‘Growing Up In The Ducey Block’
Located where the current Days Inn is in Vermilion (formerly the Brunswick Motel), was a collection of buildings that became the Ducey Block in 1921, and Bottorff Apartments in 1945.
Brian Bottorff recently completed a non-published family history book, ‘Growing Up In The Ducey Block,’ that details his family’s years of growing up in Vermilion. Complete with descriptions of the buildings’ best hiding spots, and stories of childhood escapades, the book vividly depicts an era from one man’s memory.
Brian’s father, Floyd John Bottorff, built many houses in the Vermilion area until 1971. Next to a beer parlour in the days of ladies and escorts, keeping a family of four children in order along with other tenants and visitors would have been difficult work.
With several shenanigans involving homemade explosives, it is a wonder the family survived let alone thrived.
Entertainment consisted of exploding a live shotgun shell in his hand, blasting ants with firecrackers or using them to rocket tin cans 15 - 20 feet in the air. An excerpt from his book follows describing how after tending their pet rabbit through the cold winter, Brian along with his brother Wade decided that it would be easier to clean the cage by use of explosives than to chop out the pile of frozen rabbit raisins.
“One Saturday we got a bright idea, we would clean the cage by blasting it clean. By this time my brother, some of our friends, and I had become quite proficient at making gunpowder. So why not use gunpowder to dislodge the frozen mess?”
Complete with a detonating device and all of the necessary equipment, the boys kindly removed the rabbit and proceeded to line up behind a fence before pushing the button.
“Boom! A wall of rabbit turds came belching out of the front of the cage and spread across the yard. There were rabbit raisins and straw laying everywhere,” continued Bottorff.
As the boys and their friends grew, their experiments grew with bigger bangs, more shrapnel, and a basement still; it is no wonder that Brian Bottorff attended NAIT and kept his engineering mind active throughout the years.
Though laws were looser then, the adventurous spirit of children lives on, fond memories of escapades, family, and friends continue to bring the Bottorff family back to visit Vermilion.