Friday, February 20, 2015

301 Burnell Street - Former Grey Goose Bus Lines Garage

Scenic Crusier
Fmr Grey Goose Bus Garage

Place: Former Grey Goose Garage (demolished)
Address: 301 Burnell Street (Map)
Date: 1920, 1944 (demolished), 1971 (demolished)
Architect: Unknown
Contractor: Unknown


Much of Burnell Street from Portage to St. Matthews Avenues did not develop until after 1910. Prior to that, it consisted of a dairy farm and pasture land for cows and horses. In 1912 Canada Bread built a large commercial bakery with a garage and stables. Houses began to appear on the east side and apartments along St. Paul Avenue, but a gap remained between number 291 and 307, possibly a remnant of pasture land.

February 7, 1920, Winnipeg Tribune

The first development on this site came in 1920 when Gray-Ogletree Motors built a 14,000 square foot, 140' x 100', car showroom, garage and service station at number 297 - 305. The company was the local dealer for Hupmobile, a line of cars founded by Robert and Louis Hupp in Detroit in 1908.

Frank A. Ogletree of Ruby Street and  Harvey L. Grey of Canora Street were both involved in other dealerships when they came together to form this new partnership. Robert Gair of Banning Street was their head mechanic.

Construction of the building was underway by June 1919 with an expected opening date of December 1. For some reason that was delayed and they had to set up temporary offices in the Somerset Building on Portage Avenue. The dealership did not open until mid-March 1920.

A factor in the delay may have been securing stock. A small item in a February 1921 edition of the Winnipeg Tribune mentions that Mr. Ogletree had just returned from Hupp plant in Detroit and was only able to get 100 cars for the 1920 model season and that customers needed to order in advance.  Whether this actually indicted production delays at the plant, or just an advertising gimmick, is unclear.

June 26, 1920, Winnipeg Tribune

When the business finally opened, the dealership also offered car storage, used car sales and a filling station.
By the end of the year the partnership had dissolved and it was known simply as Grey Motors. they alss opened a separate showroom space at Portage and Sherbrook, leaving the Burnell site as their warehouse and garage.

Gray Motors' demise came with the fall of Hupmobile Corporation in the early months of the Depression.

May 17, 1925, Winnipeg Free Press

When Grey moved its showroom to Portage Avenue, the building was subdivided.

In 1921 the north portion was home to West End Auto Livery, featuring seven passenger cars for hire. In 1922 the White Motor Company moved from their old location at 666 Portage Avenue. They sold and serviced White Trucks trucks built at the company's plant in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1931 White built an assembly plant in Montreal giving them a larger presence in the Canadian market.

In the mid 1940s White Trucks had relocated to Horace Street in Norwood.

February 4, 1939, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1940 Grey Goose Bus Lines became a tenant alongside White Trucks.

The roots of Grey Goose go back to 1924 when Jack Smith began a single bus route, using a second-hand touring car, between Winnipeg and Carman. He later sold it to Gary Lewis who, in 1929, joined forces with Elmer Clay who ran a service between Morden and Winnipeg.The duo  purchased a couple of 30-passenger buses.

In the ensuing years, other independent bus lines and rural routes were brought into the partnership and in 1934 the company was incorporated under the name Grey Goose Bus Lines with Alfred Hurshman as president and Gary Lewis as vice president. By 1937 they operated a fleet of 21 buses offering regular service throughout Manitoba as well as a charter service.

In 1944 Grey Goose built an extension to the south of the building, essentially a duplicate of the original structure.

Bus Grey Goose April 10 1962 WFP
April 10, 1962, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1961 Grey Goose was acquired by Thiessen Bus Lines.

Thiessen's story was similar to that of Grey Goose. It began in 1946 when Abaram J. Thiessen began a bus route from Gretna and Winkler  to Winnipeg. Over time, he absorbed other bus routes and companies, including Interlake Bus Lines and Transcona Bus Lines, making him a large player on the Manitoba scene. 

In 1969 the new company, Grey Goose United, purchased Manitoba Motor Transit Limited of Brandon, making it Western Canada's largest inter-urban bus company and one of the five largest in the country, with 50 buses in operation.

