Sunday, May 14, 2017

70 Lansdowne Avenue - Reid and Reed Market / Jumbo Foods

© 2017, Christian Cassidy
https://www.google.ca/maps/@49.9260371,-97.116681,3a,75y,227.43h,89.92t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sqaIuWJ4WQSgG4IHCdNY_9g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
Top: May 14, 2017
Bottom: Ca. 2015, Google Street View

Place: Reed and Reid market / Jumbo Foods
Address: 70 Lansdowne Avenue (Map)
Constructed: ca. 1909
Architect: Unknown

January 29, 1912, Winnipeg Free Press

The building first appears in the Henderson Directory of 1909 as home to Isaac Madnitzky, grocer. Hyman B Goldstein and William Goldstein, a carpenter, lived in the house at the back.

by 1911, Annie Arkin is listed as the live-in proprietor.

The first longer-term owner came in 1912 with Edmund Hunt, a shoemaker, who both lived and operated his shop from here. The Hunts also took in lodgers, that first year they included Edmund Moran, an Eaton’s clerk, and C. Stacey, a streetcar conductor. 

Hunt called this address home until around 1917 when he moved to Inskster Boulevard and the store appears to have closed. 

There is no listing for this address from 1918 – 1920 but in 1921 it reopened under a series of short term owners: 1921 - Smith and Kaulfold Meat Market; 1922 - Philip and Retson Grocery; 1923 - H. A. Sorenson Grocers; 1925 - R. Fisher Grocery and Meats. 

Fisher, who lived at 77 Inkster Boulevard, changed the name of the store in 1926 to Smithfield Market, which was the name of a large commercial meat market in London.

Top: March 21, 1927, Winnipeg Tribune
Middle: September 29, 1936, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom:  October 18, 1941, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1927, two new owners stepped in They were Joseph Reid of 77 McAdam Avenue and Charles Reed of 155 Inkster Boulevard.

In Henderson Directories, the building continued to be listed as Smithfield Market through the 1930s. In newspapers, though, the men went by Reid and Reed Market.

John A. Stalker of 143 Luxton Avenue was their long-time meat clerk.

The store had a quiet existence during its Reid and Reed period. There were no robberies or fires, just a break-in in 1937 when thieves stole some tobacco.

Ad, December 1919

Joseph Reid was the elder of the business partners.

Born around 1886 in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, he came to Winnipeg in 1900 and shortly after began working in the grocery business for the W. H. Stone Co. 

Stone started his grocery business in 1887. By 1911, he had expanded his original store at Main and Atlantic and added another one at Main and Bannerman. By 1919, there was a third location on Corydon Avenue. 

Joseph's wife, Jemima, came to Winnipeg from Caven, Ireland, around 1912. After they married, they settled at 77 McAdam Avenue and had at least three children: Myra, William and Joseph. 

The Reids were heavily involved in St. John’s Anglican Cathedral

Jemima died in 1939 and Joseph died on June 3, 1950, at the age of 64.

April 29, 1921, Winnipeg Tribune

Charles Reed was born in Dublin, Ireland and came to Canada in 1912 at the age of ten. The family settled at 155 Inkster Boulevard.

In 1921, Reed's father committed suicide in the Red River after, it seems, he was in the early stages of dementia. He left a note for the family, wife Mary and six children, asking their forgiveness, but he did not want them to see him deteriorate.

Charles stayed living at the family home with his mother even after marrying Catherine Matheson and having children of their own. (Another son, George, also remained at the family home and also married a Matheson.)

On March 29, 1937, Charles and Catherine became parents to premature twin daughters. Sadly, it appears both died shortly after birth. In April 23, 1941, they had another daughter, Evelyn, who survived.

The Reeds were very involved in St. John’s Anglican Cathedral.

Charles continued to run the business after the death of Reid until his retirement in 1961. He died at the family home in 1973 at the age of 71.


