Monday, January 5, 2015

169 Luxton Avenue - Ward's Garage
Place: 169 Luxton Avenue (Map)
Built: ca. 1912
Cost: Unknown
Contractor: Unknown

The origins of this building, tucked into a cozy residential neighbourhood, date back to before the street was called Luxton.

The unfortunately named Athol Avenue marked the end point of the Main Street streetcar line. Where the Safeway and Extra Foods are now located on Main Street was once a track track roundabout and streetcar storage and repair barns until the late 1950s.

In spring 1914, the streetcar company said that it would pay to pave Athol Avenue and the name change came in 1916. No reason was given for dropping "Athol".

The new name was likely after Luxton School, which has been located on the eastern end of the street since 1907. William Luxton was a teacher at Winnipeg's first public school in 1871 and co-founded the Manitoba Free Press in 1872. 

Around the same time, Mac Street was renamed St. Cross Street.

Above 2 ads from July 1914, below from June 1915

With the large number of employees and services congregated at the streetcar terminal at Main Street, 169 Luxton was a good place to have a mechanic's garage.

The first listing for the address comes in the 1913 Henderson Directory as "St. John's Garage - 169 Athol Avenue". A couple of used car ads appear in 1914 and early 1915, but it wasn't until May 1915 that ads appeared regularly and the garage was listed as a retailer in ads for everything from petroleum products to tires.

The first owners of St. John's Garage were members of the Wadsworth family of 53 Athole Avenue. The 1901 census lists the Wadsworths in Smith Falls, Ontario. David Alex and Margarite (or Margaret) had seven children ranging in age from 7 to 25.  By 1911,  the parents and two of their sons, David Arthur and Francis, lived at 53 Athole.

April 12 1919, Winnipeg Tribune

In the 1913 Henderson Directory, David Alex Wadsworth, the homeowner of 53 Athole, is listed as manager of the garage and his son, Henry J., as a machinist. Another son who did not get a chance to work at the garage was David Arthur. He enlisted with the 44th Battalion in 1915 and was taken prisoner of war in 1916, not returning home until 1919.

By 1917, three of the Wadsworths moved on to run the William Avenue Garage and it appears that they sold St. John's Garage to Frank P. Goldstone of Cathedral Avenue. He ran it until around 1920.

From 1920 to 1926 Ernest Hastings Allman leased the garage from Goldstone, renaming it Luxton Garage. Allman, a mechanic by trade, had recently returned from the war. He fought along with his father and brother but he was the only one to return alive. He was captured in 1915 and spent over three years in a German POW camp.

Allman ran the garage with a W. M. Richardson until around 1926. He then took a job with Vulcan Iron Works where he spent 33 years as a mechanic, retiring as the foreman of their garage. (For more on the Allmans, see my post in West End Dumplings.)

In 1927, Frank Goldstone, who lived on nearby Inkster Boulevard, took over the garage again and renamed it Goldie's. The garage shut down in 1930 and Goldstone worked as a mechanic from his home. 

From 1932 to 1933 it operated as Luxton Garage again, this time with J. Duke as proprietor.

September 7, 1935, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1935, 169 Luxton became home to a manufacturing plant. Winnipeg mechanic William Clark and his brother John Clark invented something called the Capital Automatic Stoker and began manufacturing the device at 169 Luxton.

In a glowing story in the September 7, 1935 Winnipeg Tribune, the inventors claimed that the device, which attached to a furnace or boiler, was designed for the unique properties of Western Canadian coal. It described how it operated this way:  “(It)...distributes the coal evenly over the entire grate area of the furnace at a constant rate, with coal and air proportioned for the most perfect combustion." (See below for a diagram.)

Whether it wasn't the great invention that the owners thought it was or the patent was bought out by a larger company and manufactured elsewhere, the Capital Automatic Stoker Company lasted only about a year.

June 1937

Frederick Peter Ward was the longest-serving owner of the building.

Ward was born in London, England and came to Winnipeg in his twenties, around 1908. In the early 1920s he took over a garage at Broadway and Sherbrook, eventually renaming Ward’s Garage. By 1937, he had bought the former Luxton Garage and renamed it Ward's Garage. It was a small shop that rarely advertized, except for the odd classified ad.

For most of his time in Winnipeg, Ward lived at 317 Bannerman with wife Jessie and daughter Jane. He retired and sold the garage in 1969 and died in 1974.

The next owner was J. Scheel. He applied to the city to convert it into an auto upholstery shop, (by this time zoning wouldn't have permitted a garage in a residential neighbourhood - Ward had been grandfathered in.)

The change was granted and it was an upholstery and auto detailing shop until 1976.

In 1977 a J. Hoffer applied to have the zoning exemption extended to allow for a car cleaning and polishing shop that would cater to car dealerships. Over 30 residents turned out at the public meeting to oppose the use. The community committee sided with the residents in opposition.

In 1981 Scheel sold it to its present owner. It has been a storage facility ever since.

Various ads for 169 Luxton through the years:

169 Luxton 1920s
169 Luxton 1930s
169 Luxton Sept 7 1935 Tribune