Friday, July 17, 2020

600 Sargent Avenue - Safeway

Address: 600 Sargent Avenue (Map)
Architect: Safeway Ltd.
Contractor: Unknown
Built: 1965

The intersection of Sargent Avenue and Sherbrook Street has been home to a Safeway store ever since the retailer first came to Winnipeg in 1929.

On June 9, 2020, Empire Company Limited announced that the Safeway at 600 Sargent Avenue will close in September 2020 and reopen in spring 2021 under its discount FreshCo banner.

Here is a look back at the history of Safeway at this corner.

577 Sargent Avenue

Safeway first came to Winnipeg in 1929 and opened numerous small neighbourhood stores throughout the West End. The original "Sargent and Sherbrook" store was located across the street at 577 Sargent Avenue and still stands today.

Every decade or so, Safeway introduced a new and larger concept store to replace those from the previous generation. In the West End, where vacant land was scarce and all of the buildings were relatively new, built at the earliest between 1905 to 1910, many of these original neighbourhood stores stuck around for a long time. This was the case with 577 Sargent Avenue.

It was announced in February 1960 that a new store with a large parking lot was to be built at 600 Sargent Avenue and take up the block between Maryland and Sherbrook streets. A number of buildings would have to be demolished before construction got underway.  

Eight houses on Sherbrook Street, numbered 560 - 584, and eight more on Maryland Street, numbered 555-577, were taken down. 

Several commercial buildings along Sargent Avenue, numbered 588 to 608, also had to make way. They included: a Royal Bank (later rebuilt), British Columbia Packers (fish canners), Sargent Barber Shop and Lavergne TV service (which shared the same address), Dr. Cecil McLeod (a dentist), and White’s Esso Service.

Safeway's "ranch style" stores

The new Sargent Avenue store and the one on River Avenue in Osborne Village would the first Winnipeg incarnations of Safeway's newest concept store known as the "ranch style".

The ranch style was rolled out in California the late 1950s. It was meant to mimic the architectural style of post-war suburban homes with its facade of glass, pitched roof and exposed timbers. Inside, the stores were bright, airy and very big. This was Safeway's biggest concept store yet at 18,000 square feet. (Compare that to the measly 2,500 square feet of its 1929 concept stores.)

One of the most important aspects of these new generation stores was not even part of the building - it was the parking lot.

Safeway's original stores had no parking at all and could be shoehorned into the middle of a block. Their 1940s and 1950s concept stores were usually built at the end of a block so that a small parking area could be provided

By the late 1950s, the car was becoming king as thousands of people drove from their new suburban homes to and from downtown to work each day. It was important for stores to have large, easily accessible parking lots outside their front doors and be situated on the side of the street that would capture people leaving downtown at the end of the work day.

September 27, 1960, Winnipeg Tribune

Construction on the River and Osborne store started in early May and construction at Sargent and Maryland began around June 1. Each store was expected to cost around $350,000.

On Wednesday, September 28, 1965 at 9:30 a.m., the store opened to the public. The management team that greeted them were all Safeway veterans. Al Wietzel was the store manager, Jim Brownrigg the produce manager and Walter Kostiuk the meat manager. 

The opening of the new store meant the closure of four neighbourhood stores at 781 Sargent Avenue, 577 Sargent Avenue, 615 Ellice Avenue and Beverley at Notre Dame.

Evidence of where the store was expanded ca. 1983

The store underwent an expansion in 1983. That July, it had to seek a zoning variance to "Permit the construction of an addition to an existing non-conforming building that included additional parking and a leading bay on the west side."

The application didn't shed any details on the expansion to the building itself, but looking at the rear and side of the store today shows evidence of a new front (north) portion and an expansion to the east.

In 2008, a $600,000 building permit was issued to upgrade the store's interior to its new "lifestyle store" format.

September 27, 1960, Winnipeg Tribune


Press release Empire Company Ltd.
Four new FreshCo stores coming to Winnipeg CTV
FreshCo conversions UFCW Local 832
Also see my very outdated Safeway in Winnipeg series from 2010.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

1315 Strathcona Street - Clifton Community Centre

© 2020, Christian Cassidy
Place: Clifton Community Centre
Address: 1315 Strathcona Street (Map)
Opened: By March 1956

The creation of a small community club just blocks from the city limits would normally receive little media attention. That is not the case with Clifton. It made front page news numerous times in the summer and fall of 1955 caught in a land swap "fiasco".