In 1961, the store was sold to Franciszek (Frank) and Krystyna Partyka who changed the name to F P Foods.

The following year, he had the old living quarters demolished and a new, 20' x 35', two-storey addition was added. Here, the family would raise their six children.

Frank was born and raised in Poland but fled the country during World War II. While travelling Europe to escape Nazi rule, he met and married Krystyna, also from Poland.

In 1947, he came to Manitoba with Krystyna's oldest brother. Frank first worked on farms, in the pulp and paper industry, and then in a foundry in Winnipeg before feeling settled enough to send for his wife.

The Partykas retired in 1979, the same year Mrs. Partyka became ill and died of cancer. Frank died on November 3, 2001.

The name F P Food Market carried on through the 1980s under the Ayon family from the Philippines.

Through the 2000s the store was known as Jumbo Foods.


The store and living quarters were sold in September 2016 and are undergoing exterior renovations.

It was during these renovations that the above signage was revealed. Given the five digit phone number, the painted signs could date anywhere from the late 1920s to mid 1940s.

In a recent news story, the owner told CTV that he will be having the sign cut from the front of the building and mounted on the St. Cross elevation as part of the renovations.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

175 Donald Street - Lonely House (Demolished)

© 2017, Christian Cassidy
https://www.google.ca/maps/@49.8899714,-97.141479,3a,90y,76.11h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sQTdql3VUXsLrOJh3_eaL0g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
Lonely House
Top: ca 2014, Google Street View 
Bottom two: ca. 2017, C. Cassidy

Place: Canadian Chamois Co.
Address: 175 Donald Street (Map)
Constructed: Ca. 1895
Architect: Unknown

On the weekend of May 9, 2015, the former "lonely house" at 175 Donald Street was demolished. It was one of the last remnants of central downtown's residential past. 

Here is a look back at its history before it fades from memory....

Ad, circa 1906

The house first appears in the Henderson Directory in 1896 as home to W. G. McMahon and family. He was the manager of the Winnipeg sales office of the W. M. Buck Stove Company located at 246 McDermot Avenue. 

I believe this is the same McMahon who went on to be a prominent local businessman. His McMahon Ltd. was the Western Canadian agent for numerous construction-related products. When he died in 1932, the family was living in much nicer digs: McMahon House at 9 Middle Gate.

The McMahons moved out of 175 Donald Street in late 1899 or early 1900.

Ad, circa 1904

It appears the property was then divided into two living spaces and had a quick succession of owners, none staying for more than a year. One resident was physician Correli C. Field who both lived and practised there from 1903 to 1904.


In 1905, John E. Holland moved in. He was a manager of the newly-established Winnipeg plant of J. C. Wilson Ltd, a Montreal-based paper company specializing in toilet paper, wrapping and paper bags. 

Holland emigrated from Gloucester, England to the Montreal area as a child with his family. As a young man, he got a job with J. C. Wilson, married Catherine and had three children: Lillian, George and John. 

When the company wanted to open a Winnipeg plant, the 20-year company veteran was chosen to run it. 

One son, John, died in 1916. George became a bank teller for the Bank of Montreal, eventually transferring to Saskatoon. 

Holland and his wife stayed at this address until 1924 when ill health forced him into retirement. A couple of years later, the couple relocated to the Albany Apartments on Edmonton Street where Holland died in 1932.

June 18, 1934, Winnipeg Tribune

In the late 1920s and 1930s the house went back to being a duplex. 

Tragedy struck one of the families living there, the Dorans, in 1934 when their 11-year old son drowned in the Red River near the Norwood Bridge while swimming with friends. 

They had a scare with another son, 16-year-old Willis, two years later.  

He was working at the gas station at Donald Street and St. Mary's Avenue, half a block from his house, on the night of January 24, 1936. An armed robber approached him on the lot, threatened him and discharged his revolver into the ground. 

