Saturday, August 20, 2016

765 Wellington Avenue - Rumfords Ltd. / Perth's Cleaners,-97.1671321,3a,75y,48.47h,92.28t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sbnIhCzkdbmZqI4w7BA54lQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Place: Rumford's Ltd. / Perth's Cleaners
Address: 765 Wellington Avenue (Map)
Opened: December 1910
Architect: Unknown
Contractor: Unknown

L. J. Rumford, ca. 1916

Luther Judge Rumford was born and raised in the U.S.A. and spent most of his adult life in the laundry business.  He was managing a large laundry plant in Iowa when, in 1902, he and his family relocated to Winnipeg.

He became manager of Northwest Laundry on Main Street before deciding to break out on his own. In August 1910 Rumford's Sanitary Laundry Ltd. was created with five partners and $40,000 in capital. 

The company's plant was constructed at 765 Wellington Avenue and began advertising its services in December 1910. (Later, a Brandon subsidiary called Rumford's Laundry was added.) By 1915, it boasted 125 employees and fifteen trucks.

November 9, 1912, Winnipeg Tribune

Rumford’s handled both residential and commercial laundry services. The latter included blankets, fine linens sheets, coats and other items too large to wash by hand or in a primitive washing machine. They also starched shirts and sponge-cleaned suits. Coat storage and dyeing were other services on offer.

Their trucks would pick up the load at your home or place of business and the next day return it cleaned and pressed.

Overhead view of plant, ca. 2015. Google Maps.

Over the years the building was expanded at least once to the east, along Wellington Avenue, though the facade of the extension(s) mirrored the original building.

In 1929, a single-storey garage addition was built near the rear of the building that opens onto Simcoe Street.

July 23, 1914, Winnipeg Tribune

Rumford had a controversial side.

He was a member of the Northwest Laundry Association, which included owners from Manitoba, Minnesota and North Dakota which, in turn, was affiliated with the U.S. National Laundry Association.

At a meeting in Minnesota in 1914 he proposed a campaign that would “Drive the Chinese Laundries Out of America”. The American association was so pleased that they adopted the motion. The goal was to deport the 5,000 or so U.S. Chinese laundry owners from their country using the 1888 U.S. immigration law.

Some laundry owners saw Chinese laundries as unfair competition to "white businesses" as many of their employees were fellow countrymen who lived on-site and worked long hours for little pay in exchange for room and board.

Upon his return to Canada, Rumford toned down the "solution" for the Chinese laundry problem in Winnipeg. Saying he had “nothing against Chinamen making a living”, he noted their wage advantage and the fact that many of their plants were small, possibly unhygenic operations.

He called on the government to apply labour legislation to the laundry owners and to make laundries subject to health inspections, similar to dairies, food producers and restaurants.

Rumford retired in 1927 due to poor health and died in Winnipeg in 1929. Rumford Ltd, as the company was then known, continued on.

ca. 1993 ad

In 1952, the company appears to have left the residential side of the laundry business to focus solely on commercial. Rumford Ltd. created Sunshine Uniform and Acme Linen, which also had branches in Saskatchewan.

In 1980, a consortium that owned Perth's bought out Sunshine and Acme. In 2012, Perth's was sold to Calgary-based The Stephen Group Inc..

June 5, 1920, Winnipeg Tribune

Perth's itself is a storied name in the Winnipeg cleaning business. It was created in Winnipeg ca. 1920 by Nathan Portnoy.

When the company was sold to The Stephen Group, owner Terrell Stephen moved to Winnipeg to run Perth's. The company can still claim to be Winnipeg-owned. (For more Perth's history.)

ca. 1949 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

Friday, July 29, 2016

164 Langside Street - Hill Brothers' Grocery

ca. 2015 Google Street View

Place: Hill Bros Grocery
Address: 164 Langside Street (Map)
Year Built: ca. 1912
Architect: Unknown

May 21, 1920, Winnipeg Free Press

The earliest mention of a building at this location comes in the 1913 Henderson Directory as home to
Hill Bros. Grocery. At the time, that section of Sara Street was still known as Preston, so it advertised its location at “Langside at Preston”.