Clifton site ca. 1953 (City of Winnipeg Archives)

In 1953, Strathcona Street was extended one block north from Wellington Avenue to Richard Avenue. Around $17,500 was spent by the city to install a hydro line and network of water mains in preparation for future suburban development. The block ran adjacent to one of the city's old ash dumps that was in the process of being decommissioned and would be developed into Westview Park, better known as "Garbage Hill", in 1960.

The following year, on October 27, 1954, ratepayers voted in favour of a $300,000 recreation bylaw. Included in its laundry list of projects was $30,900 to create a community club on Strathcona Street at Wellington Avenue that would include facilities for field sports, hockey and a wading pool.

February 2, 1955, Winnipeg Tribune

The organizing meeting for this new community club took place at Clifton School on February 7, 1955. George Robson was elected president and alderman Lillian Hallonquist was named honourary president. The club's ladies auxiliary was formed in early April with Mrs. G. McMullin as president, Mrs. J Rettie as vice-president, Mrs S. Craig as secretary and Mrs. R Dudley the treasurer.

Why the board choose the name "Clifton" when the centre would be located blocks away from Clifton Street and Clifton School is a bit of a mystery as neither local paper reported on the founding meeting. There are a few possible reasons, though none explain it completely. (See "Why Clifton?" below.)

Lillian Hallonquist, a long-time alderman in Ward Two, was rewarded with the title "honourary president" as she had convinced her colleagues on the property committee to transfer this block of land to the parks board for the new club.

It wasn't until around April 1955 when the transfer made it to the council level for final approval that it was pointed out that the $17,500 in improvements were now worthless and had to be removed so that the centre could be built.

The "Strathcona fiasco", as it was dubbed in the papers, centred on which committee would reimburse the city for the cost of those improvements. Many aldermen, particularity those on the finance committee, were determined not to have it come out of the city's general budget.

The property committee said its department wouldn't pay as it had only done what the parks board requested of them. The parks board claimed it was led to believe that the only work it would have to do to the site was remove some fire hydrants and a retention basin at a cost of about $500. For her part, Hallonquist pleaded ignorance saying that the only reason why she pushed for the transfer of land was because she saw it sitting there with nothing on it and thought it would make a nice site for a community club.

In August, council decided that the parks board would have to reimburse the city out of its budget. The board claimed it did not have the money as its budget for the year was already allotted and that it was actually running a small deficit. A stalemate ensued.

Top: August 6,, 1955, Winnipeg Tribune.
Bottom: August 31, 1955, Winnipeg Free Press

While this was all taking place at the council level, the board of the community club was faced with another problem.

It has raised $450 to purchase a surplus barracks building from the airport and had it delivered to the site in July. A tender had even been issued to dig the foundation and make improvements to the structure. It sat partially disassembled at the site for months as the parks board did not yet own the land or have permission to build on it.

After more meetings at city hall, some which ended in yelling matches and aldermen storming out of meeting rooms, the matter still was not resolved. At its September 28, 1955 parks board meeting Alderman G. P. Macleod moved "that we go ahead with the Clifton Community Club project and let the chips fall where they may."

On October 8, 1955, the sod was turned for the construction of the foundation. In attendance were George Robson, president of the club, and Vernon Israels and Walter Soles of the membership committee. Newspaper articles made no mention of any city officials being there.

Construction was expected to have finished by November 20, but ran a couple of weeks behind schedule. Vandals broke all of its windows in the first week of December which pushed its opening back even further.
Clifton site ca. 1955 (City of Winnipeg Archives)

It is unclear when the community club opened as any formal ceremony that may have taken place was not covered by either newspaper. The first mention in the media of an event taking place at Clifton was a 'booster day" on March 17, 1956.

The "Strathcona fiasco" died out of the news in October 1955 after the parks board coughed up nearly $10,000 to have the water lines and hydrants removed so that the foundation and sports fields could be built. It couldn't cover the cost of removing the hydro line and the parks board tried in 1957 to have the city to pay for it out of general revenue, but it was cut from the budget. It is unclear when it was finally removed.

In July 1956, the city agreed to close off Strathcona Street at Wellington to provide the club with the extra space it needed to erect out buildings and a playground area. The wading pool was finally installed in the summer of 1957.

It seems any animosity about the site was forgotten by June 1958 as Clifton was the backdrop for the official opening of the city's summer playground program that saw a staff of 50 provide services at 48 playground sites across the city under the slogan "Off the Streets and Onto the Playgrounds". In attendance was Mayor Juba, Charles Barbour, director of recreation, and Margaret Wilson, senior recreation supervisor.

The club was a hit right off the bat. For its April 1957 annual meting the club had to put out a special appeal for more residents to come be part of the club due to the large number of attendees it was seeing. Over the winter it was estimated that around 250 kids used the club building each week.

