Friday, February 3, 2023

1545 Main Street - Salisbury House

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

Image courtesy of Bryan Scott

Place: Former Salisbury House Restaurant
Address: 1545 Main Street (Map)
Constructed: 1962
Contractor: Unknown  

The last of the 'old school' Salisbury House restaurants at 1545 Main Street at Matheson Avenue has been put up for sale. Though the building dates back to 1962, the presence of a coffee shop and restaurant at this intersection goes back much further.  

September 25, 1952, The Jewish Post

The first restaurant to open at this corner was Le Chateau lunch counter. A $2,000 building permit was issued for a single-storey, 16-foot x 30-foot building in October 1938.

Street directories show that the owner was John Reid of 398 Redwood Avenue with Stephie Dronyk of Magnus Avenue and Mary Bayer, a lodger at 398 Redwood, the waitresses.  

A number of changes took place at the restaurant in the early 1940s which could indicate that Reid was involved in the war effort.

In 1942, Isidore Gilman of 453 Pritchard is listed as the proprietor and the following year Mrs. John Reid (née Nancy Hanson) is the proprietor. Mrs. Reid gave birth to a baby girl in August 1944 and in August John Reid took out "for sale" ads in the Free Press for a "prosperous snack shop" at 1545 Main Street.

October 25, 1956, The Jewish Post

The restaurant was sold and the line of short-term proprietors continued.

Mrs. Helen Richards of 186 Rupertsland Avenue owned the business in 1945. Her employees included Harry E Richards of 599 Young Street an Harry L Richards of 186 Ruperstland.

By 1947, it was run by Ruben Cohen, then Peter and Esther Halayko of Scotia Street in 1952.

The last couple of proprietors were women. Mrs. Anne Kaptain from about 1955 to 1958 and Mrs. Lena
Rohatensky from 1959 to 1960.

The business then disappears from street directories. It is unclear what happened to the building.

April 19, 1966, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1962 a building permit was issued to Salisbury House for the construction of a new restaurant building on the site taht included parking and a full basement. It would be the company's 18th location in Winnipeg if you include drive-ins and the snack bar at the bus terminal.

There were no "grand opening" ads for the restaurant so it is unclear what date it opened. The first manager was Charles Turnley who was a 15-year veteran of the company.

Starting in April 1964, help wanted ads for the company listed this location as being home to its personnel office and training centre.

Despite the restaurant's small size, it boasted a small "banquet room" for community meetings. Some groups that used it in the 1960s include the Canadian Press Club's 1966 AGM and the Garden City Chapter of B'Nai Brith Women.

January 30, 1965, Winnipeg Tribune

Given its prime location and 24-hour service, the restaurant became a hangout for many notable North Enders.

Burton Cummings wrote in a Facebook post: "North End Sals…Matheson and Main...still the very same as it was when we had the Deverons going. Edd Smith and I went here after countless Deveron dances because he and I both lived only minutes away. Countless nights spent in and around this place. It was our teenage 'Diner', just like the movie. Indelible memories."

When Monty Hall returned to Winnipeg in April 2008 for a Variety Club 30th anniversary gala dinner, he did a 'meet and greet' at the Main and Matheson Salisbury House.

June 20, 2009, Winnipeg Free Press

Salisbury House was noted for its many staff members who worked for teh company for decades. Pat Diseigne worked at the Main and Matheson location from 1974 to 2009. You can hear her reminiscences about the job and serving regulars like Bobby Hull, Gary Doer, and Burton Cummings at this audio clip at PastForward.

The restaurant appears to have been a special place for company president Earl Barish as well. Through the 2000s, as many of what it called its "cafeteria style" restaurants closed in favour of family restaurants, Main and Matheson continued on.

When their oldest location at the time, the circa 1955 Pembina Highway and Stafford Street, was replaced by a new restaurant building in 2012, Barish noted that the site was one of the top three "nostalgia wise" for the chain. The others were Ellice Avenue and Roseberry Street (now closed) and Main Street at Matheson Avenue.

In 2013, eight of the company's smaller restaurants, including Main and Matheson, were converted to "Sals Xpress" locations with a more limited menu than the family restaurants and a focus on take-out service.

