Wednesday, January 23, 2019

626 Ellice Avenue - Mansfield Court

© 2019, Christian Cassidy
Place: Mansfield Court
Address: 626 Ellice Avenue (at Maryland)
Built: 1908
Architect: James A. Gauld
Contractor: Alfred Miller and Co.

Mansfield Court was constructed in 1908, not long after city water and sewer was run in the area. This makes it one of the community's earliest remaining landmarks, along with the first St. Matthews Church (now West End Cultural Centre) and First English Lutheran Church (now City Church).

Mansfield Court (right) ca. 1910 (Archives of Manitoba)

Landowner Levi Lewis turned to architect James A. Gauld to design the $80,000 block. Gauld had recently come to Winnipeg from London, Ontario where he was known for his work designing large houses. He was only in Winnipeg for a brief time during which he designed a couple of apartment blocks, this is the only one that remains. 

Construction began in late 1908 and the exterior was completed by the end of February 1909. It was expected to be open in April.

Lewis, who was primarily a developer, sold the building before it opened to the Hackett Investment Company. They, in turn, sold it to Jasper Halpenny in late April 1909.

Halpenny was an odd combination of professor, land developer, businessman and respected surgeon. Five years after purchasing Mansfield Court he was elected president of the Manitoba Medical Association.

Residential Section

Mansfield Court's residential portion, its entrance off of Ellice Avenue, originally housed 30 residential units ranging from two to four bedrooms. Features included in-wall beds and gas ovens. The main floor consisted of three retail units. 

The first wave of tenants is what you would expect from a middle class block in a new suburb. There was a driver for a dairy, manager of a loan company, a few salesmen, a clerk at the CPR ticket office, three Eaton’s employees and a butcher. Its first caretaker, Charles Thrower, lived in suite one. Due to its proximity to John M. King School, many of the residences included young families.

During World War I, around ten men associated with Mansfield Court served in the war. A number were wounded, including Bertram Hanson who recovered from shrapnel wounds only to fall seriously ill with malaria the following year. Private J. R. Dymond and Oscar Thorsteinsen each received the Military Medal for Valour.

It appears that just one, 25-year-old Alexander Cooper, was killed. Originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, Cooper lived at 752 Home Street with wife, Bertha, when he enlisted on April 17, 1916. She had downsized to suite 12 at the Mansfield Court when she received news that her husband was killed in action on July 25, 1917.

Nov. 1, 1944, Winnipeg Free Press

During World War II, around a half dozen people from Mansfield Court served.

One was Corporal Jean W. Inglis who lived with her parents in suite 20. She enlisted with Royal Canadian Air Force - WD (Women's Division) and attended the unit’s first training class at Camp Borden. Around 17,000 women served with the RCAF in the Second World War - about 8 per cent of its total wartime personnel.

Inglis was one of about 1,450 women posted overseas to serve at RCAF headquarters in London. She returned home in 1946 but died at the family home in 1949 of undisclosed caues. She was 30 years old.

July 28, 1951, Winnipeg Free Press

Some of the other thousands of people who called Mansfield Court home over the years included the tenants who called it home include the Knights, above, a retired couple from Carman, Manitoba.

The fate of middle-class apartment blocks began to change in the 1950s. As the young couples and families that once filled them moved to newly created suburbs, the rents dropped and many who would have lived in boarding and rooming houses moved it. Less income meant less spent to maintain the buildings.

April 6, 1977, Winnipeg Free Press

In March 1977, the city of Winnipeg released its list of the 19 "worst" apartment blocks in the city in terms of living conditions - something prompted by the Town and Country Apartments fire on Preston Avenue that killed eight and injured seventeen a few weeks earlier. Mansfield Court was on the list.

A month later, the city closed the block down after declaring it unfit for human habitation.They cited a long-standing list of repairs ordered by the city that the owners had ignored.

Unlike some of the other buildings on the list, residents of Mansfield Court rallied in defense of the building. Some told the daily papers that many of the repairs were cosmetic in nature and that they didn't feel that their health and safety was at risk. (Only 22 of the building's 30 suites were in use tat the time due to unspecified damage to the ones along the east side of the building.)

Many were attracted to the block for its cheap rents. A one bedroom that cost $75 or $80 per month at the Mansfield would cost up to $200 in other blocks in the neighbourhood.

