Thursday, March 1, 2018

893 Portage Avenue - Former Safeway store No. 8

Place: Former Safeway / Bodyshapes
Address: 893 Portage Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1929
Cost: $12,000
Contractor: W. A. Irish
Top: 1929 retail trade magazine
Bottom: November 1, 1929, Winnipeg Tribune

This building was the eighth Safeway store opened in Winnipeg by the American grocery retailer after entering the Canadian market and establishing their head office in Winnipeg in mid-1929. By the end of the year, the chain boasted sixteen outlets.

The building permit for the $12,000 store was issued to contractor W. A. Irish in early July 1929.

Unlike most grocery chains, still a new concept in the 1920s, Safeway used the cookie cutter method of retailing. They built their own stores from scratch so that they looked identical inside and out. This made it easy for customers to recognize a Safeway and ensured that they could find the exact same array of products in the same location regardless of which store they walked into.

Safeway introduced a new, larger prototype store every few years and in 1951 the old store was vacated.The news store, just two doors down, opened on Thursday, July 26, 1951. (The small white building between them was a Safeway pharmacy, back in the day when pharmacies had to be stand-alone businesses.)

893 Portage then began a long run as a pharmacy.

From 1951 until 1975 it was known as Storr's Drug Store. 

William Watson Storr was born April 4, 1884 in Ottawa, Ontario and graduated from the University of Toronto's School of Pharmacy in 1905. He then came to Winnipeg and opened his own pharmacy in 1909 on the main floor of the newly opened St. James Park Block at 807 Portage Avenue.

In September 1911, he married Ida May Haisley at her parents' home at 247 Simcoe Street and they settled at 509 Basswood Place where they raised two daughters.

In 1951, Storr, who by that time was over 65, relocated to 893 Portage Avenue soon after it was vacated by Safeway. He retired in 1954 and died in 1962 but the store carried on under his name until 1975.

A small, independent store, Storrs did not advertise. From the mid 1960s to mid 1970s, however, it was one of more than 50 local A.R.P. drug stores. This was a Western Canadian alliance of independently-owned pharmacies created in 1963 to combine purchasing and advertising power by buying as a group.

Through the 1980s it was known as MediMart Drugs and from the mid-1980s to 2004 it was Vimy Park Pharmacy, owned by the husband - wife pharmacist team of Marie Berry and Bill Cechvala.

The building's 53-year run as pharmacy ended in 2004 after a new Shoppers Drug Mart opened in the next block and bought out Vimy's stock and customer list.

After sitting vacant for a number of years, 893 Portage became Bodyshades tanning salon in mid-2007.

In the summer of 2017, the owner renovated the exterior. The demolition revealed a remarkably intact original Safeway store facade.

The facade was restored but destroyed in February 2018 when an SUV ran through the front of the store.

My Flickr album of 893 Portage
893 Portage gets a makeover West End Dumplings

Friday, February 2, 2018

448 Burnell Street - Orioles Community Club

Place: Orioles Community
Address: 448 Burnell Street
Opened: February 2, 1951

West End Orioles Athletic Club win Western Canada Juvenile Hockey Championship
April 16, 1945, Winnipeg Tribune

Orioles Community Club began its life as the West End Orioles Athletic Club, a private club founded in 1936 that specialized in hockey.

Its original home was further south on Burnell Street, next to the Canada Bread bakery, at a softball diamond known as Canada Bread Field. In the wintertime, Orioles would install a hockey rink or two and used an old box car as their club house.

In 1947, the land was sold to the Valour Road Legion to build a recreation centre and legion hall. When construction began in June 1948, Orioles found itself without a home but got a lifeline from the City of Winnipeg.

The city was in the midst of creating a city-wide network of "community clubs" to bolster the amount of recreational and other activities offered in neighbourhoods. Orioles was offered funding and a piece of city-owned land at Burnell and St. Matthews if they chose to sign on.

It was not an easy decision as it meant dissolving the private club and having to offer a much wider range of activities.

