Thursday, April 2, 2020

240 Chestnut Street - Ches-Way Apartments

© 2020, Christian Cassidy
Place: Ches-Way Apartments
Address: 240 Chestnut Street at Honeyman (Map)
Built: 1909 and 1937
Contractor: Wallace and Akins (1937)

The Ches-Way Apartments was built in two stages. The original building is the large house located at 797 Broadway* built circa 1909. The adjoining brick structure facing Chestnut Street was constructed in 1937  

*The street's name was changed to Honeyman Avenue when Broadway was rerouted at Maryland Street to connect with Portage Avenue in 1960. The "Ches" and "way" serve as a reminder of the original name of the intersection.

Early Residents

- According to Henderson Directories, the first resident of the eight room house was was John Fumerton and family. He was vice president of Thomas H. Lock and Co. a wholesale grocery business at 197 Bannatyne Street.

- After just a couple of years, it became the family home of Alexander Calder. He was a long-time railway and steamship ticket agent and sometimes employment agent for the CPR. He was well-known in the city having been in operation here since 1880. In 1911, not long after Calder moved in it was announced that his son, A. B. Calder, who had been the CPR's general ticket agent in Chicago, was returning to Winnipeg to join his father's business.

- A longer term owner came in 1912 with Dr. Charles Hunter, his wife Louise, and family. The physician taught at the U of M's Medical School and had a practice on the 7th floor of the Boyd Building on Portage Avenue. He served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps overseas During World War I reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and when he returned, resumed his practice and moved form the home. (More about Hunter below.)

- The final owner of the house as a single family dwelling was William J. Thompson and family starting around 1919. Thompson was an accountant at the firm Geo. G Lennox. In 1924, presumably while still owned by Thompson, the bank foreclosed on the mortgage. (I cannot say for certain that it was Thompson who went bankrupt. In 1919, around the time the Thompsons moved in, the house was advertised as 'for rent' by the same realty company that advertised it for sale in 1924. It could be that the Thompsons rented it and the owner went bankrupt.)

The house was put up for sale in 1924 and Henderson Directory of 1926 lists it as a six-room rooming house.

Interestingly, all of the tenants were women. They included: Edith Turland, Eatons employee; Mrs. Jesse Simpson, nurse; Flora Moore, milliner at 160 Stafford Street; Helen Brown, stenographer with the provincial government. The all-female lineup continued in 1927.

May 13, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

The name "Ches-Way Apartments", referring to the house, first appears in January 1928 advertisements taken out by developers and property management firm T. A. C. Akins, later known as Wallace and Akins.

In 1935, the company took out a $500 building permit to put concrete piles under the house.

In mid-April 1937, Wallace and Akins began construction on an addition to the Ches-Way that would face Chestnut Street and incorporate the original house. The two storey with full basement extension was built of brick and reinforced concrete and contained nine additional suites.

Though this was a smaller construction project, it an another block that started construction around the same time on Vaughan Street were, according to the Winnipeg Tribune, the first two apartment blocks to start construction in the city since the stock market crash of October 1929.

October 22, 1937, Winnipeg Tribune

The new, 15-unit Ches-Way opened around September 1937. For a few years the house was referred to as the Ches-Way Annex and retained its Broadway address but now the legal address for the combined building is 240 Chestnut Street.

The building appears to have had a quiet existence over the decades until a fire in January 2018 caused it to be evacuated. The fire damage was limited, but there was smoke and water damage to a number of suites. The building never reopened.

More on Dr. Charles Hunter

Hunter was born in 1873 in Scotland and studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen before coming to Winnipeg. He was a a prominent physician by the time he moved to 797 Broadway with an office on the 7th floor of the Boyd Building on Portage Avenue.

Dr. Hunter enlisted to serve in the First World War with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Based in England, he quickly rose through the ranks to become a Lieutenant Colonel and distinguished himself with his work as an inspector of Canadian military hospitals and examining thousands of casualties as part of the military's Medical Board.