The residents got a reprieve until a new owner, A. Simoes Construction Ltd., was found and the repairs were done.

More recent news stories involving Mansfield Court include a 2016 murder and a fire in January 2019.

Commercial Section

While the residential section had no issues filling its suites, the retail section appeared to struggle for the first couple of years. It took until late 1911 for the three spaces to fill at once with a grocery store (at number 620), Modern Meat Market (622) and City Tea and Coffee Company (624).

The most prominent unit, number 620 at the intersection, was a grocers until at least into the 1970s. Names included Clements and MacDonald (1909), George Nicholson (1910 -14), Kell's Grocery 1915, and William Stanley's Grocery (1916 - 1933), Gibson Brothers in the early 1950s, Stones' Grocery through the 1960s, and Leslie's in the 1970s. In the 1980s it became Costas Trading Pawn Shop and remains a pawn shop to this day.

Number 622 was first home to Modern Meat Market from 1910 to 1915, Herbert Stoney's Upholstery and Furniture Repairs from 1920 - 22, then the William G Ashdown* Hardware Company and from 1924 to ca. 10953, Decorators Supply Ltd. run by Mrs. H. M. Weeden. It then became Modern Aupholstery for at least the next decade. 

* One would think that Ashdown would be of the James H. Ashdown family but this is unclear. He did have a brother, William "S" - not G. I cannot find an obituary for this William to see if there was a family connection.

Number 624 was home to the wholesaler City Coffee and Tea Company from about 1910 to 1917, then the Workingman's Meat Market from about 1919 through the 1920s. In the 1930s it was an upholstery shop and clothing store, then circa 1937 became Ellice Billiards which lasted for at least the next 30 years.

In 1978 D'Ella's Formalwear opened in 624 - 626. Its lease wasn't renewed in 2013 and some of that retail space was converted into additional suites which brought the number to 39.

426 Maryland Street - Scott / Maryland Apartments

© 2019, Christian Cassidy
Place: Scott Apartments / Maryland Apartments
Address: 426 Maryland Street (Map)
Built: 1914 - 15
Architect: Edgar Prain

December 3, 1914, Winnipeg Tribune

This twenty-eight unit apartment block was constructed in 1914 -15, which was the tail end of a five-year long apartment block building boom in the city's West End. The first "for rent" ads inviting people to discover its "comfort, convenience and economy" appeared in December 1914, (above), though it did not fill with residents until spring 1915.

The block was originally called the Scott Apartments. The name changed circa 1919 to the Maryland Apartments.

Its architect, Scottish born and trained Edward Prain, practiced in Winnipeg for nearly forty years and specialized in churches and apartment blocks.

Opening at the start of World War II, there were a number of families who had loved ones fighting overseas. The parents of Private C. L. Moore of suite 18 were notified that their son was injured in the war but he survived. Another soldier with parents in the building who survived was Percy Alexander.

Sadly, for Ethel Watson of suite 8 the news was not as good. She was notified that her husband, Frank, was killed in action on August 21, 1917.

Another tragedy associated with the building was the high profile death of 19-year-old Will Robson, (above), who was killed in a car crash on Highway 1 near Oak Lake, Manitoba. He and three other young men were driving to Vancouver to work summer jobs. In 1949, Robson was the rookie quarterback who led the St. Paul's High School football team to the city championship title.

 October 31, 1932, Winnipeg Tribune

The building had a normal existence for a middle class apartment block. Social clubs met in suites from time to time, newlyweds moved in, couples had babies and celebrated anniversaries there. Newspaper stories about major crimes or fires could be found prior to the 2000s.

A 1967 population study of the changing face of the inner city noted that 426 Maryland Street's residents consisted of one child, 33 adults and 9 elderly people as residents. This would have been very different to the family-oriented building that it and many of the apartment blocks in the neighbourhood were in previous decades.

Maryland Apartments ca. 2000

By the 2000s the building was facing a number of issues including reports of apartment invasions and the manslaughter of one tenant by another. Inner-city activist Rev. Harry Lehotsky told the Winnipeg Free Press in 2004: "The place was being systematically being destroyed by transient tenants and drug dealers and prostitutes." 

