Wednesday, February 7, 2024

291 Logan Avenue - Commercial Building (R.I.P.)

© 2024, Christian Cassidy

Place: Commercial Building (R.I.P.)
Address: 291 Logan Avenue

A very nondescript building burned down and had to be demolished last week. Here's a brief look back at its history.

291 Logan Avenue at Princess (the white building on the left) was likely built around 1925. It was initially home to a couple of cafes before becoming J. W. Auctions around 1930. Over the years, the company name would expand to J. Wach, Auctioneer, then John Wachniak Auctions. (For more on John Wachniak Jr.)

It is likely that the auction house spilled over into the neighbouring buildings as its showroom and a used furniture store.

In the late 1930s, Wachniak had moved to a new location and an accountancy / tax return company advertised at this address for a few years.

Dave’s Auto Parts called the building home by 1949 and also took up the neighbouring storefronts and did auto dismantling in the rear yard. It remained Dave’s until at least 1980 when company president David Glickman died. 

The metal cladding encasing all three buildings was added around 2010.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

766 Ingersoll Street - Private Residence

 © 2024, Christian Cassidy

Google Street View, 2021

Place: Private Residence
Address: 766 Ingersoll Street (Map)
Built: ca. 1894
Size: 1,294 square feet

I was asked to research the history of this house, which is currently for sale. Its date of construction predates the creation of Ingersoll Street which means there is some guesswork involved!

According to city records, the building permit was issued for this house in 1894. This is quite early for the West End as the city did not send in surveyors to lay out the grid pattern for roads, sidewalks, and boulevards until around 1904. By the time crews would have reached this far west it was likely closer to 1910. 

This house, therefore, would have been a rural farmhouse serving one of the pastureland sections of land north of Portage Avenue that may have contained a commercial horse stable or a dairy farm operation. The house would have been moved from its original location to align with what would become Ingersoll Street after the surveyors came through.

R. McPhillips' 1910 Map of Winnipeg (Source)

Ingersoll Street isn’t listed in Winnipeg's street directories through the 1890s. It first appears around 1904 but only as a cluster of houses and businesses at Notre Dame Avenue. Interestingly, even in 1910 it still wasn’t fully formed as can be seen in R. McPhillips’ 1910 map of Winnipeg above. 

Even after this house was moved to align with Ingersoll Street, it likely still had a lot of land associated with it. I have indicated this land with a red star on the map.

The land north of the house (towards Notre Dame) was sold to builders as houses on those lots were built in 1912 to 1914, which is common for streets in this area. The three lots south of this house to Ellice Avenue, however, were not built on until 1930 and the first few houses south of Ellice were not built on until 1929 or later.

It is likely that this land remained part of 766 Ingersoll and was sold off as individual lots over time. (The house still has an unusually large side yard to this day.)

July 5, 1945, Winnipeg Tribune

The 766 Ingersoll Street address first appears in the 1911 street directory. The first listed owner was Hayden Hawes, one of the sons in the Charles H. Hawes and Sons painting and decorating business located at 620 Langside Street.

The Hawes' had two children. Hugh died at the home in 1940 at the age of 26. Ruth signed on to be a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) worker during World War II. She served at hospitals in Winnipeg before being deployed to England in 1945.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

675 Talbot Avenue - Canadian Legion Gardens

 © 2023, Christian Cassidy

Google Street View, 2015

Place: Canadian Legion Gardens
Address: 675 Talbot Avenue (Map)
Opened: 1956
Architect: Nicola Zunic (Zunic and Sobkowich)
Contractor: Quality Construction Co. (Qualico)

Before the days of government subsidized seniors' housing, ageing First World War veterans and disabled Second World War veterans lived in bleak conditions. They most likely had to find a cheap suite in a turn-of-the-century apartment complex or rent a room in a boarding house and remained trapped in their quarters due to stairs with no services such as home care to visit them.

