Sunday, October 2, 2022

814 Main Street - Grand Opera House / Progress Candy Building

© 2022, Christian Cassidy

Buildings along Main Street, Winnipeg

Place: Grand Opera House / Traders' Building / Prosperity Building
Address: 814 Main Street (Map)
Opened: December 24, 1908
Architect: William and Alexander Melville

The Grand Opera House had a bumpy ride as a theatre. Dr. Earl Hirshfield, who grew up in the North End, noted in his memoirs that it was: “neither grand nor (was there) any reason to call it opera.”

The building was constructed for a company called the Grand Opera House Theatre Company. It was created by New York promoter W. J. Gilman who attracted local corporate investors such as W. B. Alsip Brick Works, Douglas Bros., Gate and Sons, and the architect brothers Alexander and William Melville.

Grand Opera House (1908 - 1918)


October 10, 1908, Winnipeg Tribune


A $35,000 building permit was taken out on October 10, 1908  for this building designed by Alexander and William Melville, best known for their work on many of Winnipeg’s early fire halls.  It is a three-storey with basement, 6,700 square foot building finished in red pressed brick. The main floor housed retail space and the theatre hall had seating for over 1,200 people overlooking a stage that measured 55 feet by 37 feet.

The company set an ambitious opening night date of December 21, 1908, just ten weeks after construction began. An October 23, 1908 Tribune article noted that the foundations were complete and walls were already up to ground level and that the project was: "being rushed along as fast as possible."

In late November, during the final stages of the exterior construction, there was a setback when a 20-foot tall section of facade including brick, terra cotta, and a window sash, collapsed onto the sidewalk below. It occurred at 7:30 in the evening. Luckily nobody was walking past at the time.

A building inspector blamed the incident on the fact that the workmen were being pressed to work late into the evening to get the building finished and did not leave enough time for the mortar to properly set in the cool weather. He determined that the collapse had no impact on the structure of the building and construction resumed the next day.

December 22, 1908, Winnipeg Tribune

The theatre ran ads promoting December 21st as the grand opening day. It was city building inspectors, though, who had the final say. The day before opening they refused to issue an occupancy permit until more of the interior work had been completed.

Management had to postpone the opening and in their ads blamed the delay on the fact that 200 of the theatre's fanciest 1,200 chairs were late to arrive in the city.

Workers stayed on the job until midnight each night to complete the work and after satisfying city inspectors the venue opened on December 24th with David Belasco's The Rose of The Rancho, a play that ran for two seasons at Belasco's Manhattan theatre. Proceeds from the opening day's performances were donated to the "Poor Children's Christmas Fund."

Disappointingly, the show did not open to a full house which was likely due to the fact that it was a three-hour long play on Christmas Eve! 

A Free Press reviewer noted that there were some awkward pauses in the dialogue but chalked that up to opening night jitters from a cast that had little chance to rehearse in the building. The play got a favourable review.

The reviewer also noted that it was hard to rate the interior of the theatre as the plaster was still wet in places and many of the finishing touches were not yet complete. In later reviews, the theatre was described simply as "roomy" and that the promethium and curtain: "compar(ed) favourably to other houses."


The theatre's ownership group had a multi-year lease with a company called Grand Amusements Ltd., which was in charge of putting on the shows. 

W. J. Gilman, of the ownership group, was the theatre's general manager and Albert Lando was the stage manager. They put together an in-house theatre company called the Grand Opera House Stock Company comprising of about a dozen actors, primarily stock actors from New York and Chicago.

One local who was a major part of the early days of the Grand Opera House was S. L. Barrowclough. He was one of the city's best-known band leaders and led the Grand's orchestra. He started his musical career as a boy bugler during the North West Rebellion. In the 1890s, he opened a piano and sheet music store on Portage Avenue and led the City of Winnipeg's official band for more than two decades.

Prior to the Grand's opening, Barrowclough managed his store and led an "orchestra for hire" which is exactly what the Grand needed. As an added bonus, his Portage Avenue at Fort Street store acted as a downtown box office for the North End theatre.