Grey Goose Bus Garage
In the 1950s and 2010s

In 1971 Thiessen constructed a new garage on the site of the old one. He also announced that Grey Goose United would go public, selling 220,000 shares at $2.50 each to help fund the garage, the purchase of new buses and, possibly, acquiring more companies.

Just as Grey Goose grew through a series of acquisitions and mergers, it disappeared the same way.

When the shares went on sale, Laidlaw Motorways Ltd. of Hamilton, Ontario purchased the majority of them, announcing the acquisition in August 1972. They kept the Grey Goose name and the Thiessen family as managers.

In 1997 Laidlaw purchased Greyhound Canada Ltd. and its parent company Greyhound Lines Inc., though continued to operate Grey Goose as a separate subsidiary.

Demolition of Former Grey Goose Garage - afternoon

The end for Grey Goose came in 2007 when British-based FirstGroup purchased Laidlaw's transportation assets. The following year they merged Grey Goose's operations with Greyhound at their garage in Point Douglas. The Grey Goose name disappeared and the Burnell garage was closed.

The garage, which sat on contaminated land, was difficult to sell. Non-profit groups such as the Manitoba Transit Heritage Association and Santa Claus Parade were allowed to use it as storage. Finally, in 2012, it was demolished, the land remediated, and sold.

Phase one proposal

In 2014 a group called Business Concern Canada Ltd. announced a new residential development for the site. The first phase consists of 16 duplex, townhouse-style buildings consisting of three bedroom units. A phase 2 will include another 100 units.

Construction began on phase one in February 2015. 

My Grey Goose Garage Flickr album
Switch Iron MTHA (page 4)
A.J. Thiessen Fonds Mennonite Church Archives
History of Inter-city buses in Manitoba

Public Hearing of proposal - 301 Burnell City of Winnipeg

Old Grey Goose Coach
September 15, 1939, Winnipeg Tribune

Burnell Street, Winnipeg
December 29, 1939, Winnipeg Free Press

 Former Grey Goose Garage
Interior, 1971 garage, ca. 2012

Thursday, January 22, 2015

618 Arlington Street - Northland Knitting Building / ARTlington

618 Arlington Street

Place: Northland Knitting Building / ARTlington (website)
Address: 618 Arlington Street (map)
Built: 1912, (expansion ca. 1927)
Architect: David W. F. Nichols
Contractor: F. Hinds

The Northland Knitting Company was created by brothers S. J. R. (Sam) and Thomas J. Fernie who came to Winnipeg from Buckingham, Quebec with their parents and siblings in the late 1800s.

Sam eventually became a travelling salesman with the Hudson Bay Knitting Company, eventually setting up shop as an independent seller with an office in the Kilgour Block. Around 1907 he joined forces with borther Thomas and the two created Northland Knitting at 132 Portage Avenue East.  

Things were going well for the fledgling company. Within five years they had sixty employees and took up two floors of the building, manufacturing sweaters, coats, mittens and gloves that were sold throughout the west. 

Tragedy struck when Sam died suddenly in 1911 at the age of 36. It was left to Thomas to carry out their expansion plans. 

September 5, 1912, Winnipeg Tribune

Northland purchased a piece of land on Arlington Street between Ellice and Sargent and hired architect David W. F. Nichols to design a simple, two-storey structure for them. Nichols was known to that point for his home designs, but after the Arlington project went on to apartment blocks and the Cornish Baths.

In September 1912 contractor F. Hinds took out the $20,000 building permit and the construction appears to have gone smoothly. There are no newspaper reports of an official grand opening, though by the end of the month were already using the Arlington Street address in their help wanted ads.

Soon after the new building opened, Fernie took on a right hand man named C. E. Harvey as secretary-treasurer. Born in England, Harvey came to Winnipeg with his parents while still young. His father was a businessman and he followed suit, owning a general store in Killarney, Manitoba for a while. He then became a travelling salesman with Hudson Bay Knitting, (the same firm Sam Fernie worked for prior to creating Northland.)

Harvey became Northlands' vice-president and, when Thomas Fernie retired to B.C. in 1927, took over as president.

November 16, 1929, Winnipeg Tribune

It was under Harvey that the company reached the peak of its success. 

Shorly after taking over, he expanded the building by adding two floors and invested in new equipment. One was a giant circular jacquard knitting machine with 1,880 needles capable of making 241,920 stitches per minute. Another machine produced fancy gloves from caribou, pigskin, suede and chamois, and Harvey hired a production expert from New York State to come operate it.