Even as late as 2016, with this location one of the last of a bygone era, Barish told a Free Press reporter, "The Main and Matheson location we'll never change, though. That would be a mistake. It's a neighbourhood kind of thing."

In late January 2023 the building was listed for sale.

The Realtor's write-up notes that the building is "non-complaint" due to its washrooms being in the basement and is "Priced for quick sale with no chance of rezoning condition" and the land suitable for a multi-family residential building.

Sadly, there is no future for this neighbourhood landmark.

Salisbury House History -

Friday, January 20, 2023

And then there were none: Downtown Winnipeg loses its last cinema

 © 2023, Christian Cassidy

Very sad news that the Towne Cinema 8, which closed in July 2022, will not reopen. It was the last cinema in downtown Winnipeg.

For more about the history of downtown cinemas, read And then there were none at West End Dumplings and my Winnipeg Places blog posts about the history of these downtown cinemas: Towne Cinema 8, Garrick Cinema, Northstar Hotel and Cinemas, Walker Theatre/Odeon Cinema, Metropolitan Theatre.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

90 Gertie Street - Frontenac / Rizal Apartments (R.I.P.)

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

90 Gertie in 2015 (Google Street View)

Place: Frontenac / Rizal Apartments
Address: 90 Gertie Street (Map)
Constructed: 1906
Architect: Herbert Bell Rugh

June 9, 1906 Morning Telegram

Architect Herbert R. Rugh was granted a $30,000 building permit for this twelve-unit apartment block at 90 Gertie Street near McDermot Avenue in June 1906. The Frontenac was a very early example of a "three-storey walk-up" residential block that by the end of the decade would pop up all around the city.

Rugh described the building as "thoroughly modern" with cut stone and brick as building materials. It featured ornamental stone trim around the front entrance and a decorative parapet. This was, in part, to help fight the negative connotation that many apartment blocks had.

To this point in the city's history, most apartments were considered to be "tenement blocks" that were were cheaply built and intended to house the city's poorest people in the smallest amount of space possible. Large families or groups of immigrant labourers might share just two or three rooms with one or two windows that offered little ventilation or natural light. (For a glimpse inside tenement blocks in a North American city, check out these photos from New York City.)

Entrance to Frontenac ca. 1976 (Winnipeg Building Index)

Rugh came to Winnipeg from the U.S. and practised here for about a decade from (1905 to 1914) before enlisting. When he war was over, he returned to the U.S.. In his short time here he was responsible for the design of dozens of building, including a number of early apartment blocks aimed at the middle class such as the Boniveens Block on Spence Street.

Some of Rugh's best-known works include the Fairchild Building on Princess Street (with John Atchison) and a significant remodelling of the Inglis Block on Garry Street that gave it its ornamental terra cotta facade. According to Peterson, he was the Winnipeg representative Montreal architects Ross and MacFarlane and was the supervising architect for the Fort Garry Hotel.

February 15, 1907, Winnipeg Free Press

The Frontenac Apartments opened in February 1907 featuring furnished and unfurnished apartments for rent. It was rebranded the Rizal Apartments around 1980.

In the early morning of January 17, 2023, the building suffered a major fire (also see) and had to be demolished. Nobody was living in the block at the time.

Frontenac Apartments Winnipeg Building Index
90 Gertie Street City of Winnipeg Historic Building Report

Monday, January 9, 2023

157 Scott Street - Grocery Store

© 2022, Christian Cassidy

It is nice to hear that the store at 157 Scott Street is going to be rebuilt. It has been a neighbourhood institution for more than a century!

The first entry for this property comes in the 1914 Henderson's Street Directory, which would have been compiled in 1913, as Keller and Whitfield Grocery. The following year, it was owned by Ross Abraham who lived in the residence behind. It had new owners in 1915 (Robert Hamilton of Wardlaw Avenue) and again in 1917 (George Rutherford of Stradbrook Street).

July 24, 1934, Winnipeg Free Press

Stability finally came with Norman MacLean and family in 1919.

Maclean came to Canada from his native Scotland around age 30 in 1917. Initially, he and wife Margaret lived in the residential portion of the building but in 1929 moved to 363 Wardlaw Avenue as their family grew to seven children. (This is the house that backs onto the store property.)

