Thursday, February 16, 2017

700 Elgin Avenue - Former Ellen Douglass School / Child Guidance Clinic

Place: Former Ellen Douglass School / Child Guidance Clinic of Winnipeg
Address: 700 Elgin Avenue (Map)
Opened: January 20, 1961
Architect: William Enns
Contractor: Arlington Builders
Cost: $476,000 (est)

This school was built specifically for the education of physically disabled children and was funded jointly by the Winnipeg School Division and the province's Department of Health and Social Services.

It was named for Dr. Mary Ellen Douglass (1878 - 1950), a well-respected physician who lobbied for women's health, mother-child programs and specialized programming for disabled children. (Read more about her here and here.) At the time it was rare for the school division to name a building after a local person. Their practice was to use place names or, in the case of senior schools, to alternate between Christian saints and British Lords.

Prior to the opening of Ellen Douglass School, disabled children had little chance for a proper education.

The city's network of aging, multi-storey schools could not accommodate them physically. Even if they could, there wasn't the specialized staff needed to teach them. Some urban school divisions offered a limited home tutoring service, while in rural areas there was often no services at all.
Vanier lays cornerstone (Source: Winnipeg Tribune Collection)

The school's cornerstone was laid on April 28, 1960 by Governor General Georges Vanier. Known for his dedication to young people, he remarked at the ceremony: "This is a fine project and I hope an example that will be followed by many other parts of our country."

The two-storey, 46,000 sq ft structure was designed by William Enns, an in-house architect for the Winnipeg School Division who also designed St. John's and Kelvin High Schools. The contractors were Arlington Builders, also noted for educational buildings, including Riddell Hall and Sisler High School.

The school offered a full range of programming for elementary through to junior high children. There were six classrooms, a home ec kitchen, music room and art space. Some modifications had to be made in the design phase to cater to the students, such as extra wide door frames. In the finishing stages, handrails were installed in all of the hallways, sinks and mirrors were lowered and tilting blackboards were provided in some of the classrooms.

There was also office space for visiting psychologists, speech therapists, social workers and other specialized staff needed to meet the children's needs.

Crosland with students. June 22, 1967, Winnipeg Tribune.

The school opened on January 20, 1961 and in its first partial year of operation taught 49 students. By the 1963- 64 school year that number rose to 60 and by 1967 - 68, there were 84.

The principal for much of its first decade was Margaret Crosland, a graduate of the University of Manitoba. She would go on to earn her PhD at the University of Toronto and become the province's Assistant Director of Special Services with the Department of Education.

In 1961, the Ellen Douglass School Auxiliary started under the leadership of Mrs. S. Patterson.

This group, made up mainly of parents, hosted a variety of fundraising events and worked with social service agencies to raise money for the wide range of modified equipment, everything from kitchen electronics and typewriters to playground equipment, needed by the school.

Students on a  field trip. May 12, 1965, Winnipeg Tribune

The school and its students were received positively.

Field trips and special events were often covered by local media. Police Chief Robert Taft, who sometimes visited, once told a reporter: "It's humbling to come here and see the courage (of the children)."

In 1967, Princess Alexandra visited Kildonan Park for a Centennial celebration. A relay team made up of students from Ellen Douglas School wound its way through the park to present the Royal with the Manitoba coat of arms.

The building was also home to the Child Guidance Clinic of Greater Winnipeg, which opened on the second floor in January 1961.

The clinic was created in 1951 through the amalgamation of a number of existing services, including a child guidance department run by Winnipeg School Division No. 1 and child psychiatric and counselling services offered through the healthcare system. Its goal was to be able to assess, monitor and treat "problem children" through a single entity.

The services of the new clinic were available to all 105,000 students from all of the school divisions in Greater Winnipeg. Similar to Ellen Douglass School, it was funded jointly by the Winnipeg School Division and the province's Department of Health and Social Services.

November 4, 1960, Winnipeg Free Press

The pairing of these two institutions in one building was first proposed in 1958 and considered a "win - win" relationship.

Prior to this, the clinic was housed in the annex of Victoria Albert School but needed a permanent home as close to the Children's Hospital as possible. As this site was adjacent to hospital land, it was able to be connected by tunnel.