He then loaded Willis and another employee into the building and demanded money. When he was informed that there was none, he aimed the gun at them and pulled the trigger twice. The gun did not go off. 

The robber fled with about thirty cents but police were already in pursuit. In the foot chase, Constable Charles Gillis was shot and died a couple of weeks later in hospital.  

The robber, Ian Bryson, was found guilty of murder and hanged.

Ad, circa 1948

After the war, the residential fortunes of the downtown began to change as people moved to newly developed suburbs. In 1948, this house started a new chapter a commercial building. 

From 1948 to 1960, it was home to W. J. Schadek and Co. Realty, which rented out the upstairs suite, usually to pensioners.

Around Downtown

The president of W. J. Schadek and Company was Rubin Pinsky. 

Pinsky was born in present day Belarus, then Poland, in 1925. As a teenager, he was studying to be a rabbi when his town was taken over by the Nazis. Most of his immediate family were murdered and he fled to the forest where he lived rough for two years. 

After the war, he spent three years in a displaced persons camp until coming to Canada in 1949. 

Pinsky attended seminary school in Montreal before coming to Winnipeg in 1951 to teach at the Peretz school. That same year he married Jenny Moser. 

Later that decade he left teaching and started a number of companies, including taking over  W. J. Schadek and Company.


Pinksy soon changed the name of the real estate company to R and H Agencies and created the Canadian Chamois Company. (It is not likely that this company is related to the Canadian Chamois Co. that operated in Elmwood in the late 1920s and early 1930s.) 

It does not appear that the company produced chamois, but rather produced or distributed products made from the material, including cloths and wash mitts. They also distributed sponges. 

In 1970, Rubin bought a hotel in Regina then retired to Vancouver in 1977. 

It is unclear what happened to the company. Newspaper mentions of it disappear in the 1970s.  The last mention of the address in the Free Press comes in a 1981 classified ad seeking part-time bookkeeping help. It did not specify what company it was for.

Lonely House .. gone

The home had been boarded up for at least a decade when it was demolished in 2015. In summer 2017, it remains a vacant lot.

Related: 
My Flickr album of 175 Donald Street


Other Lonely Houses:
130 Fort Street 
88 Adelaide Street
425 Graham Avenue
44 Albert Street (Demolished)
 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

690 Ellice Avenue - Gelyn's Wedding Lounge

© 2017 Christian Cassidy
Place: Gelyn's Wedding Lounge (Website)
Address: 690 Ellice Avenue, 466 Victor Street (Map)
Constructed: 1907
Architect: Unknown

"Frankie", one of the Battaglia children

In 1907, the Battaglia family relocated their Notre Dame fruit and confectionery store to the newly-built 690 Ellice Avenue. Nunzio was born in Sicily in 1865 and wife, Angela was born in Italy in 1881. They came to Winnipeg together in 1903.

No mention can be found of its construction in newspapers of the day, so it is unclear if they had it custom built or who the architect / builder was. The store was on the main floor and the family - which eventually comprised of thirteen children - lived upstairs.

Between running the business and raising thirteen kids the Battaglias didn't have much time to make the newspapers for outside activities.

July 3, 1925, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1926, the family decided to go into the cafe business.

They bought the assets of the defunct Sunshine Cafe at 654 Logan Avenue at Sherbrook, (now demolished). Mrs. Battaglia is listed as the proprietor and three of the children, Carolyn, Frank and Leo, working there.

It appears that during 1927 some of the family still lived at 690 Ellice, though the store portion is listed as empty.  (The Battaglias would return to Ellice Avenue a couple of years later when one of their sons became a famous boxer - but that's a whole other post !)

In 1928, the building is home to the Elgin Cafe and Confectionery. Named, likely, because the owner, Samuel Cascisio (or Cascisa), lived on Elgin Avenue.

April 1930 ad

By 1930, 690 Ellice was again a corner store, now called John Rennie Fruit and Confectionery.

