Sunday, May 28, 2023

425 Henry Avenue - Turner and Walker Block / McCormick's Warehouse

 © 2023, Christian Cassidy

Place: Turner and Walker Block / McCormick's Warehouse
Address: 425 Henry Avenue
Constructed: 1912
Architect: J. M. Semmens
Builder: Carter Halls Aldinger

November 30, 1912, Winnipeg Free Press

A $63,000 building permit for this warehouse was issued in May 1912 to Turner and Walker, wholesalers and manufacturing agents. Charles S. Turner and Raymond Walker joined forces around 1910 at a small rented space at 147 Bannatyne Ave East but soon required more space.

The building itself was owned by Charles' father, Sampson Turner, who was a well-known businessman and politician, having served as both a city councillor in the late 1890s and MLA for North Winnipeg in the early 1900s.

The 30,000 square foot, four- storey block measures 52 feet x158 feet and its foundations were built so that another five storeys could be added the following year. Built for heavy equipment storage, the floor planks were laid edgewise so that they could hold 400 pounds per square inch.

The building was served by a spur rail line at the rear plus a large loading bay for carriages or trucks. Inside, it featured two large freight elevators and was fitted with the latest May-Otaway building alarm.

By the time it was all outfitted, the building cost around $100,000.

To accommodate the inevitable curve in a railway spur line this close to the rail yards, some buildings were constructed with a matching curve, such as the Frank H. Wiley block further east on Henry Avenue.

In the case of 425 Henry Avenue, the building was constructed at an angle to the street and only the slightest curve was needed along the north section of the east wall. There was likely a wood or metal loading dock attached to the building that would followed the curve more closely.

The architect of the block was John Nelson 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 in Winnipeg and started a firm of his own. Early commissions include this block (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 returned to Winnipeg and after the war and soon became the consulting architect for the Winnipeg School Division.

August 23, 1916, Winnipeg Free Press

Though Turner and Walker had a warehouse in their own building until around 1916 when the partnership dissolved, it seems that most of the space was rented out.

In 1913, for instance, other tenants included Otto Schultz - dry good wholesaler, McAvity and Sons – wholesaler of brass and iron goods such as plumbers supplies, and Wm. Galloway Company of Canada which sold commercial dairy and other agricultural supplies.

By 1915, it appears that Galloway took up much of the building and expanded their lines to include gas engines, cream separators, manure spreaders, farm implements and general merchandise.

The additional five storeys were never added to the building.

September 3, 1921, Winnipeg Tribune

Big changes came in 1921 with the arrival of R. Smith and Company. It was an eclectic combination of produce wholesaler and manufacturer of railway boarding cars, (things like kitchen cars, mail cars, crew accommodation cars, etc..)

Richard Smith came to Winnipeg in 1879 as part of a CPR construction crew. He worked in Edmonton and Fort William for the railway's boarding car department but returned to Winnipeg in 1904 when he  landed the CPR's boarding car construction contract. He died in 1906 but the company carried on under his name with another Richard Smith in charge and eventually added fruit and veg to the mix.

Smith's businesses left in 1921 or 1922. He rented an office in the McIntyre Block, then at 248 Princess Street, but it is unclear where the manufacturing and warehouse operations moved to.

The Manitoba Vegetable Growers Co-operative moved into the building in 1922. It was a consortium of 20 vegetable farmers who marketed and sold their food wholesale to large buyers. It reorganized in 1924 at a new location as the Manitoba Vegetable Growers Association with 150 members from around the province.

October 27, 1923, Winnipeg Free Press

The building was then home to Manitoba's first government-run liquor store.

Manitobans voted to appeal prohibition in 1921 but the provincial government was in no rush to get spirits back into the hands of the public. To appease both temperance leaders and politicos looking for additional government revenues, it established a government agency called the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) to manage the wholesaling, distribution, and sale of liquor in the province.

In 1923, the MLCC leased the Turner and Walker block which provided it with ample, secure warehouse space to hold approximately $250,000 of liquor with room on the main floor for a retail order outlet and room for 70 employees.

