Monday, December 31, 2018

431 - 433 Talbot Avenue - Commercial Building

© 2018, Christian Cassidy
Place: 431 - 433 Talbot Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1924
Architect: Unknown

This building was constructed in 1924 with two commercial units in the front and residential unit at the back. For well over a decade the building has been one residential unit.

In November 2018, a zoning variance was granted so that it can be demolished to make way for a ten-unit, multi-family dwelling. It is the same applicant that built a similar complex across the street and has received a variance to do the same at 398 Talbot.

Here's a look at the history of each unit:

431 Talbot (east retail unit) - Shoe Repair Shop

The commercial unit on the right in the above photo appears to have been the smaller of the two spaces. Its first tenant arrived in late 1924 or early 1925; the barber shop of Theodore Menyschook who lived at 259 Chalmers.

In late 1927 or early 1928 the shop changed hands and became Walt Michalinksi* Shoe Repair. He and wife Sabina lived further up Talbot at number 631.

* As was often the case with anglicized names, there were variations in the spelling. For more than 20 years Walter appeared in the Henderson Street Directories as Michalinski, which changed to Mickalinsky around 1954. It is unclear if this was a long-time error being corrected or if the name was formally changed to an anglicized one. Interestingly, in their respective obituaries their names are spelled differently: his read Walter Mickalinksi, ending in "i", while his wife's was spelled ending in "y".

Walter was born in Yastrobych, Ukraine in 1902 and came to Winnipeg in 1927. Sabina Bashnak (sp?) was born in Ukraine in 1909 and her obituary does not mention when she came to the city. They married in Winnipeg on November 18, 1930. Around 1951, the couple moved to the little house next door to the shop at 435 Talbot.

The shoe repair store was resilient and made it through the Depression and World War II. In fact, Walter tended his shop for a remarkable 64 years until just before his death in 1993 at the Holy Family Nursing Home.

At one point in the late 1940s, Sabina worked at Alsip Brick Works. She was also a volunteer at Mother of Perpetual Help Ukrainian Catholic Church. Sabina's obituary noted that she was "a hard working woman, still tending to her large garden till the age of 90." She died "after a long and difficult life" at age 100 at Poseidon Care Centre.

The couple had no children and are buried at Elmwood Cemetery.

Since 1992, this commercial unit has been a residence.

433 Talbot (west retail unit)

Compared to its neighbor, west commercial unit on the left in the above photo, had many tenants.

The first tenant, and perhaps the building's original owner, was Henry N. Neufeldand his Elmwood Press which specialized in printing stationery. It appears that Mrs. Neufeld did housecleaning on the side. The Neufelds lived at the residential unit at the back.

Elwood Press and the Neufelds only lasted until around September 1926 when "large store with living room for rent" signs appeared in the papers.

The address reappears in the 1928 Henderson Directory as a barber shop which had numerous owners. Fred J. Tool was the first and also lived at the shop. He lasted until 1934.

In 1935, it became Herbert "Bert" Bert Dellar's barber shop, who also lived there. At times he advertised a second chair for rent for a "ladies' barber". He was a veteran of the First World War and appears to have been a bachelor.

Dellar retired circa 1949 and died on June 28, 1959 at age 72.

The barber shop carried on as the Elmwood Barber Shop by Thomas Fostakowsky. He was born and raised in Rossburn, Manitoba and came to Winnipeg in 1940. After serving in World War II, he returned to Winnipeg and opened the shop. He and wife Alice lived on Newton Avenue where they raised their two children, including Robert who became a doctor.

Thomas retired in 1973 and later that decade the space was converted into a residence, a "three room ground floor suite"  according to classified ads, which it has remained until 2018.

433 Talbot (residence, then commercial unit.)

For the first 25 years or so, there was a third unit at the rear that acted as a residence. Most often, one of the business owners lived in it. That changed starting in the Depression when it was rented to a third party.   

One of those tenants were retired couple Robert and Janet Cowie who moved there in 1939.

