Sunday, July 15, 2018

115 Maryland Street - Tivoli Theatre / FOODFARE

© 2018, Christian Cassidy. Please credit my research.
Place: Tivoli Theatre / FOODFARE
Address: 115 Maryland Street (Map)
Opened: November 3, 1927
Architect: Max Zev Blankstein
Contractor: Fraser and Macdonald

Raymond Kerhsaw, ca. 1927

The Tivoli theatre was constructed in 1927 for Kerhsaw Theatres Limited, a local company run by Raymond Kershaw and his son, Frank.

Born in Sri Lanka to British parents, Kershaw Sr. came to Canada in 1888 at the age of eighteen to work on a farm at Kenora, Ontario. In 1904, he settled in Winnipeg and five years later was the owner of the Strand Pool Hall and Bowling Alley on Garry Street.

Kershaw got into the theatre business in 1913 when he operated the Wonderland on Sargent Avenue. Five years later, he purchased the burned-out ruins of the Osborne Theatre and rebuilt it into an 800-seat movie house.

Soon after, he was appointed president of the Motion Picture Association of Manitoba, the theatre owners’ trade association.

July 20, 1927, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1927, while still the owner of the Osborne, Kerhsaw funded the construction of the 900-seat Tivoli movie house on Maryland Street at Westminster.

The site had been a large hole for thirteen years. In 1914, construction began on an apartment block and the foundation dug, but the project was abandoned when the war started.

Despite the state of the site, a number of area residents and the congregation of Westminster Church fought the theatre's construction. They claimed that it would create additional traffic and that the theatre's lit exterior would detract from the beauty of the church.

The Kershaws argued that Maryland was already a busy regional street on its way to becoming a mini-highway connecting Winnipeg and its southern municipalities. The traffic created by the theatre would be negligible.

In the end, the city had no reason to deny a permit for the construction of the theatre.

Blankstein, ca. 1931

The Tivoli's architect was Max Zev Blankstein. He was well known for his theatre designs, including the The Palace on Selkirk Avenue, The Roxy on Henderson, The Lido in Dauphin, and The Uptown on Academy Road.

The Tivoli was built to be as fireproof as possible in accordance with new city building codes for theatres. The structure and floor are reinforced steel and concrete. Even the projectionist’s booth with its hot equipment was enclosed in concrete and sealed with fireproof doors to separate it from the hall. 

Inside, the hall was back lit to give a cozy feeling. The 900 seats were arranged in a slight curve facing the screen so that everyone had a good view. There was extra space between the rows so patrons did not have to get up from their seat to let people pass.

The theatre's exterior is red brick with a Tyndall stone facade. The lobby, which featured a marble floor, ran the full width of the building.

The Tivoli also featured a pipe organ that was custom-built by the Cassavant Brothers of Quebec. It wasn't installed until some weeks after the theatre's opening.

November 2, 1927, Winnipeg Tribune

The Tivoli was opened on November 3, 1927 by Mayor Ralph Webb.

The first film shown was the romantic comedy Swim Girl, Swim featuring Bebe Daniels. (It is sadly one of many thousand "lost films" of the silent movie era.) Music was provided by the five-piece Tivoli Orchestra.

Raymond Kerhsaw became the manager of Famous Player’s handful of suburban theatres in 1930. Six years later, he sold his Osborne and Tivoli to the company he worked for.

The ink was barely dry on the deal when Famous Players sold its suburban theatres, including Kershaw's, to Western Theatres Ltd.. The deal made Western the largest theatre chain in Western Canada with 25 locations in Manitoba alone.

Raymond worked briefly for Western before retiring to Victoria, B. C... Frank also relocated to B.C. and went on to have a career with Famous Players in Vancouver.

July 29, 1959, Winnipeg Tribune

The 1950s was a tough decade for neighbourhood theatres as television became the entertainment medium of choice for most people. Many of them closed and were either demolished or converted to other uses.

In early November 1959, it was announced that the Tivoli had been purchased by Canada Safeway. Its last film was the Danny Kaye comedy Me and the Colonel shown on November 29.

Safeway converted the building into a  grocery store to replace its ca. 1930 outlet located across the back lane on Sherbrook Street. A house was torn down to make way for a parking area.

The new Safeway opened in February 1960 as the 38th Winnipeg store in its chain. Its first manager was Andy Champagne, who was transferred from their 615 Ellice Avenue outlet.

The store underwent extensive renovations in 1971 but it was clear that its time was limited. As Safeway continued to open newer, larger stores, the Maryland location soon became one of their smallest outlets.

October 26, 1988

Safeway finally closed the 115 Maryland store on January 3, 1981, but not before finding a new buyer. Merchants Consolidated announced that the store would become part of its chain of independently owned grocery stores operating under the FamilyFare banner. The new store opened on February 2.

In 1988, Merchants Consolidated went bankrupt and ten of the former FamilyFare owners joined together under the FOODFARE name.

In 1989, they added a additional outlet when Wajih “Moe” Zeid's Payfair on Lilac and Corydon joined the fold. Zeid came to Winnipeg from Palestine in 1967 and purchased the Payfair a  decade later.

Over the years as FOODFARE owners retired, Zeid purchased some of the stores, including the Maryland store sometime after 1995. In 2007, he also bought Harry's Foods on Portage Avenue.

There are currently five FOODFARE locations across the city.

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