The MLCC store opened on September 22, 1923, and in its first month rang up around $250,000 in sales. About  $190,000 of that was to liquor permit holders such as bar owners and hoteliers and another $50,000 to pharmacists who prescribed alcohol by prescription. The days of selling to "Joe Public" had not yet arrived.

The MLCC bought the Miller Morse Building on McDermot Avenue in November 1927 as it offered a better location for MLCC's customers and it was closer to the post office and federal customs warehouse. The move to the new location was made by the summer of 1928.

February 9, 1929, Winnipeg Tribune

The building was purchased, (likely from Sampson Walker), in 1929 by Catelli Macaroni Products of Montreal.

The company was created in 1928 when eight companies led by C. H. Catelli Ltd. of Montreal merged in a bid to create a national pasta manufacturing company. One of the eight companies in the merger was Excelsior Macaroni Products Co. of 254 Dumoulin in St. Boniface.

This was typical in the Canadian food manufacturing industry at the time as groups of bakeries, dairies, etc. joined forces to make a national impact.

Catelli wanted to make Winnipeg its Western Canadian manufacturing centre and needed a larger facility that the one in St. Boniface with direct rail access. The Turner-Walker Block fir the bill.

Initially, it leased some of the excess warehouse space with Labatt's, which decades later would become Catelli's corporate parent.

January 15, 1937, Winnipeg Free Press

The Catelli factory rarely made the news with the exception of the war years when three employees were injured in serious accidents, usually to their arms or hands. This may have had to do with the company finding many of its regular employees on active duty and having to quickly hire new recruits to continue operations.

The mergers continued in the food manufacturing industry. By 1958, Catelli's parent company was known as Catelli-Habitant after amalgamating with the soup company. It was under this iteration that a new $1 million dollar manufacturing plant was constructed in Transcona in 1961.

March 25, 1919, Winnipeg Tribune

The next owner of 425 Henry Street was the McCormick's Ltd. division of the Canadian Biscuit Company which had already been using some of Catelli's warehouse space since at least 1951.

McCormick's was established in 1858 when Thomas McCormick opened a confectionery store and made his own biscuits and candies. In the early 1900s, some McCormick's products were carried in Winnipeg by food distributors and sold at Eaton's. By 1909, McCormick's had its own local warehouse  at 124 Princess Street.

In another example of conglomeration in the food manufacturing industry in the 1920s, the Canada Biscuit Company was formed in 1928 when several companies, including McCormicks, Perrin's of London, the Montreal Biscuit Company, Paulin Chambers of Winnipeg, and the Northwest Biscuit Company of Edmonton, joined forces. 

McCormick and its London plant was the largest individual manufacturer of biscuits and candy products in Canada by the 1940s.

It appears that McCormick's only used this building as a warehouse for candies and biscuits, not as a manufacturing facility. A December 1976 Winnipeg Tribune article about local Christmas candy facilities stated that McCormick's "produces an awesome array of Christmas candies", including creams, gums, assorted chocolates and their famous Christmas Mix. It noted that the treats were made in London and shipped here.

McCormick's closed its warehouse in 1979.

McCormick's still exists today after being part of many corporate mergers. It is now primarily a purveyor of spices, sauces and teas packaged under its own name and a distributor of brands including French's and Club House.  

This building sat vacant for a number of years when in 1987 the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation (WHRC) announced that it would convert it into residential use.

Renovation work got underway in early 1988 but a roof fire delayed the project from its expected summer opening. It likely opened in 1989.

The building contains eight one-bedroom apartments, ten two-bedroom apartments and eight three-bedroom apartments and is still owned and operated by the WHRC.

Monday, May 22, 2023

865 Selkirk Avenue - Residential block

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

Left: May 2023 (C. Cassidy). Right: May 2021 (Google Street View)

Place: Residential block
Address: 865 Selkirk Avenue (Map)
Constructed: ca. 1912

1916 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada

This building first appears in street directories in 1912 as home to two "Galacian" (Ukrainian or Polish) labourers, Charles Chekorian and Stanley Roslavski. By 1913, there was a grocery store on the main floor owned by B. Black who also lived on-site but continued to rent out at least one of the suites.