An additional problem was that around 2003 the building's steam heat system was replaced by electric baseboard heaters that were no match for the cold weather.

It was due to the cold conditions that the city finally stepped in and closed down the building in January 2004.

In 2008, the block was still vacant and cited under the city's Vacant and Derelict Buildings Bylaw for a number of infractions. The owner appealed, asking for an extension on the required work to bring it up to code because the building was in the process of being sold with the intention to renovate it back into a functioning apartment block.

The building was sold and eventually renovated.

Despite the repairs and red paint job, it wasn't long before the building was back in the news for crimes happening in and around it.

On January 13, 2019 it was heavily damaged by fire. The fifty or so occupants made it out alive. A week later, the vacant building suffered another fire.

It is unclear whether the building can be salvaged.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

956 Notre Dame Avenue - Zuibrycki Shoe Repair (R.I.P.)

© 2018, Christian Cassidy
Place: Former Zuibrycki Shoe Repair
Address: 956 Notre Dame Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1916, 1930

956 Notre Dame Avenue is actually a trio of buildings. There is a house portion with a retail frontage and an adjacent shoe repair shop located on the west side.

The house portion with its retail frontage appear to have been built together in 1916. The first store listed in the Henderson Directory as operating from there was the grocery of Alfred Anderson who also lived in the house.

In 1918, it was taken over by Henry Harder who also owned stores at 46 Keewatin Street and 666 Sargent Avenue under the name "Bell Stores". By 1921, the store was called the Bee Hive Store owned by William B Myers, who also operated a store in West Kildonan. Later that decade it was run by John Krickloff.

The first mention of a shoe repair shop on the site comes in 1930. John Dubusky lived in the house and ran both Dubusky Confectionery and Dubusky Shoe Repair from this address. The store was up for sale in 1933 - 1934 and then began its 75-year history with the Zuibrycki family.

January 17, 1940, Winnipeg Tribune

John Zuibrycki was born in Mohylnycia, Ukraine and came to Canada in 1911 at the age of 30. He and wife Katharine had three children.

Zuibrycki ran just the shoe repair store. In 1937, Harry Bernstein, 30, who had operated a grocery elsewhere on Notre Dame took over he store at 956 Notre Dame and moved into he house with the family. (On the side of the shoe shop there is a sign advertising "Harry's Confectionery".)

The family and Bernstein had a close call in January 1940 when a late night fire damaged the residential portion of the building. Everyone managed to escape.

Bernstein operated the grocery store until 1941 before moving it to a neighbouring building. From that point forward the shoe repair is the only store listed at this address, suggesting that it moved into the larger, more modern retail space.

Zuibryki spent 40 years as a shoemaker. He retired in 1960 and died in February 1964.

1979 ad

John's son, Peter, opened his own enterprise at 956 Notre Dame in the late 1960s.

Peter was well known on the local sports scene as both a cyclist and a speed skater. He opened Cycle Centre Sportif which was not just a retail shop bu also sponsored cycling and skating events and tournaments. The store lasted until the 1980s. Peer died in 2009.

Shipping container design by architect David Penner (source)

In 2010, an application was made by Nick Zuibrycki to have the buildings torn down. Because it is on a major route the community committee rejected the application until there was a plan of what would go in its place.

In February 2013, the city approved a rezoning and variance application so that a three-storey residential building could be built on the site. It would contain 18 units of about 440 square feet each plus a mezzanine.

It made headlines as the architect initially was going to build it from shipping containers, though that was soon changed to timber frame construction.

No construction took place and the variances were renewed in 2015 and 2018.

In 2008 and 2018

The vacant buildings were finally torn down in 2018 and the land is currently for sale for $799,000.

My Flickr Album of 956 Notre Dame

Monday, December 31, 2018

431 - 433 Talbot Avenue - Commercial Building

© 2018, Christian Cassidy
Place: 431 - 433 Talbot Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1924
Architect: Unknown

This building was constructed in 1924 with two commercial units in the front and residential unit at the back. For well over a decade the building has been one residential unit.

In November 2018, a zoning variance was granted so that it can be demolished to make way for a ten-unit, multi-family dwelling. It is the same applicant that built a similar complex across the street and has received a variance to do the same at 398 Talbot.

