1988- 'FORT LANDMARKS'
On August 19th of 1988 the Fort Frances Times Headline read 'Fort Landmark destroyed by inferno'. Michael A. Dumont wrote... 'a Fort Frances landmark was totally destroyed in an early morning blaze Saturday. Herrem Woodworkers Ltd. buildings, in the 800 block of Victoria Avenue were completely burned by the blaze...'
Mr. Harold Herrem has submitted the story of 'The Woodworking Plant at 808-812 Victoria Avenue 1913-1918' to the Centennial History Book Committee. His story is as follows...
'That structure was conceived and built by John East and Archie Steele in 1913. It was designed for the manufacture of not only boxes, but also millwork such as mouldings, cabinets, window and door frames. However the market at that time didn't produce enough demand and the business went broke very soon. John East then took over as sole owner. He built a one story addition at the back and rented it to a laundry. That tenant installed a large boiler to provide hot water and steam for his operation. Many years later that boiler was adapted by John Herrem to burn shavings and provide heat for a dry kiln to remove moisture from thousands of pairs of Pine skis. John Herrem worked as a shopman for John East until one cold morning in 1922 when he had a serious accident and lost all the fingers on his right hand on a jointer. John East operated the millwork plant successfully until the demand for millwork deteriorated and he was forced into receivership.
In 1938, John Herrem in partnership with his son, Harold, bought the property and commenced manufacturing Norway Pine Skis in lengths from 3 1/2 feet to 7 1/2 feet. John Herrem invented a machine that would turn out 500 pairs ready for steaming and bending to shape in an 8 hour day. In the summer of 1946 a total of 27,000 pairs were manufactured and sold. Over the years a total of 175,000 pairs were produced and shipped by C.N.R. to destinations all across Canada from Vancouver B.C. to Moncton N.B. The ski business was ideal for providing jobs for students and over a period of 23 years more than 300 lads had work there.
In 1946 a two storey addition was built which resulted in a total of 7,000 square feet of manufacturing space. In addition to skis, the plant made windows, screen and combination doors, beehives, clothes horses, cabinets, sleighs, Swede saw frames, water skis, doll furniture and toy building blocks with the copyrighted name 'Tulla'.
The business was incorporated in 1948 under the name of Herrem Woodworkers, Ltd. John Herrem retired in 1950 and Harold took over. He had plenty of work for his wife, Irene, and his son Peter and daughter Paula.
In 1977, the company was sold to Tom Kiddle who had been the foreman for many years. In 1987, Tom sold it to Jim Armstrong. Unfortunately the building was totally destroyed by fire in the early morning of August 27, 1988. Now the property contains two modern apartment buildings.'