Sunday, January 2, 2022

486 Sherbrook Street - Ferndale Apartments (R.I.P.)

© 2021, Christian Cassidy

Place: Radisson Apartments / Ferndale Apartments (R.I.P.)
Address: 486 Sherbrook Street (Map)
Architect: Unknown
Opened: 1914
Demolished: 2022

November 8, 1931, Winnipeg Tribune

486 Sherbrook Street had urban development on it dating back to 1903 when it was the home of John A. Coombs and family. He was a blacksmith with a shop on Fort Street. The last owner of the home was Jessie McCash, widow of James McCash, in 1913.

The Radisson Apartments were constructed in 1914. The owners of the block were Edward M. Counsell, a local real estate investor, and Frederick Hinds, a contractor with an office in the Builders Exchange Building. The architect is listed as "H. Green".

The initial list of tenants in the 14-unit block included the following, (note that for some male entries it the suite may have included spouses and other family):

1 - J. Ellis
3 - Edward D Mitchell, employee at Swift
4 - Malcolm Turnbull, inspector
4 - Mrs. S. A. Malcolm
6 - Severson (or Syverson) family (see below)
8 - E Cora Hind, commercial editor at the Winnipeg Free Press (see below)
9 - Charles Edmonds, manager of the Reinforced Brick Co Ltd 9
10 - Chas R Maxwell, piano tuner at Mason and Reich
11 - George Latter, accountant at Frank Hilson Co. 
12 - James McKenzie, clerk at city assessment office of city suite 12
14 - Walter Lewis 
15 - Gurney Walker, travelling salesmen for Whitla and Co. 
15 - Beatrice Embury

E. Cora Hind (Province of Manitoba)

Of note on the above list is E. Cora Hind who lived here from 1914 until 1921.

Hind became the agricultural editor of the Winnipeg Free Press in 1901 and by the time she lived here was a leading international authority on the Western Canadian agricultural scene.

In 1912, Hind co-founded the Political Equality League with fellow suffragettes Lillian Beynon Thomas and Nellie McClung. She participated in their famous Mock Parliament at the Walker Theatre in January 1914. (Perhaps Nellie and Lillian came over for tea or strategy sessions?!)

Severson household in the 1916 census of Canada

In suite 6 was the Severson, (sometimes spelled Syverson), family.

The head of the household was Dorothy Severson, 48, with daughters Annie, 24, Olga, 22, and Jennie, 16. The 1916 census lists a lodger, Marie Jordan, 22. Mrs. Severson was born in Norway and her daughters in the U.S.A..  At the time they lived here, Olga and Anna were manicurists by trade whilst Jennie worked as a clerk.

By 1921, Olga had moved to 104 Lipton Street with her mother and Jennie. Annie continued to live at 486 Sherbrook until she was found dead in her bathroom in May 1923. No cause of death was given but a brief newspaper mention notes that neighbours said she had been ill for some time. She was 33-years-old.

April 20, 1926, Winnipeg Free Press

Olga went on to open her own hair and nail salon in room 308 of the MacArthur Block off Portage and Main and ran it until around September 1930.

After that, mentions of the family disappear from the street directory and newspaper which suggests that they may have moved to a new city.

November 22, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press

Hannelore Brown lived in suite 1 in the late 1960s. She was a nurse and member of the Winnipeg Service Battalion’s 18 Medical Company, a militia unit based at Minto Armouries.

Brown and three other women made the news in 1967 when their team won second place in the Mary Otter First Aid Competition to find the "most proficient first aid team in the army" in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They had beaten out many teams made up of regular service members.  

The photo above is from 1969 when Brown's team won first place in the same competition.

Classified ads for suites ended briefly in 1935 and when they resumed in 1936, the building went by the the name The Ferndale. This name still exist in gold letters above the front door.

A serious fire occurred at the building on New Year's Day 2022. The Ferndale is expected to be a total loss.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The most viewed blog posts of 2021


At the end of each year, I like to look back and see what the most viewed posts were on my two main blogs. As you can see, some of them date back many years.

It is not clear why some posts spring back to life. It may be that another website or a media outlet has referred to it. For some, like Len Fairchuk or the Budweiser clydesdales, they have a constant interest and end up in or near my top ten every year.

Here's a look back at what people were reading in 2021!


1. 1763 Henderson Highway - Toro's Driving Range / Nor-Villa Motor Hotel (December 2021)

2. 701 Ellice Avenue - Discount Everything (April 2021)

3. 802 Main Street - Beveridge Block / Selkirk Hotel (R.I.P.) (August 2021)

4. 500 Selkirk Avenue - The Donut House (April 2019)

5. 623 Simcoe Street - Private residence (R.I.P.) (February 2021)

6. 94 Cathedral Avenue - Former Polson residence (September 2021)

7. Winnipeg Art Gallery (September 2009)

8. 257 Lulu Street - Haynes' Chicken Shack (September 2017)

9. 546 Sherburn Street - Crecent Creamery Dairy (R.I.P.) (November 2021)

10. 415 Graham Avenue - Lonely House (March 2018)


1. West End Street Oddities: How many lanes does Arlington Street have?  (April 2021) 

2. A history of the Wolseley bus  (April 2021)

3. A belated bye-bye to Blue Ribbon Tea (April 2017)

4. John Rudy, the last resident of Elmwood's Tin Town (December 2018)

5. The Castle of College Avenue (Part 1): The Biollo Family (July 2011)

6. Budweiser's Clydesdales & their Winnipeg origin (February 2012)

7. Farewell to LaSalle’s Grain Elevator (August 2020)

8. Farewell, Telesky Taxidermist (February 2021)

9. The Toronto Street hideout of "Bloody Jack" is for sale! (April 2015)

10. Remembering Len Fairchuk and TV’ The Western Hour (April 2019)

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

181 Edmonton Street - Alexandra School (R.I.P.)

© 2021, Christian Cassidy

Place: Alexandra School
181 Edmonton Street at St. Mary Avenue
June 1903
October 1969
J. B. Mitchell
Kelly Brothers

Inside the lobby of the Winnipeg Convention Centre is a plaque dedicated to Alexandra School that stood on the site from 1902 to 1969. It was a model school design that was replicated around the city and even in other provinces. The school was also called into service during the 1918 -19 influenza pandemic providing vaccinations and meals to thousands of Winnipeggers.