For the school portion, it is unlikely that the school division would have paid for the construction of a custom building for such a small number of students. So, not only did Ellen Douglass students get a new building, they also had immediate access to the many professional services offered by the clinic staff upstairs.

Top: May 6, 1967, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: June 13, 1979, Winnipeg Free Press

By 1963, the clinic had 70 staff serving about 8,500 children in the school system and needed more space. In 1969, they expanded into the building's basement, but soon found themselves tight on space again.

By the late 1960s, Ellen Douglass School was also overcrowded. More disabled children were entering the school system and there was a growing movement to have them attend community schools rather than specialized institutions.

During the 1977 - 78 school year, fifteen Ellen Douglass students were transferred to a renovated portion of Lord Roberts School. The trial run was deemed a success and the following year the remaining 45 students were transferred.

In September 1979, much of 700 Elgin Avenue's main floor was leased out to the International Centre primarily to provide English language classes for new immigrants.

May 6, 2015, Winnipeg Free Press

By the spring of 2015 the clinic had been renamed Clinical Support Services and was no longer located at 700 Elgin. In March of that year the school division put the building up for sale.             

In January 2017 it was announced that the WRHA, who are completing the new Women's Hospital adjacent to the school, offered to purchase 700 Elgin for $1.35 million, pending approval of the health minister. They did not specify what they intended to use the land for.

Also see:
700 Elgin Avenue - Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Friday, January 27, 2017

563 Spence Street - Former Willard Hall

Place: Former 'Willard Hall'
Address: 563 Spence Street
Constructed: 1899
Architect: Unknown

The house at 563 Spence Street was built in 1899 as the family home of James G. Latimer, a contractor and future city alderman and controller. 

Latimer and his wife had already lived in Winnipeg for nearly 20 years and by the late 1890s just two of their eight sons, Bertram and Andrew, still lived at home.

January 6, 1900, Winnipeg Tribune

Mr. Latimer was elected to city council in 1900 and took on James Ashdown for the mayor’s chair in 1907.

It was expected that Ashdown would run unopposed as nobody wanted to take on one of the West’s most powerful businessmen. With just a couple of weeks to go before election day, Latimer threw his hat in the ring. (One Tribune story hints that he got talked into it by a group without his best interests at heart.)

Latimer seems to have received the "anybody but Ashdown" vote, including the tepid support of workers. The labour newspaper, The Voice, wrote: "Labour men may or may not vote for Latimer; they most assuredly will not vote for Ashdown."

In the end, Ashdown won by a vote of 5,091 to 2,352. 

Latimer continued to serve on the Board of Control until 1909. (The Board of Control was an elected body, similar to City Council, except they dealt with financial matters.)

September 17, 1907, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1907, Latimer and his wife moved to Edmonton Street and 563 Spence was sold to Horace Filmore. He had many jobs while living here, including the secretary of the Winnipeg Casket Co., manager of the Great Western Film Co. and, by 1912, was a real estate agent.

In 1912, the home became a rental property, initially as a seven room house then divided into a four suites as a rooming house.

October 12, 1916, Winnipeg Tribune

In September 1927, 563 Spence Street became known as Willard Hall, headquarters of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). It replaced an earlier Willard Hall that opened around 1910 in a home at 473 Balmoral Street.

Just as the WCTU had branches around North America, there were Willard Halls in dozens of cities -  Canada's largest appears to have been in Toronto. They were named for Frances Willard, a pioneering New York suffragist.

The WCTU and other women's groups used the downstairs as a meeting and lecture space. The upstairs contained four bedrooms that were rented out to young women, often from outside the city who came here to find work.

June 28, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1930, the WCTU rented the property to the Big Sisters Association of Greater Winnipeg, though they and other groups continued to use the home as a headquarters and meeting space for the next two decades.

The Big Sisters Association of Greater Winnipeg, established on November 12, 1926, was the fifth Canadian branch of the North American organization founded in New York City in 1912. They worked with girls who came before the Juvenile Court, often the first time offenders, to provide mentorship, life skills and employment training in the hopes that they would not reoffend.

Initially, the organization had an office at the Juvenile Court, which at the time was located on Portage Avenue at Sherbrook Street. The move to the house meant that they could provide room and board to girls from outside the city.

