Saturday, May 13, 2017

175 Donald Street - Lonely House (Demolished)

© 2017, Christian Cassidy,-97.141479,3a,90y,76.11h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sQTdql3VUXsLrOJh3_eaL0g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
Lonely House
Top: ca 2014, Google Street View 
Bottom two: ca. 2017, C. Cassidy

Place: Canadian Chamois Co.
Address: 175 Donald Street (Map)
Constructed: Ca. 1895
Architect: Unknown

On the weekend of May 9, 2015, the former "lonely house" at 175 Donald Street was demolished. It was one of the last remnants of central downtown's residential past. 

Here is a look back at its history before it fades from memory....

Ad, circa 1906

The house first appears in the Henderson Directory in 1896 as home to W. G. McMahon and family. He was the manager of the Winnipeg sales office of the W. M. Buck Stove Company located at 246 McDermot Avenue. 

I believe this is the same McMahon who went on to be a prominent local businessman. His McMahon Ltd. was the Western Canadian agent for numerous construction-related products. When he died in 1932, the family was living in much nicer digs: McMahon House at 9 Middle Gate.

The McMahons moved out of 175 Donald Street in late 1899 or early 1900.

Ad, circa 1904

It appears the property was then divided into two living spaces and had a quick succession of owners, none staying for more than a year. One resident was physician Correli C. Field who both lived and practised there from 1903 to 1904.

In 1905, John E. Holland moved in. He was a manager of the newly-established Winnipeg plant of J. C. Wilson Ltd, a Montreal-based paper company specializing in toilet paper, wrapping and paper bags. 

Holland emigrated from Gloucester, England to the Montreal area as a child with his family. As a young man, he got a job with J. C. Wilson, married Catherine and had three children: Lillian, George and John. 

When the company wanted to open a Winnipeg plant, the 20-year company veteran was chosen to run it. 

One son, John, died in 1916. George became a bank teller for the Bank of Montreal, eventually transferring to Saskatoon. 

Holland and his wife stayed at this address until 1924 when ill health forced him into retirement. A couple of years later, the couple relocated to the Albany Apartments on Edmonton Street where Holland died in 1932.

June 18, 1934, Winnipeg Tribune

In the late 1920s and 1930s the house went back to being a duplex. 

Tragedy struck one of the families living there, the Dorans, in 1934 when their 11-year old son drowned in the Red River near the Norwood Bridge while swimming with friends. 

They had a scare with another son, 16-year-old Willis, two years later.  

He was working at the gas station at Donald Street and St. Mary's Avenue, half a block from his house, on the night of January 24, 1936. An armed robber approached him on the lot, threatened him and discharged his revolver into the ground. 

He then loaded Willis and another employee into the building and demanded money. When he was informed that there was none, he aimed the gun at them and pulled the trigger twice. The gun did not go off. 

The robber fled with about thirty cents but police were already in pursuit. In the foot chase, Constable Charles Gillis was shot and died a couple of weeks later in hospital.  

The robber, Ian Bryson, was found guilty of murder and hanged.

Ad, circa 1948

After the war, the residential fortunes of the downtown began to change as people moved to newly developed suburbs. In 1948, this house started a new chapter a commercial building. 

From 1948 to 1960, it was home to W. J. Schadek and Co. Realty, which rented out the upstairs suite, usually to pensioners.

Around Downtown

The president of W. J. Schadek and Company was Rubin Pinsky. 

Pinsky was born in present day Belarus, then Poland, in 1925. As a teenager, he was studying to be a rabbi when his town was taken over by the Nazis. Most of his immediate family were murdered and he fled to the forest where he lived rough for two years. 

After the war, he spent three years in a displaced persons camp until coming to Canada in 1949. 

Pinsky attended seminary school in Montreal before coming to Winnipeg in 1951 to teach at the Peretz school. That same year he married Jenny Moser. 

Later that decade he left teaching and started a number of companies, including taking over  W. J. Schadek and Company.

Pinksy soon changed the name of the real estate company to R and H Agencies and created the Canadian Chamois Company. (It is not likely that this company is related to the Canadian Chamois Co. that operated in Elmwood in the late 1920s and early 1930s.) 

It does not appear that the company produced chamois, but rather produced or distributed products made from the material, including cloths and wash mitts. They also distributed sponges. 

In 1970, Rubin bought a hotel in Regina then retired to Vancouver in 1977. 

It is unclear what happened to the company. Newspaper mentions of it disappear in the 1970s.  The last mention of the address in the Free Press comes in a 1981 classified ad seeking part-time bookkeeping help. It did not specify what company it was for.

Lonely House .. gone

The home had been boarded up for at least a decade when it was demolished in 2015. In summer 2017, it remains a vacant lot.

My Flickr album of 175 Donald Street

Other Lonely Houses:
130 Fort Street 
88 Adelaide Street
425 Graham Avenue
44 Albert Street (Demolished)

1 comment:

  1. Am not sure if it was completely empty. Having passed it a couple of nights coming out of the MTS centre in Winter, there was definitely a functional furnace in operation. Was surprised as I figured it was probably empty.