Thunder Bay – The Making of Mariday Park

Image courtesy of Thunder Bay Historical Museum

by Brian G. Spare

John James (JJ) Carrick (September 17, 1873 – May 11, 1966) was born and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana and educated at the University of Toronto. On December 20, 1899, he married Mary Day. Four years later, in 1903, he and Mary moved to Port Arthur attracted by the real estate boom. They built a house and raised three sons JJ Carrick brought all of his energy and enthusiasm with him, too. He became a real estate developer acquiring and marketing many subdivisions in Port Arthur and Fort William. The most successful of his developments was Mariday Park, named after his wife.

Carrick served as mayor of Port Arthur in 1908 where he initiated the first daylight savings time. JJ Carrick, in 1908, convinced the Canadian National Railway, over a poker game on a train from Winnipeg, to build the Prince Arthur Hotel. CN paid Carrick $850,000 to build it. The city provided the lot and the hotel was the first place in Canada to sell Remembrance Day poppies. He was an MLA for Port Arthur from 1908 to 1911 and represented Thunder Bay / Rainy River from 1911 to 1917. JJ Carrick did many other things during his tenure in the Lakehead, but he is best remembered for his real estate developments, especially Mariday Park. Mary passed away in January of 1947. In 1951, JJ Carrick moved to Mexico saying that it had the ideal climate for his health, happiness and longevity. He died there at age 92. Carrick Street in Thunder Bay was named after him.

Mariday Park

The property on which Mariday Park stands was initially farm land owned by DF Burk, then city alderman, who owned large tracts of land in the Lakehead. For his greatest housing development, JJ Carrick purchased a section of Burk’s land bounded by John Street, High Street, Red River Road and Rupert Street known as Burk’s Farm. He renamed it Mariday Park.

On Saturday October 15, 1910, Mariday Park opened for business with 37 lots for sale at $20 each. You could buy a house for $10 down with an eight year mortgage of $10 per month at 6%. As a promotion for the new subdivision and the upcoming municipal elections in January, 1911, JJ Carrick and the Mariday Park Syndicate had a lottery to give away a $4000 house. It wasn’t that easy to get a free house, though. On Nov. 4, 1910, JJ Carrick bought a full page ad in The News-Chronicle to explain:

“In order to arouse keen interest in our coming municipal campaign so that Port Arthur and Fort William will get the best possible mayors and aldermen, we have decided to give each purchaser of a lot an opportunity to figure out who will be the next mayors and aldermen of the Two Cities,” said Carrick, “Each purchaser shall give the list of who he thinks will be elected in to our Port Arthur office by midnight Dec. 24.” In bold print Carrick proclaimed, “Nothing can retard the development of Mariday. It is the ideal residential section of both cities.”

Bull Frog Band in Mariday

TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT

A lottery wasn’t the only promotion for Mariday Park. After all the dignitaries present had their say, it was time to have some fun. That night, JJ threw a party and everybody was invited.

To ensure everyone could attend the Band Concert at Mariday Park that evening, extra cars were provided from Fort William to the Park for anyone who needed a lift. The main ticket on stage was Fort William’s Bull Frog Band. People could dance and sing to their heart’s content. John James Carrick certainly knew how to throw a party.

Said Carrick, “… the melodious strains which will emanate from the Bull Frog Band tonight will never again be equalled …”

Mariday Park was then and, over a century later, is still one of the finest areas of our City of Thunder Bay. Perhaps JJ Carrick said it best in his vision of Mariday Park. He wrote in the dedication of a 30 page booklet he composed entitled What You Ought To Know About Mariday Park. “In a sublime harmony of nature, we realize an ambition long devoutly cherished, the development under ideal conditions of a residential section that will complete the regularity, solidarity and beauty of our city home.”

Thank you to Thunder Bay Historical Museum for its assistance with this article.

Brian G. Spare is a local author and freelance copywriter who is a regular contributor to Bayview Magazine. Contact him at https://BrianGSpare.com

*Previously published in Bayview Magazine*

Published by Brian G. Spare

I am a thinker and very creative person by nature and love to work with my hands and head and put my heart into all of it. Life is a journey and I am with it all the way ready to embark on the next adventure that life has for me.

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