The owner and his wife lived upstairs, which was converted into two apartments listed separately as 466 Victor Street. In 1934, their clerk, Frank Saunders, moved into suite 2.

Later that decade, Rennie's store joined the Red and White grocery chain.

Interior of a Red and White store ca. 1932, this one on Langside.

The American-based Red and White came to Winnipeg in 1927, just ahead of the big corporate chains Safeway and Piggly Wiggly in 1929. Each Red and White was independently owned and operated. The benefit to the owners was in the corporate advertising and bulk purchasing power through Western Grocers.

By 1932, Red and White had forty stores in Winnipeg, mostly corner stores in the inner city and a couple of dozen in Manitoba. By 1945, there were 84 in Winnipeg and its suburbs and more than 200 elsewhere in Manitoba. The chain had about 1,000 locations across the prairies by the late 1930s.

September 27, 1943, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1941, Rennie took a job with the Winnipeg Electric Company and soon put the store up for sale.

It had two owners in quick succession. In 1944, it was Josephine Dercola who lived in the block with her husband. In 1945, it was J. E. Thomas Smith of Lipton Avenue who renamed it Smith's Red and White.

http://passages.winnipegfreepress.com/passage-details/id-103120/ALBO_MICHAEL
Albo ca. 2000s (Obituary)

In 1945, a meat clerk named Michael Albo joined the staff of Smith's and he and his wife Anita moved into one of the upstairs suites. In 1948, Albo bought the business and it was renamed Mike's Red and White.

Albo was born in Grimaldi, Italy in 1915 and came to Winnipeg with his family when he was a young child. In 1941, he married Anita Lalonde and they settled for a while in Fort William, Ontario. Upon returning to Winnipeg, they lived on Brandon Avenue until their moved to Ellice Avenue.

Once they took over the store, the Albos, who would have six children, did not continue to live above the store. They resided on Roseberry Street in St. James, then Enfield Crescent in Norwood.

The upper suites were rented to various short-term residents.

The store remained part of the Red and White chain until 1958, after which it became an IGA Market from 1959 to 1961. It was then back to being an independent store called M M Food Store.

Albo retired around 1976 and the store closed.

February 19, 1980, Winnipeg Free Press

By 1978, it became  home to Gelyn's Wedding Lounge, owned by Linda Ramos.

Linda, her husband and their two youngest children came to Winnipeg from the Philippines in 1970.

She worked at Safeway and the Canadian National Institute For the Blind before her baking skills got her noticed. She began baking wedding cakes by word of mouth until doing it as a living starting in 1975.

Geylyn's still operates from this location.

Friday, April 21, 2017

700 Ellice Avenue - Waddell Appliances / Naomi House

Top: ca. 2009, Google Street View
Bottom: ca. 2017, Christian Cassidy

Place: Waddell Appliances / Naomi House
Address: 700 Ellice Avenue (Map)
Opened: 1954 
Architect: Unknown


This building was the longtime shop and home of James Aitken Waddell.

Waddell was born in Manchester, England in 1905. He came with his family to Canada, settling in Montreal in 1912 and onto Winnipeg in 1929.  The family comprised of James Sr., wife Ann and sons William, James A., John and George.

The same year they came to Winnipeg, James Sr., who worked as a moulder - pouring metal into moulds - died of lung cancer.  After his death, the children, some of whom were living on their own, moved in with their mother at 418 McGee Street.

September 12, 1938, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1938, James, a salesman by trade, married Violet McLaren of Home Street. It is likely that they met through Home Street United Church where they were both active, especially with its Cubs and Scouts programs.

During World War II, Waddell enlisted with the Air Force. He was put in charge of organizing Winnipeg's first chapter of the Air Cadet League of Canada. On October 1, 1940, 65 boys met under him at General Wolfe School for their initial meeting.

Waddell decided to transfer to the Royal Canadian Navy and spent the war stationed at St. John's, Newfoundland.