February 3, 1909, Winnipeg Tribune

The Grand put on a new show every week or two. Many were ambitious productions that had appeared on New York or London stages. Newspaper reviews of the shows were generally favourable.

Behind the scenes there was turmoil as attendance for the shows was lower than expected. By early February the daily matinees were trimmed back to Thursdays and Saturdays only with Thursdays being offered at a reduced rate. After just a month, Gillman and Lando's names no longer appeared in the advertising and the shows ended a couple of weeks later.

In February 1909, the theatre was leased to a new manager, local cigar manufacturer John McDonald. He announced that the venue would switch from dramatic theatre to burlesque. That new format lasted a matter of weeks.

March 17, 1909, Winnipeg Tribune

In March 1909, after days of rumours, it was announced that the ownership group in charge of the Winnipeg Theatre on Notre Dame Avenue had leased both the Grand Opera House and the Dominion Theatre. It was felt that being able to book acts for three stages at a time would give them better "buying power" with production companies and promoters.

For the Grand Opera House the change meant an end to musical theatre and the start of dramatic plays which were thought to be more appealing to audiences. The Grand Theatre Stock Company was fired and the Charles A. Taylor company, likely from New York, was contracted for production.

The Grand closed for a week to rejig the stage for the requirements of dramatic theatre and reopened on April 5, 1909. E. R. Krippner, was the new orchestra conductor and a harmonium was added to the instruments, something more common in Germany than North America.

For reasons not explained in newspapers at the time, Charles A Taylor's last show was at the end of May. After he departed it was discovered that he failed to leave behind enough money to pay the salaries of the cast and crew. It was left to theatre manager C. A. Owens to break the news to the troupe.

The manager of The Winnipeg Theatre, Gordon Howden, stepped in to assure them that if they played out the remainder of the week he would guarantee their salaries.

 
Top: July 13, 1912, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: 3, 1912, Winnipeg Tribune

The Grand Opera House continued to struggle to establish a permanent stock company over the next couple of years. New ones tried and failed to make a go of it in January 1911, November 1911, and spring 1912.

In June 1912, the theatre was leased to G. B. Sherman, the owner of a couple of rural Manitoba theatres. He renamed it Sherman's Grand Theatre and focused on musical comedy.

The theatre reopened on  July 1, 1912 headlined by Mabel la Monaie's Musical Comedy Company. She was also the "house entertainment" putting on three shows a day with her troupe's short acts intermixed with those of visiting performers. The theatre went back to offering matinees - as many as three shows a day.

Mabel's run ended in August 1912 but musical comedy continued until April 1913 when the theatre again closed.

Top: April 16, 1923, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: September 6, 1911, Winnipeg Tribune

Without a promoter or stock company, the Grand's management worked hard to fill the downtime with anyone who would book it. This included everything from one-off travelling shows to wrestling matches and political speeches.

One speaking series that took place in 1912 - 13 was called the Peoples' Forum. It was the brainchild of J. S. Woodsworth of the All Peoples' Mission in Point Douglas and later the MP for the area.

It brought some of the city's top labour and progressive voices on stage to discuss matters of the day. In 1913, topics ranged from horticulture to town planning to social justice issues such as an overview of the international peace movement and welfare reform.

Speakers included Woodsworth, W. J. Bartlett of the Winnipeg Labour Council, and Rev. Salem Bland.

On February 2, 1913, Nellie McClung and Anne Anderson Perry spoke on the topic of women's suffrage. McClung told the crowd: “...if the hand that rocked the cradle really did rule the world, there would not now be thousands of Manitoba children not attending school.” (Almost a year to the day later, McClung and Perry appeared on stage together as the premier and opposition leader during the famous "Mock Parliament" event at the Walker Theatre.)

McClung spoke again at a Liberal party rally at the Grand in 1914.

The size and location of the venue made it a favourite for political candidates looking to reach North End voters.  

