Sunday, November 6, 2016

516 Stella Avenue



This little house at 516 Stella Avenue was constructed in 1903.

The first residents were Frederick Ulrich and family, which included his wife and at least seven children. Ulrich worked as a boilermaker with the CPR until 1912 when the family moved to a farm near Thalberg, Manitoba in the RM of St. Clements. 

Frederick retired from farming in 1941 and died in 1956.

Source: 1916 Census of Manitoba

From 1913 until 1926 it was home to the Morganstein family.

Jacob, (who appears in Henderson Directories as George), and Pearl came to Canada from Russia in 1906 with their three children. They had at two more after arriving.

Jacob started out as a peddler and worked his way up to being a delivery driver. Eldest daughter, Yetta, worked first at Woolworths then as a clerk at Max Steiman, a clothing store on Main Street.

February 2, 1916, Winnipeg Free Press

Not only did the enterprising family raise their five children here, it appears they also kept a cow on the property !

November 3, 1942, Winnipeg Tribune 

From 1929 to 1944 Mike and Sarah Sorokowski and family lived here. (Their name also appears as Sorosky and Sarkoski in various newspaper articles and Henderson Directory entries.)

Mike was a long-time city employee.

Sarah had a near death experience in 1942 when she was one of 25 people hurt in a collision between two street cars at Portage Avenue and Colony Street. She was taken to hospital for a couple of days but was not seriously injured.

It appears Mike died around 1944, after which Mrs. Sorokowski moved to Jarvis Avenue.

August 30, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

The next long term residents were the Skwark family, starting in 1945.

Nicholas, who came from Austria around 1910,  worked at the city for many years before going into business for himself a delivery driver. Patrica raised their two children, Michael and Mary, and worked for a time at Eatons.

Michael was a law student and prominent member of the Stellars, a local amateur basketball team. In 1953 he married Ruth Jasper, a stenographer at David Cooper and Co.

Initially, the Skwarks tried to rent the house. For whatever reason that didn't work out so Mike and Ruth moved in with the Skwarks for a number of years.

Nicholas died in May 1964 at the age of 70. Mary continued to live there for a number of years after his death. She died in 1993.

The house is currently for sale. More photos can be seen at its listing page.

Friday, September 30, 2016

1785 Portage Avenue - Higgs' Barber Shop


Place: 1785 Portage Avenue (Map)
Constructed: circa 1922
Architect: Unknown

February 13, 1925, Winnipeg Free Press

The building at 1785 Portage Avenue is much older than it looks, thanks to a recent discovery uncovered by an exterior renovation.

It first appears in the 1922 Henderson's Directory, as part of the City of St. James, of course, and has been home of numerous, mostly short-lived, retailers over the years.

The first is Harry M. Golding and Harry B. Aaron's "Golding and Aaron, Boots, Shoes and Dry Goods." They lasted just a year until Samuel Bernstein's shoe store took over. By 1925, it was known as Lancaster Confectionery, owned by Charles Lancaster of 363 Albany Street.

October 24, 1927, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1926, Fred Higgs' barber shop first appears and he would be a fixture in the building for nearly three decades. The barber shop took up a smaller retail space with the address 1785 1/2 Portage Avenue, while shops in the larger space came and went.

Higgs is listed as the building owner, presumably purchasing it in 1927, and also lived at the address, suggesting that there may at one time have been a house tucked behind the commercial space. Unfortunately, not a lot of information can be found about Mr. Higgs in Winnipeg newspapers.

Higgs' retail neighbours included the likes of Richard Wilson, jeweller (1926), and Percy Mozersky hardware (1927).

In 1928, Carl Porcher opened his tailor shop there and is also listed as living in the residential portion along with Hicks. Porcher, an Austrian immigrant, operated is shop until his death in 1935 at the age of 48.

The building continued to house a tailor. By 1941 it was called “St. James Tailors”, owned by Samuel Roitman.


Top: October 19, 1991, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: December 4, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1946, Higgs finally found a long-term partner for his barber shop in Aker's Junior Wear, a retailer of children's clothing. Akers called it home from 1947 until at least 1965.

The store was run by Roy and Ruth Aker. Roy Aker was born in St. James in 1917 and married Ruth in 1942. The couple had a daughter, Penny, and were long-time residents of 108 College Street in St. James, (changed to Collegiate in the late 1950s to save being confused with Winnipeg's College Avenue.)