Here’s a look back at its history.

July 16, 1902, Winnipeg Free Press

The Winnipeg School Board put out tenders for the construction of a new school in the largely residential neighbourhood around Edmonton Street and St. Mary Avenue in July 1902. It was to replace the ageing Carlton School located nearby, (where True North Square is now.)  

The building was designed by Commissioner of School Buildings J. B. Mitchell.

Mitchell, an architect by trade, had been in that role since 1892 and oversaw the modernization of the city's school system. Much of the design work for its buildings was farmed out until 1901 when the school board appointed Mitchell to do double duty as its architect.

From: Public School Buildings of Manitoba, Province of Manitoba

In Public School Buildings of Manitoba, David Butterfield notes that under Mitchell and his draftsmen,  "Not surprisingly, the variety of building expression declined. But the quality of design also changed, with a reliance on a rather stolid symmetry and modest detail."

The plan for Alexandra School was a simple one and would be the master design for schools across the city and beyond in the early 1900s.

Construction got underway in late summer after Kelly Brothers were awarded the construction contract.

The $40,000 building was completed in late June 1903, just in time to move students from Carlton School over before the summer break. This was important as the school division wanted to tear Carlton down and construct a new school on the site. In order for it to be ready for the 1904 school year, construction had to start before the summer break began.

The official opening ceremony for Alexandra School took place in October 1903 with J. F. Fowler, president of the school board, presiding.

June 9, 1903, Winnipeg Tribune

Days into the new school year it was clear that Alexandra School was already too small for the population boom in the area. It had eleven teachers and was built for over 500 students but right away there were calls for another teacher to be hired and the end of a hallway had to be turned into a temporary classroom.

The opening of the new Carlton Schools the following year eased the overcrowding situation.

Some write-ups about the school say that a third storey was added soon after it opened. This is likely not the case. What appears to have happened was a three-storey addition was added to the rear of the structure.

Albert Public School, Regina. (Peel's Prairie Provinces)

A 1904 promotional ad for the community of Wetaskiwin, AB boasted that its new public school was based on the plans of Winnipeg's Alexandra School as provided to them by Mitchell. That school was torn down in 1954.

In February 1905, a delegation from Regina's school board came to town to tour Alexandra School. It was reported that, "The delegation were exceedingly pleased with both the exterior appearance and interior arrangement of this school."

It appears that at least a couple of Regina's schools were built according to this plan, including Alexandra School and Albert Public School.

November 8, 1918, Winnipeg Tribune

The school was pressed into action in 1918 to help save lives as Winnipeg began losing the battle to contain the influenza pandemic.

After schools were shut down in October, Alexandra was one of three schools chosen to serve as mass immunization clinics. The Free Press reported that during an October 29 visit by one of their reporters, a police constable was called in earlier that day to keep peace in the long waiting line.

It was soon clear that the city needed more clinics and in the reorganization, Alexandra School was given a new task: it became the headquarters of the Emergency Diet Kitchen.

The kitchen was operated largely by volunteers who prepared, packaged and distributed two meals a day to homes stricken by influenza. One day, for example, they fed 160 families, some with as many as five or six children.

One of the key volunteers at the diet kitchen was Evelyn Maw. Married to Joseph Maw of Maw's Garage, she had ready access to vehicles and vehicle owners and helped with the distribution of food into the community. She contracted influenza likely during one of these home visits and died of the disease on November 30, 1918.

October 2, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press

Several factors contributed to the closure of Alexandra School at the end of the 1968 - 1969 school year.

For one, the residential neighbourhood around it had slowly disappeared since the post-war move to the suburbs began in the late 1940s. The school’s enrolment dropped below 200 students, and that was with Carlton School having been demolished in the 1930s to expand the Eaton’s parking lot.  

Another major factor was that Metro Winnipeg had its eye on that part of downtown for the development of high-rise office towers and apartment blocks. Bulldozers were sent in to clear entire blocks, though in the end most of these towers never materialized and left large surface parking lots. 

When the school was finally demolished in 1969 it was expected to be offered up to one of a number of developers that Metro was courting. In the end, it purchased the property from the school board in December 1971 for $500,000 to construct the Winnipeg Convention Centre.

It should be noted that the plaque in the lobby was not erected by the school board or the city. It was donated by Wilfred G. Pearce, a former principal of Alexandra School.

British-born Pearce came to Canada as a child in 1900. After graduating from Normal School, he began teaching in Bowsman, Plumas and other rural Manitoba communities. In 1929, he and his family relocated to Winnipeg where his first job here was a brief stint as acting principal for Alexandra School.

Pearce returned to Alexandra School as principal in 1949 before moving onto Pinkham School for the 1951 school year. He retired in 1959 and wrote about local history in newspaper columns and the book, Winnipeg School Days 1871-1950.

