Wednesday, December 21, 2016

20 Sherbrook Street - Misericordia Health Centre (Original Buildings)

Top: Google Street View, 2015
Bottom: November 27, 1923, Winnipeg Tribune

The origins of the Misericordia Hospital go back to 1898 when four sisters of Montréal's les Sœurs de Miséricorde (Sisters of Mercy) arrived in St. Boniface. The order was founded in Quebec in 1848 by Mme Rosalie Jett to provide “spiritual and corporal assistance for poor mothers and unfortunate girls.”

With the assistance of the Archbishop of St. Boniface they purchased a home on Broadway but found there was so much demand for their services that they began to look elsewhere for land on which to build a proper hospital.

At the time, hospital services were limited to the Winnipeg General Hospital, which in 1899 added a small maternity home to its nurses residence on McDermot Avenue. There was also the St. Boniface Hospital. The Salvation Army's maternity hospital on Preston Avenue, (which would become the Grace), was not founded in until 1908 and the Children's was not founded until 1909.

Source: U of M Archives, Medical Campus Architecture Collection

The following year, the Sisters purchased just over two acres of land in residential Winnipeg at 20 Sherbrook Street by the Assiniboine River.

The first hospital building was completed in February 1900 and appears to have opened on the 12th of that month. It measured 44 feet x 66 feet and became known simply as the Winnipeg Maternity Hospital under the supervision of the Sister Superior, Sr. St. Lucie.

The $14,000, three-storey building, (with a tall basement), was funded by the Roman Catholic Church and donations from a number of private citizens. F. W. Thompson furnished a wing and gave a large cash and flour donation. Frederick Scott, of the Scott Furniture Company, furnished a room. Others, like J. H. Ashdown, R. J. Whitla and F. W. Stobart, funded beds on the public wards. 

The basement level contained the kitchen, laundry and related services. The main floor had offices, a parlour and five private rooms. On the second floor there were five more private rooms, a large public ward for convalescents and an operating room. The top floor was a large public maternity ward.

The total capacity of that first hospital was 50 beds. A Free Press story at the time noted that some of the rooms had the best views in all of Winnipeg.

No architect was credited in media stories but the contractor was the Roman Catholic Church's go-to builder J. A. Senocal who had built original parts of the St. Boniface Hospital, St. Mary's Convent and hospitals in Calgary and Edmonton.

Top: December 6, 1906, Winnipeg Free Press

It was assumed that this would be one wing of a much larger facility and in 1906 - 07 a $145,000 expansion took place that more than doubled its size.

The two new buildings, added to the north, created a "T" shaped facility.


The three-storey central building, which stretched eastward towards Maryland Street to create the base of the "T", was the most striking with its stone pillars, large staircase to the main floor entrance and topped with a, (since removed), glassed-in observation tower.

Its basement contained dining rooms for the Sisters, another for nurses, a sitting room for patients and a living room for men. It also housed expanded kitchen facilities.

On the first floor was a “grand entrance hall” with a reception room to one side and an office for the Sister Superior on the other.
Top: St. Luke's Chapel, ca.1916 (
Bottom: ca. 2012 (C. Cassidy)

The most notable feature of the new wing was St. Luke's Chapel on the first floor. Measuring 110 feet x 45 feet, its balcony, which could be closed off from the chapel with sliding glass panels, could be accessed from the hospital's second floor.

The main floor had ten private rooms, the second floor had eight. The third contained operating rooms at the front and a 44-bed public ward.There were also private spaces, such as bedrooms for the priests, Sisters and doctors.

In 1919* the Sisters made formal application to the provincial government to operate as a general hospital. This meant treating a full range of diseases and conditions for both men and women and the introduction of new services such as an X-Ray department and laboratories. (*Some sources say this was 1917, but newspaper stories indicated that the formal application was made in January 1919.)

On May 22, 1968, the Misericordia became a stand-alone corporate entity from the Sisters.

In 1998,  it went from a general hospital to an urgent care centre.

Over the century a number of additions to the site have altered the original hospital buildings.

In 1950, an expansion to the Maryland Building meant the demolition of the eastward run of the centre (entrance) building. The boarded up section at the rear could be seen in 2012 when that 1950 building was demolished, (above).

