Monday, November 17, 2014

614 Simcoe Street - Former Laclede Apartments

614 Simcoe Street 
Place: 614 Simcoe Street (Former Laclede Apartments)
Address: 614 Simcoe Street (website)
Opened: 1913 - 1914
Architect: Bruce William

 Above: November 1917. Bottom: August 1930

The Simcoe Apartments, (renamed the Laclede Apartments in 1919), was designed in 1912 by Scottish-born and trained architect Bruce William, who practiced in Winnipeg from 1907 to 1913. Other notable buildings of his include the Bible House (Ukrainian Cultural Centre) on Alexander Avenue (1912), the Pritchard Avenue Public Baths (1911 – now demolished), and Minnewaska Court on Spence Street (1911), which is now called Chateau Apartments with a Balmoral Street address.

I cannot find information about the original owner or developer of the building. The first advertisement for the block appears in the December 16, 1912 Winnipeg Free Press, though it probably opened over the course of a few months as the next want ads do not appear until the summer of 1913. The 1913 Henderson Directory still notes "block under construction" for the address.

The building's seven, two-bedroom apartments filled up quickly. The first batch of tenants, according the the 1914 Henderson Directory, were:

Suite A - Arthur Williams, caretaker
Suite 1 - Charles Wolfe, travelling salesman
Suite 2 - James Kemp, employee at St. Regis Hotel
Suite 3 - John Orr and John Sparling, salesmen at Yale Shoe Store, 321 Portage
Suite 4 - Maude Hunt, finisher at Holt Renfrew and Co. and John Peltier, an electrician
Suite 5 - Ralph L.Smith, architect and engineer 
Suite 6 - Henry N. Stephenson, an assistant city editor at the Winnipeg Free Press

Tenant Ralph Smith came to Canada from the U.S. in 1907. His architectural specialty was schoolhouses, though most of the buildings that still exist today are churches. He designed First Lutheran Church on Victor Street and co-designed St. John's Church on Cathedral Avenue. In 1916 he formed a company called Western Canada Marble and Tile Co. with William and James Purtell.

Smith may have worked for a larger company, plied his trade in rural areas or stayed to the engineering side of things as his name does not appear in Winnipeg newspaper stories, just a couple of small classified ads in 1909 and 1910.

On December 19, 1941 Cecil Ernest Smith, 21, one of three sons of Mrs. Marguerite Smith of Suite 5, was killed at the Battle of Hong Kong. His mother did not receive word of his death until 1943. When the POW camps were liberated in 1945, any unmailed letters that were discovered were forwarded on. As a result, Mrs. Smith received in the mail a letter Cecil had written less than a month before he was killed.

In the mid 1940s Constable James Duthie of the Winnipeg Police Force and wife Dortothy lived in suite 2. He was a policeman in his native Scotland and in 1929 the couple came to Canada, initially settling in Cabri SK, then in Winnipeg in 1936.

In 1941 Duthie joined the Winnipeg Police Force as a "War Baby". This was a nickname given to older than average recruits, usually former police officers or military men, brought into the police force during the war to fill the gap left by the fifty-nine officers who had enlisted. The agreement was that once the war was over, the original officers would be reinstated, a new class of regular recruits would be graduated to make of for deaths and retirements, then the War babies would be let go.

James died at Misericordia Hospital in 1947 at the age of 52, still a police constable.

May 29, 1935, Winnipeg Free Press

Another tenant was Charles E. Lambert. Born in Ipswitch England, he came to Canada in 1907 and was an  accountant at Winnipeg Envelope Co. He, his wife, and son Ivan lived at suite 2.

614 Simcoe Street 
ca. 2009 (DMSMCA)

The early history of the building is a quiet one. Tenants were mostly clerks, accountants, drivers, retirees and widows. There were no fires or major crimes reported in the newspapers until the 2000s.

In October 2005 the block, which had been known to police for a number of years, hit "rock bottom" when  57-year-old Cornelius Fisher was attacked by a machete at a party in one of the suites. He died later in hospital.

