Thursday, January 5, 2023

533 Burrows Avenue - North End Chapel / European Meats and Sausage


© 2022, Christian Cassidy

Place: North End Chapel / European Meats and Sausage
533 Burrows Avenue (Map)
Max Zev Blankstein

Mennonite Reserves in Manitoba by John Warkentin, (source)

The first Mennonites came to Manitoba in waves from Russia and the U.S.A. starting in 1873 and established the East Reserve (around Steinbach) and West Reserve (around Winkler/Altona). Some were eventually drawn to Winnipeg and it soon became the city with "the largest Mennonite population of any major urban centre in the world" (Dueck). The first Mennonite Brethren church established in the city was in Elmwood in 1906.

According to Driedger, as early as 1907 a congregation of 21 members established a church in Winnipeg's North End and soon bought an empty lot at Burrows and Andrews. They then purchased a small chapel located in St. Vital and had it moved to the site. In November 1913, Rev. and Mrs. W. J. Besvater of Minnesota came to lead the church.

The little chapel soon became too small for their needs and the congregation moved to rented premises at Manitoba Avenue and McKenzie Street. They decided in 1916 to build a larger church for themselves back at the Burrows and Andrews site. 

The North End Chapel ca. 1917
Source: Mennonite Historian, March 2007, Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies

The architect chosen to design the new building was Max Zev Blankstein, who by this time had designed many landmark North End buildings including the Winnipeg Cold Storage on Salter Street (1909), Hebrew Free School on Flora Avenue (1912), the Palace Theatre on Selkirk Avenue (1912) and the Merchants Hotel on Selkirk Avenue (1913).

The basement of the building was constructed first so that worship services and a Sunday school could be held there. This was a fairly common practice for churches at the time, including at the Salem Reformed Church across the street a few years earlier. It gave congregations a longer period of time - many years if necessary - to raise funds and construct their building with the aid of volunteer labour on weekends.

The basement of the new structure was completed in September 1917 and a dedication ceremony was held. It was christened the North End Chapel.

According to Driedger, the fact that the chapel held its services in German and had a German language Sunday school was not appreciated by some neighbours as World War I was still raging. He writes that "Children threw stones and sometimes policemen harassed them."

The congregation continued to grow and moved to larger premises on College Avenue in 1930. That new church became known as the North End Mennonite Brethren Church. According to the Centre for Mennonite Brethren, it was "the mother MB church for all of Winnipeg for the next 25 years."

The old North End Chapel, still unfinished, was sold off.

The Jewish Post, June 27, 1930

The Contract Record and Engineering Review of May 7, 1930 notes that " is proceeding by day labour on the erection of a two-storey brick sausage factory costing $15,000 at Burrows and Andrews". The project was actually a retrofit of the existing basement that included the replacement of the temporary roof with a permanent structure.

The sausage factory was The Warsaw Kosher Sausage Manufacturing Company Ltd. and it opened in June 1930. It was managed by Hymie Bloom of 629 Selkirk who had previously operated Bloom's Kosher Sausage Mfg. Co. at 551 Selkirk Avenue.

Investors in the business included Jacob and Harry Miles who owned the Palace Theatre on Selkirk Avenue and a a few other neighbourhood cinemas around the city.

Harry Miles is listed as the co-owner in the 1931 street directory but by 1932 Bloom had moved on to open the United Kosher Sausage Co. on Andrews Street. In 1932, brothers Harry and Jacob had a financial falling out that involved their shares in both the Allied Theatre Co. (which owned the cinemas) and Warsaw Kosher Sausage. It appears that Jacob was ordered by the court to surrender his $3,000 in shares in the sausage company so that Harry could buy him out.

Warsaw Kosher Sausage appears to have closed around 1934 and the building sat vacant for a number of years.

The Israelite Press, December 20, 1940

As the Depression drew to a close, there was new interest in the old sausage factory building.

David Waintman opened the Zion Kosher Sausage Manufacturing Company around 1939 and it stayed in business until around 1943.