In 1911, former mayor James Ashdown held a standing-room only Liberal party rally for his candidacy. Sharing the stage with him was tribune co-founder and former M.P. R. L. Richardson. Also in 1911, the Social Democrat Party of Manitoba was created at a public meeting at the theatre. It also had a party office located in the theatre for a number of years.

The Grand was also used by the Women's Musical Club of Winnipeg as a meeting and recital space.

August 12, 1913, Winnipeg Tribune

Over the summer of 1913, the Grand was retrofitted into a moving picture house. At nearly 1,200 seats it was the largest in the city at the time and one of the largest in Western Canada. It was one of around 15 moving picture houses operating in the city at the time. It and the former Osborne Theatre, (now American Apparel), on Osborne Street, are two movie theatres from that era that still stand today.

It reopened in August with 'Stampede Pictures' a three-reel action film taken at the 1912 Pendleton, Oregon rodeo. Other second-run features shown were Sarah Bernhardt's La Reine Elizabeth and Helen Gardner's Cleopatra.

The manager of the Grand for part of this time was a young Henry Morton who in the 1930s and 40s would own the Walker and Garrick as part of the Odeon Morton theatre chain.

Buildings along Main Street, Winnipeg

A. A. Alsip announced in late 1913 that the building's ownership group wanted to sell the theatre. He admitted in a Free Press article that not having a regular general manager during the time they owned it which was part of the reason for its bumpy ride.

In July 1914, the Grand Opera House was purchased by Samuel Berch of the Transcona Realty Company and Jacob Chmelnistky, a merchant who would later open a dry goods store in the building.

They closed the building for renovations that included the addition of new fireproofing measures such as replacing some of the timber structure with steel girders as well as “entirely changing the front of the building”.

The interior would also get a renovation and the address changed from 818 Main to 814 Main. When completed, the theatre would continue on as a moving picture house managed by H. Roubert of the Globe Theatre on Portage Avenue.

It's unclear how long the arrangement with the Globe's management lasted. By 1915, the Grand Opera House rarely advertised any films though it did continue on as a theatre for hire.

June 4, 1917, Winnipeg Free Press

There was a heated meeting at the Grand on June 3, 1917.

An "anti-conscription" themed meeting was to take place that included speakers such as Alderman John Queen and MLA Fred Dixon. There were about 1,000 people in attendance but it turned out that the crowd was stacked by a large contingent of returned soldiers who were critical of those not willing to go overseas and do their part for the war effort.

They shouted down Dixon when he tried to give the opening address. When he realized that it was futile to go on with the rally, he tried to leave the stage and was confronted by a soldier who beat him in the face and tore his hat to shreds. He had to be rescued by police.

The theatre was also home to a couple of returned soldiers benefit concerts later that year.

The Wiseman Dramatic Company of Chicago was contracted in the spring of 1918 to do a season of plays at the venue. It also continued to show at least some second-run movies, though it did not advertise them regularly.


The building featured a retail space on the main floor. According to street directories, it was usually vacant with the exception of A. H. Popam's Grand Cigar Store in 1908 -09.

The renovations in 1915 added two new retail spaces to the front of the building. The first retailer to call it home was the Peoples' Book Store run by Ben Miller, (more below.)  He was joined the following year by Samuel Makrovitch, tailor.

March 5, 1918, Winnipeg Tribune

A fire broke out at the Grand Opera House in the early morning hours of March 5, 1918. Shortly after the fire department arrived before 2 a.m., the roof collapsed into the basement of the building. It took another four hours to put out the blaze.

The total value of the damage was $20,000 to the building plus an additional $10,000 in losses to tenants, which included The People's Bookstore, Makrovitch's tailor shop, and the sets and other equipment of the Wiseman Dramatic Company which was to launch their season the following week.

The building was insured and in August the owners got the go-ahead to do extensive interior renovations that cost around $15,000.

Instead of rebuilding it as a theatre, the owners had floors added to the interior that created a three-storey office building and warehouse with a new main entrance at 207 Jarvis Street. The two retail outlets remained at the front.


Traders' Building (1919 - 1946)

April 5, 1919, Winnipeg Free Press

The Grand Opera House was rechristened the Traders' Building and by April 1919 it was advertising space for lease to warehouse and factory tenants with a new main entrance at 207 Jarvis Street.

