Sunday, June 25, 2017

394 Academy Road - Uptown Theatre / Uptown Academy Lanes

© 2011 and 2017, Christian Cassidy

Academy Uptown Lanes

Place: Uptown Theatre / Uptown Academy Lanes
Address: 394 Academy Road (Map)
Opened: December 24, 1931
Architect: M. Z. Blankstein 
Cost: $175,000

Selkirk Avenue, Winnipeg
Roxy Lanes Former Rose Theatre
Uptown's sisters: the Palace on Selkirk Avenue; the Rose on Sargent Avenue and the Roxy on Henderson Highway.

Allied Amusements Ltd. was created in 1912 by Jack Miles to run a single theatre, The Palace on Selkirk Avenue. By the end of the 1920s it had become a chain of four with the addition of The Roxy (on Henderson), The Rose (on Sargent), and The Plaza (on Marion at Tache).

The company's fifth theatre on Academy Road would be their most unique and most controversial.

May 8, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

Allied had acquired three lots on Academy Road to build a new, $50,000 theatre for River Heights. Late in their planning stages, however, they managed to purchase a fourth lot on Ash Street.

The company went before city council in May 1930 to ask for a zoning change to allow them to incorporate the residential lot on Ash Street into their plans so that they could create the "largest and finest neighbourhood theatre" in Canada. They vowed the cost of the new building would triple their original permit.

The application was controversial and opposed by residents who feared noise and parking issues.

August 29, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

After a few months with no decision from the city, the company pushed the issue in August 1930 by clearing all four lots and doing the preparation work for a foundation. The safety committee warned them not to build anything that came above ground level until a decision was made.

On August 28, 1930, the zoning committee finally heard the application. A Tribune reporter anticipated that it would be "something of a field day."

Both the company and residents presented their cases. Rather than imposing a ruling, however, the committee sent everyone away with the instruction to try to work things out themselves and come back at a later date.

By December, there was a breakthrough. The company agreed to a shallower footprint on the Ash Street lot and to provide a parking lot at the south-east corner or Academy Road and Waterloo Street. In return, a "reasonable majority" of residents signed a petition in favour of the new building.

In January 1931, Allied Amusements took out at additional $76,000 building permit for the larger structure, bringing the total permit value to $136,000. (The final cost, including furnishings, was estimated to be about $175,000.)

Academy Uptown Lanes Academy Uptown Lanes

It was now up to architect M. Z. Blankstein, who had worked on a number of city theatres, to deliver something unique.

The exterior was designed to resemble a Mediterranean villa with wrought iron balconies, a colourful stucco finish and a red tile roof. The roof line, though, was that of an Islamic mosque.

The exotic exterior was brought inside as patrons were meant to feel as if they were seated outdoors in the square of a Moorish village. The theatre hall's walls included reliefs of village buildings overlooking the 'square'.

The ceiling was painted blue with twinkling stars inserted into the plaster. Images of moving clouds were projected onto it to add to the outdoor feel.

Lighting came from 16 spotlights placed around the periphery of the hall rather than chandeliers so as not to ruin the outdoor effect.

(For a more detailed description of the building’s interior see the
City of Winnipeg Historic Building’s Report.)

Uptown's interior, December 24, 1931, Winnipeg Free Press

Though meant to feel open air, patrons inside were certainly not roughing it.

The interior included a large, well furnished lobby area. Plush carpeting ran throughout the building.

The seats, 1,200 on the main floor and just over 400 on the balcony, were mohair–backed with leather bottoms stuffed with horsehair for a feeling of luxury. The front row of the balcony and the loges had 'chesterfield style' seating.

Safety, of course, was a key selling feature of any theatre of the day.

The Uptown had a state-of-the-art ventilation system and boasted a wood-free hall, (brick with metal lath was used instead). They were also the ‘first in the Dominion’ to use an Orthokrome screen “
…said to adhere all the red light rays reputed to be harmful to the eyes” (Winnipeg Free Press, December 24, 1931).

October 6, 1931. Winnipeg Free Press

To name the theatre, Allied held an essay contest that ran in both the Free Press and Tribune. The winner would receive a Northern Electric radio and had their essay published in the paper.