Over the years, other agencies, including the Children's Home and the Juvenile Court itself, expanded their programming, making some of the volunteer-based organization's work redundant. The Big Sisters Association of Greater Winnipeg announced in January 1949 that it was winding down operations.

The organization reappeared in Winnipeg in 1970 and since 2001 is known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg. Their new headquarters at 532 Ellice Avenue at Langside is, coincidentally, is just a couple of blocks away from the former Willard Hall.

Official Opening, March 30, 1949 Winnipeg Tribune

In March 1949, the home was turned over to a new women's organization: the Wheelchair Club of Winnipeg. They worked with girls affected by polio by providing employment and life skills. After extensive renovations, a handful of them called the upstairs home.

The last meetings took place at Willard Hall in the spring of 1954. It was then sold to David and Mathilda "Tillie" Jones. He was an Eaton's Employee and she a saleswoman at Maclean Hunter. Tillie was also a member of the Wheelchair Club, though her 1976 obituary does not indicate if she was a board member or a client.

The Jones' continued to own the house for at least the next 12 years, renting out three suites upstairs.

The suites appear to have appealed to single senior citizens. Two funeral notices found for the address were for Gustav Skalin, 82, a retired interior decorator, in October 1967 and Gladys Bissett, 60, of Winnipeg, in July 1975 widow.

The final "Rooms for Rent" ad that can be found in the Winnipeg Free Press was in 1994.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

20 Sherbrook Street - Misericordia Health Centre (Original Buildings)

Top: Google Street View, 2015
Bottom: November 27, 1923, Winnipeg Tribune

The origins of the Misericordia Hospital go back to 1898 when four sisters of Montréal's les Sœurs de Miséricorde (Sisters of Mercy) arrived in St. Boniface. The order was founded in Quebec in 1848 by Mme Rosalie Jett to provide “spiritual and corporal assistance for poor mothers and unfortunate girls.”

With the assistance of the Archbishop of St. Boniface they purchased a home on Broadway but found there was so much demand for their services that they began to look elsewhere for land on which to build a proper hospital.

At the time, hospital services were limited to the Winnipeg General Hospital, which in 1899 added a small maternity home to its nurses residence on McDermot Avenue. There was also the St. Boniface Hospital. The Salvation Army's maternity hospital on Preston Avenue, (which would become the Grace), was not founded in until 1908 and the Children's was not founded until 1909.

Source: U of M Archives, Medical Campus Architecture Collection

The following year, the Sisters purchased just over two acres of land in residential Winnipeg at 20 Sherbrook Street by the Assiniboine River.

The first hospital building was completed in February 1900 and appears to have opened on the 12th of that month. It measured 44 feet x 66 feet and became known simply as the Winnipeg Maternity Hospital under the supervision of the Sister Superior, Sr. St. Lucie.

The $14,000, three-storey building, (with a tall basement), was funded by the Roman Catholic Church and donations from a number of private citizens. F. W. Thompson furnished a wing and gave a large cash and flour donation. Frederick Scott, of the Scott Furniture Company, furnished a room. Others, like J. H. Ashdown, R. J. Whitla and F. W. Stobart, funded beds on the public wards. 

The basement level contained the kitchen, laundry and related services. The main floor had offices, a parlour and five private rooms. On the second floor there were five more private rooms, a large public ward for convalescents and an operating room. The top floor was a large public maternity ward.

The total capacity of that first hospital was 50 beds. A Free Press story at the time noted that some of the rooms had the best views in all of Winnipeg.

No architect was credited in media stories but the contractor was the Roman Catholic Church's go-to builder J. A. Senocal who had built original parts of the St. Boniface Hospital, St. Mary's Convent and hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton.

Top: December 6, 1906, Winnipeg Free Press

It was assumed that this would be one wing of a much larger facility and in 1906 - 07 a $145,000 expansion took place that more than doubled its size.

The two new buildings, added to the north, created a "T" shaped facility.


The three-storey central building, which stretched eastward towards Maryland Street to create the base of the "T", was the most striking with its stone pillars, large staircase to the main floor entrance and topped with a, (since removed), glassed-in observation tower.