Mayor Coulter cuts the ribbon, Feb. 2, 1951

Eventually, they agreed and on September 21, 1950, a sod turning ceremony took place for the new clubhouse. Over the winter, additional work was done to the site and on February 2, 1951 Mayor Garnet Coulter cut the ribbon to officially open the Orioles Community Club.

The club underwent some minor name changes. It was initially the Orioles West End Community Club, that was changed in the summer of 1951 to Oriole Community Club. At some point the "s" was added back in.

In 1952, a salvaged wartime H-Hut from the Winnipeg Airport was moved to the site and around 1986 a gymnasium was constructed to complete the site.

In 2006, amalgamation talks began between three West End community clubs: Isaac Brock (catchment area 5,050); Clifton (catchment area 4,820); and Orioles (catchment area 13,855).

An agreement was finalized in December 2006 that created the Valour Community Centre to be based out of the Isaac Brock site and Orioles was rechristened Valour Community Centre - Orioles Site.

For more about the history of Orioles, see my multi-part West End Dumplings series!

 Orioles ca. 1951 (City of Winnipeg Archives)
 Orioles ca. 1970s (source)

Monday, January 8, 2018

303 Stanley Street - Fry - Cadbury Building

 Source: Google Street View

Place: Fry - Cadbury Building
Address: 303 Stanley Street (Map)
Cost: $150,000
Opened: 1955
Architect: Moody and Moore
Contractor: Unknown
 1957 ad

This single-storey, 16,000 square foot office and warehouse building was constructed in 1955 for Fry-Cadbury, the British-based chocolate and confectionery giant.

The company had a presence in Canada since the 1920s with a factory and warehouse in Montreal. A western sales office and warehouse was established in Winnipeg around 1940 on the second floor of the Victory Building on Lombard Avenue, (now demolished), before moving to 345 Higgins in 1951.

This building cost $150,000 and was designed by local architects Moody and Moore.

Moody Moore had just designed some of their largest projects to-date, including the Women’s Pavilion on Notre Dame Avenue (1951) and Children’s Hospital on William Avenue (1952). Soon after this project, they designed some large-scale office buildings such as the Manitoba Hydro headquarters  on Taylor Avenue (1957) and the former Investors Building on Broadway (1956).

From this building's air conditioned offices and refrigerated warehouse space, Fry-Cadbury served the Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northwest Ontario region. The long-time manager of the Winnipeg operation was Wilbur C. Hall.

In 1971, Fry-Cadbury merged with Schweppes Powell Ltd. to create Cadbury Schweppes Powell. Later in the decade the company was restructured, which included pulling out of Montreal and closing the Winnipeg warehouse.

In 1979, the building became home to the Creamette Company of Canada, manufacturers of macaroni and spaghetti. It was the only Canadian branch plant of the Creamette Company established in Minnesota in 1912.

Creamette first set up shop in Winnipeg in 1941 at 283 Stanley Street, (now demolished). This building was was bought to add additional office and warehouse space to their operations.

Creamette closed down in Winnipeg in 1993, though Creamettes are still manufactured and sold in the U.S..

The next long-term owner of the building was Superior Finishes Inc., a manufacturer of industrial coatings. Created in 1992, it moved into 303 Stanley in 1997 and operated a research and development lab as well as manufactured and product there.

The company was founded by Tom Guertin Jr. who is part of a family that has a long association with the paint and coatings industry in Winnipeg.

In 1947, Norbert and Tony Guertin Sr. formed Guertin Bros. (Paints) Ltd. From 1962 to 1987 the company occupied 270 Assiniboine Avenue, where Bonnycastle Park is today and a warehouse in St. James. In 2008, Guertin Bros. (Paints) Ltd. was sold to Cloverdale Paints of Vancouver.

Superior Finishes Inc. moved to larger premises in to 2012.

The current owner of the building is Siloam Mission.