After the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Legion set out to rectify the issue for at least some of Canada's vets through low barrier, low income housing projects across the country. Winnipeg's turn came in 1954.

The Legion secured a commitment from CMHC to contribute $450,000 towards a veterans housing complex in Winnipeg. In April 1955, it was announced that the city donated a 250 foot x 225 foot lot on Talbot Avenue in Elmwood for the project. The Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Legion Memorial Housing Foundation was created in August under chairman Ald. James Cowan to raise further funds and manage the project.

Initially, the plan was to construct four two-storey apartment blocks containing a total of 100 suites. Each building would have common rooms and laundry facilities. The plan for the blocks was drawn up by local architect and RCAF veteran N. M. Zunic.

The following year, Zunic revised the plan to become forty single-storey units in blocks of three or four. Each unit contained 2.5 rooms and had direct access to the outdoors.

It is unclear why the change was made except that it was on the advice of CMHC which had final say on the project. It could have been a preference for the easier access units or a funding issue as the change cut the price tag for the project by more than half.

The housing foundation was notified by a telegram From Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent on August 16, 1956, that their 40-year CMHC loan for $177,696 had been approved. The Legion contributed additional $21,000.

January 1, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

Quality Construction Co., (later known as Qualico), won the tender for construction and work began in early October 1956. The Legion started taking rental applications on October 10th.

The complex was meant for veterans and their spouses who were over 60 years of age with an income of $150 or less per month. The rental of the suites was $43 per month.
The first twenty units were ready by the end of December and were officially opened by mayor George Sharpe on December 29th. The remaining twenty units opened in January 1957.

The first tenants to be given their keys by Ald. Cowan was Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kerr, (pictured above). A year later, the Winnipeg Tribune caught up with Mr. Kerr who was the eldest resident at age 91. He said, "It seems ages since I finished work to retire but my wife and I have never lived in such a wonderful place. We spent sixteen years in one room and a kitchenette."

Mr. Patterson, who was blind, told the Tribune, "No one can be more grateful to the Legion for these quarters than we are. We had some rough times before coming here. Frankly, this is like heaven."

December 30, 1957, Winnipeg Tribune

The Canadian Legion Memorial Housing Foundation still owns the complex and raises funds annually for the upkeep of the property and to operate a shuttle bus service. The units come in one bedroom or "bachelor deluxe".

Legion Gardens provides housing for veterans, their families, and Legion members who are 60 years and older. Rents in 2021 were $425 for veterans and $589 for Legion members.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

621 Balmoral Street- Balmoral Motor Hotel

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

Place: Balmoral Motor Hotel / New Balmoral Hotel
Address: 621 Balmoral Street (Map)
Opened: October 1966
Cost: $1.2 million
Architect: Chris Kaufman for Lloyd Finch Associates
Contractor: F. W. Sawatzky Ltd.

The roots of the Balmoral Motor Hotel date back to a business deal in Estevan, Saskatchewan in 1949. Three businessmen, Ben Zelcovich, Paul Nessman and Menashe Mandel, partnered to purchase that town's Clarendon Hotel and Cafe.

Mandel and wife Fannie soon relocated to Winnipeg and in 1957 purchased the Merchants Hotel on Selkirk Avenue, likely with Zelcovich as a business partner as he came along as the manager.

The consortium also purchased land at the corner of Balmoral Street and Notre Dame Avenue, with the intention of building a new hotel.
Mandel said in a 1990 Jewish Post and News interview: "Some fellows had bought the property to build a hotel. They asked me in. The land sat empty for six years while we paid taxes on it. Gradually the others pulled out, leaving me with the property. So I finally built the hotel myself." 

Mandel chose to build what was a new breed of hotel that became the all the rage in the 1960s. The 'motor hotel' combined the convenient parking of 1950s motels with amenities that were previously only available at large downtown hotels, such as banquet facilities and fine dining. 