Its basement contained dining rooms for the Sisters, another for nurses, a sitting room for patients and a living room for men. It also housed expanded kitchen facilities.

On the first floor was a “grand entrance hall” with a reception room to one side and an office for the Sister Superior on the other.
Top: St. Luke's Chapel, ca.1916 (
Bottom: ca. 2012 (C. Cassidy)

The most notable feature of the new wing was St. Luke's Chapel on the first floor. Measuring 110 feet x 45 feet, its balcony, which could be closed off from the chapel with sliding glass panels, could be accessed from the hospital's second floor.

The main floor had ten private rooms, the second floor had eight. The third contained operating rooms at the front and a 44-bed public ward.There were also private spaces, such as bedrooms for the priests, Sisters and doctors.

In 1919* the Sisters made formal application to the provincial government to operate as a general hospital. This meant treating a full range of diseases and conditions for both men and women and the introduction of new services such as an X-Ray department and laboratories. (*Some sources say this was 1917, but newspaper stories indicated that the formal application was made in January 1919.)

On May 22, 1968, the Misericordia became a stand-alone corporate entity from the Sisters.

In 1998,  it went from a general hospital to an urgent care centre.

Over the century a number of additions to the site have altered the original hospital buildings.

In 1950, an expansion to the Maryland Building meant the demolition of the eastward run of the centre (entrance) building. The boarded up section at the rear could be seen in 2012 when that 1950 building was demolished, (above).

In 1957, the addition of the Cornish Wing meant a demolition of all but a few metre wide sliver of the original 1900 wing. That piece can be seen on the left side of the photo above.

Also seen in the above image is the cap that was left when the observation dome was removed sometime between 1954 and 1957.


The oldest part of the facility is currently awaiting demolition to make way for phase 2 of a multi-million dollar redevelopment. The building shown above in white will replace it.

Starting in September 2012 much of the wing was closed, including St. Luke's chapel, in anticipation of the demolition but funding for the project has not yet been announced.

My photo album of the Misericordia Health Centre
Redevelopment Update Misericordia Health Centre
"It no longer meets code: President of the Misericordia CTV (2016)
New Wing of Misericordia Now Open CBC (2015)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lonely House - 130 Fort Street

Place: 130 Fort Street (Map)
Constructed: 1902-03
Architect and contractor: Unknown

This little house on Fort Street near York Avenue is one of the few remaining houses in what was once a substantially residential downtown business district. Others include one on Graham Avenue and the recently demolished 175 Donald Street.

Though it has been used as a commercial space over the past couple of decades it is still zoned residential and boasts 1,800 square feet over 2 1/2 levels.

April 24, 1907, Winnipeg Tribune

Built in 1902 - 03, right after sewer was installed on the street, its first owner was William J. Squires. A cab driver by trade, in 1903 he was hired to manage the newly formed Winnipeg Cab Company. That year, they opened a garage and offices nearby on Smith Street.

Business must have been good as in 1904 Squires and family moved to the suburban confines of Furby Street.

April 13, 1904, Manitoba Free Press

The next owner of the home was Anthony Swanson and family. He ran a tile, concrete and granolite yard from there. (The latter was a cement – granite mix used in city sidewalks and driveways.)

The company itself might not have lasted long. By 1905, Swanson is listed in Henderson Directories as a cement worker, then a labourer.

Around 1906, the family began renting out a room. their lodgers included August Holtz (1906), a labourer at the CPR and Margaret Bennett (1913), a stenographer.

In 1907, Mrs. Hilda Swanson died but Mr. Swanson continued to live there until at least 1914.  That year, he opened up the house to three renters at a time. This was common during the war as families were split up and had to downsize. Small accommodations were in strong demand.

April 10, 1917, Winnipeg Tribune

A wartime resident was Sydney Beadle, a news agent, and his wife, Belinda. They lived on Poplar Avenue when he enlisted but by the time he was shipped overseas in June 1916, they had moved to 130 Fort Street.

While living there, Belinda received two distressing telegraphs from the war office informing her that her husband had been wounded.

The first was a shrapnel wound to the hand in March 1916, but he rejoined his unit a week later. In April 1917, he received gunshot wounds to the left breast and thigh. A piece of shrapnel was lodged under one of his ribs and doctors decided that it was too dangerous to operate on.

