Giuseppe Nazzareno Ammerata crossed the Atlantic as a young man with a suitcase full of dreams. It was 1948 and at the age of 21, Nazzareno joined the waves of Italians who made their way to Canada after the war in search of a better life.
With his newly adopted country came a new nickname when someone he met said “Nazzareno” was too hard to remember: “I’m just going to call you Neddy.” It stuck. In those early years, “Neddy” found work as a mechanic for Pete Palangio and at Pittman Motors.
Old Gas Stations are the topic of discussion at the monthly North Bay Museum Coffee and Conversations meeting Thursday, Nov. 30. You can attend in-person in the upper level of the museum or through Zoom beginning at 2:30 p.m. Email Grace@northbaymuseum.com for the link. This feature on Neddy Ammerata was first published in the Back in the Bay Magazine’s 2023 Fall Edition.
In 1959, he and a business partner leased a Supertest gas station at the delta of Worthington Street and Algonquin Avenue. (Supertest was a Canadian petroleum company that operated from 1923 to 1973.)
It was in 1963 that Neddy started the business which bore his name at 2575 Trout Lake Road, first as a Shell station (or White Rose), then a BP (British Petroleum) and later still, under the Petro-Canada banner around 1982. The area was far less built up in those days and was more rural than city.
“When we first came to Trout Lake Road it was an empty lot except for a few sheds and an old house,” Neddy said in a 1995 interview for a special North Bay Nugget advertising supplement marking the grand opening of the new Neddy’s North Bay Hyundai showroom, a business he founded in 1993 with his son, Lucio.
It was in that old house that Neddy and his wife, Maria, raised their four children before eventually moving the family to a new home in nearby Graniteville.
“The business was just a gas station I built myself. There was no auto repairs then, just gas.” Also on the site was a restaurant – at one time operated by restaurateur Herley Hoo, who went on to open Hoo’s Dining Lounge on Lakeshore Drive and a location in the Northgate Square food court – and a small convenience store.
With the expansion of Trout Lake Road and the business, the restaurant, convenience store and house were eventually torn down. Neddy’s grew over the years to include seven service bays and a team of mechanics and service station staff who Neddy treated more like family than employees.
One staff member, John Gauthier, retired after 40 years with Neddy’s. The service desk at the new Hyundai location at 2676 Trout Lake Road, is dedicated in his honour.
Hyundai Canada awarded the dealership to Neddy and Lucio in July 1993. Car sales began three months later out of a temporary portable in the corner of the parking lot. The showroom expansion was completed in March 1995.
“My father always wanted to open up a car dealership,” Lucio said at the time. “We see it as a continuation of his life’s work.”
North Bay has always been a good place for immigrants to sink deep roots
The last litre of gas was pumped at 2575 Trout Lake Road in August 2004. When the dealership moved to a new location down the street four years later, the repair shop at 2575 was leased out – first to Barry Backer’s Service Station (Barry had operated a Shell station across the street for many years) and more recently to R&S Auto Service.
The grand opening of the new location took place May 9, 2009 and this year represents 60 years of the family-owned business on Trout Lake Road and 30 years as a Hyundai dealership. Neddy died in 2008 but his legacy lives on.