In 1917, Hunter made a presentation to the Royal College of Medicine about two English boys, 8 and 10, who suffered from a rare form of dwarfism that was sometimes referred to at the time as "gargoyleism". That presentation led to research into the genetic disorder and it was eventually named Mucopolysaccharidosis type II or "Hunter's Syndrome". (For more about Hunter's role, see his entry in The Man Behind the Syndrome by P and G Beighton, which is also the source of the above image.)

Upon his return, Hunter resumed his practice, though by that time Marjorie had already relocated to an apartment block. This was common during the war when the "man of the house" went overseas.

Described in Manitoba Medicine: A Brief History as "a short, irascible Scot", he became a popular lecturer and continued to teach at the U of M Medical School until 1933. He was then made professor emeritus.

Hunter continued his practice until 1922 and died in March 1955 at the age of 82. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

A collection of Hunter's papers are at the University of Manitoba College of Medicine Archives.

For more images of the Ches-Way Apartments.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

1023 Main Street - Chesed Shel Emes

© 2020, Christian Cassidy
Place: Chesed Shel Emes
Address: 1023 Main Street (Map)
Constructed: ca. 1901 and 1933
Architect: Max Zev Blankstein (1933)
Contractor: H. Zelbrovity (1933)

This building is a converted was a two-storey home constructed around 1901* for Matthew Ruckle, a druggist who had a shop at 962 Main Street at Selkirk. He and his family relocated to College Avenue around 1908.

(The city says the house was built in 1905, though street directories list Ruckle as living there starting in the 1902 edition which suggests the house was likely there in late 1901. He is still listed as living there in the 1907 directory making it unlikely that the house was built in 1905.)

After Ruckle, the house operated a four suite rooming house for the next 15 years. The main floor was renovated in 1913 to include a small retail space that at times was home to a hat shop and a tailor.

In the 1920s, the house became owner-occupied again. The retailer also disappears, though the space may have remained intact as 1023 Main Street was a polling station location of a polling station for three elections that decade.

Margaret Flanagan, a lodger of CPR porter William Cochrane who owned the home from 1927 to 1930, made front page news in 1928.

On the night of Saturday, February 25, 1928, the 22-year-old was waiting for a street car on Main Street at Manitoba Avenue when she was struck by a speeding car. The driver did not stop. Police tracked down the car and its driver and he was charged with manslaughter. A jury found him not guilty which created a public uproar. (More about Flanagan's death in a future post.)

In 1930, the house was went back on the market advertised as a 7-room house. The final owners appear to be the Barak family. Harry was a brickayer, wife Bertha was a dressmaker and daughter Rachel was also a dressmaker. Philip Katz, a labourer, was their lodger.

June 15, 1933, Winnipeg Tribune

Chesed Shel Emes, “true loving kindness” in Hebrew, was created in 1930 with the intention of opening a non-profit Jewish funeral chapel and mortuary. By the spring of 1932 the organization purchased 1023 Main Street.

The funds needed to convert the building were in place by by June 1933 as that is when it applied for, and received, a licence to operate a funeral chapel from the city. Some residents backing onto the building's back lane and along Magnus Avenue protested that they didn't want such an establishment in their neighbourhood.

They appealed to the city's health committee, but councillors told them that as long as the owners complied with regulations there was little that could be done. Even though the area east of Main Street may have been a  residential neighbourhood the subject property was zoned commercial which allowed funeral parlours.

That same month, H. Zelbrovity took out a $500 building permit to make renovations based on a design by architect Max Zev Blankstein.

Chesed Shel Emes opened on October 6, 1933.

Initially, the funeral chapel operated on the main floor and the upstairs remained residential streets often for staff. Max Duboff, Chesed Shel Emes' caretaker, and family lived there in the late 1930s followed by Idel Okell. Through the 1950s it was home to Jack Manusovitch, caretaker, and his wife, Rita.

November 10, 1941, Winnipeg Free Press

As a community non-profit group, Chesed Shel Emes covered the cost of funerals whenever necessary. In 1938, for instance, 38 funeral were held there of which 75% were free of charge. In order to make this possible there was a constant fundraising campaign by the board, its women's auxiliary, and community groups such as drama clubs that would donate the proceeds of a show.