Here's a look at the history of each unit:

431 Talbot (east retail unit) - Shoe Repair Shop

The commercial unit on the right in the above photo appears to have been the smaller of the two spaces. Its first tenant arrived in late 1924 or early 1925; the barber shop of Theodore Menyschook who lived at 259 Chalmers.

In late 1927 or early 1928 the shop changed hands and became Walt Michalinksi* Shoe Repair. He and wife Sabina lived further up Talbot at number 631.

* As was often the case with anglicized names, there were variations in the spelling. For more than 20 years Walter appeared in the Henderson Street Directories as Michalinski, which changed to Mickalinsky around 1954. It is unclear if this was a long-time error being corrected or if the name was formally changed to an anglicized one. Interestingly, in their respective obituaries their names are spelled differently: his read Walter Mickalinksi, ending in "i", while his wife's was spelled ending in "y".

Walter was born in Yastrobych, Ukraine in 1902 and came to Winnipeg in 1927. Sabina Bashnak (sp?) was born in Ukraine in 1909 and her obituary does not mention when she came to the city. They married in Winnipeg on November 18, 1930. Around 1951, the couple moved to the little house next door to the shop at 435 Talbot.

The shoe repair store was resilient and made it through the Depression and World War II. In fact, Walter tended his shop for a remarkable 64 years until just before his death in 1993 at the Holy Family Nursing Home.

At one point in the late 1940s, Sabina worked at Alsip Brick Works. She was also a volunteer at Mother of Perpetual Help Ukrainian Catholic Church. Sabina's obituary noted that she was "a hard working woman, still tending to her large garden till the age of 90." She died "after a long and difficult life" at age 100 at Poseidon Care Centre.

The couple had no children and are buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

Since 1992, this commercial unit has been a residence.

433 Talbot (west retail unit)

Compared to its neighbor, west commercial unit on the left in the above photo, had many tenants.

The first tenant, and perhaps the building's original owner, was Henry N. Neufeldand his Elmwood Press which specialized in printing stationery. It appears that Mrs. Neufeld did housecleaning on the side. The Neufelds lived at the residential unit at the back.

Elwood Press and the Neufelds only lasted until around September 1926 when "large store with living room for rent" signs appeared in the papers.

The address reappears in the 1928 Henderson Directory as a barber shop which had numerous owners. Fred J. Tool was the first and also lived at the shop. He lasted until 1934.

In 1935, it became Herbert "Bert" Bert Dellar's barber shop, who also lived there. At times he advertised a second chair for rent for a "ladies' barber". He was a veteran of the First World War and appears to have been a bachelor.

Dellar retired circa 1949 and died on June 28, 1959 at age 72.

The barber shop carried on as the Elmwood Barber Shop by Thomas Fostakowsky. He was born and raised in Rossburn, Manitoba and came to Winnipeg in 1940. After serving in World War II, he returned to Winnipeg and opened the shop. He and wife Alice lived on Newton Avenue where they raised their two children, including Robert who became a doctor.

Thomas retired in 1973 and later that decade the space was converted into a residence, a "three room ground floor suite"  according to classified ads, which it has remained until 2018.

433 Talbot (residence, then commercial unit.)

For the first 25 years or so, there was a third unit at the rear that acted as a residence. Most often, one of the business owners lived in it. That changed starting in the Depression when it was rented to a third party.   

One of those tenants were retired couple Robert and Janet Cowie who moved there in 1939.

Robert was a builder in Ottawa before coming to Winnipeg around 1912 with wife, Janet (Forgie) and daughter, Margaret. He served in the First World War with the Provost Marshal's office.

After Robert's death in 1944, Mrs. Cowie moved on.

May 3, 1944, Winnipeg Free Press

Another person who used the address, but didn't live there initially, was Leading Seaman Joseph "Jimmy" Wilbert L'esperance. He enlisted in the Navy in 1939 and was stationed in Halifax for three years before being posted to the newly commissioned destroyer HMCS Athabaskan.

In 1944, Stella L'esperance and their two children lived here. It was common for families to have to downsize to apartments or rooming houses due to the cut in family income while the 'man of the house' was at war.