Some 30,000 entries were submitted, (this was the depression after all!) and the management chose their favourite: The Uptown. It turned out that there were 39 essays that suggested Uptown, so no one winning entry was singled out. (I'm not sure if this meant that 39 radios were provided, though the Free Press did print a series of the essays).

On October 5, 1931, the winning name was announced on the stage of the Roxy Theatre.

Top: December 25, 1931, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: J. Miles and D. Gauld

On Christmas Eve 1931, Mayor Webb presided over the opening ceremony that included Mr. J. Miles, president of the theatre chain and Donald Gauld, formerly the manager of the Roxy and the Uptown's first manager.

It does not appear that architect Blankstein was present. He died just one week after the opening.

The ceremony was followed by a newsreel, a movie short and the feature The Brat, starrting Sally O’Neill and Frank Albertson.

ca. 1945, Winnipeg Tribune

February 27, 1941, Winnipeg Tribune

The theatre was built as a movie house with a small stage area that was too shallow for most types of of live events. These were hard times, though, and the Uptown had to fill as many seats as possible. Small stage performances, including lectures, recitals, fundraising concerts became a regular part of the schedule.

The Uptown mainly showed the second run of top films, often as a double bill. An exception to this came in the early 1940s with a partnership with Famous Players known as 'Sneak Peak Thursdays'. Dozens of first run films premiered here before they opened downtown the following night.

Saturday afternoons remained a mix of Westerns and cartoons.

Top: Demolition of the Uptown Theatre's interior (source)
Bottom: May 14, 1960. Winnipeg Free Press

The rising popularity of television spelled the end of neighbourhood theatres.
A number of chains faltered and their theatres were sold off for demolition or to be converted to other uses.

The Roxy and Uptown were now part of the Western Theatre chain, co-owned by J. Miles. They hung on longer than some. In 1960, it was announced that both would be converted into into bowling alleys.

n Sunday, May 15, 1960 the Uptown held a farewell afternoon with a free feature and six cartoons.

September 29, 1960. Winnipeg Free Press

On September 29, 1960, Uptown Bowling Lanes opened as Winnipeg's largest with 30 Brunswick lanes, Winnipeg's largest. On October 21, 1960, an official opening ceremony was held featuring 'Cactus' Jack Wells as emcee and a fashion show of the latest bowling attire.

March 14, 1983, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1982, Brian Britton leased the bowling alley from Allied, which by then known as Miles Enterprises.

One year later, history repeated itself when Miles Enterprises tried to redevelop the parking lot at Academy and Waterloo into a strip mall. Long-time residents pointed to the 1931 agreement that the parking lot be built as a condition for rezoning the land for the theatre.

David Miles argued that the parking requirements for the old 1,500-plus seat theatre and the bowling alley were not comparable. The city noted that a 1944 rezoning change to the property had cancelled the need for the parking lot to be in place,a anyways. The strip mall was built.

December 12, 1985, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1985, Miles Enterprises applied to the city to demolish the Academy Lanes building arguing that its heritage designation was the same as "expropriation without compensation." David Miles claimed that the building was economically marginal at best and that the only option was to demolish the existing building for a modern commercial strip mall.

The move met opposition from some residents and heritage advocates.

It was a back and forth fight that saw the city uphold, then remove, then uphold again the building's heritage status. In the end, Miles was permitted to add a small, two storey addition to the side of the building.

The Britton family continues to run Uptown Academy Lanes.

In June 2017 it was announced that a new lease agreement could not be reached with the building's owners and that it will close on July 18th, 2017.

394 Academy Road Historic Buildings Committee

First movie ad: December 24, 1931, Winnipeg Free Press
Bowling ad: September 8, 1961, Winnipeg Tribune

Sunday, June 4, 2017

711 Erin Street - Moore Business Forms (R.I.P.)

© 2017, Christian Cassidy
In 2017 and in September 18, 1944 Winnipeg Tribune

Place: Moore Business Forms building
Address: 711 Erin Street (Map)
Opened: September 18, 1944
Architect: Mathers and Haldenby (Toronto) and Green Blankstein Russell and Ham (GBR) (Winnipeg)
Contractor: Bird Construction Company
Cost: $300,000

Samuel Moore began working in the Toronto printing industry as a child in the 1870s. One of his employers was Grip, created in 1873 to print a weekly magazine of the same name. In 1882, Moore left Grip to found his own printing company, Moore Corporation.