In 1953 there was a changing of the guard when Higgs retired. The barber shop was taken over briefly by Bob Cruickshank. He and wife Sarah moved into the residence.

The following year, Akers got its first non barber retail neighbour when The Donut House - yes the same Donut House as Selkirk Avenue's - moved into 1785 1/2 in 1954. (By 1964 there were five Donut House coffee shopss around the city, as well as the main bakery on Selkirk Avenue.)

June 26, 1970, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1968, the building was sold to the convenience store chain Mini Mart Inc. of Winnipeg. They made extensive renovations to the building, including making it into one retail space, replacing the  facade and adding a large back-lit sign.

The store opened in early 1969, one of 35 Mini Marts in the city, and closed in 1971.

In 1972, 1785 Portage was home to St. James Vacuum Shop for a year. Then, from 1974 until the early 1980s, it was St. James Sports Centre, specializing in bicycle sales and service. From the mid-80s to the early 90s it was a real estate office, then a travel agency.


Exterior renovations carried out in September 2016 uncovered the building's past.

Beneath that 1970s Mini Mart exterior revealed old signs that could date back to the 1920s, and certainly to the 1940s.

For more photos of 1785 Portage Avenue.

Friday, September 23, 2016

518 Selkirk Avenue - The Windmill Lunch

Place: The Windmill Lunch
Address: 518 Selkirk Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1949
Architect: Unknown

Top: Nov. 25, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: Sep. 11, 1951, Winnipeg Free Press

For much of its early existence, 518 Selkirk Avenue contained two retail spaces on the main floor and offices upstairs.

The first tenant was Peter Zolna's Marvel Ladies Apparel, which had been established further up Selkirk Avenue in the mid-1940s.  It was soon joined by Curly Haas Sportswear, run by Winnipeg baseball legend Conelius Haas of the Elmwood Millionaires, and his wife, Florence.

Oct. 26, 1955, Winnipeg Free Press

By 1955, Marvel closed and Haas moved to Main Street and a new duo of businesses occupied the building.

One was Personal Finance Co., a national chain of quick loan shops. This was their fourth location in the city. The other was Select Furniture, which only lasted until May 1956 before it went bankrupt. 

The replacement for Select Furniture was the Koster Film Library, run by Michael Koster. It was an early entertainment rental store where projectors and films, everything from 8 mm shorts to feature length films could be rented, though it does not appear to have included Hollywood A titles.

In 1958, the finance company was gone and the building's longest-serving tenant moved in: The Windmill Lunch.




"The Windmill Lunch" first appears in the 1948 Henderson Directory at 496 Selkirk Avenue. (A pair of 1992 ads use the phrase "serving people since 1936", though no listing for the Windmill exists prior to 1948, nor was there a restaurant at 496 Selkirk prior to this one opening.)

The original owners were the Ludwigs, David and Hilda, of 193 Andrews Street. Daughter, Denise, worked as a waitress. Prior to getting into the restaurant business Mr. Ludwig served in World War II, then worked as a shipper with Kahane, a manufacturer of toiletries.

The first employees, or possibly business partners, were Sam and Rita Winrob of 599 Flora Avenue.

Being a small business, The Windmill did not advertize and the Ludwigs stayed out of the papers. They did, though, sponsor a team in the local ten pin commercial bowling league through the early 1950s, which got their name mentioned regularly in the sports pages.

In 1957, the Ludwigs moved on to run another restaurant, the Comfy-Inn at 132 Notre Dame Ave East, (now Pioneer Avenue), and retired in 1967.

September 25, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1957, the Kowalsons, Dave, Violet and daughter Denise, of 425 Burrows became the new owners. Mr. Kowalson had previously been a taxi driver, (perhaps a regular customer of the Windmill ?!)

The Kowalsons made a couple of significant changes to the business. They moved it to 518 Selkirk Avenue, when, it seems, the original location was set to be demolished. They also extended the hours through to midnight.

In 1961, The Kowalsons sold up and David went back to being a driver / operator for United Taxi.

February 22, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press

The new owner, Frederik Karlenzig, was born at Lowe Farm, Manitoba and lived in Rivers before coming to Winnipeg. He spent 25 years in the restaurant business.

Sadly, he owned The Windmill for just a short period. In 1964, he was forced to sell due to illness and died July 3, 1965 at the age of 61.