In June 1988, work began on a major expansion of the centre that added a gym, meeting and crafts rooms, dressing rooms and a canteen. The $659,000 cost was made up of  $50,000 from club, $75,000 from the province and $534,000 from the city.

The newly expanded facility, like all community clubs was now called a community centre, re-opened on May 31, 1989.

In July 2004, the city's Public Use Facilities Study (PUFS) report was released. It made a number of recommendations regarding recreation facilities in the West End, including an expansion of the Sargent Park Recreation Centre, (now Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex), a possible new recreation centre around Portage and Sherbrook, (which did not happen), and the closure of the Orioles' wading pool, (which did happen). Most importantly for Clifton, it recommended that the three West End community centres be amalgamated under one entity.

Amalgamation talks began in early 2006 between Isaac Brock CC (catchment area 5,050), Clifton CC (catchment area 4,820), and Orioles CC (catchment area 13,855) in 2006. An agreement was finalized in December that would create the "Valour Community Centre" to be based out of the Isaac Brock site and run the other two as satellite centres.

In its 2009 annual report, the the General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres noted "The Isaac Brock and Clifton sites both serve one neighbourhood each, Minto and Sargent Park respectively, and split the Polo Park area between them. Orioles serves St. Matthews, Spence, and a portion of the Daniel McIntyre neighbourhood."

Clifton Community Centre was rechristened Valour Community Center - Clifton Site.

Why "Clifton" Community Club?

So, why was the community club named "Clifton" when it is blocks from Clifton Street or at Clifton School. There are a few possible reasons, though none seem to explain it completely.

October 16, 1954, Winnipeg Tribune

One possibility is that in the recreation master plan it was expected that the club would go on Clifton Street, perhaps adjacent to the new Clifton School that opened in November 1950.

Where this explanation falls short is that even if "Clifton" was once the working name for the club, it is clear from articles and ads published prior to the October 1954 recreation referendum that the Strathcona site was already in play. As of February 1955, when the club's founding meeting took place, the new board likely had no idea of the coming storm that would put the site in jeopardy.

Clifton was chosen with full knowledge that it would not be on Clifton.

1906 Henderson Directory

Another possibility is a deep desire to name it after "Clifton", whoever or wherever that was. (I can find no record of what the original source of the name Clifton refers to.)

In West End terms, Clifton is an old street. It was created in 1893 when Munroe Avenue and Clifton Avenue, likely just dirt lanes leading to farms or dairy pastures, were merged into a single Clifton Street. Surveying streets into suburban lots didn't start in the West End until around 1904 and would have taken four or five years to come this far west.

The street doesn't even appear in street directories until the early 1900s. The 1906 Henderson Street Directory, for instance, shows just two dwellings on Clifton from Portage to Wellington. There is a cluster of five residents around Wellington, two were "dairymen" and three worked for the oil storage facility once located there.

It seems unlikely that someone would have remembered what Clifton was named after 60-plus years later and felt so strongly about it that the club had to be named after it / them. (In fact, Donald Smith / Lord Strathcona, one-time chief shareholder of the HBC, the Manitoba Free Press and other corporate entities, seems a likely choice to want to name a club for.)

June 22, 1911, Winnipeg Tribune

Another possibility is that the site was named Clifton for an existing sports entity.

When Charlie Barbour was hired away from Montreal to become Winnipeg's first recreation director in 1946, one of his first jobs was to create an evenly distributed network of city-funded community clubs. Prior to this, recreation services was a hodge-podge of athletic clubs and community centres run by service organizations, religious groups, and private boards. To do this quickly, and not to put noses out of joint, he started by approaching existing groups to ask if they would like to transition their centres into one of these new city clubs.

Many did, including the Isaac Brock Community Club, (established in 1919), Sir John Franklin Community Club, (established in 1922), and Orioles Community Club, (established in 1936 as the West End Orioles Athletic Club). All kept at least part of their names in the transition as a nod to their history.

There was a Clifton Amateur Athletic Club that existed in 1911, but it appears to have lasted just a year or so.

The "Clifton Playground", likely located at the old Clifton School, entered teams in what was known as the "City Playground Hockey League" in the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1942, for instance, the league was sponsored by the young men's section of the Winnipeg Board of Trade and the city's playground committee. There were 23 teams in the league, each named after the street that the outdoor city rink they played at was located on.

Some Manitoba Hockey Hall of Famers, such as Reg Abbott and Ken Reardon, mention having played hockey around this time at "Clifton Community Club", though the site was not actually called that at the time. (Clifton won the city championship in the early 1930s.)