Examples of this new style accommodation in Winnipeg include the Viscount Gort Motor Hotel (1960), Charter House oMtor Hotel (1960), the Gordon chain of motor hotels, including the Assiniboine, Curtis and Chalet, the Carlton Motor Hotel (1960), the Westminster Motor Hotel /Sherbrook Inn (1965), the Lincoln Motor Inn (1964), the Dakota Motor Hotel (1965), and the Osborne Village Motor Inn (1965).

October 13, 1966, Winnipeg Free Press

Mandel hired architect Chris Kaufman of Lloyd Finch Associates to design the $1.2 million structure and F. W. Sawatzky Ltd. were the general contractors. The Tyndall stone work and masonry was by Kornovsky and Keller Ltd.. The hotel's interiors were supplied and installed by Eaton's.

The hotel consisted of a two-level service centre in the basement and ground floor that was completely separate from the hotel tower. It contained the formal Centennial Dining Room and  Boulevard Restaurant as well as the Can-Can Cocktail Lounge and Richelieu Beverage Room. Banquet facilities included the Balmoral Ballroom (for 300) and the Maple Room (for 150).

The mosaic mural on the east exterior wall, which has been covered over in tiles in subsequent renovations, was by artist and U of W professor Dr. Victor Leathers.

The hotel tower consisted of 45 rooms each featuring air conditioning and colour television.

Above: Jewish Post, October  13, 1966

The hotel was touted as part of the multi-million dollar redevelopment of the Central Park area.

Once a middle class, family neighbourhood with luxury apartments and big brick houses, it began to decline, especially after the Second World War and the development of new suburbs outside the city's core. Some apartments had their suites divided into smaller units and many of the grand, old houses became rooming houses.

The adjacent park and proximity to downtown made it a neighbourhood of interest to a new wave of developers, both private and public. Both Regency Towers and Central Park Lodge opened in 1964. The addition of Mandel's full service motor hotel in 1966 was seen as a perfect fit.

October 1, 1966, Winnipeg Free Press

May 2, 1967, Winnipeg Free Press

The Balmoral Motor Hotel appears to have opened in stages. The hotel portion and restaurants in early September 1966 and the bars and banquet facilities in early October. Once all were up and running, for many years it offered smorgs in the restaurant, nightly entertainment in the Richelieu Room, and a steady stream of wedding receptions, company dinners, and small conferences.

The hotel was a family affair. Aside from Menashe and his wife Fannie, their daughter Ruth Bubis and son-in-law Norman worked there starting in the 1970s.

The name of the hotel appears to have changed from the Balmoral Motor Hotel to the Balmoral Hotel in summer 1977.

As the fortunes of the neighbourhood continued to decline, mentions of the restaurants and lounges by name faded through the 1980s, though weekly live music was offered through 1994.

In a September 1990 Jewish Post and News interview, Mandel, who was 90 at the time, was still putting in a full day's work at his hotel. He died on November 7, 1994.

Hotel in September 1966 by Henry Kalen (U of M Digital Archives)

The hotel was sold off in early 1995 and after renovations it became known as the New Balmoral Hotel. The restaurant and main lounge were renovated that summer into Club Fantasy, a strip club that closed during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In November 2023, it was announced that new investors took over the hotel as of November 1st. They will renovate the space into Pimicikamak Wellness Centre, a medical clinic and medical boarding house for residents of northern First Nations visiting Winnipeg for medical treatment.

Balmoral Hotel Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

When piecing together the history of a building and family mainly though newspaper archives, there will be some discrepancies. If you have additional information or corrections, share it with me at!  Researching small hotel histories are difficult as there was usually a primary owner as well as a group of secondary owners.

Monday, October 23, 2023

854 Ellice Avenue - Hindu Society Temple and Cultural Centre

© Christian Cassidy, 2023

Temple in 2008 (C. Cassidy)

Place: Church of the Nazarene / Manitoba Hindu Society Temple and Cultural Centre
Address: 854 Ellice Avenue
Constructed: 1950
Architect: Unknown
Contractor: Claydon Contracting Ltd.