The store was taken over by Paula and Maria Osiniak in 1914. The above entry from the 1916 census of Canada shows that they were Ukrainian and rented out two suites to other Ukrainian families.

The next owner of the store was the Pallone family in 1917 who lived in suite 1 attached to the business.

Frank Pallone came to Canada from Italy as a young teen in 1903 and previously owned Pallone Restaurant at 523 Selkirk Avenue before buying the store. Anna Pallone was born in Poland and came to Canada with her family when she was a baby. She was a singer in her earlier years.

By the time they took over the store, the Pallones had two daughters and a son ranging in age from two to six.

Pallone took out a $1,000 building permit to make "extensive changes to exterior an interior" of the building in September 1939. This likely included an add-on to the store as in later years its address becomes 863 Selkirk while the residence remained 865 Selkirk.

December 31, 1943, Winnipeg Tribune

At 11:45 pm on the night of December 30, 1944, four youths, one armed with a gun, robbed the Pallones of about $100 in cash.

The four, all over eighteen, were caught, plead guilty, and three of them were sentenced to two years in the penitentiary and ten lashes of the whip (!). The fourth robber was let off because the judge felt he was pressured to enter the store by the others.

The Pallones retired in 1945. They continued to live in suite 1 and rented out three others as their post-retirement income.

Frank died in 1963 at the age of 75. Anna continued to live at 865 Selkirk until her death in March 1969 at the age of 78.

The building continues to be a four-unit residential block and is currently under renovation.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

731 Wellington Avenue - Former Modern Drugs

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

Place: Former Modern Drugs
Address: 731 Wellington Avenue (Map)
ca. 1924
Architect: Unknown

This building first appears in street directories in 1924 as Wellington Meat Market, Victor Marshall proprietor. In 1934, it was renamed Falcon Meat Market under new owner Christian Johnson.

Around 1936, the building took on a new life as Modern Drug Store. The original proprietor was Sidney J. Pearlman of 410 Alfred Street.

January 29, 1938, Winnipeg Tribune

A feature of the drug store were its frequent robberies and break-ins. In January 1938, it was victim of what was believed to have been the first armed holdup in the city by a woman.

The Tribune reported: “With flashing dark eyes,, hand thrust beneath a heavy coat as if it held a gun, and a steady threatening voice as her weapons, Winnipeg's first female bandit, a tall, dark young woman struck coolly and swiftly this morning to hold up a clerk at the Modern Drug Store, 731 Wellington Avenue, and escaped with about $9 cash.”

The clerk, 20-year-old Harry Posner, was left scared and bewildered after the woman who nicely asked for a package of cigarettes turned on him after he turned his back. The woman, who was never found, would have made off with more than the $9 if she hadn't chosen to rob the store minutes after it opened at 9:30 a.m..

For Posner, it was a sign of things to come. In August, two men brandishing a revolver entered the store. They forced him into the back storeroom and scooped up $40 from the till before fleeing on foot.

Pearlman himself was held up by a gunman in August 1938.

The store changed hands in 1940 to Leon Cam and a couple of years later it was run by David Donner. In 1949, Jack Garland, an employee of the Donners, took over and renamed it Garland's Modern Drug Store.

Garland was a well known in the city as the choirmaster for Shaarey Zedek Synagogue and musical director for numerous festivals and events. Though his first love was music, Garland's parents convinced him that he needed a more stable career to fall back on and he graduated from the U of M's College of Pharmacy in 1949.

In the same year he graduated from university, Garland also submitted his Symphony in A Minor to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto as his thesis for his Associate Diploma. The piece was performed by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on February 26, 1953.

Garland's musical career took up more of his time as the years went by. He sold the store around 1953 and by 1955 was the full-time musical director for Sharrey Zedek Synagogue. (For more about the career of Garland.)

1965 Henderson Directory

The next owners of the drug store were Maurice and Ruth Selby who also managed Sargent Pharmacy a few blocks away. The store lasted just a year and by 1955 its days as a pharmacy were over.