In 2009 there was a drive-by shooting that damaged the windows of one of the suites. Soon after, authorities shut it down for health and safety violations. Later that year it was sold to a new owner, a numbered company based in Surrey B.C. headed by Matthew Birch.

614 Simcoe Street
ca. 2009 (City of Winnipeg)

The building was still vacant on March 17, 2010 when a fire caused damage to two upper floor suites. The city ordered the owner to secure the site and make repairs. Finally, in November 2011, the city issued a derelict building certificate, the final step in the process of seizing it.

Before that could happen, the building was sold to a new owner who began extensive renovations in 2012. The apartment block has now reopened.

Before, during and after photos !

614 Simcoe Street
In 2009 (above) and in 2013 (below)

614 Simcoe Street
2009 (DMSMCA)

614 Simcoe Street
2009 (DMSMCA)

614 Simcoe Street
2009 (DMSCMA)

614 Simcoe Street

614 Simcoe Street

 614 Simcoe Street
614 Simcoe Street
May 2014

614 Simcoe
May 2014

614 Simcoe May 2014  283

Thursday, September 25, 2014

376 Logan Avenue - Former Zion Swedish Lutheran Church

Logan Avenue Church
Place: Zion Swedish Lutheran Church /
Address: Logan Avenue
Architect: J. A. Mattsen
Opened: 1901

ca. 1899 (source)

The Swedish Lutheran Church was established in Winnipeg on October 4, 1890 by visiting Reverend Louis G. Almen of New London, Minnesota. The congregation of around 40 created a small church on Henry Avenue between Laura and Ellen Streets. The first regular pastor was Svante Udden who was appointed in August 1891 and served for six years.

In November 1893 a schoolroom was added to the site. It was used both for Sunday school and to teach English to adults.

The following year, the congregation numbered 50 but saw as many as 200 people at their Sunday services. The church was torn down to make way for a larger structure that cost around $1000. It opened on the evening of Saturday, January 26, 1895.

A tenant of the church in the late 1890s was the Winnipeg Free Kindergarten Association. Earlier in the decade they created the city's first kindergarten on Ellen Street at Logan Avenue. When they outgrew the space, they relocated to the church until 1901.

Top: Church ca. 1901 (source)
Bottom: March 19, 1901, Winnipeg Tribune

By 1900 Zion Swedish Lutheran Church's congregation had grown to more than 200 and a larger site and building were needed. They found one just a block away at Logan Avenue and Fountain Street. 

The old church building was moved there and in March 1901 a $4,500 building permit was issued for the expansion of the building, the addition of a brick fa├žade and the construction of a parsonage. The new pastor, Rev. J. A. Mattson, is credited as the architect.

May 16, 1903, Winnipeg Free Press

The church became a hub for Winnipeg’s Scandinavian community as a whole. Aside from religious services and Sunday school, it was used for meetings, political events, social activities and cultural performances. 

Rev. Mattson’s wife gave a glimpse inside the life of the church in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press of May 16, 1903. Mrs. Mattson was born in Sweden and came to Moline, Illinois with her family when she was a child. She soon became a teacher at the Swedish Lutheran Sunday school there.

She understood the plight of the newcomers, especially young women. “A Swedish pastor’s wife is supposed to entertain all visiting Swedish people and to look after all the Swedish girls who come to the city without friends or a home….” On top of this, Mrs. Mattson had three children to raise. 

Mattson was also the president of the church's Women's Aid Society. They hosted annual craft sales that raised much needed money for church operations. Their teas and lunches were important social gatherings for the women of the small community right through to World War II.

November 1, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

By the time the church celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1915, the congregation was more than 500 strong. In 1930, the 40th anniversary of Zion Swedish Lutheran Church, Winnipeg's Swedish population numbered 5,000 and a week-long celebration was held. 

The anniversary was bittersweet as it also marked the early stages of the church's demise.

The heyday of Swedish immigration was over and their population was increasingly made up of second and third generation Swedes. As they established themselves, English became their language of choice, (the church began offering English services in 1927), and they no longer lived clustered around the CPR tracks. Attendance began to trail off.

May 22, 1948, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1948 the Home Mission Board of the Lutheran Church, which financially supported Zion's operations, put it on notice that their support would continue only if they changed their name, (dropping "Swedish"), and relocated to a more residential area.  