In 1964, Murray Nedohin and Laddie Kroschinsky took over the reigns. The two men worked together as district managers at the Winnipeg Free Press.

For Nedohin, born in Overstoneville, Manitoba, this was his first shot at his dream of running his own business.

In 1969, the men sold up and Nedohin went on to run numerous restaurants, including the Black Knight Restaurant, Empress Lanes Restaurant and the Poplar Bay Trading Post. In retirement, he ran a vegetable market from his home on Henderson Highway.



The most recent owner was its longest serving.

Gus Damianakos was born and raised in Gythion, Greece and came to Canada in 1963 to marry his childhood sweetheart, Voula.

He purchased The Windmill in 1969 or 1970 and for over 45 years was a fixture on Selkirk Avenue.


Aside from Damianakos, the restaurants charm is its largely unrenovated interior of red pleather, wood panelling and jukeboxes in the booths. It has been a set for a number of movies over the years, including "Shall We Dance", "Capote", "The Big White" and "Horsemen".

In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press' Melissa Martin published on May 28, 2016, Gus said of his impending retirement and possible sale of the restaurant: "I’m satisfied. I worked hard, I had lots of fun." 

Gus Damianakos died on July 30, 2016 at the age of 79.


May 12, 1991, Winnipeg Free Press

Related:
My Photo album of The Windmill Lunch

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press (Aug 3, 2016)
Bacon Eggs and Memories Winnipeg Free Press
Blast from the Past Destination Winnipeg

Sunday, September 18, 2016

616 Alverstone Street - Bjorn Petursson House


Place: Bjorn Petursson House
Address: 616 Alverstone Street (Map)
Constructed: 1914
Architect: Unknown

October 19, 1905, Helmskringla

The Petursson family, Bjorn, wife Godrun and children Ludwig, Maria and Arthur came to Canada from Iceland in 1904.

By 1905, Bjorn was running B. Petursson and Co. Grocery at 706 Simcoe Street at Wellington Avenue. This made him a pioneer merchant of the West End as this part of the city only became subdivided for urban development around that time.

The family initially lived in the same building as the store, sometimes listed as 706 Simcoe or 760 Wellington. Both addresses were part of the Toth Apartments, the Simcoe Street storefront has long been closed off.

Ads from 1931, top, and 1934

The change to a hardware store came in 1913 when B. Petursson Grocery became "B. Petursson Hardware, wholesale and retail".

The company remained at 706 Simcoe Street throughout its existence. By the 1934 it advertised "electrical contractors" as part of their work.

House ca. 1914. Source: Oct. 4, 1996, Lögberg-Heimskringla

Petursson's shift to hardware must have done well as just a year later he had 616 Alverstone Street constructed.

By West End standards, it was a mansion with soaring stone columns and red brick. The interior was even more lavish, featuring a ballroom, large murals and wood panelling; you can read more about the interior here: part 1, part 2.) The architect and contractors are unknown.

 1927 classified ad

The Peturssons often had at least one lodger. The 1916 census lists Johannas Isleifson (83) was listed as residing there. Through the 1930s and early 40s, the Fergusons, parents of Mrs Petursson, (suggesting that he may have remarried), lived there until their deaths.

As the children grew up and moved out, classified ads appeared from time to time in the papers seeking  lodgers.

September 5, 1942, Winnipeg Free Press

The year 1942 was a tragic one for the Peturssons.

In March, Mrs. Petursson's father, Albert A. Fergusson, died at the age of 88. In September, the store was declared bankrupt and its contents sold off.

It is unclear what happened to the family. They last appear at this address in the 1943 Henderson Directory, then disappear. This suggests they may have moved from the city.


 The home then became a rooming house, in 1943 - 44 listing up to eight households living there. By 1944 there were a dozen.

One was Mr and Mrs George Woodburys, who did not have great memories there. They lost one son, Delbert, who lived with them, in June 1943 when his kayak overturned in the Red River. The following year, their other son, Berton, was wounded in action in the war. He received the Military Cross for bravery and continued in the war and the military, retiring as a major.

From 1949 to 1952 it appears to have just one resident. Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Warren, who had been tenants since the mid 1940s. By 1953, however, it was back to being a rooming house boasting 16 rooms for rent.

May 1, 1965, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1965, the house was put up for sale. The ad stated that the house was "built for a lifetime" and would be "ideal for nursing home or rooming house."

