It’s a jackpot for any local history buff.
The dusty photo albums that Carolyn Leaver-Luciani accidently discovered this month at her store are filled with pictures and memorabilia spanning more than a century.
“I was looking for something else and found them in the rafters,” said Leaver-Luciani who co-owns Manleys Basics with her sister Lisa Hewton. “I haven’t seen these in years, at least not since we celebrated our 100th anniversary.”
Manleys Basics is one of the area’s oldest businesses and celebrates its 123rd year in 2023. While there is some dispute about whether Thomas and Blanche Manley started the business on Christina Street in 1898, 1900 or 1902, the Leaver family generally accepts 1900 as the date Manleys was established, said Leaver-Luciani. The Leavers bought it from the Manleys in 1945 and have operated it for three generations.
Luckily, Leaver-Luciani’s great-uncle Fred Leaver was careful to keep everything from photos to invoices, wartime gas stamps and newspaper clippings over the decades.
“It’s like finding a time capsule,” Leaver-Luciani said. “I’ve seen price lists from 1917 and an invoice to the school board from 1905.”
The Sarnia Historical Society will get copies of many of the photos, some of which depict the aftermath of the 1953 tornado in downtown Sarnia where Manleys was located for many years. Leaver-Luciani is also posting a few on the store’s Facebook page.
Manleys Basics and its warehouse now operate at 152 Kendall St. in Point Edward.
A sample of what was found in the box this month, in no particular order:
- A trucker’s strike meant Manleys products had to be delivered by rail, then offloaded onto a horse-drawn cart. Peter Leaver is in the centre putting stock on the cart. Date unknown.
- Aftermath of the 1953 tornado. The back of Taylor’s Furniture on Christina Street in downtown Sarnia.
- Tornado damage looking east on Lochiel Street.
- When there was only one Bluewater Bridge in Point Edward, and no hotel or condos on the Port Huron side. Date unknown.
- Celebrating Manleys 100th anniversary in 2000. Mayor Mike Bradley, left, with the later Peter Leaver, father of the current owners.
- The Kenwick Building under construction on George Street with Manleys warehouse in the foreground. Taken in 1979, just prior to the warehouse moving to its current site on Kendall Street in Point Edward.
- Tornado aftermath in downtown Sarnia. 1953.
- Cromwell at Christina Street. 1953.
- Sarnia city hall and market square (undated).
- Downtown Sarnia’s market building after the tornado.
- Esso station on Cromwell. 1953.
If you have any further information about the photos that you’d like to share, send it to [email protected].