The church was put up for sale in May 1948 and it was lucky that there was a building left to sell.

December 3, 1948, Winnipeg Free Press

Rev. Floyd Johnson and his wife came from Kiron, Iowa on the evening of December 2, 1948 to take over the church. They arrived to an unexpected welcome: fireman battling a fire. It was contained to one corner of the basement and did $1,200 in damage. The church was back in action in time for Christmas services.

The final service as Zion Swedish Lutheran Church took place on January 1, 1950. The new church, St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, operated from the U of M's St. John's College from 1950 - 1953 before finding a new site at Cambridge Street and Corydon Avenue.

Top: March 5, 1928, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: July 17, 1935, Winnipeg Tribune

As with all churches, Zion Swedish Lutheran was the site of thousands of ceremonies, both happy and sad.

On March 3, 1928 hundreds showed up to mourn the death of  Mrs. Lottie Adams, (nee Sundin.) The young housewife went missing from North Drive in St. Vital in mid-February. Her body was found ten days later in a snow-filled ditch, shot and chopped with an axe.

Reverend Bertil Erling, who presided over many weddings at the church, tied the knot himself there in 1935.

Rev. Gustav Grahn

More than a dozen men presided over Zion Swedish Lutheran Church, (see the list below.) The most interesting of the bunch appears to be Gustav Grahn from 1937 - 1938.

Grahn was born in remote, northern Sweden and at an early age developed a sense of adventure and desire to travel. He came to the U.S. as a young man and became an ordained minister. Prior to Winnipeg, he was the pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

Grahn was perhaps better known for his side-gig as a film maker. He traveled the world for months at a time to remote parts of Europe, Africa and North America. He then edited the film into movies and lectured with them on the Chautauqua circuit. Prior to Winnipeg he spent months in East Africa and did a coast-to-coast tour of Canada's wilderness. While here, he took a three month extended vacation to travel Palestine. (For more of his movie programs.)

Logan Avenue Church
December 29, 1949, Winnipeg Free Press

The new owner of the building was the Ukrainian Catholic Church. On December 28, 1949 Archbishop Basil Ladyka, head of Canada’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, blessed the building as Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church. The first service was a Ukrainian Christmas celebration on January 7, 1950.

Christ the King was a small congregation and one of ten Ukrainian Catholic churches in the city. Its small size, and the fact that newspapers did not report on church news in as much detail as it did in the earlier part of the 20th century, means that less information cane be found about Christ the King than its predecessor.

The first permanent parish priest was Father Michael Romanchuk, who came in July. He was born in Western Ukraine and ordained in Stanislaw in 1936. After facing hardship and persecution during World War II , he fled his homeland and arrived in Canada in 1947.

In his new post Romanchuk was a vocal in his condemnation of gambling and other vices that were taking place in the nieghbourhood around the CPR tracks. He was also an outspoken critic of communism.

On the night of April 12th 1952, there was a knock at the rectory door. Two men entered and began yelling profanities at Romanchuk, who was 41 at the time. He asked them to leave but the men began beating him, giving him a black eye, cuts to the face, then knocked him unconscious. The men broke some windows and left. He later told the Free Press that he thought one of the men had used brass knuckles and that: "I think someone is trying to shut me up."

Romanchuk was soon off to rural Manitoba, where he served as a priest in Sarta, Neepawa, Pine River and Gimli. In 1966 ill health caused paralysis in his legs. In 1976 he moved into the Holy Family Nursing Home on Aberdeen Avenue where he acted as the resident pastor until his death on October 10, 1981 at the age of 71.

Rev. Zachary Zoloty took over the parish and served for 18 years, from 1952 until his death in 1971. Like Romanchuk, he was born in Western Ukraine and ordained in Stanislaw in 1923. He fled his homeland during World War II and worked in displaced person camps in parts of Europe. In 1949 he came to Canada, first to the Rosa district then Neepawa. He was also president of the board of governors for the city's private Ukrainian Schools in the 1960s.

Interior ca. 1990s (source)

In the 1970s Rev. Antin Pakosz became the parish priest. The last priest appears to have been Rev. Bohdan Borowec in the 2000s.