The Athabascan was sunk by a U-Boat, (also see), in the English Channel on April 29, 1944. For many days L'esperance and six other Winnipeggers were listed as missing. Eventually, word came that he had been taken prisoner. Of the Athabascan's crew of 261, 128 were killed, 85 taken prisoner and 48 were rescued.

May 31, 1945, Winnipeg Tribune

L'esperance was one of the men taken prisoner. After weeks at the camp he and a few other prisoners hid out in the camp during a prisoner transfer and spent months hiding in a crawlspace. They managed to escape and on May 29, 1945 arrived in New York City. (You can read about L'eperance's ordeal in this CP interview.)

On May 31, 1945, L'eperance and three other former P.O.W.s arrived back home at Union Station. Stella jumped aboard the train before it even stopped to greet her husband. Also on-hand were their three-year-old son and the two-year-old daughter whom L'esperance had not yet met.

It appears that L'esperance did not return to the duty with the Navy. He is listed as living at 433 Talbot until 1947. From there, he went on to have a career with CN Rail and died at Deer Lodge Centre in 1988. (For more about L'esperance, see these entries at the Lest We Forget blog.)

October 13, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press

The 433 space must have been subdivided or the residential portion converted into a commercial space as starting in October 1951 the Elmwood Barber Shop and Walt's Shoe Repair shared space with a new commercial tenant: Elmwood branch of Kent's Accordion College.

Born in Winnipeg in 1910, Fred Kent was a well-known local piano accordionist. His name first appears in papers in the late 1920s playing at entr'acte at theatres and cinemas. Within a few years Kent was a headliner at special events and appeared often on local radio. By the mid-1930s, he had his own teaching studio and was leader of an accordion band that featured as many as eighteen players.

Kent ca. 1960s

Kent's studio, which sold and repaired accordions, became known in 1940 as Kent's Accordion College Ltd., "Canada's foremost accordion college". When the Elmwood branch opened, there were colleges in Brandon and Portage la Prairie. By 1955, there were six locations in Winnipeg alone.

The accordion college left 433 Talbot around 1964 and soon retreated back to a single location on Portage Avenue. In the late 1960s it was rebranded Kent's Academy of Music and appears to have stayed in business until the mid-1970s.

Fred Kent died in Vancouver in January 2005.

Overview of 431 - 433 Talbot

Note that the years may not be exact. The Henderson Directory only caught a snapshot of what was located at an address at fixed point early in the year, perhaps January or February. As most of these businesses were too small to advertise in newspapers there are no additional references as to when one business opened and another closed.

431 (Commercial) 
1925 – 1927: Theodore Menyschook barber shop
1928 – 1992: Walt Mickalinksi Shoe Repair

433 (Commercial) 
1924 – 1926: Elmwood Press
1928 – 1934: Fred J Tool barber shop
1935 – 1949: Herbert "Bert" Dellar barber shop
1950 - 1973: Tom Fostakowsky (Elmwood Barber Shop)
1979 – 2018: Residence

433 (Residential) 
1937 – 1938: Adam Switkowski
1939 – 1944: Robert and Janet Cowie
1944 - 1947: J Lesperance (initially, Mrs. Lesperance and two children)
1948 -1951: Tom Fostakowksy
1951 - 1964: Kent's Accordion College
1979 – 2018: Residence

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

398 Talbot Avenue - Elm Baber Shop

Place: Elm Barber Shop
Address: 398 Talbot Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1948
Architect: Unknown

According to the city's assessment rolls, the house at 398 Talbot Street was built in 1948. This address does not appear in the Henderson Directories until the mid-1950s, suggesting that it may have had a different address before the retail front was put on. Because of this, it is hard to tell who the original owner was.

Image: October 1939, Winnipeg Free Press

The man most closely associated with this address is Johann "John" Rzepka and his Elm Barber Shop from 1954 to 1978.

Born in Poland in December 1891, Rzepka came to Canada in 1929. He first appears in the Henderson Directory in 1932 as a barber at 1084 Main Street, a former tailor's shop he shared with William Moravetz shoe repair, and living at 539 1/2 Dufferin.

August 1935 classified ad

In 1934, he took over the whole space, moved into the adjoining house and rechristened the shop the Berliner (sometimes spelled Berlinger) Barber and Beauty Shop. In fact, he was also managing two other shops under the same name at 174 Isabel and 318 Selkirk. An additional outlet on Salter was added in 1935.