It continued on as a rooming house until 1972, when it became a children's group home. It was sold again in 1985 and 1992.

The current owner of the home, since 1992, was doing interior renovations when she uncovered some drawings under the stucco. Working with an art curator, they uncovered series of murals painted on the original plaster. They are believed to be by Fridrik Sveinsson.

Top: 2004 (City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committee)

616 AlverstoneStreet - Bjorn Petursson House

Place: Bjorn Petursson House
Address: 616 Alverstone Street (Map)
Constructed: 1914
Architect: Unknown

October 19, 1905, Helmskringla

The Petursson family, Bjorn, wife Godrun and children Ludwig, Maria and Arthur, came to Canada from Iceland in 1904.

By 1905 Bjorn was running B. Petursson and Co. Grocery at 706 Simcoe Street at Wellington Avenue. This made him a pioneer merchant of the West End as this part of the city only became subdivided for urban development around that time.

The family initially lived in the same building as the store, sometimes listed as 706 Simcoe and sometimes 760 Wellington. Both addresses were part of the Toth Apartments, the Simcoe Street storefront has long been closed off.

Ads from 1931, top, and 1934

The change to a hardware store came in 1913 when B. Petursson Grocery became "B. Petursson Hardware, wholesale and retail". By the 1934 it advertised "electrical contractors" as part of their work.

The company remained at 706 Simcoe Street throughout its existence.

House ca. 1914. Source: Oct. 4, 1996, Lögberg-Heimskringla

Petursson's shift in focus to hardware must have done well, as just a year later he had 616 Alverstone Street constructed.

By West End standards, it was a mansion with soaring stone columns and clad in red brick. The interior was even more lavish, featuring a ballroom, numerous murals and wood panelling. (You can read more about the interior here: part 1, part 2.)

The architect and contractors are unknown.


1927 classified ad

The Peturssons often had at least one lodger.

The 1916 census lists Johannas Isleifson (83) as residing there. Through the 1930s and early 40s, the Fergusons, parents of Mrs Petursson, (suggesting that Bjorn may have remarried), lived there until their deaths.


As the children grew up and moved out, classified ads appeared from time to time in the papers seeking new lodgers.

September 5, 1942, Winnipeg Free Press

The year 1942 was a tragic one for the Peturssons.

In March, Mrs. Petursson's father, Albert A. Fergusson, died at the age of 88. In September, the store was declared bankrupt and its contents sold off.

It is unclear what happened to the family. They last appear at this address in the 1943 Henderson Directory, then disappear. This suggests they may have moved from the city.


The home then became a rooming house. In 1943 - 44 listing up to eight households living there. By 1945 there were a dozen.

One family that roomed there was Mr. and Mrs. George Woodbury, who must have had terrible memories of their time there.They lost one son, Delbert, who lived with them, in June 1943 when his kayak overturned in the Red River. The following year, their other son, Berton, was wounded in action in the war. He received the Military Cross for bravery and continued in the war, retiring as a major.

From 1949 to 1952 the home appears to have just one household - Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Warren, who had been tenants since the mid 1940s.

By 1953, however, it was back to being a rooming house boasting 16 rooms for rent.


May 1, 1965, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1965, the house was put up for sale. The ad stated that the house was "built for a lifetime" and would be "ideal for nursing home or rooming house."

It continued as a rooming house until 1972, when the room for rent ads ended. It was sold again in 1985 and 1992.

The current owner of the home, since 1992, was doing interior renovations when she uncovered some drawings under the stucco. Working with an art curator, they uncovered series of murals painted on the original plaster. They are believed to be by Fridrik Sveinsson.

Top: 2004 (City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committee)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

447 Bannatyne Avenue - Victoria Leather Jacket / All Canadian Emblem Building

Place: Victoria Leather Jacket Company / Crest
Address: 447 Bannatyne Avenue
Opened: December 1952
Architect: Unknown
Contractor: Unknown

 Jimmy Gobuty, left, and Rosenberg. Jun 28, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press

David Rosenberg was born and raised in Bobroisk, Russia. In 1913, he and wife Eshka came to Canada, settling initially in Hamilton, Ontario, where David set up a garment manufacturing company called the Victoria Leather Jacket Co. Ltd. 

In 1937, the Rosenbergs came west to establish a Winnipeg branch.

