Thursday, September 9, 2021

804 Ellice Avenue - Service Station / Ellice Buy and Sell

© 2021, Christian Cassidy

Place: Former Service Station / Ellice Buy and Sell
804 Ellice Avenue (Map)
1929, replaced 1944, replaced 1964.
McColl Brothers

June 18, 1929, Winnipeg Tribune

Urban development began in this neighbourhood in the 1905 to 1910 range but the first building on this site was a gas station in 1929. Prior to that, the land may have been owned by the Salvation Army which constructed a residence and citadel on the east side of the block.

McColl-Frontenac Ltd. took out a permit to construct an $8,000 service station measuring 22 feet by 44 feet on this site in September 1928. M-F was a Canadian oil company with regional headquarters in Winnipeg and was better known by its "Red Indian" brand.

This was M-F's twelfth service station in the city and one of six that opened in 1929. By 1935, Winnipeg had 24 "Red Indian stations". (For more McColl-Frontenac history, see here and here.)

A McColl-Frontenac Station ca.1938, City of Edmonton Archives

The original station probably looked something like this one from Edmonton in 1938 with a filling station and adjacent service station.

Though M-F built the stations they leased them to franchisees to run. The first owner of 804 Ellice Avenue was Edward J. "Ted"  O'Dowd who ran it as Ted's Service Station.

O'Dowd was born in Ontario and came to Winnipeg in 1906. In the mid-1920s, he was working as a car man in the repair shops of the CNR. The family, wife Reta, and children Terry and Patricia, lived at 614 Banning Street.

In 1935 or 1936 Ted's Service Station closed. He became a carpenter and eventually went on to have a career with Bristol Aeroplane.

The service station disappears from street directories for a few years, though the filling station remained open.

June 28, 1934, Winnipeg Tribune

The next incarnation of the service station comes around 1939 with Harry Inkerman Ruddell and Ruddell's Service station.

Ruddell, who lived at 268 Simcoe Street with his wife Belle, had been a long-time employee of Winnipeg Marble before getting into the service station business. He ran the business with a couple of employees starting in 1929 with William Whitehead and Alex Ireland.

It was under Ruddell's ownership that big changes came to the service station. Since 1934, there had been an M-F service station located right at Portage and Main where the Richardson building is today. When the lease on the land expired, rather than tear the building down it was moved to Ellice Avenue and Arlington Street!

The move took place just after midnight on Monday, September 25, 1944. The building and roof were separated and the pieces slowly driven from Main Street onto Graham Avenue, then up Vaughan to Ellice Avenue. Both daily papers reported the move but neither ran any photos of it taking place.

Sadly, Ruddell didn't get much time to enjoy his spacious new service station. He died suddenly at his Simcoe Street home in July 1947 at the age of 51.

Texaco Canada 1977 annual report (McGill Archives)

Big changes took place at McColl-Frontenac in the 1940s.

The Canadian oil company struggled financially in the 1930s and the Texas Company, (better known by its brand name of Texaco), began buying up its shares in 1936 through its Canadian subsidiary the Texas Company of Canada.

By 1941, the Texas Company owned a majority interest in the company and the McColl-Frontenac and Red Indian names began to change over to Texaco and Sky Chief.

December 24, 1949, Winnipeg Tribune

The next incarnation of the service station was Cecil Poulton's Service Station. Poulton was an experienced garage owner and took over from Ruddell.

In 1956, 804 Ellice became Leach Auto Service operated by William Beawick and William Leach.

Leach was born in Saskatchewan and his family moved to Winnipeg when he was a child. In World War II, he was taken prisoner at the raid on Dieppe in August 1942 and spent the rest of the war in POW camps. After the war, he worked for Winnipeg Transit before leasing this service station.

Leach retired from the station around 1970 and briefly ran a small trucking company in the R.M. of Springfield before moving back to Winnipeg.

It was in 1964, during Leach's tenure, that the final service station was built on this site. It was a 1,300 square foot "Teague style" station with its sleek lines and white enamelled, steel panel exterior.

These were designed in-house for Texaco by Walter D. Teague in the mid-1930s. They were phased out in the U.S. in the 1950s for more modern designs, but that obviously did not happen in Canada.

The above concept drawing, one of four variations of Teague stations, shows a built-in canopy over the forecourt. This version was not used in northern climates as structure did not perform well under snow.

The Texaco station at 804 Ellice Avenue is mentioned infrequently in ads until February 22, 1980. When exactly it closed is unclear.

March 30, 1984, Winnipeg Free Press

Barbecues Galore held their grand opening sale at 804 Ellice Avenue in February 1984. The ads disappeared in June.

By 1985, the building was home to one of two Valu Car and Truck Rental outlets in the city. The other was at 72 Marion Street. (That company is still registered at 804 Ellice Avenue.)

By October 1988, classified ads first appear for Ellice Pawn Shop owned by Arnold Lazareck who was a partner in Valu Car and Truck Rental. The name of the business had changed by 1999 to Ellice Buy and Sell which was a used goods store, not a pawn shop.

Lazaruk spoke to the Free Press in 1988 in defence of pawn shops saying that the vast majority of owners comply with city rules regarding potential stolen property. He also provided input to the city's proposed changes to the used good section of the "Doing Business in Winnipeg" bylaw in 2011.

After 32 years in business, the building was put up for sale in early 2020 for $500,000.

Ellice Buy and Sell continued to operate from the premises through the summer of 2021. As of September, the for sale sign has disappeared from the property and the building is empty.

Art Moderne Texaco Stations ReadRiedRead
A Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas Texas Department of Transportation

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