This new invedtment increased their production and expanded their product lines of sweaters, sweater coats, gloves and toques to include knit tubing, golf and athletic hosiery. Northland went from a regional player to selling their goods across the country.

618 Arlington (2)
618 Arlington Street, Winnipeg

The expanded building was a hive of activity. The main floor was shipping and receiving and the second floor was the stock room. The third was the knitting area with dozens of knitting machines and the fourth floor was where the pieces were sewn together, then lowered down to the stock floor.

Soon after the expanded plant opened, Harvey hosted a tour for the Young Men's Section of the Winnipeg Board of Trade. With the group was Premier John Bracken and Alderman Alfred Pulford.

Northland was one of a handful of large knitwear companies that sold its wares nationally, there were also numerous smaller firms around the the city. For some of them, the end was near as the Depression dealt them a death blow.

February 11, 1932, Winnipeg Tribune

In the early years of the Depression, Northland faced an additional crisis as Charles Harvey died in 1932 at the age of 50. He was in the company's garage one afternoon and  overcome with carbon monoxide fumes. An employee found him and he was rushed to hospital but never regained consciousness and died later that day. (Harvey was also mourned by the golfing community, for more on that see his page at the Manitoba Golf Hall of Fame.)

The company continued on until 1936 when it went into receivership and its stock and equipment sold off.

The surviving founder of the company, Thomas Fernie, died in New Westminster in January 1939.

July 12, 1941, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1939 Alpha Manufacturing, which built air conditioning and heating systems, relocated here from smaller premises on Notre Dame Avenue. In 1943 they relocated to another plant back on Notre Dame Avenue.

For the next couple of decades, it was back to clothing manufacturers. In the 1950s Echlin Manufacturing, then King Manufacturing called it home. From 1950 to 1960 Pick Overall Manufacturing, which eventually became Monarch Wear, used it. When Pick/Monarch moved, it ended 618 Arlington's fifty-year run in the clothing manufacturing business.

Old Sign
May 31, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press

Next up was National Upholstering in 1961. The company, or a previous incarnation of it,  existed in the city since 1946 on Sutherland Street, though there may have been a pause in business during the 1950s. National did upholstery work but soon expanded into furniture manufacturing and sales. They remained here until 1980, then relocated to William Avenue.

The next long term tenant brought the building closer to its roots as a knitwear factory. Ram Wools operated a retail store and warehouse here from 1981 until the mid 1990s.

Since that time it has been a retail shop and a self-storage warehouse.

 618 Arlington Street, Winnipeg
 618 Arlington (4)

The building sat vacant for a couple of years until 2010 when real estate agent John Hunsberger purchased it. He had it rezoned so that it could be converted into 33 artist's studios ranging in size from 150 to 320 square feet. The project opened in phases starting in 2011 and is called ARTlington Gallery.

The first three floors are now studios with a wide range of artists and a theatre/ dance school. In 2015 the fourth floor is being converted into a larger dance studio space. 

My photo album of 618 Arlington
Artlington Galleries Facebook Page
Artlington a secret studio The Metro (2012)
Warehouse has creative future Winnipeg Free Press

618 Arlington

618 Arlington Street, Winnipeg

618 Arlington Street

 December 1924

 December 1925

October 1926

 December 1926

December 1926

July 1930

October 17, 1936, Winnipeg Tribune

Sunday, January 11, 2015

308 Fort Street - Vendome Hotel

Vendome Hotel
Vendome Hotel
Place: Vendome Hotel
Address: 308 Fort Street (Map)
Opened: January 1899
Architect: Henry Griffith (1903 expansion)
Contractor: John Hodgins (1903 expansion) 
Cost: $14,000 (1898)

December 27, 1898, Winnipeg Tribune

The Hotel Vendome was built in 1898 at a cost of $14,000. Excavation began in June and Its liquor licence was granted in November. The hotel opened on December 17, just in time for the holidays.

The man behind the hotel was David Murray, who came with his young family and brother William from Sault Ste Marie in 1897. It is unclear whether he had a hotel background. He did hold a number of acres of property in that area and invested in property in rural Manitoba as well. His brother William was a partner in the venture and, when David's sons, William and Stewart, were old enough, they joined the management.

