Sunday, June 4, 2017

711 Erin Street - Moore Business Forms (R.I.P.)

© 2017, Christian Cassidy
In 2017 and in September 18, 1944 Winnipeg Tribune

Place: Moore Business Forms building
Address: 711 Erin Street (Map)
Opened: September 18, 1944
Architect: Mathers and Haldenby (Toronto) and Green Blankstein Russell and Ham (GBR) (Winnipeg)
Contractor: Bird Construction Company
Cost: $300,000

Samuel Moore began working in the Toronto printing industry as a child in the 1870s. One of his employers was Grip, created in 1873 to print a weekly magazine of the same name. In 1882, Moore left Grip to found his own printing company, Moore Corporation.

He soon bought the patent for a carbon copy sales book and created the Paragon Black Leaf Counter Check Book Company. The Paragon division was a great success and introduced Moore's companies into markets throughout North America.

As time went on the company grew, often by acquisition of other printing companies and machine manufacturers.

September 1927 ad

One of those companies was Western Sales Book Ltd. of Winnipeg. Founded in 1916, it was bought out by Moore Corporation in 1920. In 1927, the company purchased the B.C. Sales Book Co. giving them a Vancouver presence.

In 1928, seven of Moore's subsidiaries were combined under the corporate umbrella of Moore Business Forms Ltd., though they continued to use their own trade names until the 1950s. 

Western Sales Book Ltd. printed and manufactured equipment for continuous business forms, receipt books and carbon paper.

In 1944, Western Sales Book Ltd. took out a $238,000 building permit for a new printing plant at 711 Erin Street. It was one of the largest construction projects in the city since the start of World War II.

The original 36,000 square foot building was constructed of steel with an exterior of Radcliffe brick and Tyndall stone trim. By the time it was equipped inside the total cost was about $300,000.

The building's footprint was long enough so that the manufacturing process for their most complicated projects could be done in one straight line; from raw material in at one end to good packaged for shipment out at the other.  The start of the process were the spools of paper delivered via a railway spur line that once ran along the back of the building.

September 18, 1944 Winnipeg Tribune

The building offered a number of features that made it a leader in its day for the safety and well-being of employees.

The windows of the plant opened inwards but at an angle so that even on rainy days they could remain open to bring in fresh air. A "saw tooth" roof designed allowed a number of north-facing windows to be installed to provide natural light to supplement the fluorescent fixtures. (One of the "teeth" can be seen to the right of this photo.)

There was also a forced air system to remove stale air. In the carbon paper manufacturing area, for instance, the air in the room was replaced every three minutes.

Employees also enjoyed a lunch room with full kitchen, men's and women's lounges, and a shower area.

One man who saw the transformation of the company was R. G. Reginald Govan.

He joined Western in 1923, soon after its takeover. By the time the new headquarters was built he was General Manager. In the 1950s he was appointed Vice president of Moore Business Forms and served with both titles until his retirement in 1963.

The building was expanded to the north in 1957 to add more warehouse and shipping space. At its peak about 150 people worked at the plant.

In 2003, Moore merged with Wallace Computer Services of the U.S. to become MooreWallace and it was expected that the Winnipeg plant's days were numbered. Less than a year later, MooreWallace and mapmaker R.R. Donnelley and Sons of Chicago merged into a company is known as RR Donnelley, which kept a Canadian division.

Just two weeks after the second merger, on December 3, 2003, it was announced that the Winnipeg plant would close on December 12, 2003. The forty employees lost their jobs less than two weeks before Christmas.

In recent years it has been used by Cascades Containerboard Packaging, formerly Norampac, for the manufacture of cardboard boxes and related items.

The building will be demolished in June 2017.

1957 American newspaper ad

For more photos of 711 Erin Street.

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