He soon bought the patent for a carbon copy sales book and created the Paragon Black Leaf Counter Check Book Company. The Paragon division was a great success and introduced Moore's companies into markets throughout North America.

As time went on the company grew, often by acquisition of other printing companies and machine manufacturers.

September 1927 ad

One of those companies was Western Sales Book Ltd. of Winnipeg. Founded in 1916, it was bought out by Moore Corporation in 1920. In 1927, the company purchased the B.C. Sales Book Co. giving them a Vancouver presence.

In 1928, seven of Moore's subsidiaries were combined under the corporate umbrella of Moore Business Forms Ltd., though they continued to use their own trade names until the 1950s. 

Western Sales Book Ltd. printed and manufactured equipment for continuous business forms, receipt books and carbon paper.

In 1944, Western Sales Book Ltd. took out a $238,000 building permit for a new printing plant at 711 Erin Street. It was one of the largest construction projects in the city since the start of World War II.

The original 36,000 square foot building was constructed of steel with an exterior of Radcliffe brick and Tyndall stone trim. By the time it was equipped inside the total cost was about $300,000.

The building's footprint was long enough so that the manufacturing process for their most complicated projects could be done in one straight line; from raw material in at one end to good packaged for shipment out at the other.  The start of the process were the spools of paper delivered via a railway spur line that once ran along the back of the building.

September 18, 1944 Winnipeg Tribune

The building offered a number of features that made it a leader in its day for the safety and well-being of employees.

The windows of the plant opened inwards but at an angle so that even on rainy days they could remain open to bring in fresh air. A "saw tooth" roof designed allowed a number of north-facing windows to be installed to provide natural light to supplement the fluorescent fixtures. (One of the "teeth" can be seen to the right of this photo.)

There was also a forced air system to remove stale air. In the carbon paper manufacturing area, for instance, the air in the room was replaced every three minutes.

Employees also enjoyed a lunch room with full kitchen, men's and women's lounges, and a shower area.

One man who saw the transformation of the company was R. G. Reginald Govan.

He joined Western in 1923, soon after its takeover. By the time the new headquarters was built he was General Manager. In the 1950s he was appointed Vice president of Moore Business Forms and served with both titles until his retirement in 1963.

The building was expanded to the north in 1957 to add more warehouse and shipping space. At its peak about 150 people worked at the plant.

In 2003, Moore merged with Wallace Computer Services of the U.S. to become MooreWallace and it was expected that the Winnipeg plant's days were numbered. Less than a year later, MooreWallace and mapmaker R.R. Donnelley and Sons of Chicago merged into a company is known as RR Donnelley, which kept a Canadian division.

Just two weeks after the second merger, on December 3, 2003, it was announced that the Winnipeg plant would close on December 12, 2003. The forty employees lost their jobs less than two weeks before Christmas.

In recent years it has been used by Cascades Containerboard Packaging, formerly Norampac, for the manufacture of cardboard boxes and related items.

The building will be demolished in June 2017.

1957 American newspaper ad

For more photos of 711 Erin Street.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

70 Lansdowne Avenue - Reid and Reed Market / Jumbo Foods

© 2017, Christian Cassidy,-97.116681,3a,75y,227.43h,89.92t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sqaIuWJ4WQSgG4IHCdNY_9g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
Top: May 14, 2017
Bottom: Ca. 2015, Google Street View

Place: Reed and Reid market / Jumbo Foods
Address: 70 Lansdowne Avenue (Map)
Constructed: ca. 1909
Architect: Unknown

January 29, 1912, Winnipeg Free Press

The building first appears in the Henderson Directory of 1909 as home to Isaac Madnitzky, grocer. Hyman B Goldstein and William Goldstein, a carpenter, lived in the house at the back.

by 1911, Annie Arkin is listed as the live-in proprietor.

The first longer-term owner came in 1912 with Edmund Hunt, a shoemaker, who both lived and operated his shop from here. The Hunts also took in lodgers, that first year they included Edmund Moran, an Eaton’s clerk, and C. Stacey, a streetcar conductor. 

Hunt called this address home until around 1917 when he moved to Inskster Boulevard and the store appears to have closed. 

