block - Via the Thunder Bay Museum | Alex Inspired - Craft Revival, the most wonderful time of the year.

The Loop | Mars Clothing | Sweet North Bakery | Ritual Skin Co. | Perfect Fit Lingerie

Welcome to the Ruttan Block, one of my favourites! Built in 1908 by Alderman R.A. Ruttan, and designed by Mr. Russell Halton.

At the time of construction, Robert Anderson Ruttan was quoted by the Ottawa Citizen in 1910 as: “one of the heaviest landowners in the city or district.” This is incredibly accurate, he was a real estate tycoon. Sadly, Robert passed away at the young age of 60, only a few years after his building was completed.

Fun Fact! The Ruttan block was Port Arthur’s first Public Library (1911) – prior to the Waverley Branch. It also housed, at one time, the first Bank of Nova Scotia.

Which crafters/creators can you find in this amazing building?

Lakehead Leather | Peace & Quiet Candle Co. | Nevermore | Phloxy | La Petite Maison | Bohotanics | Three Huggers | Kay Lee Photography | The Board Crafter | Island Pottery | Super Soothers | Sew Deer | Waxxed candle co. | Elephant Shoe Designs | Ashley the Happy Hooker

These amazing people can be found in each one of the venues above. I am a HUGE fan of Peace & Quiet Candle Co. and love May’s creations from Elephant Shoe Design (painting below). AND not to say I’m not a fan of the rest in this list, I just haven’t had the chance to check them out yet… but that will change this weekend!

Alex Inspired | The most wonderful time of the year. Craft Revival 2019 - Elephant Shoe Designs

Let’s take a walk down Red River Road, formerly known as Arthur Street.

The Foundry | NV Nightclub | 3Ride | DIY Studio | Blush Boutique

Welcome to McNulty’s, one of THE finest clothing stores in the city. You may remember it as Club Nautilus or present day, NV Night Club. If you look up the street, you can see most of this is gone *insert loud sigh*.

This store was originally located on Cumberland Street (just down and around the corner). McNulty’s carried Burberry (umm yep!), the latest shoes, even Hudson’s Bay Blankets. My dad said that when he was a kid, when you paid for an item, the cashier would take your money and place it into a tube (pneumatic tube transport). This tube would send money and sales slips from the salesperson to a room, where cashiers could make change, and send it back.

Fun Fact: The store was quoted as being: “one of the finest stores in Western Canada” one more fun fact, J.S. McNulty was ALSO a Port Arthur Alderman.

Which crafters/creators can you find on this strip?
There are so many, and here they are!
Don’t forget to checkout Black Pirates Pub, across the street. Special hello to my friend Cathy from Tolone Art, and Leah Nadin from Tarantella to Thunder Bay! This incredibly creative dynamic duo can be found in 3Ride! Hi to Ryan of Ryan Mackett Creations. Ryan is a fantastic visual artist, but also an amazing photographer! And Hiii Red Door Metalworks! We don’t know each other personally, but I love every pair of earrings I have. I must thank my friend Jas for introducing me to your incredible jewelry!

Tuija Hansen Fibre Design | Angela Gollat | Dinnae Ken Goods | North Shore Jewelry | Zingara Feathers | Fablewood Homestead |Dog Paw Pottery | Modish Salon & Spa | Spruce Pond Apiaries & Woodburning | HAAT n’ SPICY | Baked in the Bay Bakery | Clover Lane Crates | Tolone Art | Tarantella to Thunder Bay | The Kyle Lees | Ryan Newman Prints | Art by Jayan | Knotted Design | Pixie Card Co. | Ruby Moon Mehndi | Ryan Mackett Creations | Stardust Vegan Bake Shop | Northern Star Crafts | Kruchak’s Custom Cuts | Gayle Buzzi Art | Moose Valley Designs | Red Door Metalworks | Little Weaves | Wired 807 | Cabin Road Knitwear | Inside Up Games | Sweet Earth Ceramics | Kidd Point Pottery | Stone Circle Pottery

Let’s keep walking!

Alex Inspired | Craft Revival - the most wonderful time of the year. Corner or Arthur and Cumberland Streets Port Arthur

So, if you were walking down Red River Road (Arthur Street) towards Cumberland, this would have been your view if you turned back. Which buildings are still here? Pretty much just the right-hand corner of the above photo. Current businesses would now be Red River Trade Co., Tomlin, Dubinsky + De Bakker Lawyers and Prime Gelato.

