Saturday, September 29, 2012

930 Portage Avenue - CMHA Building


Place: Canadian Mental Health Association Building
Address: 930 Portage Avenue (Map)
Opened: 1956
Size: 7,960 SF
Architect: Unknown

1959 ad

This building was constructed at Portage and Lenore in 1956 for the Sun Life Assurance of Canada, (now Sun Life Financial. The Montreal-based company had been in Winnipeg since 1904, originally located in the McIntyre Block then moving to the 9th floor of the Lindsay Building. 

The  manager of Sun Life’s Manitoba operations since 1945 was Howard A Fairbairn. A life-employee of the company, he joined up in Vancouver in 1924 and worked at branches throughout the country before arriving here.

By 1955 Sun Life Assurance was the largest insurance company in Canada with $6 billion in assets.

September 10, 1956, Winnipeg Free Press

This building, architect unknown, was constructed in 1956 on the site of a used car sales lot at Portage and Lenore. A "grand opneing" ad cannot be found but the company began advertising this address in early September, they also offered a small suit eof offices for lease. 

In 1961 there were big changes for Sun Life in Winnipeg. Fairbairn retired in July, succeeded by . L. G. Sowten of Montreal and D. A. Dick who had been Winnipeg’s assistant manager. Within months the office was divided into two branches, Dick remained at 930 Portage.


In 1961 an old neighbour of Sun Life was also undergoing great change. 

CJOB, which had been broadcasting from the 12th floor of the Lindsay Building since 1946, built a new 310,000 watt tower at the near the University of Manitoba. When it went into operation in 1962 it was Canada's most powerful radio station reaching 75% of Manitobans. With the new tower, CJOB was able to re-launch its FM station, Western Canada's first, in stereo.


In April 1962 CJOB notified the federal government of their intention to move their studio to 930 Portage Avenue. By October Sun Life was gone and in December CJOB began broadcasting from their new home.

As with Sun Life, CJOB rented out additional space in the building. One area was a small suite of offices that housed Crosstown Real Estate Agencies (early 1960s), then M.M. Dillon Consulting Engineers (late 1960s) and the Canadian Cancer Society (1970s). In 1964 the largest tenant, the Post Office's Postal Station D, relocated there.

As the station grew over the years, much of the additional space was absorbed by CJOB's operations.

In 2010 the CJOB family of radio stations, owned by Chorus Entertainment and consisting of CJOB AM, CKJR FM (the former CJOB FM, also known as Power 97) and CJGV-FM (GROOVE) announced that they would move to a redeveloped CKY TV studio space at Polo Park.


In September 2010 the board of the Winnipeg region of the Canadian Mental Health Association approved the purchase of 930 Portage Avenue for their headquarters. After renovations, they relocated from their Ellice and Vaughan location in May 2012. On Monday, October 1, 2012 the CMHA held their grand opening.

Related:
History of Sun Life Financial Sun Life
History of CJOB West End Dumplings
CJOB History cjobanniversary.com
History of CMHA Winnipeg Region CMHA

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