The LaPortes of Manitoba and their Roots in Quebec and France

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LaPorte's Garage

Back to The LaPortes of Inwood
See also Ernie LaPorte or Ben LaPorte of Inwood
Click on any photo to see a larger image, click on the larger image for an even larger one in many cases

LaPorte's Livery Stable (the forerunner of the garage before there were any cars in Inwood)

Ernie LaPorte's first business was the livery stable (note the sign over the door) which he built on the edge of his father-in-law Ulphie Cossette's field in 1910 even before the railway line came through.  From here he would rent out horses and wagons to new arrivals.  On the extreme left edge of the photo you can just see another building.  That's his uncle Wilfred Bonin's homestead cabin and general store which they had moved from a mile and a half north of there.  It seemed like an apparently random spot near nothing else but from there he hoped to build a town and possibly his fortune.
The second picture shows the same building in the 1930's after he added International Harvester and Massey Ferguson farm equipment dealerships.

The Railway Arrives in Inwood

In 1910 the Woodlands Municipality sent Counsellor Bill Cossette and two others to convince the Minister of Public Works to allow the railroad to extend their line past its terminus at Grosse Isle.  While the Canadian Northern Railroad was laying out their new line Ernie and Bill convinced them that their best route would pass through their region as the new settlement was producing record crop yields that needed to get to market and the forest that was being cleared for fields would provide ample cordwood for the railroad to transport into Winnipeg.  In 1911 the track was laid to pass right between Ernie and Bill's lots and right beside Ernie's stable.  The arrival of the first train was the occasion for a big 2-day party at Latourelle’s Hotel featuring an Italian band that came out from Winnipeg.  As they had to set up before the train arrived Ernie picked them up by wagon from Teulon the day before.
I'm working on identifying the people in the photo.  Ernie is the on the far right in the middle row and I think that's Bill Cossette in the middle of that row.  Note the engineer is wearing a woman's hat while the woman in the middle is wearing the engineer's hat, the woman in the front (Anna LaPorte I think) is wearing a man's hat and the man behind her is bareheaded.

Ernie LaPorte's First Garage

Ernie built his first garage beside Bert Irwin's general store on Railway Avenue in 1912.  The second photo shows the signage for his new Ford dealership in about 1915.  The third photo shows three generations of Fords sold by Ernie, a 1920's Model A, a 1910's Model T and a 1935 Ford Sedan.
Ernie welding in his shop.  The last photo is probably one of Dad's (Ernie's son Ben's) time lapse photos.
The Start of the New Garage on Main Street
The 'crew' (Caroline's term for Donat Senneville, Billy Morris and Roy Wilkes) building Ernie's new office and gas station on Main Street to serve the traffic passing through town in the Spring of 1930.  A month or so later the roof and studs of the new office can be seen in the background of a photo taken at the Fete Dieu in July 1930.  The third photo shows Caroline and Toupie LaPorte on the steps of the almost complete office, the signs aren't up yet (the side of Ernie's main competitor and brother-in-law Frank Beaudoin's garage can be seen at the left). Caroline on the steps after the LaPorte Garage Farm Implements sign went up.  The office is complete and the Buffalo gas pumps and oil bin are in (1931).  The second last photo is Ernie in his office in the 1930's and the last is marked 'Pops on office steps before I left home 1941'.  That would have been when Ben left to work building fighter planes at the Canadian Car Foundry in Fort William in November 1940.
A promotional ink blotter for Ernie's businesses from the 1930's.  Inwood had just recently gotten phones.  The switchboard was in Ernie's office and had only 7 lines numbered 2 through 8 with Ernie taking the first line 'Phone No. 2'.  The second photo shows Caroline LaPorte operating that switchboard in about 1940.
Ben in the boattail racer he built from parts of other scrapped cars when he was about 18 (assuming this photo was in about 1932).  It had a model T engine and transmission connected up to a second transmission and drive shaft from a model A so the car had 5 speeds forward and two speeds in reverse.  This was one of Ben's first attempts to colorize his own photos.

Bus Service Comes to Inwood (with the bus stop at LaPorte's Garage)

In 1922 Ernie hired Albert (Burt) Todd (second photo) to drive a 7 seater 1920 Studebaker Big Six between Inwood and Winnipeg.  The first photo shows the bus driving past Frank Beaudoin's garage (note: Frank was Ernie's brother in law and his only competitor in Inwood; their relationship became even more strained when shortly after Ernie acquired his Ford dealership, Frank became a Chevy dealer).  The third photo shows Violet Mills, Caroline LaPorte, Burt Todd, Leah Cossette LaPorte, Ernie and his dog Pat with Burt's new bus in 1933, a 1930 10 seater Studebaker President.  It looks like Grey Goose bought Burt out as just a year or so later here's Burt with his same Studebaker at Ernie's garage beside a Grey Goose Studebaker (notice that they have sequential license plates).  The last photo is the Grey Goose driver in 1937, Joe McDougal.

The LaPorte  Transfer

To reduce his own shipping costs and to serve other neighbouring communities Ernie started a transfer service first with a 1931 Ford Model AA Truck but soon graduating to a mid-1930's Model BB with a longer box. He hired Andy Lavender as his driver.  It looks like they had quite a time moving this thresher even with the bigger truck.  Caroline told me that the 4th picture showed her Dad (Ernie) taking a load of her friends to a local hockey game. 
In 1941 Ernie tore down his original garage building on Railway Avenue and used wood from it to add two work bays onto his office on Main Street.  The photo shows the split roof on the two sections of the new garage.

Under New Management

In 1946 Ernie sold his garage to his son Ben who returned from his wartime work in Fort William with his wife Marion and sons John and Paul to carry on the operation of LaPortes Garage.  I (Tom) was added to the family in 1951.  When I grew up in Inwood our garage was my family's only business, the other services which Ernie built up had lost out to larger competitors over time.  The third photo shows our garage as I knew it in the 50's.  By that time Ernie's stable from 1910 which became his International Harvester sales and services building in the 1940's had become just a locked up storage room as shown in the last photo. 
Ernie with his brothers Paul, George and Rene LaPorte.  Ernie looks dressed for work but this must have been after Ben took over the garage's operation as they are standing by the new pumps that he had put in.  The last photo is Ben in his garage working on his 1947 Frazer.

This site was last updated 04/13/23