Perhaps one or more of the movers and shakers behind the establishment of the Clifton Community Club were involved as a volunteers or coaches and wanted to maintain a nod to the Clifton Playground's hockey days?

If you have another theory, please let me know !

Also see:
A History of Orioles Community Centre

What is the city's oldest community centre? (Still to come)
A City at Leisure - Catherine Macdonald (PDF)

Monday, June 1, 2020

730 Osborne Street - Park Alleys

Place: Park Alleys (website)
Address: 730 Osborne Street
Opened: 1947
Size: 5,760 square feet
Architect: unknown

It was announced on May 29, 2020 that Park Alleys has a new owner with plans to revitalize the space. That's a great excuse to look back at its history !

May 10, 1947, Winnipeg Tribune

The early history of Park Alleys is a bit of a mystery. (If you can share information or photos, please feel free to contact me!)

On December 3, 1946, the Free Press reported that at that a council committee meeting: "Permission was granted for the operation of another bowling alley at 730 Osborne Street." It was one of at least three bowling alley permits applications heard that year. The property does not appear to have had a rezoning hearing, so information about the applicant was not noted.

There is no mention in either daily newspaper of a building permit issued, the construction, or even the grand opening of the business. The first mention of "Park Alleys" was in a series of classified ads that ran in early May inviting patrons to come have fun and the eight-lane, 5-pin venue.

According to the Henderson street directory the first proprietors were George and Rene Giguere, followed the next year by Orville McInnes.

December 28, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1949, Allott Wellington Bradshaw, who also went by Welly or Brad, purchased Park Alleys and put it on the map.

Bradshaw admitted he bought the business simply as a commercial venture but soon developed a passion for the game. Within a couple of years, Park Lanes was regularly mentioned in the the bowling section of the local papers and Welly had become a skilled amateur bowler.

By 1951, it entered teams in local tournaments under the name "Park House" and began winning titles.

Where Bradshaw truly made his mark was introducing young people to the game.

Park Alleys became a hot spot for child and youth bowling and Bradshaw a respected coach. In 1951, the alleys fielded competitive teams called the Kittens (ages 8-13), Kit Kats (ages 14-16) and All Stars (ages17-20) in tournaments around the city. He was also secretary of the U of M's new bowling league.

Melinda McCracken's wrote the 1975 book Memories are Made of This about growing up in the Riverview area in the 1950s and was a member of the Kit Kat League on Saturday mornings. In passages she described what the lanes were like at the time and refers to Bradshaw as a "warm fatherly man."

Bradshaw was singled out in a 1957 Free Press feature about the growth of the game in recent years: "Bradshaw has done a tremendous job working with teenagers and younger children teaching them the game and sponsoring them in various tournaments."

August 31, 1962, Winnipeg Tribune

Bradshaw also realized that the success of bowling in Winnipeg depended upon the success of the various 5-pin lanes around town.

In the early 1950s he helped establish, and was president of, the Metro Winnipeg Bowling Proprietors Association made up of owners of the dozen or so 5-pin bowling alleys in the city. Its goal was   "promoting bowling and helping one another". Owners met monthly to discuss business issues, plan tournaments and pool their resources to take out ads like the one above. The association went province-wide in 1962.

In 1964, the various provincial associations created the Youth Bowling Council of Canada. Their first national tournament, featuring 30 youth from Ontario and the western provinces, was held at Rossmere Lanes in Winnipeg in April 1965. Winnipeg youth won three of the six national championships up for grabs.

As high profile as Bradshaw was, I could find little about his background. Despite numerous brief mentions in the papers there were no biographical articles or pictures published and his obituary shared few details. He appears to have gone to high school in Winnipeg. He and wife Louise lived on Montgomery Avenue and had two sons, Dale and Douglas.

Bradshaw left in 1962 to work for Assiniboine Downs racetrack. A January 1966 newspaper article notes that he and another man had spent an extended period in Windsor, Ontario studying the harness racing program at Windsor Raceway. By the end of the decade he and his wife relocated to Burlington, Ontario.

Bradshaw died at Burlington in 1986 at the age of 80. Louise died there in 1993.

Sept 15, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press

The next proprietor of Park Alleys was Leonard "Len" Forbes in 1962. Born in Winnipeg in 1920, Forbes was a World War II vet and ran a heating oil company for a number of years before going into the bowling business. He ran it until 1975 when he retired.

The alleys were then taken over by his son, Rob Forbes, who operated them until 2011. Rob was the one who commissioned the distinctive mural painted by Paul Sullivan in September 2010 to replace the building's depressing exterior.