The small scale of the project in such a prominent year in Winnipeg's construction history meant that there was no mention of a permit being issued or of its construction in either the Trib or the Free Press. Due to this, its is unclear who the architect was or whether the brothers had the store custom-built for them.

The brothers were close, as not only did they work together, they lived together. From 1913 - 1915 it was at a rooming house at  150 Langside Street and by 1916 at Preston Court Apartments across the street at 161 Langside.

During the Hill Bros. years there was no listing for an apartment upstairs. In fact, there is rarely anyone listed in the Henderson Directory as living upstairs for most of the history of the building.

After 1916, James disappears from the Henderson Directory. This could indicate that he moved on, retired from the business or died. (A check of newspapers and war rolls shows no record of him dying or being killed in the War, though with such a common name it is hard to dig very deep.)

November 9, 1912, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1922, William Hill sold up and opened Hill’s Grocery at 750 Preston near Chestnut. Then came a long series of short-term owners.

First, it was Anton Hanna, in 1923 - 1924. From about 1924 to 1925 it was another pair of brothers, Morris and Walter Freedman of 723 Selkirk Avenue, who renamed the store“The Preston Grocery”.

The next longer-term owner comes in 1925, with James Albert Fitch and wife Emma who renamed it Fitch's Grocery.

James first appears in the Henderson Directory of 1900 as a brakeman with the CPR. In 1907 he is issued a hotelman's licence and, along with his brother, they took over the Strathcona Hotel on Main Street.

By the late teens the Fitch brothers are each running a grocery store. James' was on Polson Avenue in the North End.

James Fitch died at the General Hospital in 1938 at the age of 58. Soon after, the store became a Shop Easy.

ca 1940 ad

The chain was created in Winnipeg in 1937 to help independent shops battle the giant U.S. retail chains Safeway and Piggly Wiggly that arrived in 1929. Unlike the bigger chains, these were not corporate stores, but independent shops. 164 Langside became Shop Easy Store No. 5.

Unfortunately, in Henderson Directories the individual store owners or managers are not listed by name, so it is unclear if Mrs. Fitch kept the store or sold it off. 

By 1941, Shop Easy had 13 stores in its network but 164 Langside only remained part of it for another year.

Top: October 10, 1947, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: January 29, 1942, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1942 the store was taken over by Jack and Alma Schiller, who changed the name of the store to Langside Grocery, a name that would endure for decades to come. It also signalled a run as a Jewish-owned grocery store.

The Shillers lived in one of the units upstairs, making them likely the first resident-owners of the business.

Over the years, more short-term owners came and went.

The Schillers were replaced around 1947 by Morris Shnier. From 1948 to 1952 Lee B. Sing. In 1953 Betty Sim of 640 Langside is listed as the manager.

Jan 25, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press

By 1954 to 1962 the Blye sisters of 2-640 Preston were in charge. Ray, Rose, Elizabeth, and Pauline, ran the store. Until around 1960 all of the sisters were single and lived together at 2 - 640 Preston Avenue.

Sadly, not a great deal of information can be found about the sisters. Even their respective obituaries give little away.

Soon after Ray died in 1961, the store was sold to Robert and Connie Cantaflo. They lived upstairs with their son and ran in until about 1965.

ca. 2007, Google Street View

The change in names and owners continued.

In the late 1970s, Egon Husk owned the store and lived upstairs. By the mid 1980s the store was known as Sang's Grocery. In the early 90s it was L and M Grocery and in the late 90s, until at least 1996, it was called Family Grocery.

The West Broadway neighbourhood began deteriorating in the 1970s into an area of gangs, drugs and violence. This can be seen in how often the store made the newspapers for robberies. The store was held up with a gun at least three times in 1984 and 1985 while it was Sang's.

In its final incarnation as a grocery store, Family Grocery, the violence got worse. In 1993 it was held up with a machete. In April 1996, four people, armed with a knife, pipe and wooden stick, beat and stabbed the male clerk before stealing money and cigarettes.

It was soon after this attack that the store closed.