Late 1937 through 1938 was a transition period for Rzepka.

In June 1937, he married Rose Hinze, he was 46 and she was seventeen. The chain of shops was down to the original 1084 Main location.

The shop did not advertise in 1938 and when it surfaced in the classifieds in 1939, it was with a new name: Aberdeen Beauty Shop. There was likely a good reason for the change of name.

As Hitler's Germany grew increasingly aggressive towards its neighbours and certain groups of its own citizens, for instance Kristallnacht and the invasion of Czechoslovakia both happened in 1938, the public here at home turned suspicious of German Canadians.

Even though Rzepka was technically Polish and became a naturalized Canadian in 1936, the Berliner name of the shop likely drew unwanted attention.
The Flying Circus in action by Nicolas Trudgian

It would soon become known that Rzepka had much closer ties with Germany than anyone had imagined.

In 1914, the region of Poland in which Rzepka lived was annexed by Germany and in World War I he chose to fight for Germany with Die Fliegertruppe, its air force division. He served for four years, two of them as part of Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. The Red Baron's, "Flying Circus" squadron, (so named for their brightly coloured planes.)

Rzepka was awarded two Iron Crosses, both second and first degree, for gallantry during his time in the air force.

The Age, (Melbourne), November 1, 1939

Fast forward twenty years to September 1939 and Rzepka enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force, despite being 48-years-old and not having flown since the previous war. He told the Free Press: "I am willing to take whatever they give me."

He did not actually serve in the war, but the RCAF used his enlistment as propaganda. A former Red Baron flier signing up for the Allies made news as far away as Australia and the U.K..

1949 classified ad

In 1941, Rzepka, Rose and their two children, sons Robert and Lawrence, moved to 644 Logan Avenue and the shop opened a couple of doors down at 636 Logan.

The move to Elmwood came around 1952, first living on Riverton Avenue, then at 558 Talbot and, finally, at 398 Talbot in 1954.

Rose, however, did not make the move to the Talbot addresses. She and John split and were granted a divorce in 1954.

Rose reverted to her maiden name, Hinze, and worked at Eatons for a time. According to her obituary, she also worked as a hairstylist, cook, nurse and author. In 1975, she established a solvent abuse treatment facility in Vassar, MB and retired to Kelowna in the late 1980s. She died in 2013.

March 24, 1959 classified ad

The name of Rzepka's shop changed when it relocated to Talbot Avenue to the Elm Barber Shop.

"Elm" was a popular name as on that same block of Talbot there was an Elm Beauty Parlour, Elm Dry Goods, Elm Food Centre and Elm Lunch Counter. The largest "Elm" of them all was the Elm Theatre, right next door to number 398, from at least 1920 to the mid-1950s.

Rzepka continued to work at his shop and live in the house out back until he had to retire due to ill health in 1978 at the age of 86. He died at the King George Hospital on September 15, 1981.

Top: Sign and barber's pole still displayed, 2007 (Google Street View)
Bottom: Overhead view (Google Street View)

The Elm Barber Shop continued in operation under a different owner until at least the mid-1980s. The sign and barber poll were still on the facade of the building as late as 2007.

In November 2018, a zoning variance was approved to allow for the construction of a three-storey, ten-unit apartment building on the site.

Friday, November 30, 2018

3059 Ness Avenue - Former Safeway

© 2018, Christian Cassidy
Place: Former Safeway store
Address: 3059 Ness Avenue (Map)
Opened: December 8, 1969
Architect: unknown
Contractor: unknown
Safeway's standard store design from1929 to ca. 1939

When Safeway entered the Canadian market in 1929, local grocery chains of the era, such as Mutual Stores and Neal's, were a collection of leased stores of varying sizes and styles. Safeway, however, used architecture as a key part of its part of its marketing and used a new-build, "cookie cutter" design for their stores.

A customer could recognize a Safeway store from a distance without having to see the sign. They could also shop at any Safeway store in town and find the same products in exactly the same place, thanks to identical floor plans. 

The longest-lasting store design appears to be the original one, (above), which lasted into the 1940s. Many of them still stand in Winnipeg to this day.  Other waves of standardized stores came in the 40s and 50s. The 1960s brought a selection of styles for a new era.