Considering his short association with the school, it must have made a great impression on him.

Wifred G. Pearce died on July 9, 1975, six months after the Convention Centre officially opened.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

1763 Henderson Highway - Toro's Driving Range / Nor-Villa Motor Hotel

© 2021, Christian Cassidy

Place: Nor-Villa Motor Hotel (website)
1763 Henderson Highway (map)

This year is the Nor-Villa Motor Hotel's 50 anniversary, though urban development on the site goes back more than a decade earlier to a driving range and drive-in restaurant.

December 24, 1955, The New Canadian

The earliest mention of this address in Winnipeg newspapers comes in 1956 as home to Toru Nakamura's Duffer's Paradise Driving Range.

Born in Japan, Nakamura first appears in Winnipeg street directories in 1943 living at lot 27 Riel Avenue in St. Vital with his wife, Kenae (or Kenaye). The couple would go on to have seven sons and four daughters.

Nakamura's listed occupation in 1943 was 'poultry farmer' and by 1950 was a chicken sexer at Hambly Hatchery.

Golf was Nakamura's passion and he played out of Rossmere Country Club. Around 1955, the family moved to 1766 Henderson Highway where he opened Duffer's Paradise Driving Range next door at number 1760 while still working as a chicken sexer by day. The only other sizeable driving range listed in the Winnipeg area at the time was Thomas Valtri's Pembina Driving Range on Pembina Highway.

Nakamura's driving range moved across the street to 1763 Henderson Highway in 1957.

May 13, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press

The business did well and in 1961 Nakmura changed the name to Toro's Driving Range and established a drive-in restaurant on site. In 1964, the club house / drive-in was expanded and and classified ads in 1968 show the restaurant business for lease.

With Nakamura working at the business full time, he was able to further pursue golf as an amateur out of Rossmere Country club. He was a regular fixture on Manitoba's amateur golf tournament scene from the late 1950s through the 1970s and went to Japan as an ambassador of a Canadian PGA Pro-Am team in 1977.

Danny Hunter, formerly the assistant golf pro at Rossmere, moved to Toro's in 1970 as the part-time pro.

January 21, 1977, The New Canadian

The 1970 golf season was the last for Toro's at the Henderson Highway site as Nakamura sold the land for a new motor hotel development, (more about that below.)

Toro's Driving Range reappeared again in 1973 as Toro's Golf Centre at Highway 59 and Springfield Road until that land was expropriated by the city in late 1976 to become part of the 100-acre Kilcona Park featuring Harbourview Golf Course.

Nakamura then purchased land in on Inkster Boulevard and Sturgeon Road in the R.M. of Rosser and in March 1978 applied for a conditional use zoning change to operate a driving range.

Eddie Dearden, the Winnipeg Tribune's golf columnist, noted on May 14, 1979 that "Toro Nakamura is back in the driving range business" with  Toro's Golf Centre having opened the previous week. Nakamura told him, "It's not quite ready, but I'm open" with 25 tee boxes available. The following season, he said, the centre would feature putting greens and be landscaped with 50 trees.

August 27, 1979, Winnipeg Free Press

Sadly, there would be no next season for Nakamura. He died on August 22, 1979 in a tractor accident at the golf centre at the age of 64.

Toro's closed for the season after his death but was back he following year and advertised sporadically in the newspaper classifieds until 1996. It is unclear who owned it.

The origins of the Nor-Villa Motor Hotel began with a failed motor hotel application further south on Henderson Highway by Mike Chernichan and his Miken Motor Hotel Company Ltd.

Chernichan was was a long-time entrepreneur. As a young man he owned and operated a sawmill operation at Red Lake, Ontario. He married Mary Buchko in 1943 and the couple got into the hotel business starting in Oak Point, then the Ridge Hotel in Langruth, the Churchill Hotel in Churchill, and in Balmertown, Ontario.

In the late 1960s the Chernichans turned their attention to the R.M. of North Kildonan.

January 13, 1970, Winnipeg Tribune

In November 1969, Miken applied to the rapidly developing municipality for a permit to construct the Nor-Villa Motor Hotel. It was to be a three-storey, 24-unit motel on a 2.5-acre site on Litz Street at Whellams Lane.

The site was adjacent to John Pritchard Junior High School, which led to five delegations speaking in opposition at the liquor licence hearing in January 1970. It appears that the license was not granted and the motor hotel deal was scuttled.

Also in January and February 1970, the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission was advertising an application from the Micken Motor Hotel Co. for a restaurant, banquet, cabaret, and beer vendor license at the site "commonly known and described as Toro’s Drive-Inn, 1763 Henderson Highway”.  The last notice, (it had to be published three times in the paper), ran on February 7th and it appears there was no opposition and no hearing was held.

It is likely that Miken Motor Hotel Co. was planning one motor hotel with two separate sites, perhaps thinking that splitting off the banquet facilities and beer vendor to a Henderson Highway location would make the liquor licence application next to the school more palatable to residents. 

With the liquor licence granted, the motor hotel project also moved to the 1763 Henderson Highway site.

How large the driving range property was in relation to the hotel's eventual site lot is not clear.

Active Builders Ltd. ran classified ads in 1971 and 1972 for the sale / development of a "commercial site for any future shopping centre, 12 1/2 acres, 600 ft frontage from new hotel to McIvor Avenue." This, of course, would become McIvor Mall. Given that this is the same time period that the hotel was under development, it could have been hived off from the driving range property.

Chernican Drive, east of the hotel off Edkar Crescent, was most likely part of the driveing range / hotel's original property. It was sold off for development in 1984.

