Monday, July 27, 2015

236 Edmonton Street - Ming Court Restaurant

© 2015, Christian Cassidy
Place: Ming Court Restaurant
Address: 236 Edmonton Street (Map)
Constructed: ca. 1888 (house), 1938 (commercial addition)
Architect: Unknown
 Top: Aerial of downtown, south of Portage, east of Eaton's ca. 1913 (source)
Bottom: Edmonton Street ca. 1910 (source)

The Ming Court restaurant's building started out as a house in the very residential downtown Winnipeg of the late 1800s. In the above image, also here, you can get a sense of how complete a residential neighbourhood it was, with schools, parks and churches. 

The bottom image shows a close-up of Edmonton Street around 1910. The bell tower is Alexandra School, which was on Edmonton Street between York and St. Mary Avenues.

Number 326 Edmonton was neighbour to one of downtown's terrace housing complexes, until it was torn down ca. 1960 to make way for the Medical Arts Building parkade.

The first Henderson Directory listing for the property comes in 1888 as the home of J. E. C. Williams and family. The Williams' came to Winnipeg from their native England in 1886.

John's first occupation was as a bricklayer but by 1891 he was a grain inspector. By 1896 he went into the insurance business representing the Aetna Insurance company and in 1910 was a partner in the insurance company Williams Rainey Co.

Mrs. Williams was a life member of the Women's Christian Temperance Movementa nd at one time a member of the Presbyterian Synod.

The family consisted of five daughters and two sons. One son, Jack, was killed in the war in 1915.

The Williams' sold 236 Edmonton in 1913 and five years alter, with three of their daughters, moved to Long Beach, California.

January 1918 classified ad, Winnipeg Tribune

The home was then converted into a rooming house with as many as nine people living in it at a time. It appears that the initial owner was James T. Ward, a clerk with the CPR.

That first year, two other Wards, presumably relatives, also lived there: Archibald Ward, CPR machinist, and George Ward, CPR car repairman. The rest of the initial lineup of roomers included: Walter H Wall, clerk at Robinson and Co.; George Swift, a shipper at Eaton's; Mrs. J G Parker, bookkeeper; A M Parker, bookkeeper; Albert Jarvis, shipper at Eaton's; and Phillip Brown, assistant supervisor at the CPR. 

The ownership of the rooming house changed hands often. The longest-serving owners were the Dunn family, from 1922 to 1931. Mrs. Ida Dunn is listed in the Henderson Directory most of those years as head of the household.

1938 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

In March 1938, Campbell and Hyman Ltd. took out a $7,000 building permit to built a 31 x 34 foot, brick storefront addition to the house and alter the dwelling to become part of the new store. The contractor was R. Sigurdson.

The company, created in the late 1920s by  J. Campbell and Claude M. Hyman, sold medical devices direct to the public; everything from trusses to hearing aids. They also sold pharmaceuticals and other specialty supplies to physicians.
In 1959, Campbell and Hyman moved to larger premises and put this building up for sale.

Top: ca. 1962, Henry Kalen (source) 
Bottom: 1961 ad, Winnipeg Free Press 

It was briefly home to a realty company, then Bonnycastle Travel Agency. Under president Charles A. Read and General manager L. Wikdahl, the agency opened a satellite office at the International Inn on Wellington Street.

In 1972, the company relocated to larger premises.

Starting in 1973, 236 Edmonton began its long association with the restaurant industry.

It became the Red Lion Steak House in 1973, then the Café de Paris, the second location of a St. Pierre, Manitoba restaurant, in November 1977. Through the early 1980s it was home to a pair of Aboriginal restaurants, Bungees then The TeePee, before becoming an Angelo's Pizza.

1993 Winnipeg Free Press

Ming Court restaurant was created by Tom Yung and his wife in 1979. its first location was at the corner of Broadway and Donald.

In a Free Press "advertorial" in 1997, Yung said: “When we started, we were the very first Northern Chinese restaurant in the city.… I knew it was a big gamble, but I was ready to work very, very hard.”  In 1987, Ming Court relocated to 236 Edmonton Street.

In July 2015 new owners took over from the Yungs. They are currently renovating the property and plant to reopen under the same name in August 2015. During the exterior renovation, for a brief time, the original brick work was exposed and revealed a painted sign for Bonnycastle Travel.

I also found a connections between this address and a local non-profit organization. On January 11, 1940, while Campbell and Hyman, it hosted the first AGM of the Winnipeg Association of Big Brothers.

Google Street View, 2012

(Above image courtesy of Winnipeg Architecture Foundation)


  1. Was this not a Hy's Steakhouse in 1973? I thought I remembered going with a friend when her Dad took her out for steak for her 14th birthday. I had never been to any restaurant fancier than the Paddlewheel at the Bay prior to that and just overwhelmed at how was at how posh this place was.

  2. Hy’s Was on Kennedy, across from the Medical Arts Building.