Robert was a builder in Ottawa before coming to Winnipeg around 1912 with wife, Janet (Forgie) and daughter, Margaret. He served in the First World War with the Provost Marshal's office.

After Robert's death in 1944, Mrs. Cowie moved on.

May 3, 1944, Winnipeg Free Press

Another person who used the address, but didn't live there initially, was Leading Seaman Joseph "Jimmy" Wilbert L'esperance. He enlisted in the Navy in 1939 and was stationed in Halifax for three years before being posted to the newly commissioned destroyer HMCS Athabaskan.

In 1944, Stella L'esperance and their two children lived here. It was common for families to have to downsize to apartments or rooming houses due to the cut in family income while the 'man of the house' was at war.

The Athabascan was sunk by a U-Boat, (also see), in the English Channel on April 29, 1944. For many days L'esperance and six other Winnipeggers were listed as missing. Eventually, word came that he had been taken prisoner. Of the Athabascan's crew of 261, 128 were killed, 85 taken prisoner and 48 were rescued.

May 31, 1945, Winnipeg Tribune

L'esperance was one of the men taken prisoner. After weeks at the camp he and a few other prisoners hid out in the camp during a prisoner transfer and spent months hiding in a crawlspace. They managed to escape and on May 29, 1945 arrived in New York City. (You can read about L'eperance's ordeal in this CP interview.)

On May 31, 1945, L'eperance and three other former P.O.W.s arrived back home at Union Station. Stella jumped aboard the train before it even stopped to greet her husband. Also on-hand were their three-year-old son and the two-year-old daughter whom L'esperance had not yet met.

It appears that L'esperance did not return to the duty with the Navy. He is listed as living at 433 Talbot until 1947. From there, he went on to have a career with CN Rail and died at Deer Lodge Centre in 1988. (For more about L'esperance, see these entries at the Lest We Forget blog.)

October 13, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press

The 433 space must have been subdivided or the residential portion converted into a commercial space as starting in October 1951 the Elmwood Barber Shop and Walt's Shoe Repair shared space with a new commercial tenant: Elmwood branch of Kent's Accordion College.

Born in Winnipeg in 1910, Fred Kent was a well-known local piano accordionist. His name first appears in papers in the late 1920s playing at entr'acte at theatres and cinemas. Within a few years Kent was a headliner at special events and appeared often on local radio. By the mid-1930s, he had his own teaching studio and was leader of an accordion band that featured as many as eighteen players.

Kent ca. 1960s

Kent's studio, which sold and repaired accordions, became known in 1940 as Kent's Accordion College Ltd., "Canada's foremost accordion college". When the Elmwood branch opened, there were colleges in Brandon and Portage la Prairie. By 1955, there were six locations in Winnipeg alone.

The accordion college left 433 Talbot around 1964 and soon retreated back to a single location on Portage Avenue. In the late 1960s it was rebranded Kent's Academy of Music and appears to have stayed in business until the mid-1970s.

Fred Kent died in Vancouver in January 2005.

Overview of 431 - 433 Talbot

Note that the years may not be exact. The Henderson Directory only caught a snapshot of what was located at an address at fixed point early in the year, perhaps January or February. As most of these businesses were too small to advertise in newspapers there are no additional references as to when one business opened and another closed.

431 (Commercial) 
1925 – 1927: Theodore Menyschook barber shop
1928 – 1992: Walt Mickalinksi Shoe Repair

433 (Commercial) 
1924 – 1926: Elmwood Press
1928 – 1934: Fred J Tool barber shop
1935 – 1949: Herbert "Bert" Dellar barber shop
1950 - 1973: Tom Fostakowsky (Elmwood Barber Shop)
1979 – 2018: Residence

433 (Residential) 
1937 – 1938: Adam Switkowski
1939 – 1944: Robert and Janet Cowie
1944 - 1947: J Lesperance (initially, Mrs. Lesperance and two children)
1948 -1951: Tom Fostakowksy
1951 - 1964: Kent's Accordion College
1979 – 2018: Residence