The Jewish community celebrated the burning of the chapel's mortgage in March 1939 at a dinner held in the Tolmud Tora hall on Flora Avenue at Charles Street. Mayor John Queen and councilor John Blumberg were guest speakers. Rabbi J. Horowitz said he hoped that the burning of the mortgage was symbolic of freeing Jews around the world from the “mortgage of persecution” they were currently facing.

In 1941, the chapel was closed so that it could be extensively renovated and expanded. At its reopening celebration on November 9, speakers paid tribute to Abraham Cohen. The community worker had been president of Chesed Shel Emes since its inception and was also a founding member of the Hebrew Sick Benefit Society and B'nai Jcaob Free Loan Association.

It was likely during this expansion that the current facade was built. It is actually a false wall tall enough to hide the gabled roof of the original house, which is still there, and wide enough to cover the width of the original house plus the extension to the south. The same architect likely also renovated the Hebrew Sick Benefit Society building in 1941 after suffering a major fire as its facade and that of Chesed Shel Emes are striking similar.

A new era for Chesed Shel Emes began in 1946 when construction began on a new, much larger chapel on the adjoining land to the north. The $60,000 building opened on November 23, 1947.

The original building was then converted to offices, a board room and cold room for the storage of bodies.

Chesed Shel Emes had a condition report done on the original building in 2016. While it showed no immediate structural problems, there were multiple issues from the foundation up to the roof that had to be addressed to ensure the building's survival. There were also numerous building code infractions that had to be addressed, from replacing the electrical system to adding washrooms.

Instead of pursuing renovations, the organization decided to make a fresh start and build a new wing. The two-storey building will contain office space, washrooms, an expanded cold room and a staff kitchen.

The cost of the new wing is expected to be $3.18 million. Work begins in spring 2020 with the demolition of the original building.

Chesed Shel Emes website
Chesed Shel Emes Facebook page
New era about to begin for Chesed Shel Emes Jewish Post and News
My photo album of 1023 Main Street
1023 Main Street City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committee

Friday, February 28, 2020

295 Sutton Avenue - River East Collegiate

© 2020, Christian Cassidy
Place: River East Collegiate
Address: 295 Sutton Avenue (Map)
Architect: Ward and Macdonald Associates
Contractor: Wyatt Construction Company

Opened: February 27, 1961

Post-war suburban development swelled the population of the municipalities that immediately surrounded the city of Winnipeg, including the city of East Kildonan and the R.M. of North Kildonan. A major investment in the school infrastructure of this once largely rural area was needed to keep up with the population boom.

In 1959, River East School Division No. 9 was created. It incorporated these two municipalities as well as East St. Paul and part of St. Clements. On February 9, 1960, it went before ratepayers with a pair of money bylaws totaling $945,000 to cover the cost of expanding Miles Macdonell Collegiate and the construction of a new collegiate in North Kildonan. Voters, (there was just 10 per cent voter turnout),  approved the spending by a vote of 1,319 to 244.

Feb. 8, 1960, Winnipeg Free Press

The school division had turned to local architects Ward and Macdonald Associates to design the new school.

The firm dates back to 1912 and was embarking on a new era of working on school projects. After this, they would go on to design Maple Leaf School (1961); an addition to West Kildonan Collegiate (1961); an addition to Garden City Collegiate (1964); W. C. Miller Collegiate in Altona (1964); and Laidlaw School (1965). The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation estimates they worked on around 500 school projects across the province between the late 1950s and late 1970s.

The tender for the construction of a "masonry, concrete and steel thirty-seven classroom equivalent Collegiate Building, North Kildonan"was advertised starting in April 1, 1960. The winning bid came from Wyatt Construction Company of McMillan Avenue. Its president, Fred R. Wyatt, was also the owner of Wyatt Rentals which operated from that address until around 2000.

Soon after construction got underway it was clear that the collegiate wouldn't be ready in time for the 1960 - 61 school year. A hint as to when the first students were admitted comes in a November classified ad looking to hire the last couple of teachers which noted a "January 1961" opening.