The co-owner in the venture was James "Jimmy" Gobuty. Though more than 20 years Rosenberg's junior, the Russian-born Gobuty was already a player in the outerwear manufacturing industry. 


He started working in factories when he was a child. Newspaper accounts about Gobuty's first business venture vary, but all agree it happened in the late 1920s or early 1930s, investing his $500 life savings in full or part ownership in a garment firm. In the 1940s and 50s he was a co-owner of Dominion Cloak Ltd.

Soon, Winnipeg became the headquarters of Victoria Leather Jacket Company, (later shortened to Victoria Leather), with Rosenberg serving as company president and Gobuty as secretary-treasurer.


ca. 1945, Winnipeg Tribune

"Help wanted" ads for the company began appearing in local newspapers in January 1938.

For the first few years they operated from an upper floor of the Daylite Building on McDermot Avenue, then from the the neighbouring Glengarry Building.

The company produced a wide range of leather outerwear and sportswear. Rosenberg, the main designer, expressed an interest in moving beyond the traditional bomber and western fringed jackets to high fashion merchandise. To do this, they needed to expand.


Dec. 11, 1952, The Jewish Post

In December 1952 they moved to new premises at Bannatyne Avenue at Gertie Street, advertising the 15,000 square foot facility to potential new employees a “new factory building with the latest conveniences.” The architect and contractor are unknown.

The building may have been constructed in two phases. In some news stories about a 1959 explosion that took place there, it was described as single-storey building at 86 Gertie Street. A related image appears to show the corner of Gertie Street at Bannatyne Avenue without the building's distinct rounded corner.


By the summer of 1958, Victoria Leather was producing over 4,000 garments a week and had begun breaking into the American market with their high-end products that sported features like mink trim and metallic leather.

In a Free Press profile that year, Jimmy Gobuty said that they would soon have to expand as they were turning away orders.


Top: May 6, 1959, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: May 6, 1959, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1959, the building and its occupants had a close call when Rosenberg lit a cigarette in his office that ignited a natural gas leak from the street out front. The blast could be heard for blocks around and pieces of broken glass were scattered 60 feet away.

Rosenberg, 65, was sent to hospital in fair condition where he spent months recovering from severe burns to his chest, face and arms. Fifteen employees in the factory section of the building were not injured.

In 1963, Rosenberg retired and moved to British Columbia. He died at Los Angeles in November 1975 at the age of 81.

http://digitalcollections.lib.umanitoba.ca/islandora/object/uofm%3A1885064
 Michael Gobuty, U of M Digital Archives

Victoria Leather was left in good hands with Jimmy Gubaty and son Michael who, according to this Bloomberg profile, began working in the receiving department in 1958.

The company continued to grow and in 1976 moved to much larger facility at 1266 Fife Street in the Inkster Industrial Park.


http://www.allcanadianemblem.com/history.htm

When Victoria Leather left, so did Standard Knitting, a tenant that had joined them in the early 1970s.

It appears the building remained vacant until 1982 when the current tenant, All Canadian Emblem Corporation, moved in. The company was created in September 1977 on Princess Street.



As for Victoria Leather, soon after their move to Fife Street they took over Squire Manufacturing Ltd, a maker of down filled outerwear, which they added to their product line. By 1979, the company's sales were $12 million.


Michael Gobuty had a passion for sports. He owned racehorses and in 1981 purchased Assiniboine Downs.

He was also president of the ownership group that bought the Winnipeg jets at the end of the 1977-78 season and brought them into the NHL in 1979. For a time, Bobby Hull was a vice president of marketing for Victoria Leather and the company released a signature line of "Bobby Hull Leatherdown" jackets.


April 30, 1982, Winnipeg Free Press

Through the late 1970s and early 1980s a recession, high interest rates and overseas competition was killing off the local garment industry. Victoria Leather felt these pressures and went into receivership in April 1982.

Jimmy Gobuty, still the company president, broke the news to workers on the floor of the factory. He wept as he told them he loved them all and vowed to do everything he could to save the company and their jobs. He couldn't.


Jimmy Gobuty died in Palm Springs, California in 1987 at the age of 71.

Michael Gobuty currently lives near Palm Springs, California.


1950s era sportswear:


 1958 high fashion with mink trim:

Part of late 1970s Bobby Hull Leatherdown Collection:

ca. 1930s, The Jewish Post