The Way It Was – Traffic Jam, 1947

A visit to Canada proved to be less than relaxing for some vacationers
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traffic jam
Photograph courtesy of the Detroit Historical Society

1947 It looks as if everyone had the same idea here on the Windsor side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel: escaping to Canada for the Fourth of July holiday. This traffic jam would likely disperse as the vehicles fanned out upon the wide Canadian countryside. Some vacationers may have wanted to arrive at their cottage on Lake Erie, or perhaps just take a daily excursion to Point Pelee National Park.

Others may have been planning for a camping trip along Georgian Bay, or maybe some may have opted for a more extended stay along Lake Ontario. Whatever their destination, they simply wanted out of their cramped, hot quarters in the United States to the cooler climates of its neighbor. For such a large country, Canada had (and has) relatively few people. In fact, in 1947, when this photo was shot, the population was only 12.6 million.

It bears reminding that, in 1947, most residences had no central air conditioning, so beating the heat was a summertime fixation, and Canada was the nearest route to R & R — and a fresh gust of air. The approximately mile-long tunnel was opened in November 1930, an avenue of comity — and occasional leisurely escape — between two friendly countries, as it remains today.

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