Not long after, the Peoples' Book Store was back as well as jeweller Adolph Kaplan.

Dominion Electric Co., founded in 1914, made use of the factory space to manufacture, sell and repair electrical devices - everything from lamps to floor waxing machines.

By 1925, the bookstore shared space with the Winnipeg Jewish Chess Club. Klasser Bros and Kanchikoff, wholesale clothing merchants and shoe repairers, were its new neighbours. Peerless Electric Ltd. took over the Dominion Electric space.


Progress Building (ca. 1946 - present)

Undated photo, City of Winnipeg Archives

The Progress Candy Manufacturing Company was created in 1933 by Joseph Schwartz(stein) a block east on Jarvis Avenue. It relocated to the Traders' Building in the summer of 1946 with its offices and plant on the second and third floors.

Schwartz, president of the company, soon rechristened the block the Progress Building.

The company and its owners kept a low profile. As it was a wholesaler, it didn't need to advertise and no "advertorials" or company profiles can be found in the daily or Jewish papers. According to street directories, Schwartz was president until at least 1965. By the 1990s, the company president was Ralph Shaff.

Progress was part of a fairly large candy manufacturing industry in Winnipeg. In 1975, for instance, there were at least three independent candy manufacturers, Cavalier, Morden's, and Progress, that churned out millions of pounds of candies per year. Large manufacturers such as McCormicks and Paulins also had candy producing lines. (Interestingly, Scott-Bathgate's Nutty Club did not manufacture its own candy. It bought companies like Cavalier and Progress and packaged it.)

Around 2000, the company became known as F. Baigle Candy Co. Ltd. It is unclear when the company ceased business.

Retail Tenants


Berl (Ben) Miller came to Winnipeg from Russia in 1905 at the age of 19 and in 1910 opened The Peoples' Book Store on Main Street. He married Bertha in 1911, the year after she came to Winnipeg.

Together the Millers ran the bookstore which became a cornerstone of Jewish culture in Winnipeg. Aside from books, religious items, and gift ware, the store was also a news agent that carried newspapers from around the world and served as a box office for various Jewish cultural groups.

The store initially opened further up Main Street and relocated to the Grand Opera House (the 816 Main space) in 1915 when the retail spaces were added. It was destroyed in the 1918 fire and had to relocate elsewhere on Main Street for about a year before returning.

Faith Jones describes the book store in this essay as "... a meeting place for the community, with an emphasis on those who wanted to talk, read Yiddish materials, and particularly as a place for youth ... the bookstore space was used by North End Jews in creating an informal, ad hoc social life."

1962 was a year of transition for the bookstore. It was announced that the Millers sold the store and when the new Israelite Press building opened later that summer at 1587 Main Street, it would reopen there as Witmans Books and Gifts. It appears that Mr. Miller stayed working at the new store for a year or two to help with the transition.

Bertha Miller died 1964. Ben Miller died 1979.

For more about the Millers and their store, see here, here, and here (which opens an essay in a PDF download).



January 6, 1955, Winnipeg Tribune

Joseph Demkiw, tailor, was born in Ukraine and came to Canada in 1914, at the age of 23. He first appears in street directories in the 1920s as part of Demkiw and Kuzyk clothiers on Selkirk Avenue. Around 1927, Demkiw relocated to the Grade Opera House (the 814 Main space) and was a fixture in the block for decades to come.  

In 1938, Demkiw's became a "branch store" of Tip Top Tailor. It was not a full corporate store, but it was able to offer North End customers the affordable "one price suit" the chain was famous for. The business relationship with Tip Top lasted until he closed the store and retired in 1974.

Demkiw died in 1983.

February 13, 1964, The Jewish Post

The building would never again have such long-lasting retail tenants.

Dymont's Business Machines, owned by Donald N. Dymont of Seven Oaks Avenue, relocated to the book store space in August 1963. he was there until the late 1960s when it became home to Princess Fashion Shop to at least 1971. (The colour city of Winnipeg image of the building above is likely from the early 1970s after Princess Fashion moved out.)