April 5, 1937, Winnipeg Free Press

It is difficult to piece together a list of who lived above the store. Ads do appear for an apartment for rent, more frequently after the 1960s, but rarely did the Henderson Directory list anyone living there, aside from the various shop owners.

Interior shots ca. 2012 from various real estate sites

In 1999, architect Don Courtinage and artist Pat Courtinage purchased the building and received a variance to convert it into a commercial space. It included an architect's office on the second floor and a studio on the main floor. (The zoning was officially changed in 2010.)

The building was sold in 2013 and in 2015 was a regular backdrop in the sketch comedy TV series Sunnyside.

In July 2016 Corticelli Pizza applied, and received, a variance to turn the building into a pizza restaurant with a patio for 28 people. (Read more about that here.)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

180 Main Street - Inman Motors Building

Place: Inman Motors / 180 Main Street
Address: 180 Main Street (Map)
Opened: 1956
Architect: Unknown

When General Motors first set up shop in Winnipeg in 1928, rather than a franchise dealership they built a corporate-owned sales and service centre at 155 Fort Street. As the years went by GM added more brands of vehicles to its lineup and in 1938 they opted to go the franchised dealership route.

Henry Inman purchased the Fort Street sales centre and GMC building from GM and expanded the neighbouring used car lot.

Inman was born and raised in England and came to Canada in 1908. He worked for the Carriage Factory Ltd. in Brockville, Ontario for 15 years before joining General Motors. He was general manager of the Western Canadian division of General motors Assurance Company, based in Winnipeg, when he decided to go into business of his own.

circa 1965

With a  staff of around 36, Inman Motors operated from the Fort Street location until 1956. They  specialized in Chevrolet and Oldsmobile cars and Chevy trucks. 

In 1956 they moved into this two-storey, 40,000 square foot, custom-built building at 190 Main Street at York Avenue.

The main floor contained offices and a new car showroom, while the paint centre and service department was upstairs.The used car lot was located across the street, next to the Union Station.

September 25, 1974, Winnipeg Free Press

In the late 1960s the dealership became Gateway Chevrolet Oldsmobile. In September 1974 it became Terry Balkan Chev-Olds.

Terry Balkan and Brother Lou Adams, with their ad catchphrase "Youuu Betcha", became minor local TV celebrities. In late 1982 Balkan went into receivership, then bankruptcy.

The 1980s brought a change in industry for 180 Main when it was converted into a restaurant called  Grapes on Main.

In 1984, Marvin Investments, (owned by the Barry Shenkarow family), purchased the building and spent $1.7 million to renovate it into an office block. A main office tenant was Bachman and Associates Real Estate which rented 8,000 square feet upstairs, while the main floor became home to the city's second Grapes Restaurant in the summer of 1985.

Grapes was a restaurant / bar chain started by Gendis Corp, which also owned SAAN stores, among other things. In 1994 they partnered with investors headed by Thrainn Kristjansson, who originated the concept for them, to create Grapes Canada Inc. At its peak there were six Grapes in Winnipeg plus one in Thompson,  Brandon, Calgary and Vancouver.

Grapes on Main closed in 2002 after building's new owner, Gage Marketing Services, purchase it and renovated the entire building for their 400 employees. Today, it's major tenant is Skybridge Marketing Services.

An original tenant since its 1980s conversion to office space is the federal government's Canadian Forest Service.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

1147 Notre Dame Avenue - Christie Brown Bakery

I originally write about this building at West End Dumplings in 2012. Now that its transformation is almost complete, I thought I would shift it here !

Christie Brown / MWG Apparel Building
Top: Winnipeg Free Press, February 16, 1932
Bottom: ca 2012

Place: Christie Brown Bakery
Address: 1147 Notre Dame Street
Opened: February 15, 1932
Architect: George G. Teeter (supervising architect)
Contractor: Hazleton and Walin 
Cost: $525,000

Winnipeg Free Press ca. 1880

Commercial baker Christie Brown & Co. was created in Toronto in 1868 with the merger of two existing bakeries. William Christie served as the firm's first president.

By 1880, advertisements for their biscuits, cakes and other goods began appearing in Winnipeg newspapers.