Under MacLean, the business was a full-service grocery store with the "MacLean Grocery" name appearing with dozens of other grocers under ads for specific brands of ham, butter, etc..

September 22, 1937, Winnipeg Free Press

Changes took place at the business in 1937 with items such as a stove and car being sold off in classified ads. Then, in September, "for rent" ads for a retail space with living quarters above “for any line except groceries” ran in the Free Press.

It appears that the grocery store closed for a couple of years and when it reopened it wasn't under McLean. Street directories show that MacLean continued to live on Wardlaw but no place of work is listed for him. He appears in the 1951 directory as retired.

This is speculation, but it could be that MacLean, who would have only been around 50-years-old in 1937, became ill. This caused him to temporarily close the store but the retail and residential spaces were both subdivided to continue to bring in income.

The family continued to live at the neighbouring house on Wardlaw for many decades, so it could be that for a time that they owned the building and leased it out.

June 20, 1945, Winnipeg Free Press

The MacLeans faced tragedy when their son, Flight Officer Norman John MacLean, was killed in June 1945. He graduated from flight school in early 1943 and served overseas before being assigned to CFB Moose Jaw. He was killed when the plane he was flying in broke up near the base.

Norman Sr. died at Victoria Hospital in February 1977 at the age of 90. His obituary mentions that "he had been in the grocery business for many years."

Mike Chizda. Source: Free Press Passages

The extra retail space at 157 Scott Street was initially a tailor shop, then a shoemaker's workshop. A grocery store reappeared around 1942 with Jack Lomow in charge who named the store Fairway Grocery. Both he and Frank Chudy of the shoe repair shop also lived there.

The next long-term owner of Fairway Grocery was Mike Chizda from around 1955 to at least 1970. Under Chizda there was no longer a second retail tenant.

Chizda's early life was shaped by war. He was born during the first World War while his father was away fighting and by the end of the Second World War he was he only surviving member of his immediate family.

In 1948, Chizda came to Winnipeg to start a new life. He worked as a tailor before buying the grocery store and marrying Dorina. The couple had four children and lived in the attached residence.

Chizda eventually bought a hotel and ran it before retiring to Nova Scotia where he died in 2017.

More recent owners are harder to piece together given that street directories trailed off in the 1980s and starting in the late 1970s, newspapers rarely reported a store's name or store owner's name in news coverage. (If you know of more recent owners, please let me know!

Tragedy struck the business, then called E-Mart, in August 2021 when a late night arson attack killed 60-year-old owner Jung Ja Shin. Her son, who also lived above the store, escaped.

Jung Ja Shin came to Canada from her native China in 1987. Neither news coverage nor her obituary mention when she took over the store, though a photo from June 2014 Google Street View shows an "under new management" sign on the front of the building. Her death prompted an outpouring of emotion for the much-liked business owner.

Hae-Kyung (Heather) Shin, Jung's sister-in-law, owns the building and applied in September 2022 to have the fees waived for the rebuilding of the store. Final approval was given in January 2023.

Friday, January 6, 2023

51 Roslyn Road - Saigon Apartments (R.I.P.)

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

Place: Saigon Apartments
Address: 51 Roslyn Road
Constructed: 1952
Demolished: 2023
Architect: Fred Lount

One of the city's first modern-era apartment blocks is set to be demolished. Saigon Apartments on Roslyn Road was a luxury block designed and built in 1951 - 52 by Frank R. Lount who also designed the Winnipeg Clinic on St. Mary Avenue.

Lount ca. 1946 Source: Canadian Home Builders Association)

A $110,000 building permit was issued for Saigon Apartments in October 1951 to William D. Lount. The architect was his father, Frank R. Lount (also see), who came to Winnipeg from Ontario in 1921 and became a housing contractor under company names Frank R. Lount and later F. R. Lount and Son. 

Though the Depression caused many Winnipeg families to lose their fortunes, F. R. Lount saw an opportunity. He designed and built over a dozen exclusive homes between 1929 and 1939 on streets like Wellington Crescent, Elm Park Crescent, Grenfell Boulevard, Girton Boulevard, Fulham Avenue, Park Boulevard and Handsart Boulevard. One of these homes, 1021 Wellington Crescent, Lount continued to own in to the 1940s and leased it out.