The building then had various owners and uses, including:

- 1955 Durall Ltd., a plumbing and heating contractor;
- 1960 Kitchen Planning Services Ltd. warehouse, owned by W. C. Smithson;
- 1965 Economy Roofing Co. Ltd.;
- 1967 Deluxe Messenger Service.

In 1970,  Western Inventory Service, "Canada's largest Inventory Company", moved in and advertised daily in the classified section of the Free Press for full and part-time retail inventory counters through to the end of 1980.

The building was put up for sale in January 1981 for $60,000. The ad described it as 1,400 square feet with several offices, a lunchroom, and storage room.

It is unclear who bought the building and what it was used for through the 1980s as the address dos not appear in newspapers.

Interior from a 2017 rental ad

The building was put up for sale again in December 1993 for $50,000. It spent some of the 1990s as the
Islamic Education Centre of Winnipeg.

It was up for sale again in 2017, this time for $114,000. The estate agent's ad noted that the building was now zoned residential. Later that year, it was listed as a home for rent at $1,200 per month.

Monday, May 1, 2023

411 Henry Avenue - Timms' Bakery

Place: Union Bakery / Henry Avenue Bakery
Address: 411 Henry Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1907
Designer/Builder: J. T. Hunter

This building was constructed in 1907 for baker George Timms. For more about the history of the building, see my post at West End Dumplings.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

McPhillips Street Subway


Structure: McPhillips Street Subway
Address: McPhillips Street near Logan Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1910-11
Developer: Canadian Pacific Railway
Contractor: John Gunn and Sons

For my history of the subway, please see:

Thursday, April 13, 2023

135 Parr Street - Private residence

© 2023, Christian Cassidy

I have always loved this house on Parr Street just south of Selkirk Avenue. It stands out due to its brick construction. I saw recently that it was up for sale and thought I would look into its history.

Place: Private Residence
Address: 135 Parr Street (Map)
Constructed: 1913?
Architect: Unknown

Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, Volume 342

The house was likely constructed in 1913 and the first owner listed in street directories is Jehiel P. Smith, inventor. He is not mentioned in newspapers of the day, though if he used his initials instead of full first name, J. Smith is a difficult name to trace.

A search of patent records show a Canadian patent for Smith and others in 1906 in Frobisher, SK for a plough. U.S. Patent Office records show at least one registered patent in the 1920s for a Ferris wheel improvement.

Smith lasted here just a year or so before moving on.

The next owners were the Chapley family: Frank, Anne and son Stanley. They came to Canada from Poland in 1912 and moved to this house around 1915. Frank was in the building trades and over the years street directories list him as a bricklayer, plasterer and a stonemason.

The couple rented out an upstairs suite and remained here until around 1922 then disappear from street directories. This suggests they may have moved out of the city.

1926 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada

Another family, the Pawlyks, are listed as homeowners starting in 1924 and filled the house to its limits.

Nicola (Nykola) was born in Ukraine around 1872 and came to Canada in 1896. He married Hania, who was of Ukrainian descent but born in Saskatchewan, around 1884. By the time they moved to this house they had three daughters and a son ranging in age from 6 to 13 year of age.

This would have been a large house for the Pawlyks to afford as Nicola, initially listed in directories as a carpenter, soon took work with the city as a labourer. To pay the bills they filled the house with more than just one lodger.

According to the 1926 census there were as many as thirteen people living here. This included the Pawlyks, the Dronya family with the parents born in Ukraine and two children born in Canada, Mr . Lymyk (sp?) from Ukraine, and Arthur and Annie Winsborough from England. (See image above.)

The Pawluks moved out in 1927.

It is likely that Mr. Pawlyk used his skills as a carpenter to further subdivide the house into more living areas as street directories for decades to come often show at least four heads of household at this address in any given year. (Unlike a census, street directories listed just the working members of a household, no children or wife unless they worked outside of the home or if the wife was a widow. This makes it impossible to tell exactly how many individuals lived there.)