In 1957, the addition of the Cornish Wing meant a demolition of all but a few metre wide sliver of the original 1900 wing. That piece can be seen on the left side of the photo above.

Also seen in the above image is the cap that was left when the observation dome was removed sometime between 1954 and 1957.


The oldest part of the facility is currently awaiting demolition to make way for phase 2 of a multi-million dollar redevelopment. The building shown above in white will replace it.

Starting in September 2012 much of the wing was closed, including St. Luke's chapel, in anticipation of the demolition but funding for the project has not yet been announced.

My photo album of the Misericordia Health Centre
Redevelopment Update Misericordia Health Centre
"It no longer meets code: President of the Misericordia CTV (2016)
New Wing of Misericordia Now Open CBC (2015)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lonely House - 130 Fort Street

Place: 130 Fort Street (Map)
Constructed: 1902-03
Architect and contractor: Unknown

This little house on Fort Street near York Avenue is one of the few remaining houses in what was once a substantially residential downtown business district. Others include one on Graham Avenue and the recently demolished 175 Donald Street.

Though it has been used as a commercial space over the past couple of decades it is still zoned residential and boasts 1,800 square feet over 2 1/2 levels.

April 24, 1907, Winnipeg Tribune

Built in 1902 - 03, right after sewer was installed on the street, its first owner was William J. Squires. A cab driver by trade, in 1903 he was hired to manage the newly formed Winnipeg Cab Company. That year, they opened a garage and offices nearby on Smith Street.

Business must have been good as in 1904 Squires and family moved to the suburban confines of Furby Street.

April 13, 1904, Manitoba Free Press

The next owner of the home was Anthony Swanson and family. He ran a tile, concrete and granolite yard from there. (The latter was a cement – granite mix used in city sidewalks and driveways.)

The company itself might not have lasted long. By 1905, Swanson is listed in Henderson Directories as a cement worker, then a labourer.

Around 1906, the family began renting out a room. their lodgers included August Holtz (1906), a labourer at the CPR and Margaret Bennett (1913), a stenographer.

In 1907, Mrs. Hilda Swanson died but Mr. Swanson continued to live there until at least 1914.  That year, he opened up the house to three renters at a time. This was common during the war as families were split up and had to downsize. Small accommodations were in strong demand.

April 10, 1917, Winnipeg Tribune

A wartime resident was Sydney Beadle, a news agent, and his wife, Belinda. They lived on Poplar Avenue when he enlisted but by the time he was shipped overseas in June 1916, they had moved to 130 Fort Street.

While living there, Belinda received two distressing telegraphs from the war office informing her that her husband had been wounded.

The first was a shrapnel wound to the hand in March 1916, but he rejoined his unit a week later. In April 1917, he received gunshot wounds to the left breast and thigh. A piece of shrapnel was lodged under one of his ribs and doctors decided that it was too dangerous to operate on.

He was reassigned to a non-fighting unit but the pain from the embedded shrapnel was too great to allow him to use his arm properly. He was declared medically unfit and shipped back home to Winnipeg in April 1918.

By this time, Belinda had relocated again to 288 Main Street. Once reunited, the couple resettled on Poplar Ave where he worked at Brathwaite's, a south Main Street drug store.

March 11, 1922, Winnipeg Tribune

There was a spell when a number of tailors at Duncan Cameron’s tailor shop lived there. In 1919, it was Henry Nordman and George Eng and his family. George died in 1920 and Henry Hill, another Duncan’s tailor, moved in.

From time to time, a Swanson would appear at the house as a resident. The family as a whole returned from 1922 to 1924.

October 24, 1927, Manitoba Free Press

It appears a change in ownership came around 1927 when William and Mrs. Fudge moved in. He was a labourer at the CPR and they rented out a couple of rooms, often to other railway employees.

Mr. Fudge also has a sideline - selling liquor illegally.

The morality squad did a crackdown in October 1927 and Fudge got caught up in it. The following February he was found guilty, fined $200 and sentenced to two weeks in jail. A year later Mrs. Fudge was fined for the same thing.