In the early 1890s the company established a Western Canadian sales office in Winnipeg. It was first run by Adam Weir from Toronto. By 1900 the firm Scott, Peters and Co. of Princess Street were their representatives.

Christie Brown actively participated in Winnipeg's industrial exhibitions and sponsored a number of local sports teams and leagues.

In 1928, the company was sold to American interests but the head office remained in Toronto.

Top: October 13, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: October 14, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

It was to much fanfare that the company announced in October 1930 that it would build a new western plant in Winnipeg.  

The city was reeling from the Depression. Many local manufacturers had closed down or limited their production. A number of large-scale construction projects, such as James Richardson and Sons' new headquarters at Portage and Main, were put on hold. 

The drawings for the plant were done at the company's head office, the local supervising architect was George G. Teeter, Lombard Building. In November 1930, Christie awarded the construction contract to local firm Hazelton and Walin, one of six companies that bid on the work.

A $525,000 building permit was taken out in April 1931, though when the cost of the train sheds and the British-made manufacturing equipment was added, the price tag exceeded $1 million, (over $15 million in today's dollars.)

Christie Brown / MWG Apparel Building

The 462 foot x 126 foot building is constructed of steel and concrete, the only wood used was maple for the floors. The exterior is of red brick sourced in Alberta with Manitoba Tyndall stone detail.

It housed the company's entire Western operations, from sales and executive offices to warehousing and shipping. Vehicles, both truck and rail, delivered raw materials to the west end of the plant and the finished, packaged product was shipped from the delivery bays on the east end.

February 13, 1932, Winnipeg Tribune

The factory was a model of employee comforts. 

Large windows on all four sides of the building plus skylights allowed for the maximum use of natural light and ventilation. An early form of air conditioning was used in warmer months to keep temperatures cool. Iced water ran to a series of water fountains throughout the factory.

There was a well appointed cafeteria and staff lounges that included a radio room and showers. Men had a smoking room while women had a 'rest and recreation' parlour.

The machinery, custom built mainly in England for the plant, featured the latest in technology with automated doors and conveyor belts. The ice cream cone room, for instance, could turn out 6,000 cones a day at capacity.

Winnipeg Free Press, February 16, 1932

Company executives, including plant manager Charles E. Potter, a long-time Christie employee from the east welcomed dignitaries at a luncheon on February 15, 1932. Later in the day the doors were thrown open to all Winnipeggers to come have a tour.

The factory produced a wide range of Christie products: Cookies, including Arrowroot biscuits, soda crackers, ice cream cones and cakes.

In 1954 the plant underwent a $2 million expansion that added 25 feet to the rear of the building.

"Mr Christie" made good cookies, and other baked goods, on Notre Dame Avenue until 1978 when the plant was closed.

Christie Brown / MWG Apparel Building

The following year, Mid West Garments, (now
MWG Apparel), a Winnipeg company whose roots date back to 1928, relocated here from their Rorie Street plant.

In August 2010, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority announced that MWG Apparel would consolidate its space at the rear of the building to allow for the construction of a 95,000 square foot Specialized Services for Children and Youth (SSCY) Centre that will replace the old Rehabilitation Centre for Children (RCC) on Wellington Crescent.

The project's $22 million price tag is funded by a  $17 million commitment from the provincial government and $5 million from community fundraising.

The SSCY Centre opened in Spring 2016.

Christie Brown / MWG Apparel Building

My photo album of the Christie Biscuit plant 
Christie's Biscuit Building gets repackaged Wpg Free Press (Jun 2016) 
Former Christie's Factory to become support hub CBC (Jun 2016)
Work to start on rehab centre Wpg Free Press (2011) 
Children's services get new home WRHA (2010)

March 19, 1909, Winnipeg Free Press

For more Winnipeg baking history, check out my posts about Canada Bread and Bryce's Bakery on Burnell Street and the Speirs-Parnell / Weston Bakery on Elgin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

796 St. Paul Avenue - Row Houses

St. Paul Avenue
Place: Row Houses
Address: 796 St. Paul Avenue (Map)
Opened: 1930
Architect: Unknown
Contractor: Wallace and Akins

This terraced housing complex contains ten units: 796, 798, 800, 802, 804, 806 and 808 St. Paul Avenue and 348, 350 and 352 Arlington Street. Building permits were issued in 1929 and 1930 to Wallace and Aikins Construction Ltd.