What is unusual is that from the time the Pawlyks left into the 1940s, all four heads are usually listed as the homeowner. Normally, in a multi-family dwelling there is a homeowner and the others are listed as renters or lodgers.

It is unclear why 135 Parr did not follow the usual pattern. This would have been too early for things like co-op housing or condominiums. It also makes it impossible to trace who the actual homeowner was.

Here are examples of a few years:

1929 - all listed as homeowners: Isaac Schwartz - retired, J. Koskie - employee at Rosenblatz, R. Clame - employee at Winnipeg Casket, Samuel Birloski - labourer.

1936 - all listed as homeowners: Steve Small - labourer, Mrs. Marianne Riceberg, Joe Ramosky - city employee, Paul Baryski - labourer. 

1938 - homeowners listed were: Gus Windish - Canada Packers, Steve Small, Mrs. M. Riseberg, Joseph Ramosky - city employee, and Mrs. M Olynyk. One renter is noted: Walter Kapliczny - city employee. 

1942 - homeowners listed were: Harry Riseberg, Mrs. Ninerovsky, Josphh Dewhopoluk - food tore employee, John Bigurski. One renter is noted: Daniel Partyka - city employee.

1945 - homeowners listed were Peter Makowski - Macdonald Bros. Aircraft and Mr. Kennedy. Renters were: Teopil Gunin - Canada Packers, Max Fogel -Supervisor at Stubby Ltd, Marian Chakaski - Canada Packers.  

1946 - homeowners listed were: Peter Makoswski of MacDonald Aircraft is homeowner and Max Fogel of Stubby Beverages is homeowner.

In the late 1940s, things seemed to change.

For instance, the 1949 directory shows all renters at 135 Parr Street with John Broadley living on the main floor with his wife and newborn baby, and a trio of ladies (likely widows), Mrs. Pearl Gunther, Mrs. Florence Kahup and Mrs. E Nyberg, renting the upstairs suites. Walter Kohat of the CPR is also listed as a renter.

Through the 1950s and into the 1960s, all that are listed are renters with the odd short-term homeowner added to the mix.

In 1970, the building was put up for sale described as an "11 room revenue property", so by this time it was clearly a rooming house. A "for rent" ad later that year advertised one of the suites as being two rooms with a shared bath.

Some notable tenants of 135 Parr Street:

Wasowitch Military file, Library and Archives Canada

Ben and Tena Wasowitch moved in around 1915. Ben was born in the Galacian region of Austria around 1890 and was a carpenter by trade. He enlisted with the 190th Battalion on May 10, 1916 but his career as a soldier was a short one.

Wasowitch's military file shows that he was docked one day's pay at the end of May for failing to obey an order. In June, he lost another seven days pay and was levied a $2 fine for the same thing. In July, he lost two days pay and spent a day in detention. The file does not go into detail about the incidents.

On July 22, 1916, Wasowitch was discharged as "Inefficient". His discharge papers note that he was "unlikely to become an effective soldier" and in the "character of soldier" section there is just one word: "bad".

November 8, 1938, Winnipeg Tribune

A resident in the late 1930s made medical history.

Ted Baspaly was born in Russia and came to Canada in 1912 in his late thirties with his wife Julia and two sons. He worked until 1938 when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He and his wife then moved into 135 Parr Street.

That October, he went for surgery at Winnipeg General Hospital to remove the tumour and the cancer was so bad that surgeons had to remove his whole stomach. Such a procedure was a medical rarity at the time and doctors were even surprised that the 62-year-old even survived the complicated operation. 

Baspaly recuperated in hospital for weeks with wife Julia assisting him on is strict diet of a few ounces of fortified milk at a time. The couple stayed at the Parr Street address for another year as Ted recovered and was eventually able to eat more solid food.

Julia died in 1948 and Ted died in December 1950 at the age of 75.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

815 Main Street - R. Bell Block

 © 2023, Christian Cassidy

Place: R. Bell Block
Address: 813 - 815 Main Street
Built: ca. 1901 and 1905
Architect: Unknown

Another Point Douglas building has been destroyed by fire. This time, it is the R. Bell Block at 813 - 815 Main Street that contained eight residential suites. Here's a look back at its early history.