The Fudges continued to live there into the 1930s. In 1936 they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary at the house, along with 20 guests they somehow managed to squeeze in.

Through the 1940s and early 1950s it appears to have had a succession of short-term owners. Robert Ramsay - no occupation listed, John McGirr - insurance agent, C.L. Tardiff, Harold Norquay - city labourer, Arthur Lounsbury - CNR Express employee, Frank Jackson, truck driver.

October 30, 1970, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1956, Joseph Dumas, a widower, bought the house. He listed his occupation as a real estate agent and worked from home. He was also a noted bootlegger.

Dumas was arrested and fined numerous times for illegally selling liquor starting in the mid 1950s.

Even old age didn't slow him down. In 1967, at age 81, he was arrested for selling a bottle of liquor to an undercover officer. They raided his house and found 21 more. He reportedly told them that he was willing to "pay his fine like a man."

In 1970, after being caught for the same offense, when the magistrate fined him $400 he pulled out a wad of bills and offered to pay it on the spot.

Dumas died in 1978 at the age of 92.

September 8, 2014, Winnipeg Free Press

In the late 80s and through the 1990s it was home to Quaternary Consultants Ltd, an environmental consulting firm.
Source: Winterbos on Flickr

It was likely thanks to Dumas that the house has remained standing.

Due to its proximity to Main Street, Fort has always had a mix of residential and commercial properties. In the above photo of Fort Street, ca. late 19-teens, 130 and a couple of neighbouring houses can be seen in the bottom left.

December 24, 1949, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1926, King Auto Heater Company opened at 136 Fort. In 1928, the GMC Building opened and, in 1930, came the Radio Building. Over the decades other commercial buildings joined them, especially automobile-related businesses like car dealerships and garages.

In 1946, Princess Auto Wrecking moved from their original premises at 127 Princess Street into the properties immediately north of the house, 136 - 150 Fort Street..By 1960, the company was known as Princess Auto and Machinery, specializing in auto parts.

Lonely House in 2007

Through the 1950s and 60s pressure must have been on Dumas to sell the house to become a surface parking lot to serve either the Radio Building or Princess Auto, which was is the fate of the houses around it.

By the time Dumas died, however, that pressure would have eased and it left the house looking very much out of place in a commercial landscape.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

516 Stella Avenue

This little house at 516 Stella Avenue was constructed in 1903.

The first residents were Frederick Ulrich and family, which included his wife and at least seven children. Ulrich worked as a boilermaker with the CPR until 1912 when the family moved to a farm near Thalberg, Manitoba in the RM of St. Clements. 

Frederick retired from farming in 1941 and died in 1956.

Source: 1916 Census of Manitoba

From 1913 until 1926 it was home to the Morganstein family.

Jacob, (who appears in Henderson Directories as George), and Pearl came to Canada from Russia in 1906 with their three children. They had at two more after arriving.

Jacob started out as a peddler and worked his way up to being a delivery driver. Eldest daughter, Yetta, worked first at Woolworths then as a clerk at Max Steiman, a clothing store on Main Street.

February 2, 1916, Winnipeg Free Press

Not only did the enterprising family raise their five children here, it appears they also kept a cow on the property !

November 3, 1942, Winnipeg Tribune 

From 1929 to 1944 Mike and Sarah Sorokowski and family lived here. (Their name also appears as Sorosky and Sarkoski in various newspaper articles and Henderson Directory entries.)

Mike was a long-time city employee.

Sarah had a near death experience in 1942 when she was one of 25 people hurt in a collision between two street cars at Portage Avenue and Colony Street. She was taken to hospital for a couple of days but was not seriously injured.

It appears Mike died around 1944, after which Mrs. Sorokowski moved to Jarvis Avenue.

August 30, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

The next long term residents were the Skwark family, starting in 1945.

Nicholas, who came from Austria around 1910,  worked at the city for many years before going into business for himself a delivery driver. Patrica raised their two children, Michael and Mary, and worked for a time at Eatons.

Michael was a law student and prominent member of the Stellars, a local amateur basketball team. In 1953 he married Ruth Jasper, a stenographer at David Cooper and Co.