1922 - 23 Tribune ad

In the 1920s the Hotel Vendome, (it switched to Vendome Hotel after 1927), advertized itself as "One of the most homelike and quiet hotels" in the downtown and that was probably correct. When researching downtown hotels I come across many stories of liquor violations and crimes by owners or guests, as well as the odd fire. The Vendome has little of that. It appears to have been a quiet hotel run by a quiet family.

In its first decade or so, the hotel was associated with the 90th Winnipeg Battalion. They held a number of their annual dinners there. It was also where Joe Hall resided for a few weeks while sorting out his hockey future after the Brandon Rowing Club lost the 1904 Stanley Cup finals to the Ottawa Silver Seven.

The Vendome had a number of long term guests, sometimes Murray would host a dinner in their hoonour before moving on. One of them was scientist Reginald Buller, (also see), who founded the botany department at the University of Manitoba in 1904. He lived there for seven years, 1905 - 1913.

Winnipeg Street scene
 Vendome Hotel 1915 MB Archives Wpg-streets-fort collection Item 3 N10961
Top:: Orpheum, National, Vendome ca. 1920s (Source: Streetcar356)
Bottom: Night view ca. 1915 (Source: Archives of Manitoba)

In 1910 the Orpheum Theatre opened across the street from the Vendome. Of the vaudeville chains, the Orpheum circuit was probably the best known as it had continental reach. (Others like Pantages, for example, was mostly confined to the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Western Canada.)

The Orpheum theatre chain was part of Radio Keith Orpheum (RKO) Corporation, a theatre chain, radio network and eventually one of Hollywood's great movie studios. The best performers would graduate up from their theatre circuit to radio and film. Bob Hope, for instance, played Winnipeg's Orpheum in 1930 and moved up the RKO ladder to be a radio, then film star. In February 1923 Houdini and Jack Benny shared the theatre bill for a week.

I couldn't find stories of famous people staying at the Vendome, though I'm sure performers and crew did, which may have helped keep the hotel in business through the lean times of Prohibition and the Depression, which finished off many hotels.

From 1912 to 1926 the Victoria Theatre (later renamed the National Theatre) stood next door to the Vendome at 302 Fort Street.

May 29, 1923, Winnipeg Tribune

One of the strangest guests the hotel had came in May 1923.Charles Loeder, the night clerk, found a bear cub wandering down Portage Avenue and brought it back to the hotel. It spent the day there, had a lunch of bread, apples and a quart of milk and pint of beer before going to sleep. It was claimed that night.

December 14, 1903, Winnipeg Free Press

As for the building itself, the original architect and contractor are not mentioned in the papers, though in 1903 Murray hired architect Henry Griffith and contractor John Hodgins to build an annex to the rear, expanding its capacity by 40 rooms. A barber shop was added in 1918. In 1937 the hotel underwent extensive renovations.

The closest call the Vendome had came in December 1955 when the five-storey Huron and Erie building on Portage Avenue at Fort Street, backing onto the hotel, was destroyed by fire. It was the night clerk at the hotel who first noticed the fire and summoned the fire department. The 30 or so guests, including four boys curling teams from rural Manitoba, were evacuated. The hotel suffered water damage, but little else.

October 17, 1921, Winnipeg Tribune

David Murray died in 1920. Of his sons William and Stewart, the latter took over the running of the establishment. Stewart died in 1945.

In the early 1950s Shea's Brewery, (which was soon taken over by Labatt's), bought the hotel. Breweries got into the hotel business reluctantly in the 1930s as hotel owners that owed them money simply walked away from their establishments. Shea's, then Labatt's, eventually embraced this new revenue stream. 

In 1964 when the brewery was divesting itself of its hotel holdings, the Vendome, like some other Labatt properties, became part of the Gordon Hotel chain.

Top: December26, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press
Below: October 26, 1971

Gordon Hotels was known for its live music venues and the Vendome's bar was renovated and rechristened the "Gay 90's", (a reference to the Klondike gold rush.) They sold the hotel in 1977.

In the late 1980s the bar became one of Winnipeg's first sports bars. Hotel owner Ray Dudar, manager Ed Romanik and former Blue Bombers Joe Poplawski and Dan Huclack teamed up to create Bleachers Sports Bar.

My Vendome Hotel photo album on Flickr