813 Main Street section:

1904 Henderson's Directory of Winnipeg

The 813 (south) portion of this building first appears in the 1902 Henderson's Street Directory of Winnipeg, the data for which was likely compiled in 1901. The first owner was Richard J. Bell who came to Winnipeg in 1877 from his native Ontario. He was a baker by trade and opened his first bakery soon after arriving.

Bell's new bakery opened on the main floor and his family, Mrs. Bell, daughters Clara and Viola, and sons Wilfred and Richard (Dick), lived upstairs.

The bakery was a small enterprise and did not advertise. Bell is only mentioned a couple of times in passing in newspapers. Once was in a 1911 ad by Knowles School for Boys thanking a list of retailers for donations to one of their events. The second was during a 1913 bakery strike that noted Bell had one employee who walked out.

Clara and Viola Bell, neither of whom married, both worked as clerks at the bakery. Clara began offering music lessons from the suite above the shop in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Bell continued to operate the bakery until he fell ill the year before his death in 1939. The bakery closed and the Bell daughters moved in with brother Dick in West Kildonan.

September 7, 1950, The Jewish Post

The store was used as a returning office for the 1940 federal election and in 1941 reopened as Mrs. Pauline Schwartz's grocery store. She lived above the store along with Michael Schwartz, an employee at a plumbing business and not part of her immediate family, and her daughters Carol and Esther. Also living with them was Mary Humberstone, a clerk at the store.

By 1947, the store was run by Max and Pauline Schwartz. Max was her husband and likely absent due to involvement in the Second World War.

Schwartz Grocery and Confectionery lasted until about 1953 and the retail unit appears to have sat empty for a couple of years.

Jacob Kalen's Expert Shoe Manufacturing Company moved in around 1956. It relocated to 805 Main Street in 1961. It was around this time that the suites upstairs were subdivided into smaller units.

It then became The Sport Shop offering a wide range of sporting goods from golf clubs to SCUBA gear. The shop was owned by W. Woytowich and R. Dumka.

By 1973, it was home to the Economy Furniture Store.

Newspaper mentions of the address disappear in the mid-1970s.

815 Main Street Section:

December 16, 1905, Winnipeg Tribune

Richard Bell received a building permit in 1905 to construct a matching building to the north of 813 Main Street.

It became home to the North End Music Store which was a branch of Turner's Music House at 253 Portage Avenue. Turner dealt in phonographs and was the local agent for many musical instrument companies. The suite above 815 was initially inhabited by William Cuthbert, music teacher.

Adolph Kaplan took over the retail unit around 1907. A watchmaker by trade, he changed it to a jewellery store though continued to sell gramophone machines and records. Kaplan, his wife Rose, and their (at least) six children lived above the store. 

Kaplan relocated across the street to 814 Main Street in 1919.

October 9, 1927, Winnipeg Tribune

Mike Katzelovitz ran a second-hand store for about a year before Jacob Dollar's tailor shop called it home from 1926 to 1929.

The store appears to have sat empty through much of the Depression.

July 5, 1982, Winnipeg Free Press

Peter Kozlowski opened Pete's shoe-making and repair shop in 1937. 

Both Peter and his wife Tessie were born in Western Ukraine. They met in Winnipeg in 1932 and got married. Unlike some previous store owners, they lived off-site at 150 Selkirk Avenue where they raised their daughter Jean.

Peter ran his store from 1937 to 1981. He died in 1984 and Tessie died in 2004.

Entire Block:

The building was expanded in 1912, likely an addition to the rear.

This is not the only fire at the building. In April 1956, twelve people were driven out of their suites when a fire started in the basement. One man was removed from the second-floor window by ladder and brought to hospital with smoke inhalation. The fire was contained to the basement.

Over time, the two upstairs suites became six residential units. The owner applied to the city in 2012 to convert the two retail spaces into additional residential units bringing the total to eight.

The building was for sale when the fire occurred. It was completely destroyed and will be demolished.