Co-founded by J. J. Wallace, the company had a long history. Their other works include: Crescent Creamery on Burnell (1912); Clifton School (1949), Argyle School (1951), and the Garrick Cinema (1968).

This complex was built for themselves, as Wallace and Akins also had a real estate division.

The first residents appeared in the 1931 Henderson Directory. They included a printer, retired man, watchman, neighborhood grocery store manager, insurance company supervisor and clerk at the CPR. Because these have always been rental units, hundreds of people have cycled through the complex over the decades.

A scan of the daily newspapers indicates that the complex has had an extremely quiet existence. I could find no mention major crimes, fires or war dead at any of the addresses.

The houses were advertised under the Akins and Wallace banner until around 1978, though the company continued to own it until 2014. 

The new owner gutted and renovated the units, which came back on the rental market in 2016. 

The complex has never had a name. It is referred to by its legal address:"796 St. Paul Avenue".

January 9, 1936, Winnipeg Tribune

Historic Buildings Report overview

Thursday, April 21, 2016

280 Burnell Street - Thistle Curling Club

Place: Thistle Curling Club
Address: 280 Burnell Street  (Map)
Architect: Unknown
Cost: $60,000
Opened: December 26, 1947 (as Valour Road Curling Club)

The site of the Thistle Curling Club at 280 Burnell Street has long been associated with sports excellence.

From 1926 to 1939 it was a softball diamond called Canada Bread Field. (The ca. 1912 former Canada Bread Bakery is the building immediately to the south. This land was likely used for its stables or grazing back in the horse and wagon delivery days.)

It was home to the Winnipeg Commercial Diamond Ball League. At its peak, the league boasted 17 teams, everything from diaries and bakeries, to retailers and breweries fielded teams. it was said to be the largest such league in the country.

April 16, 1945, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1936 a private sports club called West End Orioles Athletic Association began operating from a pair of boxcars on the site. The Orioles fielded soccer and lacrosse teams in summer, but it was hockey that they became famous for.

In 1939 and 1940 they made a number of improvements to their rinks. Lights were put up allow for evening games and they installed their own water source for flooding the ice.

Through the 1940s the Orioles were a powerhouse, racking up numerous championships. In 1944-45, their best year, of the four teams they entered into local hockey leagues, (Midget, Bantam A, Bantam B and Juveniles), three of them won their provincial championships. The Juveniles, who finished their season with a 20-1-1 record, went on to Moose Jaw in April 1945 and took the Western Canadian Juvenile hockey crown.

Legion's first annual parade. November 7, 1932, Winnipeg Tribune.

In spring 1947 the site was sold to the Valour Road Memorial Legion.

The branch was formed in late 1932. The charter was formally presented by Captain Robert Shankland, V. C., one of Valour Road's Victoria Cross recipients of the First World War.

The branch's first president was W.E.C. Hurlburt. He was a veteran of the First World War, a long-time Eaton's employee and editor of their staff magazine, and a well-known amateur theatre director.

There was no club house for the branch. Instead, they met in an assembly hall inside the old CNIB building at Portage and Sherburn, (now the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba building.)

Membership grew quickly. Just five years after its creation, the Valour Road Memorial Legion was the province's largest branch with more than 500 members. Due to an additional spike in membership immediately following World War II, they needed to find a larger home.

July 12, 1947, Winnipeg Tribune

The branch bought this site from the city in the spring of 1947 and hired architects Pratt and Ross to design a $60,000 hall with an attached recreation centre that would offer curling, skating, volleyball, basketball, and other sports. The funds would be raised by selling $50 bonds to the public.

This left the West End Orioles without a home at the same time the city was developing plans for a city-wide network of privately run, but publicly funded, community clubs. The city offered Orioles another piece of land further north on Burnell, a playground area at St. Matthews, if they agreed to become one of these clubs. Orioles eventually took them up on the offer and the Legion scaled back their plans for a full recreation centre.