The formal opening of the $500,000 River East Collegiate took place on February 27, 1961. For its nearly 250 students, there were 15 classrooms as well as home ec rooms, shops, two laboratories, a library and a hybrid gymnasium / auditorium.The school division also had an office in the building.

R. W. Lightly, chief inspector of schools for the province, and B. E. Glavin, chairman of the school division, officiated over the opening. Also in attendance was North Kildonan mayor John Dixon and River East's first principal, Alex Smaluc. An accordion band and the Miles Mac Collegiate Orchestra provided the entertainment.

The 1960 - 61 teaching staff at River East Collegiate was made up of: Irene Isabel Artes; Mary Stevenson; Jacob Regehr; Edward William Kleiman; Hubert William Whitehead; Hugh Russel Makepeace; Joseph John Grenon; Daniel William Doerksen; Lorna Catherine Madill; Hermann Rempel and Donald Ross McMaster. (Source).

A sign of how fast the area's population was growing was that less than two years later, in October 1962, the school division was back asking ratepayers to approve spending for a $650,000 for phase two of River East Collegiate. They voted 3,484 to 2,560 in favour.

The new wing at the rear of the building, which had always been part of the plan and designed by Ward and Macdonald Associates.The 36-room expansion added another 20 classrooms and one laboratory to bring the capacity of the school to 1,200. It also allowed for an expansion of the library, auto shop, music and visual arts spaces.

It opened to students in late November. The formal opening, including an open house for the community, took place on the evening of February 26, 1964.

Over the years, the River East Collegiate has undergone smaller additions, including one in 1975.

In 1983 a major renovation removed the large windows from the facade and replaced them with escape windows and stucco walls, giving the front of the building the appearance of the rear of a detention facility.

The exterior underwent another major facelift in 2018.

My Flickr album of River East Collegiate 
295 Sutton Avenue Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
North Kildonan North East Historical Society
A Historical Look at River East Transcona School Division

Thursday, February 20, 2020

169 Provencher - Couture Motors

© 2020, Christian Cassidy
Place: Former Couture Motors
Address: 169 Provencher Boulevard
Opened: 1938
Contractor: Unknown

From about 1909 to 1924, 169 Provencher Boulevard was home to Mrs. Anna Paradis, widow of Eugene, who raised a number of children there. In 1925, the address disappears from the street directory which suggests it was torn down.

The address reappears in 1937 as home to Couture Motors.

Le Manitoba, May 21, 1919

Couture Motors traced its history back to 1918 when Emile Couture partnered with Fred Gray to open the St. Boniface Garage on the west side of St. Joseph Street at Dumoulin. In the early 1920s, the name changed to Universal Motors with Couture as general manager.

Couture Motors sold new and used vehicles, (the former Universal Motors property behind the building was its main car lot.) It advertised as a Chrysler dealer from the 1940s through 1960s and from 1969 to 1995 was a Toyota dealership. Ads in the 1980s claimed it was Manitoba's oldest Toyota dealership.

Emile, who was born in St. Boniface in 1894, died in December 1989. Despite being in his mid-nineties, he was still the owner and operating manager of the business, though sons Denis and Claude had long been working at the business in leadership roles.

Claude died in 1995 and Denis decided to wind down the business. The next generation of Coutures  consisted of three daughters who were not interested in taking over. The remaining new cars were sold off in 1995 and on September 24, 1997 they held an unreserved auction for the contents of the building.

The building then became home to City Centre Auto. Most recently, it was Provencher Autobody and Framework.

On February 19, 2020, the building suffered a major fire. (Also see.)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

193 McGregor Street - Independent Greek Church (R.I.P.)

©2020 Christian Cassidy
Place: Holy Transfiguration Independent Greek Church
Address: 193 McGregor Street (Map)
Constructed: 1907
Architect: Unknown

The Independent Greek Church (which, despite its name, was Ukrainian), was established in Winnipeg in 1903 with the assistance of the Presbyterian Church. It is considered the forerunner to the Ukrainian United Church in Canada.