The Jewish Post September 7, 1950

The building sat empty again until 1948 when Smith Corned Beef and Sausage Manufacturing Co. moved in. Its president was Sam Davidow, William Davidow was vice president, and the manager of the plant was Isaac Smith of Aberdeen Street.

Looking back through street directories, Smith ran a Smith's Corned Beef in the 1940s but there is no address other than his residence listed in street directories. A possible scenario is that Smith ran a home-based business with a smoker in his yard or used the facilities of another company and sold the product under his own name.

There is no occupation next to Smith's name for 1947, then Smith's Corned Beef and Sausage Manufacturing Company appeared in 1948. This suggests the business closed or he was set to retire and the Davidow's approached him to join a company using his name and recipes.

A year or so after the company started, presumably after Smith helped them get up and running, he listed in street directories as retired and Sam Davidow became president and manager.

Smiths Corned Beef outgrew its Burrows Avenue location and around 1958, with the Davidows still in charge, moved to 261 Flora Avenue which had been both a sausage making plant and fruit warehouse in earlier decades.

It appears that this company is today known as Smiths Quality Meats located on Church Avenue, though that company's website dates the company back only to 1958. (An inquiry to company principals asking if they if they had more information about their company's history was not responded to.)

November 23, 1974, Winnipeg Tribune

The building is listed as being vacant from 1959 to 1961, then in 1962 European Meat and Sausage Co. renovated it and moved in. (Note that "Meat" was singular in the company's early decades and today it is plural.)

The company's exact year of origin is a bit confusing. A long-time sign on the front of the store says "established 1956", yet in the summer of 2022 it had a 63rd anniversary sale which would make it 1959. There is no listing for a company by this name in street directories prior to 1962, though it could be that another shop was bought out, moved to this address, and renamed. (An inquiry to the store asking if they had more information on the store's history was not responded to.)

Street directories list Hans Weber as president, Mike Pammer as vice president, and Fred Meuer as secretary-treasurer. The trio of partners are hard to track as they did not make the newspapers and European did not advertise or have any 'advertorials' written about them.

There is an obituary for a Hans Weber born in Romania and came to Winnipeg in 1954. It states that he operated Weber Meats and Delicatessen and later the Transylvania Inn restaurant. There is no mention of European in his obituary. He died in 1980 at the age of 72.

Fred Meuer lived in a rural lot in Charleswood through the early 1960s, perhaps he raised some of the animals used in production. I can't find any more information about him.

Obituary photo, September 26, 1994, Winnipeg Free Press

As for Pammer, he was born in Czechoslovakia and came to Canada in 1957. When the company started out he and wife Veronica lived in the house at 134 Higgins Avenue. There is nothing written about Pammer while he was at European, but he made the news after his retirement.

A 1987 Free Press interview notes that Pammer established European Meats and Sausage 25 years earlier but sold it in 1985 after nearly 25 years in business so that he and Veronica could retire to Balston Beach, Manitoba.

A couple of years later, Pammer got into the food processing business again by creating "value added fish products" such as nuggets and sausages. He spent years perfecting his recipes and in the early 1990s announced that he was seeking funding to build a production facility for his new products in Riverton.

Sadly, Pammer would not open that new plant as he died at his residence on September 23, 1994 at the age of 66.

April 11, 1995, Winnipeg Free Press

It is unclear who bought the meat shop from Pammer in 1985. The company was reorganized in 1989 to become European Meats and Sausage (1989) Ltd., suggesting another new owner may have taken over.

From at least 1992 to 1996, there was a second European Meats and Sausage location in the Forks Market. The original shop still operates at 533 Burrows Avenue.

My photo album of 533 Burrows
European Meats and Sausage Facebook Page

Mennonite History Sources:
- The beginning of the Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg by Abe Dueck (Mennonite Historian, March 2007)
- Mennonites in Winnipeg by Leo Driedger
- Mennonite Settlement Province of Manitoba

*Note that when compiling the years a person or business was at a certain address using street directories, you have to look back a year. For example, the data in the 1950 street directory would have been compiled in 1949 so that the 1600+ page directory could be typeset, printed, bound and ready for sale in the first weeks of 1950.

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