Unlike other hoteliers, Mikan did not appear to have teased people with "coming soon" or grand opening ads for his new venture in the daily papers. This makes it unclear when exactly the hotel slipped into existence. It is likely that the complex opened in stages.

Classified ads began appearing in the Free Press on August 31, 1971 seeking dining room servers and a night janitor. Ads for a beverage room called the Bison Room, a cocktail lounge, and the banquet facilities began to run in December. The first couple of events noted in newspapers for taking place at the Nor-Villa, both wedding anniversary banquets, were also held in December.

Ads mentioning the hotel, with its 24 modern rooms featuring colour TV and a full bath with shower, began to appear in weekly rural papers at the beginning of February 1972 and in Winnipeg papers in March 1972.

The municipality was undergoing an urban development boom just a year before joining the city of Winnipeg under Unicity. Other projects underway in 1971include: Donwood School; a 65-townhouse development between Springfield Road and Donwood Drive along Raleigh Street; River East Plaza mall; Riverside Plaza apartments at 1660 Henderson; plus other Edison Development apartment blocks along Henderson and the newly-created Valhalla Drive.

The hotel likely would have been a welcome addition in North Kildonan which was underserved by hotels and banquet facilities. The circa 1951 Curtis Gordon Hotel would have been the closest place to stay or host an event.

September 20, 1978, Winnipeg Tribune

The Nor-Villa soon began hosting the types of events one would expect at community hotel.

In its first few months of operation, service groups like the Toastmasters met there and small conferences, such as that of the Manitoba Professional Firefighters Association, were held. Numerous birthday parties, anniversary celebrations and wedding receptions also took place.

The Selkirk constituency associations of both the federal Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties met at the hotel. Speakers in the early 1970s included provincial Liberal leader Izzy Asper, former federal Liberal cabinet minister Paul Hellyer (just months after crossing the floor to join the PCs), premier Ed Schryer, a young provincial PC leadership candidate named Sterling Lyon, and federal Liberal defense minister James Richardson.

A fundraising banquet for a new East St. Paul Arena was held in June 1974 with Bobby Hull and
Winnipeg's Mr. Baseball, Eddie Cass, advertised as speakers.

The Nor-Villa's bar was one of the first in the city to go with electronic music in 1978 when the MLCC lifted its requirements that cabarets must have live bands.

The Chernichans ran the Nor-Villa until their retirement in 1984. Mike died on November 26, 1998 at the age of 79. Mary died on June 07, 2013 at the age of 90.

June 1, 1985, Winnipeg Free Press

It is unclear who the Chernichans sold the hotel to. It was likely a corporate entity, not an individual.

The new owners made numerous renovations to the building which likely included the expansion to the front of the building to add lobby and restaurant space.

The bar was redecorated and reopened on June 1, 1985 as M.T. Mugs Graffitti Club. The restaurant closed for a month-long refurbishment in June 1985. Through the mid and late-1980s the hotel's banquet facility advertised regularly in the Free Press.

April 21, 1992, Winnipeg Free Press

A restaurant has always been part of the Nor-Villa Motor hotel. In its earliest years the unnamed eatery advertised breakfast and lunch specials with Sunday smorgs on special occasions like Mother's Day.

The space was renovated (and likely expanded) in 1985. It was renovated again in 1992 and reopened as Bromley's Restaurant.

The restaurant was called Parry's Restaurant after chef Thomas Parry in the 2010s. He left in 2015 to become the executive executive chef at Larter's at St. Andrews.

Oddly, the Nor-Villa's website refers to its restaurant as both Bromley's and Parry's.

The current owner of the Nor-Villa is Gilbert Gauthier who also owns the Blondie's Car Wash chain.
this information), but this 2005 patio permit hearing notice from the city of Winnipeg shows Gauthier speaking in favour of the application.  This 2006 application for a billiard hall license shows the owner as Gauthier Ventures Ltd.

Monday, November 29, 2021

898 Westminster Avenue - Commercial Building

© September 2021, Christian Cassidy

Name: Commercial Building
Address: 898 Westminster Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1932
Architect: Unknown
1932 - 33: W. Colish Grocery
1933 - 35: Westminster Drug Store
1935 - 36: Trillier's Drug Store
1936 - 37: Variety Bake Shop
1938 - 39: Parker's Bake Shop
1939 - 43: Your Handy Store
1943 - 44: Kearne Grocey
1944 - 45: Ron Glass Grocery
1946 - 60: Gil's Grocery
1960 - 05: Gil’s Automatic Wash and Dry
2005 - 18: The Neighbourhood Bookstore and Café
2019 - 21: The Ruby West
2021:         Bonnie Day

May 1932, Winnipeg Free Press

A $2,000 building permit was issued to Isaac Colish to construct a 22-foot by 28-foot commercial building at 898 Westminster Avenue in May 1932. At the time, it was the only building on this block of Wolseley Avenue between Lenore and Ruby streets. It was joined the following year by a Safeway store at number 894. 

It is unclear why this block of land remained vacant for so long after the Wolseley neighbourhood was formally subdivided by the city around 1910. There is nothing to suggest that the neighbouring house at 127 Ruby Street had a large side yard for stables or an industrial shop. In fact, there was a beauty salon on Ruby between the house and Westminster Avenue.

McPhillips’ 1910 map of Winnipeg, which was part map and part development plan, shows Wolseley as it was transitioning into a modern neighbourhood. It suggests that the land may have been owned by the city as it notes a "school site" at Ayr Avenue, now Westminster Avenue, at Ruby Street.