By the time new post-war neighbourhoods began to spring up in the suburbs around Winnipeg, Lount was a leading residential builder. In Silver Heights alone, the company designed and built the 136-suite Silver Heights Towers on Portage Avenue, one of the largest apartments ever constructed in the Winnipeg area, and around 300 houses.

The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation says Lount "had a profound influence on the look and growth of Winnipeg, creating some of the city’s most significant neighbourhoods and distinctive landmarks." His most famous building is likely the Winnipeg Clinic on St. Mary Avenue (1942).

 The Lount Corporation still bears his name today and specializes in apartment buildings.

November 20, 1951, Winnipeg Free Press

Saigon Apartments turned heads in the early stages of construction as it was the first building in Canada to use the "Youtz-Slick Lift Slab" method patented by two American architects in 1948.

In lift-slab construction, the base slab is poured and columns for the upper floors are erected. Each new floor and the roof deck is also poured at base level and when dried is lifted into place using hydraulic jacks. This saved a great deal of time, and therefore cost, over traditional building methods.

A crowd of engineers and architects showed up in the first week of December to see the second floor slab lifted into place.

April 28, 1962, Winnipeg Tribune

Saigon Apartments was comprised of 24 units and though they were on the small side, the building had luxury features such as fully-furnished suites, maid service, a swimming pool, free laundry facilities and a paved parking lot with plugs.

With its expansive windows in each unit and a glass wall illuminating the main staircase, Saigon Apartments was a far cry from the dark, amenity-free, World War I-era residential blocks that dominated Winnipeg's apartment market.

By May 1952, the building was in its final stages of construction and excavation work began on the next Lount building, the much larger Silver Heights Towers on Portage Avenue. it was also constructed using the lift-slab method.

There does not appear to have been a grand opening or large-scale "for rent" ads to signal the completion of Saigon Apartments. The 1953 street directory, which would have been compiled in 1952, shows every suite was full.

A number of residents provided no occupation which suggests they may have been retirees. Those who did provide occupations show that the Higher-end amenities coupled with the small suite size meant that it wasn't a building for the super rich:

Suite 3 - J. W. Jones, building manger, and wife Winifred.
Suite 4 - Laurie Dusang, manager of Kaufman Rubber Co.
Suite 5 - Nancy Henderson, stenographer at MacKevlies Ltd.
Suite 7 - George Boyes, assistant professor at U of M, with wife Mildred.
Suite 10 - Beverlee Gyles, bookkeeper at D. Currie and Co.
Suite 12 - Olga Fedak, clerk to the U.S. Consulate General.
Suite 12 - Neil H. Scott, branch manager of Prudential Assurance Co.
Suite 14 - Thomas Dumbleton, resident engineer at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Suite 14 - Mrs. Mary Dumbleton, stenographer at Fraser Construction.
Suite 15 - D. W. Behan, passenger and freight agent for Burlington Route rail line.
Suite 17 - David Ehlrich, owner of Ehlrich David and Co. Furniture Mfg, and wife Grace.
Suite 20 - June Campbell, saleslady at Stewart Electric Co.

November 27, 1975, Winnipeg Tribune

The building appears to have had a quiet existence with the exception of a late November 1975 fire that burned two suites and sent four people to hospital, two of them in critical condition. Newspapers didn't follow up as to the cause of the fire or recovery of the victims.

Interestingly, the block advertised fully furnished suites for rent, not that common in Winnipeg, until 2008 when it stopped using classified ads.

April 14, 1962, Winnipeg Tribune

In March 2022, an application was made by owner Atlas Acceptance Corporation of Winnipeg to rezone the property to allow for its demolition and the construction of a new 80-unit residential block.  In the end, approval was granted for a six-storey, 66-unit multi-family residential dwelling with 51 parking stalls contained underground and within the building in a two-level parkade.