The congregation worshiped in an old church, likely called Church of the Savior, at the corner of McGregor and Powers. The second and third annual convention of the Manitoba and Northwest Consistory of the Independent Greek Church was held at that building in 1905.

Oct. 28, 1933, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1907, a new, 300-seat church was built. The wood frame building cost $5,000 and was described  as "neatly built in the Greek style of architecture". Ukrainians from across the province came to  attend its formal opening on November 10. (The old church was used as a hall and was torn down ca. 2010).

The Czecho-Slovak Bethlehem Baptist Church bought the building from the United Church in 1933 and had their first service on November 2nd. They were the first congregation of the Czecho-Slovak Baptists to own their own building. It was often referred to simply as the Bethlehem Chapel.

In 1937, it was purchased for $6,000 by the Ukrainian Seventh-Day Adventist Church which operated it until around 1985. It then became the evangelical Bethel Chapel for Indian and Metis until the early 2000s. Most recently, it was Springs Church's inner city youth church until 2019.

The church was demolished in February 2020.

Top: The old and new churches in 2009, (Google Street View)
Bottom: Interior of Church ca. 2013, (The Year Past)


The Ukrainian United Church in Manitoba 1903 - 1961 G C Russlin
Monuments to Faith: Ukrainian Churches in Manitoba
Henderson Highway Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Year Past - 2013 City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committee
193 McGregor Street Manitoba Historical Society

Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Tribune archives

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

216 Princess Street - Scott Memorial Hall

© 2019, Christian Cassidy
Place: Thomas Scott Memorial Hall
Address: 216 Princess Street
Opened: 1903
Architect: Samuel Hooper

The Orange Order in Canada is as a Protestant fraternal organization that traces its origins back to the Orange Order created in Northern Ireland in 1795. Winnipeg had been home to a Loyal Orange Lodge since 1871.

By 1900, there were around 100 lodges across the province and the need for a new Grand Orange Lodge of Manitoba grew. In May 1900 it was announced that one would be built in Winnipeg.

Initial drawings, likely done by James McDiarmid, show an ornate, four storey building on a 50 ft x 90 foot lot on Princess Avenue at Rupert Street. Construction of the foundation got underway in the spring of 1900 and on July 12th there was a cornerstone laying ceremony.

Orangemen from across the province and beyond came to Winnipeg for the event. One newspaper estimated the number of visitors at 6,000. They marched from city hall down Main Street to Fort Garry Park at the Assiniboine River where speeches were made.

The location was symbolic as it was near the spot where Thomas Scott, an Orangeman from Co. Down, Northern Ireland, was executed by Louis Riel’s provisional government on March 4, 1870. Scott's death led to Riel’s own execution on 1885. The building would be named the Thomas Scott Memorial Hall in his honour.

After the speeches it was back to the site of the new hall where the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of Manitoba, Hon. D H McFadden, laid the cornerstone.

The project then ran into financial difficulty as the initial $35,000 construction estimate ballooned and the site sat idle for a couple of years.

The issue of completing the lodge was revisited in March 1902.

It was decided that a less expensive building was needed and the design was pared down to what they could afford. Architect Samuel Hooper was hired to produced a new set of drawings which were presented to lodge members in June for approval.

The most noticeable change was the reduction from four floors to three. Other cost savings came when the Garson Quarry offered to donate the stonework for the facade and contractor Thomas Sharpe, a prominent Orangeman, agreed to have his company build it.

Construction got back underway later that summer and on the afternoon of March 4, 1903 the new Grand Lodge was formally opened with a large banquet to follow the next night. (The building was not quite complete, but March 4 was the 33rd anniversary of Thomas Scott's death and had previously set that as their target date.) 

As per the original plans for the building, the main floor and basement were rented commercially as a stream of income. The trade-off to get the new building constructed was that the second floor also had to be rented out. Initial tenants were: James Smart and Company, manufacturers of stoves and heaters, in the basement; a grocery wholesaler named Steele was on the main floor; and Stirling and Waller, wholesale clothiers, on the second floor.