The general practice at the time was that the school board identified potential school sites and the city would purchase and hold the land and later transfer it to the board.

The area’s elementary school, Laura Secord School, ended up being built a block away on Wolseley Avenue and Ruby Street, not here.  With the land no longer needed for a school, it appears the city tried to make it the home of Wolseley’s fire hall. 

In March 1913, the Fire and Light committee of city council chose the intersection of “Westminster and Ruby” as the home of Fire Hall No. 14. The decision was forwarded to city council to ratify so that the tenders could be let for its construction. For reasons that don’t appear to have been reported in the newspapers, the fire hall ended up being built on Lipton Street at Westminster Avenue instead. 

The land is not mentioned again in newspapers until Mr. Colish’s building permit was issued in 1932. This suggests the city may have held onto it until it became clear that there would be no other civic uses for it.

Isaac Colish was born in Lithuania in 1878 and came to Winnipeg in 1907 with his wife, Anne, and their four children. They settled in West Kildonan and opened the municipality’s first grocery store at 1969-1973 Main Street, (now best known as home to Blondie’s Burgers). The family lived upstairs until the early 1920s. 

The Colishs became pillars of their community. Isaac served on the West Kildonan municipal council in the 19-teens. He was also a Justice of the Peace and was appointed Manitoba’s first Jewish police magistrate. 

How Isaac Colish, or son William who would manage the new store, became interested in constructing land in Wolseley in 1932 is unclear.  Prior to operating the store, William was a clerk at the Main Street store and lived in the residence above it. He was also secretary of Northern Grocery on Jarvis Street which appears to have been a consortium of independent grocers with a joint warehouse.

W. Colish Grocery on Westminster Avenue did not last long. Street directories indicate that it closed in 1933, likely to coincide with the opening of the Safeway store next door.

The next business to call 898 Westminster home was Westminster Drug Store. 

Winnipeg-born Daniel M. Salak graduated in 1928 from the U of M's School of Pharmacy. His yearbook described him as “A good worker, square shooter, and, in all, a real asset to the class.” 

After graduation, Salak became manager of the Brathwaite Drug Store chain's Main Street branch. In July 1931, he took over McBurney's Drug Store at 499 Ellice at Spence and renamed it Salak's Drug Store. He moved his business to Westminster Avenue in 1933.

At around 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, 1934, Salak was robbed at gunpoint. Armed holdups of drug stores, usually for narcotics, were commonplace in the 1930s. This was the fourth one that month.  

Salak had been robbed at least once before in February 1926 when a gunman burst into Moyer's Drug store where he worked as a clerk and yelled “Hold up your hands or I'll blow your brains out” and dragged him into the dispensary area.  

The 898 Westminster Avenue robbery went much the same with Salak being told “stick ‘em up” by a “glassy-eyed gunman” who made off with $60 and a stash of narcotics. 

What is noteworthy about the 1934 robbery is who the bandit was.

George “Shea” Jayhan, 34, a heroin addict according to newspapers, carried out a string of robberies that year to feed his habit. His spree came to an end in late July when he held up the Norbridge Pharmacy on St. Mary’s Road.  

Police were on the scene shortly after the robbery took place and gave chase to Jayhan. In the resulting shoot-out, Jayhan killed Sergeant John Verne of the St. Boniface Police Department and the father of six children. 

Jayhan confessed to several robberies, including that of the Westminster Drug Store, and was put on trial for the murder of Verne. He was found guilty and hanged at Headingley Gaol in February 1935.

Salak sold the business in 1935 and relocated to Toronto. For about a year or so, the business was was known as Trillier's Drug Store owned by Toble Trillier of 541 Boyd Avenue. 

In 1936, it became Variety Bake Shoppe with George R Thomas as proprietor. The business was put up for sale in October 1937 and appears to have sat empty for about a year before it became Parker's Bakery owned by Mrs. Marie Clark.

In 1939, the building became home to “Your Handy Store”, a small grocery and confectionery shop. This may seem an odd choice of business with a Safeway still on the block, but the chain store was preparing to move to a larger location at 775 Westminster Avenue the following year.

Your Handy Store had a couple of proprietors. For the first year or two it was Mrs. Audrey E. Lockyer of 73 Arlington Street. The store was put up for lease in October 1941 and was taken over by George Stevens. It closed around 1943.  

It then became William Kearne Grocery in 1944, and Ron Glass Grocery in 1946.

In 1946, Gil’s Grocery, owned by brothers Nathan and Harry Gilfix of 426 Bannerman Avenue, opened at 898 Westminster.

Nathan was born in Winnipeg and attended St. John’s High School, though he left before graduating to work at Oretzki’s Department store on Selkirk Avenue. He served with the RCAF in World War II and soon after returning met Riva whom he married in March 1953. The couple had twin boys, Murray and Perry.  

In 1956, Nathan left the grocery business to work at Modern Headwear Ltd., a company started by his father-in-law. His two sons eventually worked there and the company, now known as Modern Promotions, is run by a third generation of the family. 

Harry Gilfix was also born and raised in Winnipeg and attended St. John's High School. He also served in the RCAF from 1939 to 1945. It seems that Harry did not marry. His obituary mentions leaving to mourn his “loving companion Annette” and daughter, Doris.

In 1960, Harry changed the business from a grocery store to Gil’s Automatic Wash and Dry laundromat. He then went into the real estate business with a small firm called Gil’s Realty.  