The origins of this building date back to the Church of the Nazarene which established itself in Winnipeg in November 1920 in a hall on St. Matthews Avenue at Simcoe Street.

It was a breakaway of the Methodist church which had "departed from the teachings of their founder (John Wesley)". The church headquarters were in Kansas City with Canadian congregations already operating in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Architect's drawing. March 31, 1951, Winnipeg Tribune

Construction started on a new and larger home for the Church of the Nazarene by Claydon Contracting Ltd. in 1950 and it hosted its first service under Pastor R. W. Coulter on Sunday, February 18, 1951. A more formal dedication was held on Sunday, April 1.

In January 1956, a second Church of the Nazarene opened in Norwood and this became known as First Church of the Nazarene.

On July 1, 1966, the church merged with a mission that conducted its services in Fort Garry. The joined congregation built a new building in Fort Richmond the following year and this property was soon vacated. It became home to Liberty Temple for a while.

October 16, 1980, Dave Johnson / Winnipeg Free Press

The Hindu Society of Manitoba was established in 1970 and met at members' homes until 1979 when they purchased this building to become the organization's cultural centre and Manitoba's first Hindu Temple. It opened on October 21, 1979 to coincide with Diwali.

In 1984, the temple was closed for extensive renovations and to add an extension added to the north and east sides. This brought the building's capacity to around 250 people.

The city's Hindu community eventually outgrew this space and in the summer of 2005, a new, 30,000 square foot temple and cultural centre on St. Anne's Road that includes a gym, classrooms, and a temple capacity of 600.

The West End temple continued to operate and a sign that he Hindu Society is committed to keeping it around for the long term, extensive renovations began in autumn 2023 on the nearly 75-year-old building. It includes new electrical and plumbing systems, a 400-square-foot front lobby, an elevator, and a new kitchen.

The temple is expected to reopen in late December 2023.

March 31, 1951, Winnipeg Free Press

Photo gallery of 854 Ellice Hindu Association of Manitoba website
My photo album of 854 Ellice Flickr
Hinduism in Manitoba backgrounder Manitoba Department of Education

Saturday, September 9, 2023

710 Notre Dame Avenue - Roy's Florist

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

Google Street View

Place: Stork Luncheonette / Roy's Florist (website)
Address: 710 Notre Dame Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1948 - 49 (addition 1975)
Contractor: F. W. Sawatzky

February 11, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press

Builder F. W. Sawatzky of Steinbach got a construction permit for around $15,000 in September 1948 to build a store with an upper floor residential suite and basement on this site. It had previously been home to a smaller commercial building that through the 1940s was a shoe repair shop. (A single-storey, 24 foot x 24 foot extension was added to the rear of the building in 1975.)

The first person to call the building home was Mrs. Augusta Snowaert who moved into the suite upstairs and opened the cleverly named Stork Luncheonette on the main floor in 1949. (At the time, the city's largest maternity hospital was being built across the street and would open in April 1950). 

Snowaert came to Canada from her native Belgium with her husband Omer in 1928. They went on to have two children. 

Augusta was widowed at some point. She first appears in Winnipeg street directories in 1943 as the lone proprietor of the Maple Leaf Café at 659 Marion Street with no listing for Omer. It is likely, then, that the family lived elsewhere and moved to Winnipeg after he died.

1957-58 Daniel McIntyre Collegiate yearbook

The restaurant changed hands in 1952 when James D. Mannall purchased it and moved into the upstairs suite with his wife and children.

By 1960, Mannall had at least two employees: Evelyn Tkachuk (cook) and Juanita Trottershaw (waitress).  The restaurant was described around this time as seating 60 and the upstairs had been subdivided into two three-room suites. 