When the war was over, he returned to Winnipeg and worked briefly for Eaton's before deciding to  open his own business.

July 5, 1947, Winnipeg Tribune

Advertisements for the Waddell Appliance Parts Company first appear in local newspapers in January, 1947. It was initially located at 499 Main Street near William, (now demolished.)

By Christmas 1949, Waddell had relocated to 72 Princess Street, the commercial section of the Odd Fellow's Temple. The store billed itself as having the largest selection of washing machine parts in Western Canada. They also added a service department.

2009 Google Street View

In 1954, Waddell again relocated to what appears to have been a custom-built location at 700 Ellice Avenue. It was a mixed-use building with 4,200 square feet of commercial space on the main floor and a 2,000 square foot living space upstairs for him and Violet.

Interestingly, this piece of land had almost always been vacant until Waddell built on it.

Prior to 1905, when the West End was being subdivided into a suburb, nothing is listed at that address. In 1906, it was home to a blacksmith shop for a year or two. By 1910 until 1953 there are no Henderson Directory listings between 690 and 710 Ellice Avenue. (The neighbours at 690 Ellice from 1907 to 1927 ran a store and in the suite above it raised a family of 13 children, so this could have been a side yard or garden for that property.)

This was a period of great change for Ellice Avenue. With developments such as the Winnipeg Stadium (1953), Winnipeg Arena (1955), Polo Park mall (1959), and a new airport (1963), Ellice was becoming more of a thoroughfare, an alternative to Portage Avenue. As a result, its was shedding its original residential feel for increasingly dense commercial and residential developments.

Top: March 12, 1962, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: Interior from a ca. 2000s sales brochure

The larger premises allowed Waddell to have a showroom for new appliances, such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, ovens and even televisions. His bread an butter, though, continued to be the warehouse of appliance parts, both new and reconditioned.

The Waddells continued to stay involved with community activities. Both were active Home Street United Church and in the Cub and Scout movement. They were also involved in a number of fraternal organizations.

Around 1980, Waddell retired. The couple then spent their winters in Mesa, Arizona and summers at their cottage at Nutimik Lake.,

James A. Waddell died in 1984 and Violet in 1990. They had no children.

December 24, 1971, Winnipeg Tribune

The new president of Waddell Appliances was Lawrence "Larry" Dolynchuk, a long-time business partner of Waddell.

Larry was a service technician Simpson Sears living in the North End throughout the 1960s. In late 1968, he and Al Dolynchuk opened Fleet Appliances at 613 Sargent Avenue. By 1970, they had a second location at 887 Main Street..

Fleet offered similar fare as Waddel. They sold reconditioned washers, dryers, vacuums as well as parts.

Lögberg-Heimskringla, August 1974

In the summer of 1973, Fleet's Sargent Avenue location changed to 700 Ellice Avenue, the same address as Waddell's.  It is unclear if this was a partnership or a merger.

Through the 1970s Fleet appears to have taken care of the new appliance sales portion of Waddell Appliances location while Al operated the Main Street location.

Main Street disappears around 1980, the same time as Waddell retired.  Larry and wife Doreen moved into the upstairs suite.

Doreen passed away in 2014 and it was around that time that the business went up for sale.

Our West Central Times, Winter 2017

The building sat vacant for a couple of years until it was purchased and donated to City Church on Maryland Street and is being converted into Naomi House.

The church, which has many members who were former refugees, will use the main floor to house offices for their existing Community Connexions program which strives to meet the “spiritual and physical needs” of new refugees. Upstais will be transitional housing housing for about 25 refugees and asylum seekers upstairs.

The living will be “boarding house” style. The main floor will have a communal kitchen and dining area. Upstairs, there will be a shared living room, computer area and about eight small bedrooms.

The housing will be transitional, meant to last about six months until more permanent housing, if required, can be secured.

Naomi House is expected to open in the spring of 2017.