Alex Inspired | The most wonderful tine of the year - Craft Revival. Downtown Port Arthur, woolworths

Fun Fact: Woolworth’s was one of the original department stores to use the term: “five-and-dime” and “five-and-ten” at which you could purchase items at values of five and ten cents. Thus the classic Christmas song “It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas”, the lyric: “Take a look in the five and ten, glistening once again”... is referencing a store, just like Woolworth’s.

– And now you have Bing Crosby stuck in your head. You’re welcome –

Let’s turn right and head down Cumberland Street. We will wave to the left, at the Prince Arthur Hotel – but you really need to stop in there, too. In the photo below, this WOULD have been the view we’d see… *sob*

Alex Inspired | The Most wonderful time of the year, the craft revival! Downtown Port Arthur, Cumberland and Arthur Street.

Wow, where do I even begin? Well I can’t begin here, because… there is only one building left in this photograph… and it’s not on the Craft Revival Circuit. MOVING ON!

Okay I lied, I’m not actually done with this.

The store seen here, “Metropolitan Stores” was the original McNulty’s location. AND before that, it was the site of the famous Algoma Hotel! Apparently a fire took out the majority of these buildings. Oh, while we’re still here… you’ll see there’s a bus in this photo. There’s also a shuttle bus for Craft Revival! YEP – I’m calling it the Revival Valet, but you can still call it the shuttle, if that’s more your thing.

Ok, we’re still walking… do you know where we are? (Thank you Thunder Bay Public Library for sending me a higher resolution version of this photo! ❤️)

Welcome to Gibson’s Bowling Academy. YES, bowling academy! You can see on the sign it says “bowling Academy”. I had NO idea what this building was prior to the Chanterelle (other than various bars – thanks to my youth and many Wax Philosophic Shows), so I reached out to Dave. Dave tells me … Bowling Academy, and I think to myself, No shit. A bowling academy?. I sat here thinking about it, and questioning… was there really a bowling alley on the 2nd floor of this building?. Then I felt really stupid, because, it just seems so odd to have bowling lanes on the 2nd floor of any building. SO I googled, and nothing came up, except this blurry image. Fully admitting my ignorance, I ask Dave and he tells me that he has it on good authority, from his friend Brian, that there was in fact an alley on the 2nd floor WITH manual pin setters. Oh holy night, this is amazing!

FUN FACT EVERYONE! The Chanterelle used to be a BOWING ALLEY! This is the BEST and most RANDOM thing I’ve ever heard because The Chanterelle it is one of the most gorgeous spaces I have ever seen.

Happy Craft Revival, everyone! *mic drop* just kidding. we’re not done yet.

Which crafters/creators can you find at the Striking Chanterelle (see what I just did there?)

NORMandLOU handmade | Hopper & Luxe Neckwear | Kara Pratt Design |The Art of Exploration | Vik Wilen Art | Heron House Handmade | Macramé + Driftwood | Edra | Cree Stevens | P0T’s2G0 | Sister Bear Designs | Nor’Wester Maple Company | Pulp + Paper | The Art of Randy Monteith | The Urban Farmchick @ Moss Cottage | The Pottery Cellar | Wild Badger | Spirit of the Forest

Who do you need to see?
ALL of them, obviously!
But Miss Kara Pratt, she’s one you need to see to check out her amazing scarves. AND, if you’re feeling bold and friendly, say THANK YOU for helping organize one of the coolest events in the city, ever! The last CR (yep I just got lazy, and that’s what we’re calling the Craft Revival now) I was too late to NORMandLOU, and all her gorgeous toques were sold out. Lesson learned, show up early! You must, must, must go say hello to Kate from Moss Cottagecreep my Insta and you’ll see just how much I love this creative human! AND say hi to her equally creative husband, Brad – he’s a potter! Kate and Brad’s combined creative enterprise is just … magical. While you’re up there checking out all of these incredible vendors, go say hi to Heather from Pulp + Paper… because she’s a creative genius and makes old things new, in a way I cannot even begin to describe – trust me, just go visit, and say thank you! She is also one of the creative minds behind this amazing event!

Alex Inspired | The most wonderful time of the year - Craft Revival | Pottery Cellar

Where are we going now? I’m tired, my feet hurt, I have snow in my boots and my hair keeps getting stuck to my carmexed lips. No prob, hop on the Revival Valet – it’s on its way!

We’re heading across the street, and to the right.