By the late 1950s, Safeway in the U.S. was adjusting to a new urban reality that made its architecture more important than ever.  Customers were flocking to the suburbs and commuting to and from work by highway and freeway. This called for larger stores with huge parking lots set far back from street.

To catch the attention of customers that were now whizzing past at 60 kph or more, supermarkets turned to what the author of Main Street to Miracle Mile: American Roadside Architecture calls "flamboyant exterior wrappers".

The most successful and iconic of these designs was the "Marina Style" of the 1960s, (pictured above), which spawned a number of variants. Hundreds of this style of store were built throughout North America, including about a dozen here in Winnipeg.

Next in line came this style, which doesn't really have a name. (A Tribune reporter in 1969 referred to it as modern-gothic. An architect I consulted suggested "suburban new formalism".)

It turned its back on the Marina style with its flat roof, but retained the same window pattern, sign placement and even offered a couple of curves through a decorative arch that protruded from the store and supported by two columns at each end.

In Winnipeg, this design lasted from 1966 to 1969 and there were likely only four of them built: Marion and Braemar, opened in October 1966 and since extensively renovated; Crossroads Shopping Centre opened in 1967 and since demolished;  Niakwa Village Shopping Centre on St. Anne's Road, opened March 1968 and since extensively renovated or rebuilt;  Sturgeon and Ness, opened December 1969 and to be demolished.

It appears the design was not very popular. Searching North American newspaper archive sites for "new Safeway" ads and articles around this period found no other examples of this style of store, (though most artvcles did not include an exterior image.)

It is unclear who the architect was for this design. Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons, Safeway's go-to architects starting in 1954, and designers of the Martina-style stores, moved on in 1965.

Shopping Centre in 2014

This store was constructed in 1969 as the anchor tenant of the Sturgeon Park Shopping Centre.

The three-acre site that spanned 3045 to 3059 Ness Avenue included the 28,000 square foot Safeway store and an attached strip mall that contained six retail units. It was surrounded by parking for 200 cars.

The developer of the mall was Swancoat Developments, which continued to own the property until 2018.

December 10, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press

The new store boasted walk-in refrigerated rooms where the dairy, produce and meats were kept. There was also a walk-in freezer section. This was the first Safeway in the city that captured heat from the 120-horse power motors in the refrigeration units and channeled it back into the store in colder months.

There was also a prepared meal section, in-store bakery, in-store deli and a lunch counter.

Throughout the decades, the store remained remarkably intact with no major renovations to its facade and no additions to the building.

In 2014, Sobeys completed its takeover of Canada Safeway Ltd. and announced the closure of five Winnipeg stores, including this one. The building has been vacant ever since.

In July 2018, Seymour Pacific Developments received permission to construct a mixed-use development on this site consisting of a pair of four-storey buildings with 119 residential and four retail units.

In November 2018, the strip mall was demolished with the Safeway is to be demolished in December.

Friday, November 2, 2018

448 Sherbrook Street - Oddson House

Place: Thorstein Oddson House
Address: 448 Sherbrook Street (Map)
Constructed: 1905 - 06
Architect: Paul Melsted Clemens

Oddson House was built in 1905 - 06 for Thorsteinn Oddson.

Born and raised in Iceland, Oddson came to Manitoba in 1887 with wife Rakel. After working as a carpenter and running a hardware store in Selkirk, the family moved to Winnipeg in 1901.

Oddson then partnered with fellow Icelanders Skuli Hansson and John Vopni in a real estate, investment and insurance firm. Though their offices were located downtown, the company concentrated most of their efforts on the West End.

In 1905, Oddson purchased the large lot at 448 Sherbrook Street on which to build a new family home.

May 17, 1897, Winnipeg Tribune

The lot had always been extra wide. The original house that stood here, ca 1896 - 1904, was that of Henry and Lizzie Buley and took up even more than the two lots it occupied when Oddson bought it, indicating it was also a hobby farm or had pasture land for horses.

Buley was the business agent for the city's typographical union and the family was very involved with Holy Trinity Anglican Church. When the church decided to create "St. Matthews Mission" to serve the West End in 1897, the Buley home was its first location hosting evening worship services and a Sunday school for 40 children.