The lodge occupied the top floor where there was a hall for at least 500 people, smaller meeting rooms, offices and a smoking lounge. To make additional revenue the hall could be rented out for outside events and played host to countless recitals, dances and receptions.

The hall also included a large mural of Thomas Scott.

January 11, 1943, Winnipeg Tribune

The building had a close call on January 10, 1943 when a three-alarm fire broke out overnight on the third floor causing about $30,000 in damage.

Earlier that evening there had been about 500 people in the hall at a dance. The fire started in the corner where the men's smoking room was located, so it was believed to have been caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette.

The lodge had insurance which covered the reconstruction of the hall. The building was rededicated on October 11, 1943.

During reconstruction the lodge may have been moved to the second floor of the building and the third floor was rebuilt as warehouse space. Recent photos by the city's Historic Buildings Committee show that the third floor is open space and that the Thomas Scott mural, which surely would have had to be repainted after the fire, is located on the second floor.

As with most fraternal and religious organizations, membership in the Grand Orange Lodge of Manitoba after the 1960s. The lodge was able to maintain such a large building thanks to revenue from its commercial spaces and that the hall was a well-used venue for numerous organizations.

Two later tenants of the building were the Winnipeg Irish Association in the 1980s and '90s and the Antique Exchange from at least 1990 until 2015.

The Grand Lodge of Manitoba sold the building sometime in the 1990s. The Grand Orange Lodge of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were amalgamated into the Grand Orange Lodge of Western Canada effective January 1, 2002.

Update: it was determined by city engineers that the building posed a risk to public safety and the building was demolished starting on February 20, 2020.

Also see:
216 Princess Street City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committee
Grand Lodge of Manitoba collection Provincial Archives of Manitoba
History of the Grand Orange Lodge of Manitoba (1926)
My Flickr album of 216 Princess Street

Thursday, December 26, 2019

578 Agnes Street - Vesta Apartments

© 2019, Christian Cassidy

Place: Vesta Apartments
Address: 578 Agnes Street (Map)
Opened: 1911
Architect: Unknown
Contractor: Bjorn Petursson

The Vesta Apartments were constructed in 1911 by Icelandic builder Bjorn Petursson who also built the nearby Corinne Apartments at 602 Agnes the same year. The building, which consists of twenty one-bedroom suites was open by September 1911.

The architect of the block is not known. The Biographical Dictionary of Architects says that it may be T. L. Kerr, but that building is the wrong year and corner to be this building.

Among the heads of household of its first roster of tenants were: Ernest Barter, assistant agent with the Northern Navigation Co. in 14;  Oswald Boyle, electrician with the Street Railway Co., in 19; Albert and Alfred Brock, Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works, in 13; Charles Hawley, machinist with the CPR, in 15; Fred Lyddiatt, stores department at the CPR shops, in 8; William Lyddiatt, pharmacist, in 8; John Mahen, clerk at Imperial Oil, in 7; Allan Milward, plumber at Winnipeg General Hospital, in 1; T. Mote, warehouseman for Ashdown Hardware Co., in 8; George Noble, locksmith on Notre Dame Avenue and his son, George Jr.,a messenger at Manitoba Government Telephones in suite 12.

There were some residents who went to fight in the wars, but all appear to have returned. One example was Private William Conway, an employee at Eaton's prior to enlisting with the 107th Battalion, who returned home safely in December 1917. So did Captain R. F. Bicknell earlier that year.

Tragedy did strike in 1947 when six-year-old James Guy was running across Sargent Avenue at Victor Street and was hit by a trolley bus. He was rushed to hospital suffering from multiple injuries, including a skull fracture, and died soon after. The trolley driver was exonerated of blame as James and his friends ran out from behind parked cars without looking.

October 1926 rental ad

In 2011, after an extensive renovation, the building was reopened as a reasonably priced condominium block. It is unclear what became of the condominium idea as the building was put up for sale in 2019 for $1.6 million as an apartment block.

On the morning of December 26, 2019 the building suffered a major fire. It is unclear if the building can be salvaged.

UPDATE: The building suffered structural damage during the fire and was demolished the next day, December 27, 2019.