The church lasted long enough to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2010 and mass was celebrated as late as the fall of 2011.

Around 2012 it was sold off to private interests. In 2014 it was put up for sale again and purchased by new owners. Their plans for the structure have not yet been announced.

Logan Avenue Church

Clergy (as Zion Swedish Lutheran)

Louis G. Almen of New London, MN (1890)
Svante Udden (1892 - 98)
E. Rehner (1899 - 90)
J. A. Mattson (1901 - 03)
Augustus G. Olson (1903 - 05)
A J Ryden of Texas (1906 - 07)
Augustus G. Oleson of Teulon (previous pastor) (1907)
J. G. Dahlberg (1907 - 14)
Victor J. Tengwald (1914 - 20)
Carl A. Anderson (1922 - 25)
Hjalmar Oleson (1927 - 28)
Rev. Arvid Vickman (1930 - 33)
Bertil Erling (1934 - 36)
Gustav Grahn (1937 - 38)
C. E. Hoffsten ( 1940 - 48)
Floyd Johnson (1949)

Clergy (as Christ the King UCC)
Michael Romanchuk (1951 - 52)
Zachary Zoloty (1952 - 1971)
Antin Pakosz (1970s)

376 Logan Avenue Historic Buildings Committee
St. Mark's Lutheran Church history
My photo album of 376 Logan Avenue
The Swedes Multicultural Canada

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

519 Burnell - Thelmo Manisons

Thelmo Manisons, 519 Burnell
Place: Thelmo Mansions
Address: 519 Burnell Street
Architect: Thorstein Oddson
Contractor: Thorstein Oddson
Cost: $236,000
Opened: September 1914

Top: Heimskringla June 7, 1906
Bottom: The Voice, July 3, 1914

Thelmo Mansions was designed and developed by Thorsteinn Oddson. He was an Icelandic immigrant, a carpenter by trade, who was responsible for most of the the residential developments on and around Burnell Street from Portage to Ellice Avenues.

St. Paul
Oddson's "triplets" on St. Paul Avenue

Oddson's specialty was small blocks or terraced housing with small living spaces. His portfolio already included Claremont Court, a development of small attached cottages near Ellice, (now demolished), and the 'triplets' Komoka, Kelona and Kolbrun on St. Paul Ave, all filled with 550 sq. ft. units. 

It was so important for him to get the most out of small spaces that he traveled to Seattle in April 1914 to meet a Mr. Holmes who had invented a new style of 'invisible bed', (a variation on the Murphy bed), for inclusion in his new blocks.

Top: April 13, 1914, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: September 11, 1914, Winnipeg Free Press

Construction began in early April 1914. Despite this being Oddson's largest project by far, work appears to have gone smoothly. It was advertizing its suite by early September and tenants began moving in soon after. 

Thelmo Mansions contained 78 suites, ranging from two to five rooms. It was one of the biggest, one newspaper story claimed it was THE biggest, apartment block built in the city to that point.

Some of the first tenants were families that had to downsize due to the war. It appears that more than a dozen servicemen had connections to the building.

J.W. Nixon (source)

John William Nixon lived at unit 32 with his wife Kathleen when he enlisted in February 1916. He was killed on the front lines in France the following May.

James E. Tait (source)

James Edward Tait lived at suite 19, then 42, with his brother and wife Jesse when he enlisted in February 1916. He becme one of the city's most decorated soldiers, receiving the Military Cross and Victoria Cross. He was killed in action on August 11, 1918. Brother Richard returned home alive. (Read my extended post about Tait here.)

James Stephenson Fleming lived with his parents at Thelmo Mansions before going to school at University of Toronto to be a mining engineer. He was working his first job out of school near Timmins, Ontario when he enlisted. He was killed April 11, 1916.

Private John Scott of the 8th Battalion, Canadian Infantry was killed on May 19, 1915. He was 22 years old and left behind his parents at suite 19 Thelmo Mansions.

David F. Hamilton was wounded and missing for weeks before finally being reported as killed in action. He worked at Vulcan Iron Works and lived at suite 37 with his parents.