Mannall put the business and building up for sale in September 1961. The for sale ad noted that he was leaving town and the place was priced for a quick sale. The business continued to run ads looking for waitresses until October 1961 and Mannell and his wife were still living there until at least mid-December.

Roy's sign in 2010 (C. Cassidy)

The next business to call the building home was Roy's Florists starting in 1962*. Street directories through the early 1960s list the proprietors as brothers Enpay "Roy", Ronnie and Freddie Kaita with other members of the Kaita family listed as also working there. The shop was named for Roy, the eldest brother, who lived on a farm on north Main Street in West St. Paul.

(* Roy Kaita's obituary states the store opened in 1960, but street directories and newspaper classified ads show that Stork Luncheonette was still operating from this address in late 1961. There is no listing for this business name in street directories prior to the 1963 edition, the data for which would have been compiled in 1962.)

Japanese workers at Tully Farm, Manitoba ca. 1944 (Nikkei National Museum)

Enpay "Roy" Kaita was born in 1924 in B.C. and grew up on the family farm with his six sibling.

In response to Japan entering World War II, the government of Canada seized property owned by Japanese Canadians and sent many of them to live in internment camps starting in early 1942. Roy was interred at New Denver, B.C..

The government put out a call asking other provinces to take in some of the interred and the first 25 Japanese families arrived in Winnipeg from B.C. in April 1942 to work as labourers on Manitoba farms that were suffering from manpower shortages due to the war.

At its January 1943 annual meeting, the Manitoba Sugar Beet Producers voted to submit an application to have additional Japanese-Canadians sent to work on its members' farms. One of those who came was Roy Kaita who worked at the Tully sugar beet farm near Portage la Prairie.

Immediately after the war, Kaita bought some farmland in West St. Paul and began a vegetable market. He married Yoriko in 1955 and they had three children.

December 3, 2009, Winnipeg Free Press

Roy Kaita worked at the flower shop until his retirement in 1988. His son Michael and wife Kathy then took over the business.

In March 2009, a fire broke out in the building that gutted the main floor the main floor. The Kaita family rebuilt and were back in business by December.

A mural called Nostalgic Notre Dame by Roberta Hansen and Michelle Gamache was added to the building's western exterior in 2010.

The business and building were eventually sold outside the family in 2015.

Shop interior, September 2023, by C. Cassidy

The current, and third, owner of  the business is Debby Chan. She went to school in Winnipeg and was working in the business sector in Hong Kong when she returned to the city in 2017 to spend more time with her parents. After her mother died in 2019, she bought the funeral flowers from Roy's and shortly after bought the business from the current building owner.

The building is currently for sale. Chan says that the business has a lease to stay until late 2024 which will give both the new building owner and her time to decide what to do.

Chan's intention is to keep the legacy of Roy's Florist going and notes that one of the original owners, Ronnie Kaita, now 92, still drops by the shop from time to time!

Roy's Florist
First Japanese arrive to work here - Winnipeg Tribune, Apr. 14, 1942
Manitoba after Japanese to help on beet crop - Winnipeg Tribune, Jan. 23, 1943
Florist shop blooms again - Winnipeg Free Press, Dec. 3, 2009
Petal to the Metal - Winnipeg Free Pres, Feb. 14, 2022
Enpay Kaita obituary
Yoriko Kaita obituary
The History of Japanese Canadians in Manitoba - Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba
Japanese Canadian Internment - The Canadian Encyclopedia

Sunday, July 9, 2023

775 St. Matthews Avenue - St. Matthews Food Centre

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

Place: St. Matthews Food Centre
Address: 775 St. Matthews Avenue
Constructed: 1922

This store was built in 1922 with the building permit issued to "K. Nixon". This is likely Kendal Nixon of Arlington Street in Wolseley who was a prominent farmer and former mayor of Wapella, Saskatchewan before coming to Winnipeg after his retirement in 1908. The property was rented out as a source of retirement income.