December 13, 1990 Winnipeg Free Press

The 814 space from about 1984 to 1995 was home to Croatian Needlework owned by Anica Kampic.

The seamstress came to Canada in 1965 with her husband and children. The seamstress worked various jobs, from fish processing plants to shoe factories, until opening her own store on Main Street in 1979 at the age of 48.

She made clothing featuring ethnic needlework, silk flags, and bedspreads, among other items. The store eventually expanded to include a gift shop. It closed in 1995.

The Future ?

1919 classified ad
 
By 2000, the retail spaces were empty. The F. Baigle Candy Co. Ltd. ceased operation around 2014 and the building was put up for sale.

It was purchased in 2016 by the owners of the nearby Northern Hotel, (with the machinery and a lot of candy left behind.) A plan was drawn up to convert the upper floors into residential suites but it didn't materialize.

The building was put up for sale again in 2021.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

427 Parr Street- Former Roshko Grocery

© 2022, Christian Cassidy


Place: Former Roshko Grocery / Nick's Grocery
Address:
427 Parr Street
Constructed:
1925
Architect/ builder:
George Roshko


Roshko and parents at 427 Parr in 1926 census (Library and Archives Canada)

George Roshko was born in present-day Western Ukraine and came to Canada as a boy with his parents and siblings in 1896.

Roshko trained as an accountant and went to work for the Northern Crown Bank which merged with the Royal Bank of Canada in 1918. Street directories show that in 1910 he was a teller at the Main Street at Selkirk Avenue branch and lived in the quarters upstairs. The following year, he is listed as living in a rented room on Aberdeen Street.

The family bought a house at 244 Parr Street at Burrows Avenue around 1913. It was a large house as Mary and John Roshko had six sons and one daughter. George, who may have been the eldest, was 32 at the time and two of the youngest siblings were students at St. Boniface College.

The 1921 census shows just George, listed as the head of the household, living there with his parents.

After nearly two decades of working for the bank, Roshko decided to go into business for himself. He bought out a small grocery store at 415 Parr Street around 1922 and he and his parents lived in the adjoining suite.


Faraday under construction. August 25, 1922, Winnipeg Tribune

The first Roshko Grocery was located on the same block as Faraday School which opened in December 1922. It wasn't long before the school had to expand and the school board expropriated his property in mid-1924. 

Roshko was allowed to stay on the property until the school board was ready to start construction but he was not happy with the terms of the expropriation. In October, he took the school board to a board of arbitration seeking reimbursement for the interest he had paid on the land since he purchased it back in 1922. It is unclear if he got the additional money.

In late March 1925, Roshko was issued a $5,000 building permit for a new store with attached dwelling located on the other side of St. John's Avenue at 427 Parr Street. The single-storey with basement building measured 24 feet x 80 feet. Roshko is listed on the building permit as both the architect and the contractor.

The tender for the construction of the school addition was awarded in May 1925 so there was likely a period of a few weeks or months where the store did not operate.


November 16, 1933, Winnipeg Free Press

Roshko Grocery did not advertise in the papers but made the news on a couple of occasions in the 1930s for armed holdups, something common for all stores during the Depression.

In November 1933, a trio of youths, one armed with a gun, held up the store. Roshko was made lay face down on the floor with the gun pointing at him as they stole $52 in cash and some cigarettes.

In August 1936, an armed man caught Roshko coming up from the basement storage area. He was forced back into the basement, stuck with a blackjack, and the robber and his accomplice tried to tie him to a pole. As noted in a news story about the incident, “the victim put up such a fight that the thugs weakened and fled empty-handed.”

In 1943, Roshko was around 56 years old and sold the store. He became a  real estate agent, one of his brothers was in the profession,  and at one point had an office in the Boyd Building on Portage Avenue.

Roshko was still selling real estate in 1955 when he moved into the Harrison Block at 818 Main Street at Jarvis. This was primarily a residential block with 15 suites and he acted as the building's manager, though did not own it.

