Saturday, August 20, 2016

765 Wellington Avenue - Rumfords Ltd. / Perth's Cleaners,-97.1671321,3a,75y,48.47h,92.28t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sbnIhCzkdbmZqI4w7BA54lQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Place: Rumford's Ltd. / Perth's Cleaners
Address: 765 Wellington Avenue (Map)
Opened: December 1910
Architect: Unknown
Contractor: Unknown

L. J. Rumford, ca. 1916

Luther Judge Rumford was born and raised in the U.S.A. and spent most of his adult life in the laundry business.  He was managing a large laundry plant in Iowa when, in 1902, he and his family relocated to Winnipeg.

He became manager of Northwest Laundry on Main Street before deciding to break out on his own. In August 1910 Rumford's Sanitary Laundry Ltd. was created with five partners and $40,000 in capital. 

The company's plant was constructed at 765 Wellington Avenue and began advertising its services in December 1910. (Later, a Brandon subsidiary called Rumford's Laundry was added.) By 1915, it boasted 125 employees and fifteen trucks.

November 9, 1912, Winnipeg Tribune

Rumford’s handled both residential and commercial laundry services. The latter included blankets, fine linens sheets, coats and other items too large to wash by hand or in a primitive washing machine. They also starched shirts and sponge-cleaned suits. Coat storage and dyeing were other services on offer.

Their trucks would pick up the load at your home or place of business and the next day return it cleaned and pressed.

Overhead view of plant, ca. 2015. Google Maps.

Over the years the building was expanded at least once to the east, along Wellington Avenue, though the facade of the extension(s) mirrored the original building.

In 1929, a single-storey garage addition was built near the rear of the building that opens onto Simcoe Street.

July 23, 1914, Winnipeg Tribune

Rumford had a controversial side.

He was a member of the Northwest Laundry Association, which included owners from Manitoba, Minnesota and North Dakota which, in turn, was affiliated with the U.S. National Laundry Association.

At a meeting in Minnesota in 1914 he proposed a campaign that would “Drive the Chinese Laundries Out of America”. The American association was so pleased that they adopted the motion. The goal was to deport the 5,000 or so U.S. Chinese laundry owners from their country using the 1888 U.S. immigration law.

Some laundry owners saw Chinese laundries as unfair competition to "white businesses" as many of their employees were fellow countrymen who lived on-site and worked long hours for little pay in exchange for room and board.

Upon his return to Canada, Rumford toned down the "solution" for the Chinese laundry problem in Winnipeg. Saying he had “nothing against Chinamen making a living”, he noted their wage advantage and the fact that many of their plants were small, possibly unhygenic operations.

He called on the government to apply labour legislation to the laundry owners and to make laundries subject to health inspections, similar to dairies, food producers and restaurants.

Rumford retired in 1927 due to poor health and died in Winnipeg in 1929. Rumford Ltd, as the company was then known, continued on.

ca. 1993 ad

In 1952, the company appears to have left the residential side of the laundry business to focus solely on commercial. Rumford Ltd. created Sunshine Uniform and Acme Linen, which also had branches in Saskatchewan.

In 1980, a consortium that owned Perth's bought out Sunshine and Acme. In 2012, Perth's was sold to Calgary-based The Stephen Group Inc..

June 5, 1920, Winnipeg Tribune

Perth's itself is a storied name in the Winnipeg cleaning business. It was created in Winnipeg ca. 1920 by Nathan Portnoy.

When the company was sold to The Stephen Group, owner Terrell Stephen moved to Winnipeg to run Perth's. The company can still claim to be Winnipeg-owned. (For more Perth's history.)

ca. 1949 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

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