Welcome to Marshall-Wells – 34 Cumberland Street South. Here you would be able to find all your hardware and grocery needs. You may remember this building when it was the bar, Killroys (so many Pipe Band memories here). It looks misleading, because you can clearly read: “The Marks Clavet Dobie Co. Ltd” painted at the top. It was in fact, at one time a grocery store belonging to George Clavet, in partnership with Marks and Dobie, this whole thing is beginning to sound Jacob-Marley-esque. Anyway, George was actually the Mayor of Port Arthur, fancy that. If you look closely in the photo below, you can see the windows are a display for Marshall-Wells.

Fun Fact: Marshall-Wells was born in our sister-city of Duluth Minnesota in 1893. At one time, there was a total of eight Marshall-Wells warehouses in Canada in 1951, and only five warehouses in the States.

I guess we really love our Hardware stores… except maybe Lowe’s…

Which crafters/creators can you find on this strip… aka Shout Media?

Andrea Marie Artisan Made | Pop Art Prints by Eating Dirt | Novi’s Bread & Sweets | The Camellia from Nature to Home | Healing Journey Beadwork | Chrystalclearrr | Made by ME | Made by Meag | Narrow Gate Foods | Despres Metal Artwork | RedSeaMermaidStudio| Circle of Friends Quilt Shoppe | DFC – Wake the Giant

Who do you need to see? again, ALL of them!
Who am I pumped about? First time CR vendor, Made by ME! Do you have a little one? OR maybe you like to spoil other people’s little ones! This is the place to go! Check out Marina’s Insta here! Who do I really need to see, and beg for forgiveness… again? Luc, from Despres Metal Artwork. I didn’t add him to my chalkboard of favourite teachers, and I’m still paying for it. HE WAS one of my favourite teachers! (look, it’s in writing!) If you need something custom and amazing, and pretty much done in metal, this is the guy!

I know, you’re either really enjoying this post, or wondering when the hell it will end. I’m almost done, I promise!

I cannot nearly go into the detail that I want to, this is me basically cutting it down to a manageable post. I cannot begin to describe how much more I can talk about – buildings and people. We haven’t even touched the Bay and Algoma neighbourhood! we can save that for the next one… if they still want me as an ambassador. Who am I kidding? I’d probably write about it anyway!

One more honourable mention, because I feel as an original “groupie” I need to give a big shoutout to one of my tried-and-trues… Lovely Body! Go see Sarah at the Red Lion, because she’s amazing. And when you’re there, go and smell EVERYTHING. You’ll fall in love, and maybe buy presents for your loved ones… or hoard them, and save them for yourself *guilty!*

Alex Inspired | The Most wonderful time of the year! Craft Revival - Lovely Body Soap Products!

Craft Revival is MAGICAL, WHIMSICAL and LOCAL.
If you haven’t been, what are you waiting for?

I have been going to the CR every single year, and it’s only growing and getting better and better. The amount of talented people we have in our city is astounding and I am so proud to know many of them. I hope as the event grows, so do my friendships with this incredibly talented group. The CR is truly one of my highlights of the Christmas season, and it’s a great way to spend a Sunday morning with friends and family, while shopping local and exploring the city.

Get out this weekend, shop, chat and get to know the vendors and creators. I promise, they’re friendly. I hope you take the time to check out our amazing historical downtown and remember what it once was, and what it’s evolving into.

Be part of the revival and remember our roots. We’re all we have left to preserve and share the history that is remaining. Who knows, maybe one day your story will be told.

See you Sunday, 10:00 – 5:00! Don’t forget to ride the Revival Valet! YOU need to go see Dee and Steve at the Creative, because they’re awesome and so talented!

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References: The Thunder Bay Public Library | Hot Rods and Jalopies |Henderson’s Directories | Gateway to the Northwest |

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  • Reply Madge November 23, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Fantastic article Alex!

    • Reply alex November 25, 2019 at 8:17 am

      Aw, thanks Madge!!!

  • Reply Terry November 26, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    Alex – such a talented writer! Thanks for the historical journey and getting me pumped about CR this weekend! Hopefully I’ll bump into you, maybe grabbing for the last toque from NORMandLOU 🙂

  • Reply JM August 17, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Alex – I’m new to this site and its now August 2020. I was born, bred and buttered in Thunder Bay (actually Fort William). I kicked off my career as a Journalist for once was an amazing publication called The Chronicle-Journal/Times News.But I left many moons ago for bigger and better pastures. I came across this site while doing some research. I filled in your info regarding access to emails,etc. straight to my in box. But I still haven’t received confirmation. Love your historical take on what was once a great city. I often return home from the concrete jungle to recharge under the Sleeping Giant sun and the shores of Lake Superior.But we all know it’s changed. Keep up the great historical musings. You have me hooked.

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