Roshko, who appears never to have married, died at the General Hospital on May 24, 1963 at the age of 74. He is buried in Pinewood Cemetery.


May 4, 1945, Winnipeg Free Press

The next owners of the store were Albert and Gladys Brew.

Brew had been the chief engineer with Burns and Co., the meat packing company, and lived on Sherburn Street. Like Roshko, it seems that after a career with a big company he wanted to work for himself in a neighbourhood store.

Mrs. Brew and friends threw a surprise party at the house in April 1945 for Derina Atkinson, a new war bride who had just arrived in Winnipeg from her native Scotland. There were 18 guests in attendance and tea was served and gifts presented.

Sadly, there would be no other parties at the house as Mr. Brew suddenly fell ill and they had to sell the store in May 1945. He died at Vancouver in September 1946 and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.


May 18, 1991, Winnipeg Free Press

The next long-term owners of the store were Nick and Anne Genyk.

Nick was born and raised in Fisher Branch and worked on the family farm. He married Anne in 1937 and the couple began to buy and sell land as extra income. Eventually, they moved to Transcona where they bought and managed an apartment block.

The couple sold the block in 1948 in order to buy the store, which they renamed Nick's Grocery. The couple lived in the residential portion with their son Ronald. 

In September 1964, the Genyk family sold the store and bought the Glenboro Hotel in Glenboro, Manitoba.


March 1946 Red & White ad, Winnipeg Free Press

From the mid-1940s to mid-1950s, the store is sometimes referred to in directories as a Red & White store, (i.e. Nick's Red & White Grocery.)

Red & White was a type of local grocery chain during this period. It didn't own any stores, but independent grocery and corner store owners could pay a fee to be part of the chain and in return got bulk purchasing power on staple goods and the chain took out regular ads in the newspapers to promote the week's special buys.

It seems that Roshko signed on in the mid-1940s and the chain itself disappeared around 1956.


December 23, 1970 CZAS (Polish Times)

After the Genyk's the store appears to have had a number of short-term owners. (Online versions of Henderson's Street Directory of Winnipeg end in 1965. Paper versions can be consulted at the legislative library of Local History Room at the Millennium Library if you want to carry on until the late 1990s when the directory ended.)

Using newspaper mentions to piece together its more recent history shows that in 1967 the building was repossessed by a bank and ads appeared in November of that year offering the store and living quarters with rec room for immediate sale for $29,000.

The Polish-language CZAS carries an ad for Jan's Grocery in 1970 and there are a couple of mentions of it being Tony's Grocery in the early 1970s.

The building is now two residential units.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

405 Parr Street - Faraday School

© 2022, Christian Cassidy

Place: Faraday School
Address: 405 Parr Street (Map)
Built: 1922
Architect: John Semmens
Contractor: Sutherland Construction

The North End was one of the fastest growing neighbourhoods in Winnipeg immediately following the First World War.  To alleviate overcrowding at area schools, plans were made for a new 14-room school building on Parr Street at Mountain Avenue.

Sutherland Construction won the contract to build the two-storey with basement building in May 1922 with a bid of $76,550.

Before construction began it had already been decided that the school would be named for British scientist Michael Faraday, (1791 - 1867). In 1831, he discovered electromagnetic induction which is the principle behind the electric transformer and generator. In May 1924, Mayor S. F. Farmer and school board chair F. S. Harstone unveiled a picture and commemorative tablet at the school to honour Faraday.


July 22, 1916, Winnipeg Tribune

Faraday School was designed by  John N. Semmens

Originally from Ontario, Semmens attended Wesley College in Winnipeg before going to the School of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Upon graduation, he found work with New York City's prestigious firm McKim Meade and White.

Semmens' first Winnipeg project was for his New York employers - the Bank of Montreal Building at Portage and Main (1910). He then settled here and started a firm of his own. Early commissions include the McCormick Building on Henry Avenue (1912) and the St. John's Branch of the Winnipeg Public Library (1914).