Created in 1987, Siloam Mission’s home was on Main Street until it relocated to 300 Princess Street, also known as the Canadian Farbanks-Morse Building, in 2005.

Siloam Mission campus

In 2013, the mission purchased 303 Stanley Street and another neighbouring property at 288 Princess Street, demolished in December 2017, for a multi-million dollar expansion of their facility. 

303 Stanley was subsequently renovated into the mission’s 400-seat dining hall and opened in October 2017.

© 2017, Christian Cassidy

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

288 Princess Street - Ideal Bedding / Westwin Food Equipment Building (R.I.P.)

© 2017, Christian Cassidy
December 24, 2017

288 Princess Street
Constructed: 1904-05
Size: Three storeys, 24,000 square feet
Architect: Darling and Pearson
Contractors: Saul and Irish /J McDiarmid

This building is currently being demolished as part of an eventual expansion of Siloam Mission.

February 4, 1905, Winnipeg Free Press

It was built for the Ideal Bedding Company of Toronto. Construction began in October 1904 and it was ready for occupancy by the beginning of January.

The architects were Darling and Pearson of Toronto, who would go on to design many of our city's iconic buildings, including the Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Commerce / Millennium Centre, Union Bank Tower and the Grain Exchange Building III. The contractors were Saul & Irish and J. McDiarmid Co.

Initially, the building was two storeys tall but had an over-engineered foundation and 26-inch thick walls so that two more storeys could be added at a future date. One more storey was added, likely the following spring.

1905 Henderson Directory

As the company name suggests, this was constructed to house the manufacture and  warehousing of mattresses. The front portion of the building houses the company's office while the basement and rear of the building was where the work was done. A spur railway line ran behind the building.

In 1910, Ideal moved to new premises. The building was subdivided and a number of short term tenants called it home. They included the Winnipeg Warehousing Co., Williams Manufacturing Co., Quaker Oats Co., and Herman Raw Fur Co..

After the bankruptcy of Herman's in 1930, it appears the building sat empty through the Depression. In 1938, ads appeared in the newspapers offering it and another warehouse on Henry Street for sale "for wrecking purposes or otherwise".

288 Princess Street got a new lease on life when it was resold to Winnipeg Cabinet Factory as their new home. The company had been in operation since at least 1905 providing custom-built residential and commercial cabinets.

Shortly before moving, the company expanded into the sale of mainly used store and restaurant fixtures, everything from stools to soda fountains. That aspect of its business appears to have expanded greatly after their relocation .

Winnipeg Cabinet Factory went out of business in 1962.

Top: October 9, 1969
Bottom: June 19, 1975

In 1963, the building became home to Wholesale Furniture Mart which had operated in the city for around four decades further up on Princess Street.

Soon after the owner died, the business closed and its contents put up for auction. Former employee Fred Brick and his wife Cynthia bought out the lease and reopened the store as Brick's Wholesale Furniture House.

The Bricks soon changed the focus to deal in higher -nd merchandise and in the early 1970s the store was renamed Brick's Fine Furniture.

In 1976, Brick's Find Furniture moved to 111 Lombard Avenue, where they remained until 2008. They are now located at 171 Bannatyne Avenue. (For more on the history of Brick's Fine Furniture.)

September 19, 1981, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1981, 288 Princess became home to Western Restaurant Supply Ltd.

Created by Asher Rosenberg in 1971, it designed and supplied commercial kitchens for restaurants and institutions. Their expanded home at 288 Princess allowed them to open to the public selling new and used restaurant equipment and supplies.

Western had a number of ups and downs. In 1983, by that time run by son Lionel, it went into receivership but was restructured under the same ownership as Westwin Food Equipment Ltd.

Another financial crisis in 1996 saw the company shrink down to just a handful of employees and its share of the local market hovered at just around 10 - 15% with their major competitor being Cassidy's.

When Cassidy's went into receivership in 2000, the company took advantage and hired a number of its former employees and expanded its lines and territory.

The company last advertised in 2009 and closed down ca. 2010.