Related:
My photo album of 700 Ellice Avenue

Thursday, April 13, 2017

637 Main Street - Bon Accord / Mitchell Fabrics Building

Place: Bon Accord / Mitchell Fabrics Building
Address: 635 - 645 Main Street, 185 Logan Avenue
Constructed: 1906 - 07
Architect: John D. Atchison

Mr. and Mrs. Fraser ca. 1930s

The now single-storey Bon Accord block stands as a testament to Arthur M. Fraser's protest against property taxes.

Fraser, (1852 - 1948), was born and raised in Scotland. In 1876, he became a lawyer in London, England and the following year married Mary Gordon.

Though he did not move to Winnipeg until 1898, he had visited the city on a number of occasions, (I believe he was a board member of the London-based Land Corporation of Canada which sold land for subdivision along the CPR line, primarily in Western Manitoba and near Regina.)

Soon after arriving, Fraser and his family, which would eventually include ten children, lived at 166 Donald Street.

Fraser quickly became known as a well-to-do property owner. By 1905, his portfolio consisted of more than a dozen pieces of land, including 400 feet of frontage along Main Street. He also became a director of the Standard Trusts Company when it was created in 1902.

Fraser was an outspoken political activist in favour of temperance and against taxation. His lengthy letters to the editor appeared regularly in daily papers, often calling out those in positions of power for their beliefs and policies.

Top: Oct. 27, 1906, Winnipeg Telegram
Bottom: Nov. 13, 1906, Manitoba Free Press

In 1905 - 1907 Fraser began to develop some of his higher profile properties.

Permits were granted for the five-storey Bon Accord building, the Men's Own Block, a five storey hostel with assembly hall to the east of the Bon Accord at 226 Logan Avenue, plus a 16-storey office building at Main and McDermot. (The tower never got built, you can read more about that in Robert's post at The Common.)

http://www.virtual.heritagewinnipeg.com/windowPhotoMain02.php?fileNum=%2001-073
The Bon Accord, far right, ca. 1918, (Virtual Heritage Winnipeg)

The five-storey, brick and reinforced concrete Bon Accord, was constructed in 1906-07. Architect John D. Atchison, (also see), designed the mixed-use building with multiple retail units on the main floor, at least one floor of residential suites and offices on the upper floors.

Tenants started advertising in the block in March 1907 but a powerful rain storm in July caused extensive water damage the top floor. The water came through the stairwells and elevator shaft and ran right down to the basement. As a result, there was a delay in new tenants moving in until late summer.


Initial retail tenants included a clothing store, pawn shop, department store and Chinese goods store. The following year, the Quebec Shoe company opened and was a retail presences for a decade.

The offices were a combination of real estate companies, insurance agents, accountants and the likes of J. D. MacArthur, a well known contractor. Gospel Church occupied suite 106 for many of the early years. In 1930, the Communist Party called it home.

The residents who lived on the second floor were mostly from the working class, with occupations such as elevator operators, CPR employees, bridge builders, Eaton’s clerks and stenographers. The 1911 census lists 62 people living as living on the second floor alone, many of them families.

There were some well-to-do tenants. People like Robert Tate, president of Canada Loan and Realty Company, and Fraser who lived with his family and a nanny on the fourth floor.

Nov. 14, 1907, Manitoba Free Press

A unique feature of the building was the 700 person Bon Accord conference hall that could be entered from the Logan Avenue entrance. It was likely on the third floor of the building as that floor usually appears empty or with just one or two offices listed in Henderson Directories. (Both the Bon Accord and Men's Own buildings had halls.)

The hall was initially given over to Mrs. Sherbinin who also ran the Stranger's Rest Mission further north on Main Street.

It was a place where  "...young men who were in great distress, without friends, without money to buy a meal or a place to sleep” could go to find refuge. It is also where Sherbinin accepted donations of clothing and other materials for the poor. Interestingly, a mission of some sort would be an almost continuous presence in the building until the late 1980s.