Returning Soldiers, CPR Station 1919
Soldiers returning from war

It wasn't all sad news as many soldiers returned to Thelmo Mansions.

Harry Jarvis was reported as missing in action in September 1915 but survived to return to his wife Josephine in suite 67. Cavalryman Claude Cannon returned to his parents at suite 72. An injured M. G. Patterson came home to his wife in December 1915 with a paralyzed left leg. Reginald Hawkins also appears to have survived.

T. M. Sutherland was the son of Reverend T. M. Sutherland who was living at Thelmo Mansions while working in Winnipeg. His son left Sioux City, Iowa for Manitoba to work on a farm and eventually enlisted at the age of 16. While at Camp Bramshott in England, T. M. suffered major burns to his face and hands. After months of convalescing, he was returned to Winnipeg to live with his father.

Private Harry Lethbridge of the 8th Battalion was reported wounded and taken prisoner at Paderborn in July 1915. He spent six months in captivity in Germany before returning to Canada to recover. In April 1917 he married his girlfriend Annie Farr in a ceremony in suite 14. The couple spent the remainder of the war there.

October 6, 1917, Winnipeg Tribune

A financial casualty of the war was Thorstein Oddson. Winnipeg had been in a recession prior to its outbreak and the uncertainty of the war just made things worse. Thelmo Mansions was auctioned off on October 27th, 1917. (It appears that that First National Investment Co. in the Somerset Block on Portage Avenue bought it.)

Gairdner Funeral Home ca. 1918 (source)

No sooner had the war ended when another, related trouble came to Thelmo Mansions. Spanish Influenza was sweeping the world, brought back from the front by soldiers. In the end, it killed more people than the war did with estimates in the millions.

The flu arrived in Manitoba in October 1918. A Free Press article of November 21, 1918 notes that Thelmo Mansions was one of the worst effected places in the city with almost every one of the 78 units under quarantine. Officials blamed overcrowding in small suites.

Spanish Flu - Winnipeg

The following day, Thelmo's caretaker called the paper to refute these claims, saying that only a handful of suites were under quarantine. An investigation found that the health nurses had, indeed, over-exaggerated the situation. There were just seven suites under quarantine and one death, an infant who was already ill with measles. (More on the Thelmo Mansions influenza situation can be found in Jones.)

The flu situation didn't scare off Bill Pulham. He and wife Margaret moved in during this time and stayed until 1940. You can see a history of the Pulhams here.

April 17, 1937, Winnipeg Tribune

The building was put up for sale again in 1937, there is no indication of who the new owner was. In 1938 permits were taken out for $1,000 in renovations, (about $15,000 in today's dollars.) The contractor was N. Popeski.

Empty Stocking fund ad, December 16, 1932

The Depression appears to have brought out the best of people at Thelmo Mansions. 

In December 1932 a group of eight children from the building put on a show in the building's basement to raise money for the Winnipeg Tribune's Empty Stocking Fund. They collected $14 for the cause.

Above: January 5, 1946, The War Cry
Below: May 9, 1936, Winnipeg Free Press

One resident that certainly needs mention is Eva Leadbetter of suite 27. At the beginning of the Depression the Salvation Army Adjutant created the Helping Hand League which collected donations of fabric, wool to make into quilts and clothing for poor families, especially single women with children. For a few years the headquarters for the organization was her apartment !

A volunteer base of up to 70 women and a dozen sewing machines produced and repaired thousands of items of clothing from this space that Leadbetter distributed on her bicycle. The League lasted into World War II but by that time had moved to larger premises. For more on Leadbetter and her helping Hand League check out this expanded post !)

November 13, 1942, Winnipeg Tribune

Eva ran summer camps for children and worked on the streets of the North End, sometimes staying over with families to take care of the sick or tend to neglected children. 

In May 1942 the Winnipeg Tribune tells the story of Leadbetter walking into the Simonite Real Estate Agency with $200 that she saved from her Salvation Army stipend. She was seeking a home for an evicted family with eight children and wanted the agency to help find them a home. She offered to pay an additional $10 a month until the balance was paid off.