Harry tried unsuccessfully to sell the laundry in 1969 then began to lease it out. It is likely that Gilfix owned the building until 1983, the year before he died at the age of 65.  In 1983, D. G. West received approval from the city to construct an extension to the rear of the building which expanded the laundromat from about 620 square feet to the present 1,100 square feet. 

The building remained a laundromat until 2005.

Source: The Neighbourhood Bookstore and Café Facebook page

The next owner of 898 Westminster was Bill Fugler.  

Fugler, from Pointe Claire, Quebec, came to Winnipeg in 1992 to be the writer-in-residence at the St. Norbert Arts Centre. After a three-year stint in Japan teaching English, in 1999 he and his now ex-wife, Mari Campbell, moved to Arlington Street in Wolseley. 

In 2005, Fugler saw a for sale sign on 898 Westminster that read “Thanks for 16 years of business, if you forgot your pants give us a call.”  He recalled his conversation with Mr. West, “He told me that the machines were being vandalized too often. He also said that the place would be packed on hot days but there would be only one machine running, everyone else would be relaxing in the air conditioning.” 

Fugler says, “I opened the store because I had seen a lot of people talking on street corners in Wolseley and I wanted to provide people with somewhere to hang out. I loved books and used bookstores, so I added that in the mix. I was partly inspired by the former Heaven Book and Art Cafe on Corydon.” 

Bill and Mari Fugler ran the business together from its opening in 2005 until about 2009, then Bill ran it on his own. 

The Neighbourhood Bookstore and Café, which became a popular neighbourhood hangout, as Fugler hoped, and live music venue, closed in August 2018.

Source: The Ruby West Facebook page

In December 2018, Erin and Peter Keating and Laura and Jamie Hilland purchased the building. After a few months to receive the necessary permits and an extensive, five-month-long renovation, The Ruby West restaurant opened on November 15, 2019.  In 2021, Brian Johnson and Rachael King purchased Erin and Pete's shares of The Ruby West.

In November 2021 it was reported that Rachel King and Brian Johnson, King's partners and Ruby West's Kitchen manager since it opened, had purchased the business and rebranded it Bonnie Day. they told the Free Press that they plan to "ramp up the cosiness and elevate the menu."

The new restaurant had its 'soft opening" on November 22 and will have its grand opening on December 1, 2021.

Thanks to The Gilfix family, Bill Fugler, and Jamie Hilland for contributing to the content of this blog post.

July 21, 1984, Winnipeg Free Press

February 6, 2002,
The Jewish Post

Friday, November 26, 2021

655 Main Street - Manwin Hotel

© 2021, Christian Cassidy

Place: Windsor Hotel / Maple Leaf Hotel / Roosevelt Hotel / National Hotel / Manwin Hotel / National Hotel
Address: 655 Main Street
Opened: 1889
Original Architect: Unknown
Rooms: 30

It seems that the ManWin Hotel may not be long for this world. It was closed down in February 2021 by health inspectors for a lack of heat and in November 2021 owners are fighting as much as $150,000 in fines for a list of other health violations that they say they cannot afford to pay. (For more information about their failed appeal of $38,400 of those fines, see here and the attached exhibits in the agenda page.)

It modern-ish exterior and numerous name changes over the decades makes it a difficult business to research. Here's a look back at its history.

December 16, 1890, Winnipeg Tribune

Most Main Street hotels celebrated their opening and ongoing existence with with frequent ads promoting their reasonable rates, comfortable rooms and in-house restaurant. The hotel at 655 Main, just a couple of minutes from the CPR station, rarely advertised throughout its 130+ years, preferring instead to be a primarily residential hotel for railway workers and labourers.

The first iteration of the hotel was known as the Windsor Hotel.

Windsor Hotel (right) in March 1906. (Canafornian on Ipernity)

There were many Windsor Hotels in Winnipeg at different addresses in the 1870s and 1880s. This one appears to have opened in 1889 by the Spence Brothers. William acted as manager but there were at least two other brothers, Robert and George, who also lived at the hotel and had other business interests. Samuel, who ran another hotel called Gault House, was also likely a brother.

The Windsor from its earliest days appears to have been a residential hotel. The 1893 street directory captures the three Spence brothers, a porter, a brakeman with the CPR, and five labourers living upstairs.

In 1897, the hotel changed hands as the liquor licence was transferred to Clara, then William, Burton. Mr. Burton was a Nova Scotia native. Sadly, he died suddenly in April 1901 of congestion of the lungs at the age of 36, leaving Clara with three young children.

January 18, 1904, Winnipeg Free Press

The next owner was Jerry Russell. Under his tenure, the number of alcohol related incidents in the bar reported in the papers - fights and whatnot - seemed to increase. This included the serious stabbing of one of his bartenders in August 1903.

In January 1904, a liquor inspector got access to the residential portion of the hotel and according to the Free Press, "discovered a well-stocked bar doing a thriving business, and by the number of empties around the place sales must have been good."

It was the last straw for the liquor board that had previously dealt with Russell. His liquor licence was pulled by the end of the month.

The hotel could not make money without a liquor licence, so it was sold to Joseph Bearnhart. He left in 1907 when he purchased the Winnipeg Hotel further south on Main Street.

The next owner of the hotel was Nathan Rosenblat. He would be associated with the building for nearly three decades and is responsible for expanding it to the size it is today.

Rosenblat, a Russian Jew fleeing tension in his homeland, came to Winnipeg around 1885. A couple of years later, he opened a hardware and clothing store at the neighbouring 651 Main Street.

