Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1051 - 1053 Main Street - Strangers' Rest Mission

Main Street, Winnipeg
The building at 1021 Main Street (left) burned today and may have to be torn down after $100,000 worth o damage was done. The fire did not spread to the adjoining 1051 Main Street (right). I took a picture last summer, more for the retro looking salon sign that for doing a  building history. Now that it may soon be gone I thought I would take a look back at its history.

Place: 1051 - 1053 Main Street (Map)
Built: 1890s & 1908 ?

December 15, 1905, Manitoba Free Press

On December 14, 1905 the Strangers' Rest Mission House opened in a ca 1890s wood frame house at 1051 Main Street (likely since demolished). It was a place where destitute newcomers could come for a meal or to obtain emergency supplies for their family. It was also a place to learn life skills in new mother, sewing, cooking and English language classes.

Strangers' Rest was created by Finnish-born Breeta Sherbinin who moved to Winnipeg in 1904 with her husband and six children, most of whom were now adults. She was shocked when she saw the squalid conditions that newcomers faced in the North End and based the mission on one she had seen in England.

Husband Michael was a Russian-born scholar,  writer and cleric. He and Breeta married in 1885 and travelled the world together. In 1901 the family arrived in the Dukhobor settlements of  Saskatchewan where he taught school. In 1904 it was on to Winnipeg for a new post as a Ruthenian professor at Manitoba College.

December 30, 1905, Manitoba Free Press

Though the mission was small, Mrs. Sherbinin's hard work made it stand out. Most unique was the respect she showed her clients. Their native cultures were celebrated at the mission. Both she and her husband were multilingual and able to speak to many of them in their own language. Mrs. Sabourin also gave lectures to local women's groups and art societies on the culture of the newcomers in an attempt tocreate a better understanding.

Soon, Strangers' Rest had a roster of volunteers, all women, that ran across ethnic, class and religious lines.

In 1908 the mission either purchased or had built the taller building at 1053 Main. In June a dedication ceremony was held and after a break for the summer months, Mrs. Sherbinin returned ready for the increased workload that came with the larger premises A Free Press article of September 25, 1908 noted:

The Strangers' Rest has been removed from its former location, a small frame building, to a larger one of brick one door farther north, on the same side of Main Street near Burrows Avenue. 

In 1910 or 11 the mission was wound down. It may have been due to the ill health of Mrs. Sherbinins. The family left Winnipeg in 1912 and she died in Toronto the following year.

March 1967, Winnipeg Free Press

Since that time a variety of small shops and services have called these two buildings home.

Number 1051, the shorter building, was likely rebuilt at some point as it is doubtful that what is there now is the remnant of an 1890s house. I couldn't find a record of new construction in local newspapers. 

In 1912 Charlie Lung's Chinese laundry set up in 1912 and stayed until the early 1940s. Purity Bread relocated there in the late 1960s until they went bankrupt in 1977. 

In case you're wondering about that retro looking Mainwood Beauty Salon sign, they did not set up at this location until the 1980s. Nettie Johnston's shop does date back to around 1948 but was originally located a block further north at 1122 Main, at Redwood of course !

The two-storey building at 1053 Main Street housed Edward Bibby's confectionery and cafe, which relocated from Logan Avenue in the 1920s and lasted until 1951. Bibby served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in World War I and was a member of the Disabled Veterans' Association. 

After that it was home to Master Music Studios (instrument sales and lessons) through the 1950s and a welding supply shop in the 60s. Its run as assorted  pizza restaurants started in the 1980s.

In recent years the building has been empty. It was recently on the market listed at $285,000

For fire photos.

1 comment:

  1. Look in the Provincial Archives photo collection under "L. B. Foote Collection", and you'll find a big and clear 1914 photo of 1051 and 1053, with a Scots pipe band marching in front of it. There was a stonecarving works along the north edge of the taller building. It was long gone by the 1950s.