Saturday, November 19, 2022

722 Watt Street - Ebbeling Pharmacy

© 2022, Christian Cassidy

Place: Ebbeling Pharmacy (Website)
Address: 722 Watt Street (Map)
Constructed: 1956
Architect: Kurnarsky and Wienberg

Reginald and Ruth Domke in the 1950s

Ebbeling Pharmacy was established in 1956 by Reginald Ebbeling who grew up in Mason, Manitoba and attended Brandon University before graduating from the University of Manitoba's School of Pharmacy in spring 1953. He served as fourth-year student president.

In the fall of 1953, Reg married Ruth Domke. Originally from Libeau, Domke received her Registered Laboratory Science degree from the Winnipeg General Hospital in 1950. She was elected president of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Society of Laboratory Technologists in 1956.

The couple settled at 4 - 595 Beverley Street where Reginald worked for Boyd Dispensary in the Boyd Building on Portage Avenue and Ruth was a lab technician at the old Grace Hospital on Arlington Street.

April 12, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

Meanwhile in East Kildonan, a multi-year, $20-million development deal was announced between the rural municipality and the North American Land Development Company in April 1954.

It would take over 1,000 acres of mostly farmland and create a residential development of 1,800 homes bordered by a huge industrial park. Dissecting the residential portion would be a two-block long, $250,000 shopping centre along Watt Street at Melrose Avenue (now called Kimberly Avenue). It would feature retail shops, a strip mall for professional offices and a central parking area. The architect for much of the commercial strip was Kurnarsky and Wienberg of Winnipeg.

As the new neighbourhood's "main drag", Watt Street would be widened to allow for bus service and street parking on both sides.

The growth was so dramatic that East Kildonan went from being a rural municipality to a city on July 1, 1967. It was the fourth city in the region after Winnipeg, St. Boniface and St. James, and the sixth largest city in the province.

November 2, 1956, (The Herald?)

As this new development was underway, Ebbeling decided he wanted to open a pharmacy of his own and chose East Kildonan's new retail centre as the place to do it.

Ebbeling Pharmacy opened on November 3, 1956 and business was good enough that a second pharmacist was hired in 1958.

The Ebbelings bought a new house at 113 Willowdale Place off Kildonan Drive in East Kildonan in 1959 where they raised three children, Lori, Patricia and Robert.

Southdale Mall, 1967, City of Winnipeg Archives

A second Ebbeling Pharmacy opened along with the new Southdale Mall in September 1966.

Ebbeling then joined Associated Retail Pharmacies (ARP), a Western Canadian alliance of independently-owned pharmacies formed in 1963 to allow members to combine purchasing power and advertising buys. As a result, Ebbeling's two pharmacies were included in ARP's newspaper ads through the 1960s.

Ebbeling Pharmacy in 1972 (E. Clement)

Reg Ebbeling went back to school in the late 1960s and graduated with an MBA from the University of Manitoba in 1970.

After a brief stint in the private sector, he joined the Manitoba Government in 1973 and became a development officer for the department of Industry, Trade and Technology.

In 1988, a program called the Health Industry Development Initiative (HIDI) was established with Ebbeling as its head. Its role was to create economic opportunities in the health care field for Manitoba companies and to lure new healthcare-related investment and companies to Manitoba.

In a 1994 Winnipeg Free Press interview, Ebbeling said that from 1988 to 1994 HIDI used its $100m in federal/ provincial finding funding to leverage $550m in investment and the industry had grown from six companies to 110. HIDIs work is credited with being a catalyst for large profile government investments like the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health (the "virology lab") in 1999.

Ebbeling was also a founding board member of the Winnipeg Rh Foundation in 1992.

Reg Ebberling retired from government in 1995 and died on October August 4, 2008. Ruth Ebbeling died on August 3, 2020.

Howard Zink, 1962 Blue and Gold (U of M) yearbook

As for the business, in 1962 Ebbeling had hired a new grad from the University of Manitoba's College of Pharmacy named Howard Zink of Angusville, Manitoba. Zink took over the business when Ebbeling left. (It is unclear if Ebbeling remained a business partner for a time.)

Zink kept the Ebbeling name but closed Southdale location and ended the association with ARP in 1972.

Zink's son, Ken, worked in the store doing odd jobs when he was growing up. He joined his father behind the counter after he graduated from the U of M's College of Pharmacy in 1989. Colleen, Howard Zink's daughter, also worked at the store.

March 3, 1922, Free Press Weekly

Ebbeling Pharmacy did not advertise in Winnipeg's daily papers and was rarely mentioned in them aside from the odd break-in. That changed in March 1992 when Canada Post announced sweeping changes to its national postal outlet system.

Elmwood's post office on Henderson Highway was to be shuttered at the end of the month and traditional community retailers like Ebbeling, which had hosted a postal substation in their store for 35 years, were turfed in favour of national retail chains like 7-Eleven.

On April 1, 1992, Ebbeling's postal outlet was replaced by one at a 7-Eleven located ten blocks, or 2 kilometres, away at Henderson Highway at Leighton Street. Another outlet opened 2.4 kilometres away at the Pharmasave at Henderson and Harbison.

A 24-year-old Ken Zink told the Free Press Weekly in April 1992 that the effects of the closure could already be seen in the fewer customers that came through the door, particularly in the evening when the post office was the main draw. He said he still planned to take over the pharmacy from his father one day but the loss in trade decreased the value of the business.

December 6, 1997, Winnipeg Free Press

Ken Zink eventually took over the business from his father, likely in 1997.

In December 1997, it was announced that Ebbeling Pharmacy had joined Prescription Plus. Like ARP, it was a network of independent pharmacies that joined together in order to pool their buying power and ad purchases. At the time, there were six Winnipeg locations with another 17 elsewhere in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Ebbeling Pharmacy in 2022, (E. Clement)

Ken Zink retired in 2014 and Jeff Froese purchase the business. Froese graduated from the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Pharmacy in 2010 and was class valedictorian. He had previously managed a pharmacy on King Street in the Exchange District.

Ken Zink remained involved with the business until 2021 and his sister, Colleen, still manages the front of store.

No comments:

Post a Comment