The newspapers reported on the sale in May 1907. Rosenblat vowed to "immediately remodel the building and make it up to date". The renovations would start with the interior with the bar and the addition of a restaurant that he wanted to be "one of the finest dining rooms in the city". He would also expand the rear of the building nearly doubling its size.

August 8, 1907, Winnipeg Tribune

According to the Winnipeg Tribune, Rosenblat applied for an $81,606 building permit in August 1907 - a huge sum and one of the larger permits for a renovation in the city to that point in the year. It was to add a multi-level extension to the back of the building.

Tenders for the construction of the extension were advertised by Eade Brothers architects and Carter Halls Aldinger won the contract.

The work may have been scaled back as an August 31 newspaper story reported that $25,000 worth of work was being done to construct a 92-foot x 37-foot extension that was two storeys in height with basement. It was noted that the expansion was built so that as many as four more storeys could be added at a future date.

Also in August, a separate $2,400 building permit was granted to Reosnblat for the interior work to reconfigure the bar on the south side of the new front entrance and add a restaurant to the north side.

The project was expected to be completed in December 1907, though no grand reopening announcement or ad can be found.

March 23, 1949, Winnipeg Tribune

Rosenblat kept a fairly low profile and the Windsor Hotel was a pretty quiet place. He seemed content with his one hotel and neighbouring Rosenblat Hardware and Clothing and didn't get involved in the ownership of other establishments as most hoteliers at the time did.

The Rosenblat family, which included Sara and their five children, resided at 51 Lily Street, which now faces Disraeli Freeway. He was involved with Rosh Pina Synagogue and in 1911 headed a committee to make improvements to its cemetery.

January 10, 1910, Winnipeg Free Press

The end of the Rosenblat as the public face of the business came following a scandalous event at the hotel in January 1910.

The Free Press reported that a woman who was already well known to police "with two (other) women and three men started visiting saloons and finally ended up in one of the side rooms off the bar at the Windsor Hotel. There the gang drank themselves stupid and the whole performance was in plain sight of the street."

Women at the time were not allowed in saloons and by Victorian standards their public display of drunkenness was shocking. The matter was so serious that the liquor board suspended the hotel's licence "subject to an investigation". 

There was  no follow-up to the liquor licence story so it is unclear what exactly happened at the hearing. Rosenblat may have been told he wouldn't get his licence back or he may have just been tired of the ongoing issues with running a hotel and saloon. Either way, the hotel had a new proprietor the following month, though Rosenblat continued to own the business and building.

February 16, 1910, Winnipeg Tribune

The man who leased the hotel from Rosenblat in February 1910 was William "Doc" Whaley, a businessman and hotelier who had run the Sutherland Hotel through 1909.

. He ran the Sutherland Hotel in 1909and in August 1912 he applied for a hotel licence for 652 Main, what would be known as the Club Hotel.

Whaley promptly changed the name to the Windsor to the Maple Leaf Hotel and the address changed to 659 Main Street. (Over the decades, the hotel's address has changed from 655 to 657 to 659 and back.)

Again, there was no advertising for the hotel even after the changeover. The 1911 street directory lists Whaley, bartenders Robert Harris and Harry Carpenter, and hotel clerk David Buchanan, all living at the hotel.

Whaley made an application for a hotel licence across the street at 652 Main Street, an establishment that would become known as the Club Hotel. When it opened in 1912, he left the Maple Leaf.

Maple Leaf Hotel circa World War I (Berman Postcard Collection)

The next operator of the business was David Hayes.

It seems that Hayes and the entire staff lived at the hotel. The 1912 street directory shows Hayes, Miss U. Snowplough - maid, J. Nord - hotel porter, John Joyce - hotel clerk, James McDonald - bartender, Miss M. Hooper - hotel employee, Miss J. Burne - hotel employee, Miss M Chorma - maid, Joseph Allen - bartender, Mrs. P Arlie - hotel nurse, Mrs. T. Furst - waitress, Mrs. L. O. Powers - cook, Edward Davis - bartender, Miss V. Clark - employee.

Others listed as living there in 1912 were T. J. Welch - telegraph operator CPR, John Sloan - clerk at Labour Employment Office, W. Phillips - switchman with CPR, B. McPhee - switchman CNR, W. A. Kirkland - brakeman CPR, L. Frost - switchman CPR, George Brown - ironworker, Charles M. Berg - steamfitter.

August 17, 1914, Winnipeg Tribune

August 1914 was a sad month in the hotel's history.

In the wee hours of August 1, 1914, a fire broke out in the basement of the hotel. Nobody was hurt but one newspaper story reported that "the rear portion was badly gutted".

One of the people displaced by the fire was Mary Kissock, 22. She had come from Ireland a couple of years earlier and lived at the Maple Leaf Hotel where she worked as a maid. She went to live with her sister in Elmwood while the hostel was being renovated.

Kissock became pregnant and she and her boyfriend went to the Beverley Street home of Dr. Russell and Maude Dumas to have an abortion on August 6. A week later, Mary became ill and died at her sister's house on August 17.

The doctor and his wife were charged with murder. At their trial in November, a jury found them not guilty.

May 29, 1915, Winnipeg Tribune

The year 1915 was a tumultuous one for the Maple Leaf Hotel.

What may have started it all off was the April arrest of Hayes for selling liquor after hours to undercover inspectors. An indication that this might not have been his first run-in with the authorities is that rather than an automatic fine, he was first remanded for a week.

The timing could not have been worse as the following month the city was about to begin a crackdown on poor conditions at some hotels. Of the 79 establishments who applied to renew their licence in May 1915, 29 had the renewal decision deferred. This included the Maple Leaf Hotel.