There is no listing for this address from 1918 – 1920 but in 1921 it reopened under a series of short term owners: 1921 - Smith and Kaulfold Meat Market; 1922 - Philip and Retson Grocery; 1923 - H. A. Sorenson Grocers; 1925 - R. Fisher Grocery and Meats. 

Fisher, who lived at 77 Inkster Boulevard, changed the name of the store in 1926 to Smithfield Market, which was the name of a large commercial meat market in London.

Top: March 21, 1927, Winnipeg Tribune
Middle: September 29, 1936, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom:  October 18, 1941, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1927, two new owners stepped in They were Joseph Reid of 77 McAdam Avenue and Charles Reed of 155 Inkster Boulevard.

In Henderson Directories, the building continued to be listed as Smithfield Market through the 1930s. In newspapers, though, the men went by Reid and Reed Market.

John A. Stalker of 143 Luxton Avenue was their long-time meat clerk.

The store had a quiet existence during its Reid and Reed period. There were no robberies or fires, just a break-in in 1937 when thieves stole some tobacco.

Ad, December 1919

Joseph Reid was the elder of the business partners.

Born around 1886 in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, he came to Winnipeg in 1900 and shortly after began working in the grocery business for the W. H. Stone Co. 

Stone started his grocery business in 1887. By 1911, he had expanded his original store at Main and Atlantic and added another one at Main and Bannerman. By 1919, there was a third location on Corydon Avenue. 

Joseph's wife, Jemima, came to Winnipeg from Caven, Ireland, around 1912. After they married, they settled at 77 McAdam Avenue and had at least three children: Myra, William and Joseph. 

The Reids were heavily involved in St. John’s Anglican Cathedral

Jemima died in 1939 and Joseph died on June 3, 1950, at the age of 64.

April 29, 1921, Winnipeg Tribune

Charles Reed was born in Dublin, Ireland and came to Canada in 1912 at the age of ten. The family settled at 155 Inkster Boulevard.

In 1921, Reed's father committed suicide in the Red River after, it seems, he was in the early stages of dementia. He left a note for the family, wife Mary and six children, asking their forgiveness, but he did not want them to see him deteriorate.

Charles stayed living at the family home with his mother even after marrying Catherine Matheson and having children of their own. (Another son, George, also remained at the family home and also married a Matheson.)

On March 29, 1937, Charles and Catherine became parents to premature twin daughters. Sadly, it appears both died shortly after birth. In April 23, 1941, they had another daughter, Evelyn, who survived.

The Reeds were very involved in St. John’s Anglican Cathedral.

Charles continued to run the business after the death of Reid until his retirement in 1961. He died at the family home in 1973 at the age of 71.

In 1961, the store was sold to Franciszek (Frank) and Krystyna Partyka who changed the name to F P Foods.

The following year, he had the old living quarters demolished and a new, 20' x 35', two-storey addition was added. Here, the family would raise their six children.

Frank was born and raised in Poland but fled the country during World War II. While travelling Europe to escape Nazi rule, he met and married Krystyna, also from Poland.

In 1947, he came to Manitoba with Krystyna's oldest brother. Frank first worked on farms, in the pulp and paper industry, and then in a foundry in Winnipeg before feeling settled enough to send for his wife.

The Partykas retired in 1979, the same year Mrs. Partyka became ill and died of cancer. Frank died on November 3, 2001.

The name F P Food Market carried on through the 1980s under the Ayon family from the Philippines.

Through the 2000s the store was known as Jumbo Foods.

The store and living quarters were sold in September 2016 and are undergoing exterior renovations.

It was during these renovations that the above signage was revealed. Given the five digit phone number, the painted signs could date anywhere from the late 1920s to mid 1940s.

In a recent news story, the owner told CTV that he will be having the sign cut from the front of the building and mounted on the St. Cross elevation as part of the renovations.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

175 Donald Street - Lonely House (Demolished)

© 2017, Christian Cassidy,-97.141479,3a,90y,76.11h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sQTdql3VUXsLrOJh3_eaL0g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
Lonely House
Top: ca 2014, Google Street View 
Bottom two: ca. 2017, C. Cassidy

Place: Canadian Chamois Co.
Address: 175 Donald Street (Map)
Constructed: Ca. 1895
Architect: Unknown

On the weekend of May 9, 2015, the former "lonely house" at 175 Donald Street was demolished. It was one of the last remnants of central downtown's residential past. 