The building had two units with 775 the main store and a small unit with a side entrance known as 777 St. Matthews, which will be mentioned later.

775 St. Matthews Avenue

The first person to rent the building was William Fewings who came to Canada from England in 1906 and was joined the following year by his wife Emily, sons Arnold and Leslie, and daughter Winifred. Soon after arriving here, Fewings got a job as buyer for Gault’s, the dry goods wholesaler that operated from what we now know as the Artspace building, and the family settled at 418 Home Street.

By the late 19-teens, the two oldest children had moved out leaving just Arnold behind and he and Emily moved again to 98 Sherbrook Street.

Fewers was 63 years old when he opened Fewers Dry Goods in 1922, no doubt using his years of experience at Galt's to make a go of it. The store lasted just a couple of years before he retired in 1924.

Fred and Margaret Luce, June 12, 1944, Winnipeg Tribune

The building then became one of three dry goods stores owned by Frederick Luce that sold men's wear, linens, hosiery, shoes, boots and work clothes. The other Luce's Dry Goods were at 523 Logan Avenue - the original location established in 1904 and where he and his family also lived - and 126 Marion Street.

Luce was a noted singer and violin player who performed at concerts and other special events around the city. He also sold real estate on the side. It is likely due to how busy he was with his sidelines that the two branch locations closed in 1927.

In 1928, the building became Home Street Pharmacy owned by Joseph Pinx. He renamed it Home Street Sick Room Supplies in the 1930s. By 1935, it was known as the West End Pharmacy owned by Max. C. Garland.

November 27, 1947, Winnipeg Tribune

The building's decades-long run as a grocery store began in 1938 when it became one of twelve Shop Easy stores.

Shop Easy Stores Ltd. of Winnipeg was incorporated in 1937 with D. O. Boyce as president. Its stores were full range groceries with meat departments and fresh produce and were open until 9:00 p.m.. Unlike some early grocery chains that were a loose affiliation of independently-owned stores, it appears that Shop Easy stores started out as corporate-owned locations.

In November 1952, Shop Easy had 21 stores and took over the Jewel Stores' grocery chain and its 17 stores. The 775 St. Matthews location was dropped from the chain soon after the merger.

January 13, 1955, Winnipeg Tribune

Morris and Zelda Tessler of Atlantic Avenue, who had operated Economy Grocery on Alfred Ave, then bought the store. They ran it under the Red and White Stores banner, then as a Solo Store.

It was taken over by V. L. Hunt and renamed Hunt's Grocery in 1956.

In 1958, the store was taken over by the Zamick family and renamed St. Matthews Food Centre. Street directories list Clara Zamick as the proprietor of the business. She, her husband Max, and their two young daughters, Fern (born 1956) and Sandy, lived in the small unit at the side of the store.

The Zamicks previously ran a Red and White grocery store at 173 Nassau Street and lived in an apartment on Wardlaw Street.

The store had a quiet life under the Zanicks. It twice made the papers in 1971 and 1975 when Clara was held up at gunpoint. Max died in 1983 and Clara died in 2021.

March 14, 1992, Winnipeg Free Press

It is unclear how long the Zamicjks ran the store. By the 1990s it Sunhee and Jinwhan Youn.

The store closed in 2022. It was extensively renovated and reopened in 2023 as Skin by Abi, a medical aesthetics spa.

777 St. Matthews Avenue

From the beginning, this building had a second retail unit with a side entrance known as 777 St. Matthews.

It was James Boyd's bakery in 1922 and in 1924 became C and H Grocery and Confectionery run by Stella Harrison and Stella Campbell.

By 1929, the space became a barber shop and hairstylist owned by William Hoare from the early 1930s through the 1940s. In the late 1940s, Mrs. Leslie Stuart, who appeared to also live there with her family, ran the beauty parlour portion into the 1950s.

When the Zamicks took over in 1958, they used the space as their residence.