It was the Buleys that purchased land at the corner of Sherbrook and Ellice on which the mission built its first church. A new building was constructed in 1908 and is now the West End Cultural Centre.

Paul Melsted Clemens fonds, Archives of Manitoba

The architect of Oddson's new home was fellow Icelander Paul Melsted Clemens who designed dozens of buildings, mostly apartment blocks, for Oddson and other developers. 

Melsted's drawings for the proposed residence can be found at the Manitoba Provincial Archives. They show a two-and-a-half storey, 2,856 square foot structure with two parlours a den, dining room and kitchen on the main floor. Upstairs, there were five bedrooms and a bathroom. There are no drawings for the partial top floor.

A generous veranda skirted two sides of the house and a master bedroom balcony, now removed, overlooked Sherbrook Street.

The Oddson family continued living in the home until 1924 when Thorstein and Rakel retired to Los Angeles.

The house then began its life as a boarding house offering rooms to rent with light housekeeping service.

Initially, it appears to have had a two-room suite on the main floor and the rest of the house was one unit. In 1927, it had as many as four residents at a time. Most renters were short-term and none appear to have lived there for more than a year.

August 27, 1942, Winnipeg Tribune

By the Second World War there were as many as eight people listed as living at this address, though some were away on active duty and at least one was the wife of someone on active duty. This was common during the war years for families or couples to downsize their living accommodations to boarding houses when the "man of the house" went off to war for little pay.

One such woman was Mary McConnell. Her husband, George, and sons, George Jr. (23) and Bill, were all part of the Dieppe raid in August 1942. Twice in 1942 George Jr., who was described by his mother as "all legs", was listed as missing in action but later discovered to be safe. In late August, though, he was listed as wounded.

It appears that all of the McConnell men survived the war.

One woman at 448 Sherbrook who wasn't as lucky was Jeanette Murray. Her son, Cyril, who also listed 448 Sherbrook as his home address was killed in action.

Murray was a Kelvin grad who enlisted in August 1940. Initially, he trained troops in anti-gas warfare here in Canada before joining the Winnipeg Light Infantry and going overseas in March 1942. There, he was transferred to the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and died on December 7, 1943. He is buried in the Moro River Canadian War Cemetery.

After the war, the home continued on as a rooming with with three to six residents listed each year. They had occupations such as taxi driver, retail clerk, mechanic, telephone operator and all stayed for brief periods.

One exception was retired couple Walter and Emily Baldwin.

Thorvaldur (Walter) was born in Baldur in 1890 and came to Winnipeg at the age of 20. He was a mechanic by trade who worked on garment industry machinery at places such as the Northern Shirt Company and Rice Knitting.

Ingeborg Arina (Emily) Oddleifsson was born and raised in the Arborg area and attended school at Geysir.  In 1905, at the age of thirteen, she came to Winnipeg to continue her education.

The two married in 1916 and had three children. They were members of First Lutheran Church on Victor Street and long-time residents of 1065 Dominion Street before moving to 448 Sherbrook in the early 1950s where Walter's occupation was listed as retired.

The Baldwins are sometimes listed in the annual Henderson Directories as "residents" and sometimes as "homeowners". They could have been the live-in caretakers who performed the light housekeeping advertised in classified ads or they may have been the owners and rented out the five or so rooms as Mr. Baldwin would have only been around 60 when they moved in, which is quire early for retirement.

The couple were still living at the home when Walter died in 1968. Emily died at the Tudor Nursing home at Selkirk in 1982.

Top: Boarded up in 2018. Bottom: Under renovation in 2009

The house continued on as a rooming house, offering no services like housekeeping, until the 2010s. During this time it appears to have had a quiet existence with no newspaper reports of fires or major crimes taking place there.

It was listed for sale in 2006 and was likely vacant by that point as the ad states that it was a "former rooming house". The local neighbourhood association noted that the house was "vacant, derelict and under repair" in January 2008. Those repairs continued through the summer of 2009.

The house was sold in late 2009 for an unknown price and again in 2016 for $277,000.

In October 2018 the house was boarded up and is expected to be demolished.

Oddson House to be demolished? West End Dumplings
Thorstein Oddson's West End West End Dumplings
My photo album of 448 Sherbrook