The business was then purchased by Sat Sharma who added a patio area to the front. It was put up for sale a couple of years later.

Interior in 2017, Park Alleys Facebook page

Park Alleys was purchased by Mike Devenney, who also woned St. James Lanes, in 2014. The building underwent interior renovations that summer before reopening.

Park Alleys had been for sale for a few years when, in May 2020, Tod Hughes announced that he purchased it with the intention of reinventing it as a restaurant, bar, live music venue and bowling alley. A reopening date has yet to be announced.

© 2020, Christian Cassidy

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

280 St. Mary Avenue - Former Imperial Veterans in Canada Legion Branch No. 84

Place: Former Imperial Veterans in Canada Legion Branch 84
Address: 380 St. Mary Avenue
Constructed: 1958
Architect: Pratt and Lingren
April 26, 1919, Winnipeg Tribune

The Imperial Veterans in Canada (IVC) was established in Winnipeg in January 1919*. Its aim was to ensure that those who fought in the British Army and Navy in any previous war got fair pension and hospitalization benefits in Canada. (*There was a previous Imperial War Veterans Association in Canada formed in Winnipeg in 1910, but the IVC was a newly incorporated group.)

In late January, the organization moved into offices in the Boyd Building on Portage Avenue and soon launched a newsletter that would be sent to hundreds of members across Canada.

The Dominion president of the IVC was W J Tupper, who was also from Winnipeg. The Dominion secretary was H. B. Willing. The local auxiliary was created by Mrs. C. C. O'Neil and Mrs James Fletcher.

The first president of the Winnipeg branch of the IVC was Captain Charles F. G. Wheeler. A 42-year veteran of the British Army, he retired in Winnipeg and became active in Veterans' causes. He was leading military figure in the Winnipeg General Strike supporting soldiers who found themselves without work after the First World War.

Perhaps becasue of Wheeler's high profile political persona, much of the organizing and speaking on behalf of the organization, nationally and locally, was left to H. B. Willing.

The IVC was one of the 15 or so national organizations that came together at the Marlborough Hotel in Winnipeg in November 1925 to discuss merging into a single Royal Canadian Legion (B.E.S.L.).  It is it is unclear if the IVC signed on right away as they did not begin using "Legion Branch No. 48 B.E.S.L." as part of their name until the 1930s.

The IVC moved from the Boyd Building to 183 McDermot Avenue in 1924. In 1945, now just a Legion branch, it purchased 310-312 Main Street as a new headquarters.

Top: September 27, 1958, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: October 2, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1957, architects Pratt and Lingren were hired to design a new clubhouse for Branch No. 84.

This brown brick building with ceramic tile mosaics has two upper floors and a full basement and cost $114,000 to build. The ribbon was cut on September 27, 1958 by Lt.-Gen. P. J. Montague, the former Chief of Staff at the Canadian Military HQ in London, and David Millar, the branch president.

At the ceremony Montague called it "the finest legion building I have ever seen".

The building was expanded in 1982 and 1984, nearly doubling its footprint. One windowless section took the original building to the back lane and a second windowless section extended it southward along along Smith Street.

The final building measures 21,969 square feet. The main and upper levels are mostly open spaces with washrooms on each floor.

November 25, 2000, Winnipeg Free Press

Branch No. 84 fell on hard times in the 1980s and 1990s as membership dwindled. It did not pay property taxes from 1996 to 1999 and racked up a bill of around $60,000. The city was about to seize the building in September 1999, but it held off to give the branch time to sort out its future.

In November 2000, Branch No. 84 sold its building for $305,000 to Anokiwin Training Institute, a private Aboriginal college. The building's contents were auctioned off in December.

September 28, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press

The building never did get redeveloped. In 2001, for sale ads appear for it and the neighbouring building at 260 Smith Street as a package deal. From at least 2007 to 2014 it displayed a "for  lease / will develop" sign.

It is listed as sold in the August 2018 edition Cushman Wakefield's availability report as "12,000 square feet of developable land".

It is unclear what the future holds for the lot.

Also see:
280 St. Mary Ave Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

© 2020 Christian Cassidy

Thursday, April 30, 2020

1400 Henderson Highway - Former North Kildonan Municipal Offices

Place: Former North Kildonan Municipal Offices / John Dixon Memorial Park
Address: 1400 Henderson Highway (Map)
Constructed: 1956
Architect: Uknown
Contractor: Unknown

January 30, 1924, Winnipeg Tribune

The Rural Municipality of North Kildonan was established in 1925 after it split from the Municipality of East Kildonan. People in the north, many of whom were small hold farmers, were concerned about the amount of urban development coming to the municipality. They wanted to retain their semi-rural lifestyle and not one day be faced with urban tax bills on their large, agricultural lots.