Top: Westwin, left, and Siloam, right. (Google Maps)
Bottom: Minutes, Mar. 15, 2016 EPC Meeting (Source)

In February 2010 neighbouring Siloam Mission purchased the building as part of a future expansion plan and temporarily moved some programming into the space.

In 2016, Siloam received a heritage review they requested from the city's Historical Buildings and Resources Committee about their plans. The HRDC noted that 288 Princess was not a protected building but requested that they: "explore the possibility of adaptively re-purposing and integrating the building into their expansion plans."

Demolition began in December 2017.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

489 Furby Street - Patricia Court Apartments R.I.P.

Source: Google Street View, 2016

Place: Patricia Court Apartments
Address: 489 Furby Street (Map)
Constructed: 1911 - 1912
Architect: Unknown
B. Minkevich, Winnipeg Free Press

On the night of December 4, 2017, 489 Furby Street, once known as the Patricia Court apartments, had a major fire. It is believed that the building cannot be salvaged. Before it is gone, here's a look back at its history.

This fifteen-unit apartment block opened in 1912 with the unfortunate name "The Favonius" but within a year was rechristened Patricia Court. The builder may have been J. T. Bergman who received a permit for a $50,000 apartment went overseas with the building on this block in April 1911.

The initial roster of tenants were what you would expect in a middle-class block. They included Francis Alfred who was the secretary of the Winnipeg branch of the North American Life Assurance Company, Edwin Brownlee a salesman at Alaska Bedding, Stewart Cuthbert an electrician at Eatons, and Francis Megarry who worked as a clerk a Eatons.

During the first World War, Patricia Court was home to Robina Walker. She relocated there after her husband, David Campbell Walker, enlisted with the Cameron Highlanders in 1915.

Walker was injured twice during the war but survived and was able to return and live out a full life with Robina.

Another  woman who lived at Patricia Court during the war was Irene Chadwick. She was the wife of William Francis Chadwick, a newspaper man who had worked at Winnipeg papers and had recently taken a job as circulation manager at the Moos Jaw Daily News. When it came time to enlist, the two returned to Winnipeg.

In April 1916, Chadwick received a gunshot wound to the head. He survived, thanks to the fact that he was wearing his helmet, but initial reports indicated he might not survive.

He spent six weeks in a British hospital and was eventually declared unfit for service and returned to Canada in August 1916.

What became of the Chadwicks is unknown.

1924 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1924, Mary Scarlett Knox briefly moved in with her son who lived at number 9 and taught music from the suite.

Knox had been a was a well-known pianist since her teenage years, playing at recitals and weddings or accompanying singers at benefit concerts. After studying in Canada and overseas, she turned her hand to teaching and went on to have long, local career.

Her time at Patricia Court only lasted a year and by 1926 she had a proper studio in the U of M's music and arts building.

June 21, 1923, Winnipeg Tribune

Not everyone had a happy time at Patricia Court.

Peter Carroll of suite A was one of five people who attended a drinking party on Ellen Street in June 1923. Their choice of drink was something called Sterno Canned Heat, a combination of ethanol and methanol mixed with parafin wax that was sold as a portable heat source.

There were crude methods of processing Canned Heat into a beverage. It would be watered down, supplemented with additional ethanol, infused with some fruit, (or in this case, ginger), to kill the taste, and then finely strained to remove the wax.

Drinking Canned Heat was not an uncommon practice during prohibition, when hard liquor was scarce, or for the destitute who couldn't afford anything else. Its was a problem for cities across North America.

In Winnipeg through the 1920s about ten people died and dozens were blinded each year from drinking it.

1928 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

On that night, the Ellen Street partiers got their mixture wrong and two of them died.

Police tracked down Carroll at his Patricia Court apartment and found him complaining of a severe stomach ache and completely blind. He died the next day in hospital.

Carroll had difficulties with alcohol for some time. His name appears in the papers a few times in the 19-teens and early 1920s after being arrested on vagrancy or alcohol-related charges.