519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg
Where Barnett was nabbed then and now !

In February 1940 Thelmo Mansions had a chilling visit from John Barnett. He was one of three men involved in a botched downtown robbery that ended in the death of police Constable John McDonald. The group, whose ringleader was the infamous Mike "The Horse" Attamanchuk, fled the scene.

Police caught up with Barnett at Furby and Ellice and shot him in the ankle. He still led them on a 15-minute foot chase through the West End and into Thelmo Mansions. Police searched the building only to find his cap, jacket and some blood in the laundry room. He had escaped through a back door but was nabbed in the back lane.

September 14, 1943, Winnipeg Tribune

Another war meant another casualty. Private William G. Monk (above) of suite 35 was killed in 1943 and is buried in Germany.


A number of others served but survived, including Captain W. J. Thomson (above), Training Officer Arthur Perceval, Sgt. Wallace A Swanson of suite 24, Eric Sinclair of suite 40 and Sgt. Stanley J. Child of suite 72 (see below).


Private Arthur Roland Quinn's parents lived at 43 Thelmo Mansions. He was listed as injured in action in December 1943 and in January 1944 was listed as having died from wounds. Thankfully, it was an error and Quinn did survive.

Another Thelmo Mansion resident, suite 50, was Trans-Canada Airlines pilot Andrew Madore. During the war, he established RCAF flight training schools at Prince Albert, Fort William and Virden, the latter considered the top of its kind in Canada. Madore, also a flight instructor, flew 7,047 hours with new recruits without a single incident. He was awarded the Air Force Cross by the Governor General in December 1942.

February 14, 1946, Winnipeg Free Press

It was a sweet reunion for the Stanley Child family on Valentine's Day 1946. His war bride and daughter Geraldine arrived from England at the C.P.R. station. The family initially settled into suite 72.

November 27, 1944, Winnipeg Free Press

Through to the 1970s the block had a fairly uneventful existence with no major crimes or fires noted in the newspapers. There were the usual dozens, if not hundreds of funeral and birth notices for residents. Many newlywed couples started out their married lives at Thelmo Mansions, there were even a few weddings held there ! 

In the 1930s the Gislasons, who ran the Delphi Tea Room on Portage Avenue, lived here. Above, Mr and Mrs. Fuinnur Johnson celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in November 1944.

519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg
519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg

Over time, the condition of the building and quality of tenants declined. Its quiet existence came to an end in 1987 when Hazel Toye (60) was found dead in her suite. The following year a fellow tenant was charged with her murder. In 2004 another tenant, Stephanie Ann Buboire (30), was stabbed to death in what the Free Press referred to as a "rundown apartment building."

Later that year Thelmo Mansions stopped advertising suites for rent. In 2006 the building,owned by a numbered company headed by controversial developer Ray Rybachuk, was cited for a number of fire code violations and shut down.

It made the news in 2007 when a giant pile of garbage appeared in its parking lot which the city ordered cleaned up.

Thelmo Manisons, 519 Burnell
ca. Spring 2011

In 2009 a long, slow renovation project was underway, which included a bizarre reparging of the brickwork. The repair work appeared to get bogged down and in 2010 the vacant building suffered a $20,000 fire.

Nov 21 2011 519 Burnell
519 Burnell Street

In 2010 Hudson Bay Traders Inc. purchased the block and resumed what was reported to be a $3 million renovation. In December 2013 the building's 78 suites reopened to new tenants.

My Flickr album of Thelmo Mansions
Read the comments section at my original Thelmo post in 2011
In 2012 two U of W students did an oral history project about the block
More about Thorsteinn Oddson's West End

Some miscellaneous images from Thelmo Mansion's history:

 519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg

October 1931 ad

1963 ad

February 1940 (Barnett manhunt)

519 Burnell Street,  Winnipeg
ca. 2008

Thelmo Mansions
 ca. 2011

Thelmo Manisons, 519 Burnell
ca. 2014

Renovations ca. Feb. 2012 (courtesy V. King)

"Invisible bed" hideaway ca. Feb. 2012 (courtesy V. King)

Mural in plaster found during renovations ca. Feb 2012 (courtesy V. King)