Initially, the Skwarks tried to rent the house. For whatever reason that didn't work out so Mike and Ruth moved in with the Skwarks for a number of years.

Nicholas died in May 1964 at the age of 70. Mary continued to live there for a number of years after his death. She died in 1993.

The house is currently for sale. More photos can be seen at its listing page.

Friday, September 30, 2016

1785 Portage Avenue - Higgs' Barber Shop

Place: 1785 Portage Avenue (Map)
Constructed: circa 1922
Architect: Unknown

February 13, 1925, Winnipeg Free Press

The building at 1785 Portage Avenue is much older than it looks, thanks to a recent discovery uncovered by an exterior renovation.

It first appears in the 1922 Henderson's Directory, as part of the City of St. James, of course, and has been home of numerous, mostly short-lived, retailers over the years.

The first is Harry M. Golding and Harry B. Aaron's "Golding and Aaron, Boots, Shoes and Dry Goods." They lasted just a year until Samuel Bernstein's shoe store took over. By 1925, it was known as Lancaster Confectionery, owned by Charles Lancaster of 363 Albany Street.

October 24, 1927, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1926, Fred Higgs' barber shop first appears and he would be a fixture in the building for nearly three decades. The barber shop took up a smaller retail space with the address 1785 1/2 Portage Avenue, while shops in the larger space came and went.

Higgs is listed as the building owner, presumably purchasing it in 1927, and also lived at the address, suggesting that there may at one time have been a house tucked behind the commercial space. Unfortunately, not a lot of information can be found about Mr. Higgs in Winnipeg newspapers.

Higgs' retail neighbours included the likes of Richard Wilson, jeweller (1926), and Percy Mozersky hardware (1927).

In 1928, Carl Porcher opened his tailor shop there and is also listed as living in the residential portion along with Hicks. Porcher, an Austrian immigrant, operated is shop until his death in 1935 at the age of 48.

The building continued to house a tailor. By 1941 it was called “St. James Tailors”, owned by Samuel Roitman.

Top: October 19, 1991, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: December 4, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1946, Higgs finally found a long-term partner for his barber shop in Aker's Junior Wear, a retailer of children's clothing. Akers called it home from 1947 until at least 1965.

The store was run by Roy and Ruth Aker. Roy Aker was born in St. James in 1917 and married Ruth in 1942. The couple had a daughter, Penny, and were long-time residents of 108 College Street in St. James, (changed to Collegiate in the late 1950s to save being confused with Winnipeg's College Avenue.)

In 1953 there was a changing of the guard when Higgs retired. The barber shop was taken over briefly by Bob Cruickshank. He and wife Sarah moved into the residence.

The following year, Akers got its first non barber retail neighbour when The Donut House - yes the same Donut House as Selkirk Avenue's - moved into 1785 1/2 in 1954. (By 1964 there were five Donut House coffee shopss around the city, as well as the main bakery on Selkirk Avenue.)

June 26, 1970, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1968, the building was sold to the convenience store chain Mini Mart Inc. of Winnipeg. They made extensive renovations to the building, including making it into one retail space, replacing the  facade and adding a large back-lit sign.

The store opened in early 1969, one of 35 Mini Marts in the city, and closed in 1971.

In 1972, 1785 Portage was home to St. James Vacuum Shop for a year. Then, from 1974 until the early 1980s, it was St. James Sports Centre, specializing in bicycle sales and service. From the mid-80s to the early 90s it was a real estate office, then a travel agency.

Exterior renovations carried out in September 2016 uncovered the building's past.

Beneath that 1970s Mini Mart exterior revealed old signs that could date back to the 1920s, and certainly to the 1940s.

For more photos of 1785 Portage Avenue.

Friday, September 23, 2016

518 Selkirk Avenue - The Windmill Lunch

Place: The Windmill Lunch
Address: 518 Selkirk Avenue (Map)
Constructed: 1949
Architect: Unknown

Top: Nov. 25, 1950, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: Sep. 11, 1951, Winnipeg Free Press

For much of its early existence, 518 Selkirk Avenue contained two retail spaces on the main floor and offices upstairs.