Mar. 6, 1904, Winnipeg Tribune

The mission's presence was thanks to Mrs. Fraser. A devout woman, despite having ten children to raise, she devoted much of her spare time to missions working with the poor.

Shortly after arriving in Winnipeg, she was the founder of this city's chapter of the Travellers' Aid Society. A division of the YWCA, it offered shelter and comfort to stranded and destitute travellers, especially women and families who were the victims of abuse or at risk of falling into the sex trade.

Due to her prominent place in this movement and her oration skills, she sat on committees and shared the stage with the likes of Nellie McClung.

It is unclear how long the mission operated from the building. By 1911, the hall contained the offices of the Sunshine Fund, another YWCA charity. The hall was also used by churches as a temporary location and sometimes as a commercial exhibition space.

Apr. 5, 1927, Winnipeg Tribune

The building appears to have been successful, though Fraser was an unhappy man as he became more vocal in his anti-tax crusade.

In March 1922, he co-founded and was the first president of the Winnipeg Taxpayers' Association. They appeared as delegation at various civic and school board meetings offering advice. He also became known for his long - sometimes a quarter of a page - letters to the editor railing against taxes and tax policy.

He routinely appealed the assessment on his properties and made the Bon Accord his centrepiece.

Fraser didn't just feel that the assessments were too high, but that the system of used by the city was "illegal'. Rather than using value and net revenue, he and his lawyers argued, the city should only tax based on gross rental.

In 1926, he found a sympathetic ear in provincial justice Galt, who heard his appeal. Galt shocked the city when he agreed with Fraser's argument and lowered the assessed value of the Bon Accord from $75,000 to $18,000.

Apr. 9, 1926, Winnipeg Tribune

The city appealed that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. The court, however, said it did not have the jurisdiction to hear the case. In the end, the wording of the property tax bylaw was strengthened and the Bon Accord's original assessment was reinstated.

This infuriated Fraser, who claimed it was an illegal act by the city, and he never forgot it. He continued to fight the battle of the building's assessment in hearings in subsequent years and pointed out the injustice in many letters to the editor.

In 1928, Fraser announced that his family, the children were grown by now but two daughter remained at home, were moving back to England. The Free Press notes quoted an unnamed real estate agent as saying his departure: “...will be a distinct loss to the ranks of investors who have shown their faith in the future of the city.”  

He did not move to England. He ended up in Montreal but kept an interest in at least some of his local  properties and contributed his letters to the editor at assessment time.

Apr. 17, 1935, Winnipeg Tribune

Fraser sold the Bon Accord in 1932 for the sum of $75,000 to Mrs. Matilda Wilson, a widow. Wilson moved into the block, suite 407, but died in 1934.

The building's sale may, in the end, have not been completed or was just a sale just on paper as it was sold again in 1935, this time for $35,000 to builder Frank Lount. According to the Tribune, Fraser was still the owner at the time.

Along with the sale, it was announced that the top four storeys of the building would be dismantled, leaving just the main floor and basement.

Dec. 9, 1935, Winnipeg Tribune

It is unclear if the dismantling was a condition of sale by Fraser - a final "screw you" to the city for the high assessment.

The low sale price and the fact that Lount made no public comment about the need to take of the top floors off leads me to believe that it was a condition of sale.

Fraser couldn't help but send one last letter to the editor, which appeared on December 9, 1935 Winnipeg Tribune. With it, he included before and after photos of the Bon Accord as an: “…illustration of what the present system of assessment and taxation is doing in Winnipeg, razing its buildings and ruining its property owners.”

The dismantling, which cost about $8,000, began in the last week of April 1936.

https://digital.library.yorku.ca/yul-275675/main-street
Bon Accord, right, showing different storefronts, ca. 1966 (Warkentin)

After the elimination of the top floors, the Bon Accord name pretty much disappears. The various storefronts developed so that they did not even appear as if they belonged to the same building.