The Rural Municipality of North Kildonan came into being on January 1, 1925 with H. C. Whellams as reeve. (If youw ant to read more about the early history of North Kildonan, see this accompanying post at my West End Dumplings blog.)

The first municipal offices for North Kildonan were located in rented offices on the second floor of the Imperial Bank Building at Main Street at Bannatyne Avenue. This was part of a bid to keep taxes low as the municipality owned no suitable buildings in the community and did not want the expense of constructing one.

Suburban development after World War II began to change the nature of North Kildonan. As the population swelled to over 4,000 in the early 1950s the tax base increased along with the demand for more urban services. With so much development going on, having its offices two municipalities away in downtown Winnipeg was no longer an option.

Source: City of Winnipeg Archives via North West Winnipeg Historical Society

In February 1956 the municipal council approved the purchase of land for new municipal offices from Cornelius and Gladys Lemmen for $2,000.

The building was constructed in 1956 - 1957 at a cost of nearly $31,000. It is 4,700 square feet in size spread over the main floor and full basement. The original layout contained a large general office, private office, council chamber and a public foyer.

The municipalities' public works department was located behind the building which had a large garage for machinery and vehicles. There was also a house built for the head of public works.

The official opening took place on March 16, 1956 in front of a crowd of over 200 people. Mayor Jack Pierce presided over the ceremonies. The first council meeting was held in the building ten days later.

Located to the south of the building is a small park.

In 1968, the North Kildonan war memorial was erected in the park. It reads: “In memory of those who fell in defence of our Country 1914 - 1918,  1939 - 1945, Korea 1950 - 1953; Lest we Forget.” (The memorial was moved from the site in 2019)

The park was renamed John Dixon Park in 1969 after a monument bearing his name was laid on the grounds. Scottish-born Dixon served for five years on the North Kildonan school board and was elected mayor in 1957, 1959 and 1961. He died of a heart attack while in office on December 14, 1961 at the age of 57.

On December 31, 1971, the Rural Municipality of North Kildonan was dissolved and the building became property of the City of Winnipeg.

In 1972, it was leased by the province for use by its department of health and social development. This lease was then picked up by the WRHA after its creation in 1999 until 2003.

A major renovation of the building took place in 2007 so that it could be used as a Winnipeg Police Service Centre. The most noticeable change to the building was the addition of the orange clad accessible entrance at the front which allows wheelchair access to both levels.

The Police service used the building from 2008 to 2014. Since then it has been vacant, declared surplus by the city and put up for sale.

Source: Lord Kitchener 50th Anniversary book

More photos of the site

© 2020 Christian Cassidy

Saturday, April 18, 2020

10 Charles Street - Tessler's Iron and Metal (R.I.P.)
Top: Google Street View. Bottom: Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service

On Friday, April 17, 2020, the vacant former Tessler Iron and Metal scrap yard at 10 Charles Street at Sutherland Avenue was destroyed by fire.

In the early 1920s, Michael Tessler of 671 Stella Avenue was manager of Canadian Excelsior Mills at 305 Sutherland Street. (Excelsior is a type of wool made from wood shavings.) The company closed around 1925 and Tessler, 48, decided to become a scrap dealer. He had previously been manager of the Dominion Metal Exporting Co. so had experience in the scrap metal business.

In 1926, he set up Tessler's Rag, Iron and Metal Company at that former excelsior mill site on Sutherland Street.

The address was 305 Sutherland, which today is three blocks away near Powers, but the street may have been renumbered. This address appears in street directories well into the 1940s, though newspaper mentions through the 1930s describe the company as being on Charles Avenue at Sutherland.

July 20, 1934, Winnipeg Free Press

Tessler didn't advertise in the daily papers but did make the news in the 1930s for a pair of long strikes.

Tessler's eight employees went on strike July 10, 1934 demanding better working conditions and pay. It was one of a number of strikes, particularly among garment workers, to take place that month.

The picket line was peaceful until July 18th when strikers tried to prevent one of Tessler's trucks from entering the yard. One man was arrested. Then, at around 3:00 am on he morning of July 30, stones were thrown through five windows of the Tessler family home on Stella Street.

The strike ended on August 7 when the workers accepted a 5 cent per hour raise and reduced work week.