Part of the licence issue was related to a dispute between Rosenblat and Hayes over renewing their lease agreement. A May 31 newspaper article noted that "difficulty between the owner of the place and Mr. Hayes had been fixed up" and a two-month extension on the old licence was given as they sorted things out.

Four days later, another story appeared noting that the lease deal had fallen apart and Hayes walked away from the hotel. As Hayes was the holder of the hotel's liquor licence, the bar was immediately closed.

The 1916 street directory lists Rosenblat listed as the proprietor of the hotel again. The following year, son Charles was installed as the hotel manager.

April 6, 1918, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1918, Rosenblat's two businesses were caught up in a murder that shocked the city.

Sometime before 1:00 am on Saturday, April 18, 1918, burglars broke into Roseblat's store. A passing patrolman, Constable Bernard Snowdon, 30, noticed the back door of the store was open and walked inside. He got about six feet into the building when he was shot dead. Another patrolman found him not long after.

Snowdon left a two-year-old baby and an ill wife who was still recovering from surgery and went into shock when she heard the news.

The ensuing manhunt found the two men and one juvenile responsible for the murder were guests in room 4 at the Maple Leaf Hotel. They had registered the day before and the two men went to the hardware store to buy a flashlight and presumably case the place.

The ensuing manhunt found the men drinking at the Savoy Hotel with stolen merchandise on them. Guns and spent casings were found back at the hotel. Phillip Johnston and Frank Sullivan were hanged in Winnipeg on October 2, 1918. The juvenile, 17, was sentenced to life in prison.

Rosenblat continued to own the hotel until his death on March 17, 1931, at the age of 75. In fact, he worked at the hotel earlier that day. His son, Allan, ran "The Rosenblat Hardware" at 651 Main by that time and it remained in business until at least 1959.

Starting in 1933, the hotel went through a number of proprietors. it is unclear if it was owned and leased out. Newspapers don't mention sales.

Samuel G. Last is listed as the hotel's manager in 1935 and its proprietor for the next two years.  He lived at the hotel during his tenure. (A William C. Last ran the Waverley Hotel - they may have been from the same family)

From 1938 to 1942, Mike Hollfelder is listed as its proprietor. He moved on to work at the Royal Alexander in 1943.

Later that year, Dave Ellis of Machray Street, manager of the Club Hotel across the street, took over as proprietor.  He introduced a new name for the building in 1944: the Roosevelt Hotel.

Street directories show for the first time a pool hall, Nick's run by Nick Donesuk, listed on the main floor. This suggests some internal renovations, perhaps the dining room became a counter cafe freeing up space for the new business. (The business disappears from the listings the following year which suggests it may have been absorbed by the hotel.)

Maple Leaf Hotel, undated (Rob McInnes Postcard Collection)

In 1945, Alan Lennett of 341 Lansdowne comes on the scene. He was an operator at CN Telegrams the previous year, then became manager of the Roosevelt in 1945. In 1946, he took over proprietorship of the hotel as Lennett Hotels Ltd.. Oddly, during his time as manager and proprietor he is also still listed as being an operator at CN Tels.

1946 Directory: George Wagner - painter, Owen Virgil - employee of Devonware Ltd., Mike Travis, mechanic, Fred Simmons - operator at CN telegraphs, A. E. Nickelson - barber, Dave mature - hotel clerk, George Mackie - welding instructor, George Ledergerber - mink farmer, Michael Kuraliak - employee at Rogers Sheet Metal, Ed Kurtz - hotel waiter, Peter Krawec - employee at Burns, J. A. Johnson - elevator operator, Rudolph Haines - tailor, and Harold Bartlett - hotel clerk.

In late 1947, the liquor licence was transferred from the Lennett Hotels to Harry Ewashuk. He is listed at times as proprietor or manager, so it was likely corporate-owned.

March 13, 1950, Winnipeg Tribune

New ownership came in 1950 with a new name: National Hotel.

No proprietor is ever listed in street directories, just managers. The first one in 1950 was Peter Chernecki. This suggests that the hotel was corporate-owned.

The sign had barely been installed when the hotel's new name was tarnished by another shocking murder.

March 13, 1950, Winnipeg Tribune

On the night of March 11, 1950, Mrs. Martha Perrault visited the hotel. She was a widow with six children who lived in temporary housing at an old wartime wireless school in Tuxedo. The man she was there to meet was Walter Stoney, 38, a cook who lived in room 45.

The following morning, police found Stoney in serious condition at the nearby CPR tracks after having thrown himself in front of a moving train. When they visited his room, they found Perrault dead under his bed. She had been stabbed 18 times with a pickaxe.

Stoney eventually admitted that he thought she was poisoning his food and killed her in retaliation. He threw himself in front of the train because he thought he would soon die a more painful death. (He also accused staff of poisoning his food during his long stay in hospital.)

Stoney was found guilty and was hanged at Headingley Gaol on January 17, 1951.

September 5, 1975, Winnipeg Tribune

The 1970s were particularly dangerous ones at the hotel.

In April 1972, a fight between two men in one of the rooms left 44-year-old Walter Young dead.

In September 1975, a man who was booted out of the bar returned with a gun and shot five people. All of them survived.

There were other serious assaults and attempted murders by the end of the decade.

By 1982, the hotel had been rechristened the Manwin Hotel. Despite the change, its reputation as one of the city's most dangerous hotels continued through to the 2020s.

It was purchased by a numbered company in 2016 and soon after was renamed the National Hotel, (even though the signs still read Manwin).

The murals out front were painted in 2009 by Chris R. Easton.