The building was boarded up in June 2022 and on January 5, 2023, the applicant, H5 Architecture Inc., was granted permission to demolish it despite there not being a building permit in place for the new block.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

533 Burrows Avenue - North End Chapel / European Meats and Sausage


© 2022, Christian Cassidy

Place: North End Chapel / European Meats and Sausage
533 Burrows Avenue (Map)
Max Zev Blankstein

Mennonite Reserves in Manitoba by John Warkentin, (source)

The first Mennonites came to Manitoba in waves from Russia and the U.S.A. starting in 1873 and established the East Reserve (around Steinbach) and West Reserve (around Winkler/Altona). Some were eventually drawn to Winnipeg and it soon became the city with "the largest Mennonite population of any major urban centre in the world" (Dueck). The first Mennonite Brethren church established in the city was in Elmwood in 1906.

According to Driedger, as early as 1907 a congregation of 21 members established a church in Winnipeg's North End and soon bought an empty lot at Burrows and Andrews. They then purchased a small chapel located in St. Vital and had it moved to the site. In November 1913, Rev. and Mrs. W. J. Besvater of Minnesota came to lead the church.

The little chapel soon became too small for their needs and the congregation moved to rented premises at Manitoba Avenue and McKenzie Street. They decided in 1916 to build a larger church for themselves back at the Burrows and Andrews site. 

The North End Chapel ca. 1917
Source: Mennonite Historian, March 2007, Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

The architect chosen to design the new building was Max Zev Blankstein, who by this time had designed many landmark North End buildings including the Winnipeg Cold Storage on Salter Street (1909), Hebrew Free School on Flora Avenue (1912), the Palace Theatre on Selkirk Avenue (1912) and the Merchants Hotel on Selkirk Avenue (1913).

The basement of the building was constructed first so that worship services and a Sunday school could be held there. This was a fairly common practice for churches at the time, including at the Salem Reformed Church across the street a few years earlier. It gave congregations a longer period of time - many years if necessary - to raise funds and construct their building with the aid of volunteer labour on weekends.

The basement of the new structure was completed in September 1917 and a dedication ceremony was held. It was christened the North End Chapel.

According to Driedger, the fact that the chapel held its services in German and had a German language Sunday school was not appreciated by some neighbours as World War I was still raging. He writes that "Children threw stones and sometimes policemen harassed them."

The congregation continued to grow and moved to larger premises on College Avenue in 1930. That new church became known as the North End Mennonite Brethren Church. According to the Centre for Mennonite Brethren, it was "the mother MB church for all of Winnipeg for the next 25 years."

The old North End Chapel, still unfinished, was sold off.

The Jewish Post, June 27, 1930

The Contract Record and Engineering Review of May 7, 1930 notes that " is proceeding by day labour on the erection of a two-storey brick sausage factory costing $15,000 at Burrows and Andrews". The project was actually a retrofit of the existing basement that included the replacement of the temporary roof with a permanent structure.

The sausage factory was The Warsaw Kosher Sausage Manufacturing Company Ltd. and it opened in June 1930. It was managed by Hymie Bloom of 629 Selkirk who had previously operated Bloom's Kosher Sausage Mfg. Co. at 551 Selkirk Avenue.

Investors in the business included Jacob and Harry Miles who owned the Palace Theatre on Selkirk Avenue and a a few other neighbourhood cinemas around the city.

Harry Miles is listed as the co-owner in the 1931 street directory but by 1932 Bloom had moved on to open the United Kosher Sausage Co. on Andrews Street. In 1932, brothers Harry and Jacob had a financial falling out that involved their shares in both the Allied Theatre Co. (which owned the cinemas) and Warsaw Kosher Sausage. It appears that Jacob was ordered by the court to surrender his $3,000 in shares in the sausage company so that Harry could buy him out.

Warsaw Kosher Sausage appears to have closed around 1934 and the building sat vacant for a number of years.

The Israelite Press, December 20, 1940

As the Depression drew to a close, there was new interest in the old sausage factory building.

David Waintman opened the Zion Kosher Sausage Manufacturing Company around 1939 and it stayed in business until around 1943.

The Jewish Post September 7, 1950

The building sat empty again until 1948 when Smith Corned Beef and Sausage Manufacturing Co. moved in. Its president was Sam Davidow, William Davidow was vice president, and the manager of the plant was Isaac Smith of Aberdeen Street.

