Friday, April 21, 2017

700 Ellice Avenue - Waddell Appliances / Naomi House

Top: ca. 2009, Google Street View
Bottom: ca. 2017, Christian Cassidy

Place: Waddell Appliances / Naomi House
Address: 700 Ellice Avenue (Map)
Opened: 1954 
Architect: Unknown

This building was the longtime shop and home of James Aitken Waddell.

Waddell was born in Manchester, England in 1905. He came with his family to Canada, settling in Montreal in 1912 and onto Winnipeg in 1929.  The family comprised of James Sr., wife Ann and sons William, James A., John and George.

The same year they came to Winnipeg, James Sr., who worked as a moulder - pouring metal into moulds - died of lung cancer.  After his death, the children, some of whom were living on their own, moved in with their mother at 418 McGee Street.

September 12, 1938, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1938, James, a salesman by trade, married Violet McLaren of Home Street. It is likely that they met through Home Street United Church where they were both active, especially with its Cubs and Scouts programs.

During World War II, Waddell enlisted with the Air Force. He was put in charge of organizing Winnipeg's first chapter of the Air Cadet League of Canada. On October 1, 1940, 65 boys met under him at General Wolfe School for their initial meeting.

Waddell decided to transfer to the Royal Canadian Navy and spent the war stationed at St. John's, Newfoundland.

When the war was over, he returned to Winnipeg and worked briefly for Eaton's before deciding to  open his own business.

July 5, 1947, Winnipeg Tribune

Advertisements for the Waddell Appliance Parts Company first appear in local newspapers in January, 1947. It was initially located at 499 Main Street near William, (now demolished.)

By Christmas 1949, Waddell had relocated to 72 Princess Street, the commercial section of the Odd Fellow's Temple. The store billed itself as having the largest selection of washing machine parts in Western Canada. They also added a service department.

2009 Google Street View

In 1954, Waddell again relocated to what appears to have been a custom-built location at 700 Ellice Avenue. It was a mixed-use building with 4,200 square feet of commercial space on the main floor and a 2,000 square foot living space upstairs for him and Violet.

Interestingly, this piece of land had almost always been vacant until Waddell built on it.

Prior to 1905, when the West End was being subdivided into a suburb, nothing is listed at that address. In 1906, it was home to a blacksmith shop for a year or two. By 1910 until 1953 there are no Henderson Directory listings between 690 and 710 Ellice Avenue. (The neighbours at 690 Ellice from 1907 to 1927 ran a store and in the suite above it raised a family of 13 children, so this could have been a side yard or garden for that property.)

This was a period of great change for Ellice Avenue. With developments such as the Winnipeg Stadium (1953), Winnipeg Arena (1955), Polo Park mall (1959), and a new airport (1963), Ellice was becoming more of a thoroughfare, an alternative to Portage Avenue. As a result, its was shedding its original residential feel for increasingly dense commercial and residential developments.

Top: March 12, 1962, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: Interior from a ca. 2000s sales brochure

The larger premises allowed Waddell to have a showroom for new appliances, such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, ovens and even televisions. His bread an butter, though, continued to be the warehouse of appliance parts, both new and reconditioned.

The Waddells continued to stay involved with community activities. Both were active Home Street United Church and in the Cub and Scout movement. They were also involved in a number of fraternal organizations.

Around 1980, Waddell retired. The couple then spent their winters in Mesa, Arizona and summers at their cottage at Nutimik Lake.,

James A. Waddell died in 1984 and Violet in 1990. They had no children.

December 24, 1971, Winnipeg Tribune

The new president of Waddell Appliances was Lawrence "Larry" Dolynchuk, a long-time business partner of Waddell.

Larry was a service technician Simpson Sears living in the North End throughout the 1960s. In late 1968, he and Al Dolynchuk opened Fleet Appliances at 613 Sargent Avenue. By 1970, they had a second location at 887 Main Street..

Fleet offered similar fare as Waddel. They sold reconditioned washers, dryers, vacuums as well as parts.

Lögberg-Heimskringla, August 1974

In the summer of 1973, Fleet's Sargent Avenue location changed to 700 Ellice Avenue, the same address as Waddell's.  It is unclear if this was a partnership or a merger.

Through the 1970s Fleet appears to have taken care of the new appliance sales portion of Waddell Appliances location while Al operated the Main Street location.

Main Street disappears around 1980, the same time as Waddell retired.  Larry and wife Doreen moved into the upstairs suite.

Doreen passed away in 2014 and it was around that time that the business went up for sale.

Our West Central Times, Winter 2017

The building sat vacant for a couple of years until it was purchased and donated to City Church on Maryland Street and is being converted into Naomi House.

The church, which has many members who were former refugees, will use the main floor to house offices for their existing Community Connexions program which strives to meet the “spiritual and physical needs” of new refugees. Upstais will be transitional housing housing for about 25 refugees and asylum seekers upstairs.

The living will be “boarding house” style. The main floor will have a communal kitchen and dining area. Upstairs, there will be a shared living room, computer area and about eight small bedrooms.

The housing will be transitional, meant to last about six months until more permanent housing, if required, can be secured.

Naomi House is expected to open in the spring of 2017.

My photo album of 700 Ellice Avenue

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