The 1940 Henderson Directory shows that there were five main floor units: the Oak Theatre; New Main Café; J. Mindess and Co. Jobbers (clothing store); Shorty’s Billiards parlour; and an empty space. In 1944, that void became Mindess, Gilfix and Malt, forerunner to Mitchell Fabrics. Also around 1944, the pool hall became Union Gospel Mission.

Jan. 14, 1939, Winnipeg Tribune

The Oak Theatre first began advertising in January 1939 and was located at number 645. It formed a cluster of theatres near the intersection with the Starland and Rex across the street.

It was a neighbourhood cinema that showed second run films and could be leased out by local speakers and preachers. The exact number of seats it had is unknown, but it must have been small considering the building was only one floor with a basement !

The Oak closed in 1962.


The New Main Café, a Chinese restaurant, first appears in the Henderson Directory of 1932. An early owner was Wong Jim Quong.

The café's fate mirrors the fortunes of that section of Main Street. Even in the 1930s and 1940s it could be a rough place. but it took a drastic, downward spiral in the 1950s.

It seems that the management, likely the Pang family, allowed illegal drinking to take place in the basement level which led to many gruesome incidents.

In 1955, a group purchased pop upstairs then went down to mix it with rubbing alcohol. The party soon took to the streets and ended with the murder of August Flatfoot on Higgins Avenue.

In 1959, a man who had been drinking in the basement came upstairs and punched 73-year-old William Kmet of Fraserwood, MB, a patron in the café, in the head. He died of a brain hemorrhage.

Later that year, another assault in the basement left a man with a broken finger and needing 28 stitches.

The café's name comes up numerous times in relation to court cases involving murder, assaults, theft and prostitution until it was finally closed down in 1962.

Mar. 24, 1934, Winnipeg Free Press

Union Gospel Mission
has had a permanent presence in Winnipeg since they opened at 637 Main Street in 1933.

The organization's international headquarters was based in St. Paul, Minnesota and had missions in Canada, Great Britain and the U.S.. The first head of the Winnipeg mission was  Edward C. Clarke, who had previously established missions in Buffalo, N.Y. and Erie, Pennsylvania.

Union Gospel was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offered meals, a place to sleep and spiritual guidance. In 1944, they relocated within the building to unit 645.

They were a fixture in the space until around 1980 when they moved to their present home on Princess Street.

https://digital.library.yorku.ca/yul-275771/main-street-near-logan-mission
645 Main Street ca. 1991 (Warkentin)

Through the 1980s, number 645 was home to the Indian and Metis Pentacostal Church and Mission. It was then briefly an outreach centre for the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre.

Sept. 5, 1956, the  Jewish Post

It was fabric store Mitchell Fabrics that outlasted all of the other businesses.

The roots of the store go back to a wholesale jobbers (clothing and textiles) run by Samuel Mindess and Frank Gilfix. Their partnership appears to have formed in 1906 when they had an office on the second storey of the Bon Accord Building.

After the deconstruction, they moved to 619 Main Street but returned to the Bon Accord around 1943.

Nov. 28, 1966, Winnipeg Tribune

When Mendel Mitchell of Reinland, Manitoba returned from World War II he settled in Winnipeg and went to work for what was then called Mindess, Gilfix and Malt. In 1947, he became a partner with Frank Gilfix and the store was renamed Mitchell and Gilfix.

The name Mitchell Fabrics first appears in the 1961 Henderson Directory. Later that decade, Mitchell began expanding into neighbouring retail units. It is unclear when he bought the building outright. (For more about the history of Mitchell Fabrics.)

Mitchell's remained a fixture in the Bon Accord for 70 years. In February 2017 they announced that the store would close.

Related:
My photo album of the Bon Accord Block
A look back at Mitchell Fabrics West End Dumplings