Monday, January 9, 2023

157 Scott Street - Grocery Store

© 2022, Christian Cassidy

It is nice to hear that the store at 157 Scott Street is going to be rebuilt. It has been a neighbourhood institution for more than a century!

The first entry for this property comes in the 1914 Henderson's Street Directory, which would have been compiled in 1913, as Keller and Whitfield Grocery. The following year, it was owned by Ross Abraham who lived in the residence behind. It had new owners in 1915 (Robert Hamilton of Wardlaw Avenue) and again in 1917 (George Rutherford of Stradbrook Street).

July 24, 1934, Winnipeg Free Press

Stability finally came with Norman MacLean and family in 1919.

Maclean came to Canada from his native Scotland around age 30 in 1917. Initially, he and wife Margaret lived in the residential portion of the building but in 1929 moved to 363 Wardlaw Avenue as their family grew to seven children. (This is the house that backs onto the store property.)

Under MacLean, the business was a full-service grocery store with the "MacLean Grocery" name appearing with dozens of other grocers under ads for specific brands of ham, butter, etc..

September 22, 1937, Winnipeg Free Press

Changes took place at the business in 1937 with items such as a stove and car being sold off in classified ads. Then, in September, "for rent" ads for a retail space with living quarters above “for any line except groceries” ran in the Free Press.

It appears that the grocery store closed for a couple of years and when it reopened it wasn't under McLean. Street directories show that MacLean continued to live on Wardlaw but no place of work is listed for him. He appears in the 1951 directory as retired.

This is speculation, but it could be that MacLean, who would have only been around 50-years-old in 1937, became ill. This caused him to temporarily close the store but the retail and residential spaces were both subdivided to continue to bring in income.

The family continued to live at the neighbouring house on Wardlaw for many decades, so it could be that for a time that they owned the building and leased it out.

June 20, 1945, Winnipeg Free Press

The MacLeans faced tragedy when their son, Flight Officer Norman John MacLean, was killed in June 1945. He graduated from flight school in early 1943 and served overseas before being assigned to CFB Moose Jaw. He was killed when the plane he was flying in broke up near the base.

Norman Sr. died at Victoria Hospital in February 1977 at the age of 90. His obituary mentions that "he had been in the grocery business for many years."

Mike Chizda. Source: Free Press Passages

The extra retail space at 157 Scott Street was initially a tailor shop, then a shoemaker's workshop. A grocery store reappeared around 1942 with Jack Lomow in charge who named the store Fairway Grocery. Both he and Frank Chudy of the shoe repair shop also lived there.

The next long-term owner of Fairway Grocery was Mike Chizda from around 1955 to at least 1970. Under Chizda there was no longer a second retail tenant.

Chizda's early life was shaped by war. He was born during the first World War while his father was away fighting and by the end of the Second World War he was he only surviving member of his immediate family.

In 1948, Chizda came to Winnipeg to start a new life. He worked as a tailor before buying the grocery store and marrying Dorina. The couple had four children and lived in the attached residence.

Chizda eventually bought a hotel and ran it before retiring to Nova Scotia where he died in 2017.

More recent owners are harder to piece together given that street directories trailed off in the 1980s and starting in the late 1970s, newspapers rarely reported a store's name or store owner's name in news coverage. (If you know of more recent owners, please let me know!

Tragedy struck the business, then called E-Mart, in August 2021 when a late night arson attack killed 60-year-old owner Jung Ja Shin. Her son, who also lived above the store, escaped.

Jung Ja Shin came to Canada from her native China in 1987. Neither news coverage nor her obituary mention when she took over the store, though a photo from June 2014 Google Street View shows an "under new management" sign on the front of the building. Her death prompted an outpouring of emotion for the much-liked business owner.

Hae-Kyung (Heather) Shin, Jung's sister-in-law, owns the building and applied in September 2022 to have the fees waived for the rebuilding of the store. Final approval was given in January 2023.

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