In the fall of 1937 Tessler's now 30 employees went on strike again seeking a 5 cent per hour raise, an eight hour work day instead of nine, and recognition of the Metal Workers Union. This strike ended on October 22 with workers agreeing to a 44-hour work week, a wage increase, overtime pay, but no recognition of the union.
Google Street View
In August 1938, Tessler took out a $1,500 building permit to erect two metal buildings at Charles Street and Sutherland Avenue. The following year, another $500 permit was given to expand a warehouse building.

By this time, Tessler's son, Barry, had joined the business. He took time off during the war and graduated as wireless air gunner from the RCAF training school at Mountain View, Ontario in September 1944.

After the war, Barry rejoined the business and in 1948 Michael Tessler retired.

Michael Tessler was known for being more than just a businessman. He and his wife were very involved in the Jewish community. At times he was president of the Jewish Old Folks home, Winnipeg Hebrew Free School and board member of Jewish Orphanage of Western Canada.

Upon his death on November 5, 1951 at the age of 74, the Jewish post described him as a "very creative and colourful force in the Jewish community."

Google Street View
Barry married Eileen Goldberg in February 1950 and they settled at 570 Waterloo Street in River Heights.

Barry retired from the business in 1982 and died January 2, 2001. His obituary described him as "a creative and entertaining raconteur with a great sense of humour".

The business did carry on under the Tessler name. In 2004, the company purchased the remaining lot on the block, a grassed in section along Jarvis Avenue, from the city.

The land was for sale in 2016. It is unclear who purchased it, but news reports indicate that the site was vacant at the time of the fire.

© 2012, 2020 Christian Cassidy

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

359 Burnell Street - Parking lot

© 2020, Christian Cassidy
Place: 359 Burnell Street (Map)

Summary of Uses
1915 - 1919 - Winnipeg Courier stables
1920 - 1922 - C. D. Roberts and Sons
1922 - 1930 - New Method Laundry stables
1930 - 1932 - Sorenson Garage
Late 1930s - Sherbrook Motors warehouse
1939 - 1947 - Enterprise Manufacturing Co.
1948 - 1966 - Kingdon Printing Ltd.
1967 - 2020 - Surface parking lot

The lot at 359 Burnell Street has been used as a parking lot for neighbouring apartment blocks for over half a century. It will soon feature an 18-unit apartment block.

Burnell Street's somewhat unique urban development was thanks in large part to developer Thorsteinn Oddson. He bought up a great deal of the pastureland around Burnell in the early 1900s and began developing a residential neighbourhood. This included three apartment blocks on St. Paul Avenue that back onto this lot constructed in 1910-1912.

Other land, particularly on the east side of the street, was sold for commercial purposes, including Canada Bread bakery and stables in 1912 and the Crescent Creamery development, of which just one building and a stable was ever constructed in 1913. (For more on Oddson and the development of Burnell Street.)

The pastureland of Burnell Street would have been welcomed by commercial developers at the time. Winnipeg was reaching its peak "Chicago of the North" status prior to World War I with record land prices in the downtown and Exchange District. If companies wanted to locate their factories and main stables side-by-side they were going to have to look elsewhere.

January 6, 1903, Winnipeg Free Press

The first company to develop this site was the Winnipeg Messenger Company in 1915 as one of its stables.

Winnipeg Messenger was established around 1901 by former HBC employee J. S. Davis. It provided local courier services using a fleet of boys on bikes and a number of horse drawn carts. In its early years of operation the company was used by the Tribune to pick up advertising notices from customers and by the telephone company to deliver telephone books.

With a main office located in the heart of the business district, the company did not have to advertise its services in the papers aside from the odd classified ad seeking more boys with bikes or men to drive carts.

December 14, 1918, Winnipeg Tribune

Winnipeg Courier had two stables. One was in a rented building at Notre Dame Avenue at Edmonton Street and the other at 359 Burnell Street.

At around 6:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve 1918 a devastating fire ripped through the Notre Dame location. There were 21 horses in the stables at the time and just one, its prized horse Lintle, could be saved. (Most companies that relied heavily on horses, be they department stores, moving companies, breweries, dairies, etc. usually had prized horses or teams that they used in parades and to show at horse shows.)

The fire caused $4,500 in damage of which $3,000 was covered by insurance.

The company then centralized their stables at Burnell Street. Fortunately, this was around the time it was starting to convert to motorized vehicles built by the Lawrie Wagon and Carriage Company. (Owner Robert Lawrie was also a member of Winnipeg Messenger's board.) The changeover, it seems, meant that just one stable would suffice.

Winnipeg Courier moved to 163 Garry Street in 1919. That address appears to have served as its office, stables and garage. The company sold off their remaining horses in the early 1930s.