He did appear to be turning his life around, though.

His last arrest for vagrancy was in 1921 but by 1923 he had his own apartment and a job as a clerk with the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Clearing House.

Sadly, his addiction or bad choice of friends, or both, cost him his life.

1937 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

There were other musicians who called Patricia Court over the years.

In the early 1950s it was Palmi Palmason, a violinist and violin teacher whose career started in the 1920s. 

One of his earliest students was his sister, Pearl Palmason. She was such a talent that in the 1930s she went on to London and New York to perfect her craft and returned to have a 40-year career with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She is considered a trailblazer for women in classical music. (Pearl stayed with Palmi at patricia Court in 1953 during a visit.)

Palmi played with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in the 1940s and 1950s before eventually moving to Toronto.

1927 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

The name Patrica Court began to disappear from rental ads in favour of "489 Furby" starting in the mid-1960s.

In October 2013, Patricia Court was put up for sale with an asking price of $1.4 million.

Winnipeg Fire - Paramedic Service update
West End fire sends six people to hospital Global News
Firefighters battle Furby Street blaze Winnipeg Free Press

Saturday, September 30, 2017

1515 Portage Avenue - Simpsons-Sears at Polo Park Shopping Centre

© 2017, Christian Cassidy

Sears at Polo Park Shopping Centre
Address: 1515 Portage Avenue (Map)
Size: 270,000 square feet
Architect: Green, Blankstein, Russell and Associates
Contractor: Commonwealth Construction Co.
Opened: May 6, 1959

Simpsons-Sears, now known as Sears Canada, was a partnership between the Canadian and American retail chains created in January 1953. It was dissolved in 1978 when HBC bought out Simpsons. (For more about Simpsons-Sears.)

The retailer had been searching for a Winnipeg store site since its inception and hired David Slater Ltd. to find them a 14-acre parcel of land that they could purchase. One of the few sites available along Portage Avenue was the Polo Park Race Track.

Slater approached the track's owners and after a year of negotiations reached a purchase agreement with the condition that the track could have two more racing seasons to find a new home.

The site was large enough that an adjoining 45-store shopping centre was also planned.
Top: Architect's drawings, May 5, 1959, Winnipeg Free Press

Construction began on the $5 million Simpsons-Sears store in fall 1957.

The building, designed by Green, Blankstein, Russell Associates and built by Commonwealth Construction Company, is clad in Tyndall stone. Its most unique feature was a 45-metre long abstract tile mural along its Portage Avenue facade that was designed by George Swinton of the University of Manitoba's School of Art. (Both have since been extensively altered by exterior renovations.)

The store featured 270,000 square feet of floor space over three levels. two were for retail and there is a basement warehouse area accessible by heated, covered ramps. There was also a service station, 8,000 square foot garden centre and two restaurants - the Manitoba Room on the second floor and Peggy Kellogg coffee house on the main floor.

It was all surrounded by 1,200 parking stalls.

The Simpsons-Sears store formally opened on May 6, 1959. On-hand were the retailer's top executives and Alderman A. E. Bennet representing mayor Stephen Juba.

The store was the fourteenth opened by the retailer and employed 600 people.

J. C. Paterson was the store’s first general manager. He had been responsible for opening stores in Hamilton and Kingston before being named the General Retail Sales Manager based in Toronto. In January 1959, he was dispatched to Winnipeg to oversee the store's development.

July 14, 1970, Winnipeg Tribune

Through the 2000s the fortunes of Sears Canada declined amid the changing retail industry. 

In June 2017, the retailer sought protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and announced that it would close 59 of its 127 stores and shed thousands of employees. This included Winnipeg's Garden City store but not locations at Polo Park, Kildonan Place and St.Vital Centre.

In September 2017 it was announced that another wave of store closures would inclue the Polo park location.

Simpsons-Sears at Garden City Shopping Centre
Polo Park opens to fanfare