The war interrupted Semmens' career when he went overseas as an officer with the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). He fell seriously ill in 1916 but recovered and rejoined his unit. In early 1918, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and became the commanding officer of the 78th. At the end of the war he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

Semmens resumed his practice after the war and became the consulting architect for the Winnipeg School Division which had a backlog of projects due to shortages of materials and manpower caused by the war.

Just as J. B. Mitchell created his basic school design with Alexandra School and replicated it with just minor variations to fit other sites, Semmens did the same. (Mitchell was still the superintendent of schools at this time but the architectural work was farmed out.)

Semmens' go-to design was in red brick with Tyndall Stone trim in a Gothic Revival or "Collegiate Gothic" style that included elements such as decorative parapets and arched doorways. One of the more delightful aspects of Collegiate Gothic is the decorative stonework that can include things like grotesques. Both Faraday School and Daniel McIntyre Collegiate have them.

Several Semmens-designed schools were under construction in 1922, including Daniel McIntyre Collegiate, Grosvenor, and David Livingstone, and all share a similar appearance.


Under construction. August 25, 1922, Winnipeg Tribune

When Faraday School officially opened on December 1, 1922, it became the home to nearly five hundred students who were transferred from Margaret Scott, Strathcona, and Ralph Brown schools as well as two temporary classrooms that were meeting at a nearby Ukrainian hall.

It was referred to most often as a junior high school but newspaper articles indicate that at times it had students from kindergarten right through to grade nine. It wasn't until the late 1960s that it was referred to as Faraday Elementary School.

The first principal was Archer F. Goodridge who was followed by C. C. Cornish in 1925.


April 18, 1925, Winnipeg Tribune

Faraday School soon became overcrowded and in May 1925 the school board awarded a $50,400 contract to Borrowman and Jamieson to build a two-storey with basement, 75 foot x 100 foot extension to house ten additional classrooms. It was also designed by Semmens.

The extension opened by the end of the year and brought the school's population to nearly 900 students.

As this post-war boom settled down, another came in the 1950s. North End schools found themselves overcrowded again and in order to cope with the "Baby Boom" some expanded, though not Faraday, whilst others had to double-up some classes with staggered starting hours and yet others had to take in additional grades.



March 5, 1936, Winnipeg Free Press

Faraday School proved to be a sports powerhouse in the late 1930s and early 1940s with its junior or senior boys teams winning the school division's soccer championship three times. There was also an ongoing connection to animals, both alive and dead.

In the mid to late 1930s, Faraday had a Junior Humane Society Club that met every two weeks under Miss D. M. Allison. Students were allowed to bring in their pets from home for the period to show them off to the class.

The school also sported a large "natural history collection" of stuffed animals thanks to Olive Armstrong, its science teacher from 1927 to 1942.

The first newspaper reference of the collection comes in October 1929 when a gyrfalcon measuring 23 inches in length was found dead near Stony Mountain and brought to Armstrong "who promptly took steps to have the specimen preserved for the Faraday school collection." The following year, it was reported that Armstrong received a Northern Raven measuring 25.5 inches that had been shot near Selkirk and a Tennessee warbler found dead in the November cold.

The collection wasn't restricted to birds. At the 1930 Manitoba Education Association conference in Winnipeg there was an exhibit from the school's collection that included a stuffed jack rabbit, owls (plural!), a beaver, "and others of the smaller fauna".

It is unclear what became of the school's collection after Armstrong's departure.


May 5, 1949, Winnipeg Tribune

Armstrong, (later Olive Hensley), taught at a number of other city schools before becoming the first principal of Rockwood School in 1950 and then a science teacher at the Manitoba Teachers' College. She co-authored a science textbook that was used in Winnipeg schools for a number of years, (Science Indoors and Out - Book One does not carry her name but a revised version circa 1950, called "Book Two", does.)

She was a member of the executive of the Manitoba chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and a researcher/consultant for a four-part 1962 CBC-TV series called The Evolution of Life presented by Dick Sutton, director of the Manitoba Museum.