June 21, 1920, Winnipeg Tribune

By the summer of 1920, the stables were the home of C. D. Roberts and Sons horse breeders and auctioneers.

Roberts' most prized horses around this time was a Percheron stallion named Monarch. At the 1920 Brandon Fair, considered one of the top horse shows in the West, Monarch won grand champion of Percheron stallion class and repeated again in 1921 and 1922. Monarch even went off to be shown at the 1921 Chicago Fair.

Roberts used this site for his auctions of horses and cattle and likely kept his most prized horses, such as Monarch, at his farm south of  Osborne, Manitoba.

Oct 22, 1923, Winnipeg Tribune

The lot then became the stables for the New Method Laundry plant situated across the street at 372 Burnell, (now part of Greenway school's playing field.)

Commercial laundries were popular back in the days of hand-washing clothes. They picked up from your home, washed and ironed your load and delivered it back to your doorstep the following week. Laundry was charged by the pound with special rates for items like blankets, parkas and curtains.

The company had been in existence since about 1912 as "New Method Washing" with a plant on Sherbrook Street. A reorganization of the company and the need to install modern commercial washing, drying and ironing equipment sent them in search for a new home. The Burnell plant was constructed in 1922 and opened in January 1923.

At the time, New Method relied mostly on the horse and cart to do its delivery work, so having its stables right across the street was a necessity.

June 14, 1924, Winnipeg Tribune

Just after 5:00 pm on January 13, 1924 a fire broke out in the hay loft section of the stables. Crews from four different fire halls were called in to fight the blaze and were able to extinguish it before it razed the neighbouring apartment blocks along St. Paul Avenue.

Because of the time of day, many of New Method's horses and rigs were still on the streets. The six horses in the barn at the time were saved. Also stored in the building were 60 sleighs and 15 delivery wagons belonging to Canada Bread Company which were also spared.

New Method was bought out by new management in 1929 that did a did a major upgrade and modernization of the plant. This included purchasing nine new International Special Delivery trucks. Their horses were sold off in early 1930.

October 10, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

The site was home to Sorenson Garage owned by Fred Sorenson of Mulvey Avenue by October 1930. He occupied the space for only a year or two before moving on to Fort Street.

In the late 1930s, the site was a parts warehouse for Sherbrook Motors, a car repair shop and towing company located at 83 Sherbrook Street.

February 6, 1941, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1939, the site became home to woodworking company Enterprise Manufacturing Co.. It took out a $500 building permit to make repairs to the building before moving in.

The company was owned by David Huebert who was born in Russia and spent time in Ukraine before coming to Canada with his wife and two children in 1926. Here, he began a company making churns and grist mills for domestic use. His son, Valentine, and Jacob Huebert, relationship unknown, also worked with him.

Huebert was older as he and Mrs. Huebert celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at their home at 3-854 Alverstone Street in October 1933.

By the time the company moved to Burnell Street it had around 20 employees. According to the 1943 Canadian Trade Index, the company produced churns, clotheshorses, grocery display and other cabinetry, ladders, wardrobes and tables.

Valentine would soon leave to become a custom home builder and when Enterprise closed in 1947 he set up a woodworking shop on Wall Street the following year.

The site became home to Kingdon Printing Co. in 1948.

The firm was created in 1904 by Abraham Kingdon. Born and raised in England, he spent seven years as a missionary in Madagascar before returning to the U.K. and starting a print shop. In 1897, he, his wife and six children came to Canada. They first settled at Kenora before moving on to Winnipeg in 1903.

Kingdon died in 1927 a the age of 81, but his company lived on.

The previous home to the company was the fourth floor of 197 Princess Street, a building it shared with several other printing companies. A January 1948 fire caused extensive water damage to stock and equipment and prompted the move to Burnell Street.

The company left in 1966 for a new home on Erin Street

July 19, 1967, Winnipeg Free Press

The end of the building on the site comes in 1967. A classified ad in July of that year invited offers to demolish its 50 x 150 frame building in exchange for the lumber and materials.

The address 359 Burnell Street does not appear in newspapers again, suggesting that this is when it became a parking lot for the three St. Paul apartments.

1915 - 1919 - Winnipeg Courier stables
1920 - 1922 - C. D. Roberts and Sons
1922 - 1930 - New Method Laundry stables
1930 - 1932 - Sorenson Garage
late 1930s - Sherbrook Motors warehouse
1939 - 1947 - Enterprise Manufacturing Co.
1948 - 1966 - Kingdon Printing Ltd.
1967 - 2020 - Surface parking lot