He was reassigned to a non-fighting unit but the pain from the embedded shrapnel was too great to allow him to use his arm properly. He was declared medically unfit and shipped back home to Winnipeg in April 1918.

By this time, Belinda had relocated again to 288 Main Street. Once reunited, the couple resettled on Poplar Ave where he worked at Brathwaite's, a south Main Street drug store.

March 11, 1922, Winnipeg Tribune

There was a spell when a number of tailors at Duncan Cameron’s tailor shop lived there. In 1919, it was Henry Nordman and George Eng and his family. George died in 1920 and Henry Hill, another Duncan’s tailor, moved in.

From time to time, a Swanson would appear at the house as a resident. The family as a whole returned from 1922 to 1924.

October 24, 1927, Manitoba Free Press

It appears a change in ownership came around 1927 when William and Mrs. Fudge moved in. He was a labourer at the CPR and they rented out a couple of rooms, often to other railway employees.

Mr. Fudge also has a sideline - selling liquor illegally.

The morality squad did a crackdown in October 1927 and Fudge got caught up in it. The following February he was found guilty, fined $200 and sentenced to two weeks in jail. A year later Mrs. Fudge was fined for the same thing.

The Fudges continued to live there into the 1930s. In 1936 they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary at the house, along with 20 guests they somehow managed to squeeze in.

Through the 1940s and early 1950s it appears to have had a succession of short-term owners. Robert Ramsay - no occupation listed, John McGirr - insurance agent, C.L. Tardiff, Harold Norquay - city labourer, Arthur Lounsbury - CNR Express employee, Frank Jackson, truck driver.

October 30, 1970, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1956, Joseph Dumas, a widower, bought the house. He listed his occupation as a real estate agent and worked from home. He was also a noted bootlegger.

Dumas was arrested and fined numerous times for illegally selling liquor starting in the mid 1950s.

Even old age didn't slow him down. In 1967, at age 81, he was arrested for selling a bottle of liquor to an undercover officer. They raided his house and found 21 more. He reportedly told them that he was willing to "pay his fine like a man."

In 1970, after being caught for the same offense, when the magistrate fined him $400 he pulled out a wad of bills and offered to pay it on the spot.

Dumas died in 1978 at the age of 92.

September 8, 2014, Winnipeg Free Press

In the late 80s and through the 1990s it was home to Quaternary Consultants Ltd, an environmental consulting firm.
Source: Winterbos on Flickr

It was likely thanks to Dumas that the house has remained standing.

Due to its proximity to Main Street, Fort has always had a mix of residential and commercial properties. In the above photo of Fort Street, ca. late 19-teens, 130 and a couple of neighbouring houses can be seen in the bottom left.

December 24, 1949, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1926, King Auto Heater Company opened at 136 Fort. In 1928, the GMC Building opened and, in 1930, came the Radio Building. Over the decades other commercial buildings joined them, especially automobile-related businesses like car dealerships and garages.

In 1946, Princess Auto Wrecking moved from their original premises at 127 Princess Street into the properties immediately north of the house, 136 - 150 Fort Street..By 1960, the company was known as Princess Auto and Machinery, specializing in auto parts.

Lonely House in 2007

Through the 1950s and 60s pressure must have been on Dumas to sell the house to become a surface parking lot to serve either the Radio Building or Princess Auto, which was is the fate of the houses around it.

By the time Dumas died, however, that pressure would have eased and it left the house looking very much out of place in a commercial landscape.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

516 Stella Avenue

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

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

Frederick retired from farming in 1941 and died in 1956.

Source: 1916 Census of Manitoba

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

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

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

February 2, 1916, Winnipeg Free Press

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

November 3, 1942, Winnipeg Tribune 

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

Mike was a long-time city employee.

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

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

August 30, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 30, 2016

1785 Portage Avenue - Higgs' Barber Shop

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

February 13, 1925, Winnipeg Free Press

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

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

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

October 24, 1927, Winnipeg Free Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 26, 1970, Winnipeg Free Press

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

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

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

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

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

For more photos of 1785 Portage Avenue.