Monday, February 18, 2013

838 - 842 Main Street - The Bee Hive

Top: ca. 1902. Bottom: ca. 2013

Place: The Bee Hive
Address: 824 - 840 Main Street (Map)
Architect: Unknown
Cost: Unknown


January 1877, Manitoba Free Press 

The Bee Hive was just one of numerous business and real estate interests of John Rickard Clements.

Clements, 36, came to Winnipeg from his native Iowa via the Dawson Trail, arriving in town with a cargo of sewing machines and a cabinet organ on June 22, 1874. He set up a successful sewing machine and piano store at 467 Main Street.

1880 was a busy year for Clements. He sold his store to William Brydon and W. McIntosh and married Almira McLeod. The couple went on to have at least two children, Louis and Bessie.

Throughout the early 1880s Clements travelled and pursued a variety of business interests. He spent time in Crookston, Minnesota, where he got into the hotel business, and Florida, where he owned a pecan farm. During this time he also returned to Winnipeg to purchase land and finance the construction of a number of buildings on Main Street.

Old Postcard - Brunswick Hotel on Main Street, Winnipeg
L: Brunswick Hotel, Main and Rupert, ca. unknown (manitobaphotos of Flickr)

One of his first big investments in 1881 was the Brunswick Hotel, (now demolished), at 565 Main Street at Rupert, which he sold as soon as the construction was complete.

In 1883 he partnered with retailers Thomas Ryan and J. R. Cameron to purchase the "old courthouse" land located on the west side of Main Street between William and Bannatyne. They divvied the property up and each constructed a building. A portion of Ryan's store is the only one that remains.

Bijou Theatre
West Clements Block / Bijou Theatre, ca. unknown (buflyer on Flickr)

Clement's building was known as the West Clements Block. It originally featured a retail space on the main floor and apartments upstairs. In 1904 it was converted into a hotel called Clements House. The family lived there for a time before moving to a house at 47 Balmoral Place.

In 1906 an extension was added to the building and it became the Bijou theatre. A plaque marks the spot where the building once stood.

1902 ad, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1901 Clements acquired land at the south west corner of Main Street and Dufferin Avenue and built a five building complex, four facing Main Street and one facing Dufferin Avenue. The main building was a two storey, red brick structure with retail on the main floor and a suite for his family upstairs

It was here that Clements opened his The Bee Hive dry goods store. Initially it took up most of the five storefronts but he soon began renting out the buildings individually to other retailers. 

In 1903 the Bee Hive block, from south to north, housed a bakery,  Charles Brown bike repair, Willoughby's shoemaker and at the intersection of Dufferin was Clements' General Store. Two CPR conductors lived in the suite upstairs.

In 1907 Clements sold the complex to an investment firm. The Bee Hive Block still stands, the two storey building is home to Victoria Grocery.

1920 Henderson Directory

In 1916 Clements created the Clements Loan and Investment Company at 872 Main Street which brought in a number of family members to help look after his businesses and real estate portfolio. 

This allowed John, now 80, and Almira spent much of the 1920s travelling. In 1920 he took a two-year around the world trip, though it is unclear if his wife accompanied him. The two also wintered in Florida and at their pecan farm and visited family in Vancouver.

They returned to the city in 1924 to participate in the city's 50th anniversary celebrations, which coincided with Clements' arrival in Manitoba.

In his later years, Clements gave back to the community.

October 1922, a couple of weeks before his 84th birthday, Clements donated $50,000 each, (about $658,000 in 2012 dollars), to the Y.W.C.A and Winnipeg General Hospital to start endowment funds. There is also a J R Clements endowment and the Manitoba Lung Association. In 1951, his
son Louis created the John Rickard Clements Memorial Fund with the Winnipeg Foundation with stocks and shares that had a value of $250,000.

September 29, 1926, Manitoba Free Press

J. R. Clements died on September 26, 1926 in Eugene, Oregon. His body was returned to Winnipeg for burial at the Elmwood Cemetery. Almira died six years later in Winnipeg.

Tampan recalls pioneer days ... Tampa Morning Tribune (Oct. 1924)
836 Main Street Historic Buildings Committee
834 Main Street Historic Buildings Committee
500 Main Street Historic Building Committee (see plate 1,6 at end of report for more photos of West Clements Block / Bijou)  
Bee Hive Photo Album (in progress)

January 9, 1903, Manitoba Free Press

No comments:

Post a Comment