The first tenant was Peter Zolna's Marvel Ladies Apparel, which had been established further up Selkirk Avenue in the mid-1940s.  It was soon joined by Curly Haas Sportswear, run by Winnipeg baseball legend Conelius Haas of the Elmwood Millionaires, and his wife, Florence.

Oct. 26, 1955, Winnipeg Free Press

By 1955, Marvel closed and Haas moved to Main Street and a new duo of businesses occupied the building.

One was Personal Finance Co., a national chain of quick loan shops. This was their fourth location in the city. The other was Select Furniture, which only lasted until May 1956 before it went bankrupt. 

The replacement for Select Furniture was the Koster Film Library, run by Michael Koster. It was an early entertainment rental store where projectors and films, everything from 8 mm shorts to feature length films could be rented, though it does not appear to have included Hollywood A titles.

In 1958, the finance company was gone and the building's longest-serving tenant moved in: The Windmill Lunch.

"The Windmill Lunch" first appears in the 1948 Henderson Directory at 496 Selkirk Avenue. (A pair of 1992 ads use the phrase "serving people since 1936", though no listing for the Windmill exists prior to 1948, nor was there a restaurant at 496 Selkirk prior to this one opening.)

The original owners were the Ludwigs, David and Hilda, of 193 Andrews Street. Daughter, Denise, worked as a waitress. Prior to getting into the restaurant business Mr. Ludwig served in World War II, then worked as a shipper with Kahane, a manufacturer of toiletries.

The first employees, or possibly business partners, were Sam and Rita Winrob of 599 Flora Avenue.

Being a small business, The Windmill did not advertize and the Ludwigs stayed out of the papers. They did, though, sponsor a team in the local ten pin commercial bowling league through the early 1950s, which got their name mentioned regularly in the sports pages.

In 1957, the Ludwigs moved on to run another restaurant, the Comfy-Inn at 132 Notre Dame Ave East, (now Pioneer Avenue), and retired in 1967.

September 25, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1957, the Kowalsons, Dave, Violet and daughter Denise, of 425 Burrows became the new owners. Mr. Kowalson had previously been a taxi driver, (perhaps a regular customer of the Windmill ?!)

The Kowalsons made a couple of significant changes to the business. They moved it to 518 Selkirk Avenue, when, it seems, the original location was set to be demolished. They also extended the hours through to midnight.

In 1961, The Kowalsons sold up and David went back to being a driver / operator for United Taxi.

February 22, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press

The new owner, Frederik Karlenzig, was born at Lowe Farm, Manitoba and lived in Rivers before coming to Winnipeg. He spent 25 years in the restaurant business.

Sadly, he owned The Windmill for just a short period. In 1964, he was forced to sell due to illness and died July 3, 1965 at the age of 61.

In 1964, Murray Nedohin and Laddie Kroschinsky took over the reigns. The two men worked together as district managers at the Winnipeg Free Press.

For Nedohin, born in Overstoneville, Manitoba, this was his first shot at his dream of running his own business.

In 1969, the men sold up and Nedohin went on to run numerous restaurants, including the Black Knight Restaurant, Empress Lanes Restaurant and the Poplar Bay Trading Post. In retirement, he ran a vegetable market from his home on Henderson Highway.

The most recent owner was its longest serving.

Gus Damianakos was born and raised in Gythion, Greece and came to Canada in 1963 to marry his childhood sweetheart, Voula.

He purchased The Windmill in 1969 or 1970 and for over 45 years was a fixture on Selkirk Avenue.

Aside from Damianakos, the restaurants charm is its largely unrenovated interior of red pleather, wood panelling and jukeboxes in the booths. It has been a set for a number of movies over the years, including "Shall We Dance", "Capote", "The Big White" and "Horsemen".

In an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press' Melissa Martin published on May 28, 2016, Gus said of his impending retirement and possible sale of the restaurant: "I’m satisfied. I worked hard, I had lots of fun." 

Gus Damianakos died on July 30, 2016 at the age of 79.

May 12, 1991, Winnipeg Free Press

My Photo album of The Windmill Lunch

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press (Aug 3, 2016)
Bacon Eggs and Memories Winnipeg Free Press
Blast from the Past Destination Winnipeg