A changing of the guard took place in April 1944 when the school's longest-serving principal, Clifford Cornish, died in his office from a heart attack on a Monday morning. Born and raised in England, he taught at St. John's High School before coming to Faraday Junior High in 1925. J. C. Wherrett, principal of Ralph Brown School, replaced him.

British-born Cornish was also well known in the local sports community as a promoter of children's sports leagues and a one-time president of the St. John's Curling Club.

A Clifford Cornish memorial award was given out each year at the school until at least 1951 to the student with the best academic and general proficiency. Funds for the award were raised at the school's annual tea.

June 9, 1942, Winnipeg Tribune

There were, of course, many alumni of Faraday School who fought in the Second World War. One who didn't make it homes was Pilot Officer Albin Lucki.

Born in Komarno Manitoba, his family later moved to Winnipeg where he attended Faraday School, St. John's College, and the Winnipeg Normal School. He then went to Angusville to start his teaching career.

Lucki enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force in January 1941 and graduated from his air training class at Rivers, Manitoba in October.

On May 31, 1942, Lucki's Wellington bomber was returning from operations over Germany when it crashed in the North Sea off the Essex coast. Lucki and two other crew members were declared missing in action and the following year were "for official purposes presumed dead." He was 20 years old.


Gymnasium in 2012 (Google Street View)

After the baby boom, the school's population dropped to about 360 students and the only new feature required was a modern gymnasium wing with taller ceilings and space that could be more easily converted into a temporary lunch room.

The parent council began lobbying for a new gym in 1969 but the school board did not call for tenders until 1983. Even then, the process got bogged down when the estimates came in much higher than expected.

Only $477,000 was budgeted for the gym in October 1985 and to be able to build it for that cost the building's roof height was lowered slightly and it was stripped of any unnecessary exterior features.

Faraday School turns 100 in 2022. Events have included the addition of a mural by Ursula Neufeld, the planting of more than a dozen new trees, and a June celebration for students past and present.


More images from Faraday School

 February 14, 1925, Winnipeg Tribune

This is one of the many championship teams that Faraday School has produced. In the photo is Albin Lucki who seventeen years later would be killed in the Second World War.



May 5, 1942, Winnipeg Free Press

 These are children leaving Faraday School for what was the first public demonstration of the school board's air raid drill. In event of a siren, which was expected to give residents at least 20 minutes to take shelter, students were to evacuate the school within two minutes and be home within fifteen.

The test was a success with teachers and civil defense officials reporting no children on the streets even ten minutes after the evacuation.

In the event of a real air raid, Faraday School would then be converted into a first aid/casualty centre.



A likely reason for the success of the school's soccer teams in the late 1930s and early 1940s was Leslie "Buzz" Horne. He was one of the city's best amateur soccer players who spent some of his spare time coaching kids at Faraday.

Horne was an able seaman aboard the HMCS Nanimo who lost his life in June 1942. His devotion to duty was mentioned in dispatches after his death: "After the torpedoing of a merchant vessel. A.B. Horne was a member of the party which attempted to save the torpedoed vessel.... In the course of this brave and zealous attempt, A. B. Horne lost his life."

Columnist Vince Leah, a former teammate, noted in the Tribune in 1962: "Faraday school, where he spent many hours tutoring the youngsters in his beloved soccer, remembers him with a trophy which is presented annually to the school's outstanding student." (The award was likely for best athletic student.) A follow-up column by Leah in 1990 noted that the award was still given out.


May 5, 1923 and May 5, 1975, Winnipeg Tribune

School patrols have been a familiar site at Faraday School since its first year of operation. Though Louise Staples of Greenway School is credited with establishing the current school patrol program in 1936, schools like Faraday and Aberdeen had patrols as early as 1923.(To be fair, it was Staples' program that became he genesis for the provincial program we have now.)



Most notable about Faraday School today is its condition. Unlike some schools of this era which have been horribly renovated over the years, like David Livingstone,  Faraday's renovations have been much more sympathetic.

Newer windows are the same size as the originals and boast what are now merely decorative mullions and muntins. Many floors have been restored rather than a new material laid over them.