Looking back through street directories, Smith ran a Smith's Corned Beef in the 1940s but there is no address other than his residence listed in street directories. A possible scenario is that Smith ran a home-based business with a smoker in his yard or used the facilities of another company and sold the product under his own name.

There is no occupation next to Smith's name for 1947, then Smith's Corned Beef and Sausage Manufacturing Company appeared in 1948. This suggests the business closed or he was set to retire and the Davidow's approached him to join a company using his name and recipes.

A year or so after the company started, presumably after Smith helped them get up and running, he listed in street directories as retired and Sam Davidow became president and manager.

Smiths Corned Beef outgrew its Burrows Avenue location and around 1958, with the Davidows still in charge, moved to 261 Flora Avenue which had been both a sausage making plant and fruit warehouse in earlier decades.

It appears that this company is today known as Smiths Quality Meats located on Church Avenue, though that company's website dates the company back only to 1958. (An inquiry to company principals asking if they if they had more information about their company's history was not responded to.)

November 23, 1974, Winnipeg Tribune

The building is listed as being vacant from 1959 to 1961, then in 1962 European Meat and Sausage Co. renovated it and moved in. (Note that "Meat" was singular in the company's early decades and today it is plural.)

The company's exact year of origin is a bit confusing. A long-time sign on the front of the store says "established 1956", yet in the summer of 2022 it had a 63rd anniversary sale which would make it 1959. There is no listing for a company by this name in street directories prior to 1962, though it could be that another shop was bought out, moved to this address, and renamed. (An inquiry to the store asking if they had more information on the store's history was not responded to.)

Street directories list Hans Weber as president, Mike Pammer as vice president, and Fred Meuer as secretary-treasurer. The trio of partners are hard to track as they did not make the newspapers and European did not advertise or have any 'advertorials' written about them.

There is an obituary for a Hans Weber born in Romania and came to Winnipeg in 1954. It states that he operated Weber Meats and Delicatessen and later the Transylvania Inn restaurant. There is no mention of European in his obituary. He died in 1980 at the age of 72.

Fred Meuer lived in a rural lot in Charleswood through the early 1960s, perhaps he raised some of the animals used in production. I can't find any more information about him.

Obituary photo, September 26, 1994, Winnipeg Free Press

As for Pammer, he was born in Czechoslovakia and came to Canada in 1957. When the company started out he and wife Veronica lived in the house at 134 Higgins Avenue. There is nothing written about Pammer while he was at European, but he made the news after his retirement.

A 1987 Free Press interview notes that Pammer established European Meats and Sausage 25 years earlier but sold it in 1985 after nearly 25 years in business so that he and Veronica could retire to Balston Beach, Manitoba.

A couple of years later, Pammer got into the food processing business again by creating "value added fish products" such as nuggets and sausages. He spent years perfecting his recipes and in the early 1990s announced that he was seeking funding to build a production facility for his new products in Riverton.

Sadly, Pammer would not open that new plant as he died at his residence on September 23, 1994 at the age of 66.

April 11, 1995, Winnipeg Free Press

It is unclear who bought the meat shop from Pammer in 1985. The company was reorganized in 1989 to become European Meats and Sausage (1989) Ltd., suggesting another new owner may have taken over.

From at least 1992 to 1996, there was a second European Meats and Sausage location in the Forks Market. The original shop still operates at 533 Burrows Avenue.

My photo album of 533 Burrows
European Meats and Sausage Facebook Page

Mennonite History Sources:
- The beginning of the Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg by Abe Dueck (Mennonite Historian, March 2007)
- Mennonites in Winnipeg by Leo Driedger
- Mennonite Settlement Province of Manitoba

*Note that when compiling the years a person or business was at a certain address using street directories, you have to look back a year. For example, the data in the 1950 street directory would have been compiled in 1949 so that the 1600+ page directory could be typeset, printed, bound and ready for sale in the first weeks of 1950.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

2022 Christmas Gift Guide


Christmas is almost here again. That means it is time for my 13th annual Christmas Gift Guide for that local history buff in your life. Books, magazine, prints, clothing, and more!