Here is a look back at its history before it fades from memory....

Ad, circa 1906

The house first appears in the Henderson Directory in 1896 as home to W. G. McMahon and family. He was the manager of the Winnipeg sales office of the W. M. Buck Stove Company located at 246 McDermot Avenue. 

I believe this is the same McMahon who went on to be a prominent local businessman. His McMahon Ltd. was the Western Canadian agent for numerous construction-related products. When he died in 1932, the family was living in much nicer digs: McMahon House at 9 Middle Gate.

The McMahons moved out of 175 Donald Street in late 1899 or early 1900.

Ad, circa 1904

It appears the property was then divided into two living spaces and had a quick succession of owners, none staying for more than a year. One resident was physician Correli C. Field who both lived and practised there from 1903 to 1904.

In 1905, John E. Holland moved in. He was a manager of the newly-established Winnipeg plant of J. C. Wilson Ltd, a Montreal-based paper company specializing in toilet paper, wrapping and paper bags. 

Holland emigrated from Gloucester, England to the Montreal area as a child with his family. As a young man, he got a job with J. C. Wilson, married Catherine and had three children: Lillian, George and John. 

When the company wanted to open a Winnipeg plant, the 20-year company veteran was chosen to run it. 

One son, John, died in 1916. George became a bank teller for the Bank of Montreal, eventually transferring to Saskatoon. 

Holland and his wife stayed at this address until 1924 when ill health forced him into retirement. A couple of years later, the couple relocated to the Albany Apartments on Edmonton Street where Holland died in 1932.

June 18, 1934, Winnipeg Tribune

In the late 1920s and 1930s the house went back to being a duplex. 

Tragedy struck one of the families living there, the Dorans, in 1934 when their 11-year old son drowned in the Red River near the Norwood Bridge while swimming with friends. 

They had a scare with another son, 16-year-old Willis, two years later.  

He was working at the gas station at Donald Street and St. Mary's Avenue, half a block from his house, on the night of January 24, 1936. An armed robber approached him on the lot, threatened him and discharged his revolver into the ground. 

He then loaded Willis and another employee into the building and demanded money. When he was informed that there was none, he aimed the gun at them and pulled the trigger twice. The gun did not go off. 

The robber fled with about thirty cents but police were already in pursuit. In the foot chase, Constable Charles Gillis was shot and died a couple of weeks later in hospital.  

The robber, Ian Bryson, was found guilty of murder and hanged.

Ad, circa 1948

After the war, the residential fortunes of the downtown began to change as people moved to newly developed suburbs. In 1948, this house started a new chapter a commercial building. 

From 1948 to 1960, it was home to W. J. Schadek and Co. Realty, which rented out the upstairs suite, usually to pensioners.

Around Downtown

The president of W. J. Schadek and Company was Rubin Pinsky. 

Pinsky was born in present day Belarus, then Poland, in 1925. As a teenager, he was studying to be a rabbi when his town was taken over by the Nazis. Most of his immediate family were murdered and he fled to the forest where he lived rough for two years. 

After the war, he spent three years in a displaced persons camp until coming to Canada in 1949. 

Pinsky attended seminary school in Montreal before coming to Winnipeg in 1951 to teach at the Peretz school. That same year he married Jenny Moser. 

Later that decade he left teaching and started a number of companies, including taking over  W. J. Schadek and Company.

Pinksy soon changed the name of the real estate company to R and H Agencies and created the Canadian Chamois Company. (It is not likely that this company is related to the Canadian Chamois Co. that operated in Elmwood in the late 1920s and early 1930s.) 

It does not appear that the company produced chamois, but rather produced or distributed products made from the material, including cloths and wash mitts. They also distributed sponges. 

In 1970, Rubin bought a hotel in Regina then retired to Vancouver in 1977. 

It is unclear what happened to the company. Newspaper mentions of it disappear in the 1970s.  The last mention of the address in the Free Press comes in a 1981 classified ad seeking part-time bookkeeping help. It did not specify what company it was for.

Lonely House .. gone

The home had been boarded up for at least a decade when it was demolished in 2015. In summer 2017, it remains a vacant lot.

My Flickr album of 175 Donald Street

Other Lonely Houses:
130 Fort Street 
88 Adelaide Street
425 Graham Avenue
44 Albert Street (Demolished)