Construction finally got underway in June 1947. The building included the Legion hall, five sheet curling rink and a banquet room for up to 350 people. The retention of the curling rink no doubt had to do with the fact that the branch had a long tradition of curling teams that played out of the Caledonian Club on Sherbrook Street.

The Legion branch was opened on December 15, 1948 by Lieutenant Governor R. F. McWilliams and C. Rhodes Smith, Minister of Education.

The Valour Road Curling Club opened on Boxing Day by its president Earl Ramsay with an afternoon of friendly games and entertainment. On March 5, 1949 they held their first bonspiel.

Over the decades, Valour Road teams have made their mark on Manitoba’s curling scene.

They won the Provincial Men’s championship three times: 1983 (Lloyd Gunnlaugson); 2002 (Mark Lukowich); and 2005 (Randy Dutiaume). In 1990 Janet Harvey won the Provincial Women’s championship. Men’s Junior championships were won by Lyal Hudson (1989 and 1990) and James Kirkness (1991). The Women’s Junior title went to Ainsley Gunnlaugson in 2000.

By the 2000s, the Legion branch’s membership had dropped off significantly and they were having difficulty maintaining the club. In 2005 they reached a lease agreement with, and eventually sold the building to, Arnold Asham and it became known as the Asham Curling Club.

On June 10, 2006 the Thistle Curling Club on Minto Street burned to the ground. The following year Asham agreed to sell his building to them. Soon after, members of the Valour Road Curling Club voted to dissolve and join the Thistle.

The Thistle Curling Club is the second oldest curling club in the city after the Granite. It was formed on November 10, 1887 after a dispute over rental rates charged by the Granite rink when they were relocating to new premises in 1888.

About 100 members chose to stay behind with the Thistle and remained at the old rink at Alexander Avenue at Market Street. The following year they rented the Grand Roller Rink at the corner of Princess Street and Pacific Avenue.

June 8, 1912, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1911 the club purchased a 100 foot x 180 foot site on the south side of MacDonald Street between Argyle and Maple Avenues and began fundraising for a new building. They hired architect W. J. Ireland to design the seven sheet rink that was notable for being the first  to separate spectators from the rink area and leaving space for advertising on its walls. 

The above image is the architect's proposal. I can't find a photo of the actual building, so it is unclear if the building ended up looking this grand.

During this time one of its most famous members was Frank Cassidy, considered one of the  province's greatest curlers from 1910  to 1920. During that time, he won six grand aggregate championships and the Dingwall Trophy for the best MCA Bonspiel record in 1910 and 1920. In 2001 he was posthumously inducted into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame

November 11, 1918, Winnipeg Tribune

World War I took its toll on the city's sports leagues and curling was no exception. Without enough young men left to fill their membership rolls and enter teams, curling clubs began losing their buildings.

In 1917 the Assiniboine and the Civic both lost the leases on their space. The plan was to have all three clubs curl from the Thistle club on McDonald Avenue, but the club's executive, heavily in debt,  decided to lease, and eventually sold, the building to a furniture storage company.

This left all three clubs scrambling to find a home. The Ampitheatre, the city's main arena, cost too much to rent but the old Auditorium Rink on Garry Street at York Avenue was available. It normally hosted hockey games during the winter but the number of hockey teams and leagues had also thinned out due to the war.

The building was modified so that nine sheets of ice could be squeezed in and for two seasons the three clubs called it home. In 1920 they played out of the Civic Curling Club's new premises.

June 19, 2006, B Minkevich, Winnipeg Free Press

In January 1921 the Thistle board announced that they bought property on Minto Street, near Minto Armoury, and hired James Chisholm and Son to design a new, five sheet rink. On December 15, 1921 Mayor Parnell threw the ceremonial first rock to open the facility.

At around 4:00 am on June 10, 2006, a 21 year-old arsonist set fire to the building. The building was insured but for nowhere near its replacement cost. The executive ruled out rebuilding, leaving the club's 125 players without a home.

Asham extended the invitation to Thistle players to come play at his club, which led to the sale.