Wednesday, November 26, 2014

845 Sargent Avenue - Fire Hall No. 5

Fire Hall No.5
Place: Fire Hall No. 5
Address: 845 Sargent Avenue
Opened: 1910
Architect: William and Alexander Melville
Contractor: John Saul

January 25, 1910, Winnipeg Tribune

To keep up with the rapid expansion of residential development, the city announced the construction of a number of new fire halls in 1910. The site chosen for "Station No. 10", as it was originally called, was the corner of Sargent Avenue and Burnell Street.

Adjacent to the hall, a new 75 foot tall, fenced-in drill tower and yard would also be built. The tower was used by the fire chief to train new recruits and to call out on-shift firemen for practice drills. The existing tower, near No. 1 fire hall by city hall, now attracted too many onlookers, becoming a  distraction for the men.

October 1912

The fire hall was designed by architects Alexander and William Melville, Scottish brothers who were responsible for designing around a dozen Winnipeg fire halls between 1904 and 1912, most were a variation on the same master plan. 

The tender for the construction of the hall, drill tower and Fire Hall No. 11 on Sinclair Street, were awarded to John Saul of Winnipeg in May 1910. Construction appears to have gone smoothly and they were open for business by the end of the year. The final cost of No. 5 was $20,000 plus an additional $3,000 for the tower. (The tower was destroyed along with a number of other city structures in a powerful wind storm in 1922.)

October 16, 1913, Winnipeg Tribune

The firemen of No. 5 are credited with saving hundreds of buildings and lives over the years, but one of the first times they made news was due to an accident to one of their own. 

Sydney Ross, a fire wagon driver, was excercizing a team of horses at around 8 am on Thursday, October 16, 1913. He was riding a horse slowly, back and forth in front of the station when it began rearing, throwing him to the ground. He suffered a broken leg and concussion and was taken to St. Boniface hospital to recover.

November 11, 1926, Winnipeg Tribune

In the late 1920s No. 5 lost two captains.

Robert E. Deegan began his career as a fireman in 1901 and worked his way up through the ranks until appointed captain in 1911 "due to his bravery and conscientiousness" said Fire Chief Buchanan. He served as captain at a number of halls, his last few years with No. 10. He fell ill at the end of summer and on November 10, 1926 died of an undisclosed illness at the age of 54.

October 21, 1929, Winnipeg Tribune

In October 1929 Captain Malcolm Patterson of 703 Home Street died at the age of 48. He joined the department in 1904 and became a captain in 1919. No cause of death was given. After the funeral, his body was transported on a fire engine to the fireman's section of Brookside Cemetery for burial.

Fire Hall No.5
Hose drying tower, Fire hall No. 5

By the 1970s the building was obsolete. Some of the new equipment was larger than the original garage doors, there were health and safety concerns regarding engine exhaust and there was not enough space for modern communications equipment. The city's 1976 five-year capital budget called for the replacement of No. 5 in 1979 at an estimated cost of $500,000. 

In February 1981 the city put out a tender for the design of a new fire hall and in May 1981 a council committee approved the demolition of the old one. The preferred location for the new hall was at the rear of the existing one, with an entrance off of Burnell Street, (presumably this was the site of the old drill area). Once completed, the old hall would be demolished to create a parking area.

May 5, 1981, Winnipeg Free Press

This led to a battle between councilors, Burnell street residents, a local seniors organization and heritage advocates. Some thought that Burnell was too narrow for the trucks to enter and exit, seniors wanted the building kept for a seniors centre or other community facility and heritage advocates pointed out that the building could be renovated and a modern extension built to the rear, allowing the original structure to continue as a fire hall.

The city hired an architectural consultant to provide them with more options. In the end, the old hall was completely renovated and a modern wing was added to the rear which contains offices, living quarters, a kitchen and a room for drying firefighters' clothing. The price tag was about $725,000.

Fire Hall No.5
Tin ceiling, Fire Hall No. 5

Fire Hall No. 5 has been the oldest operable fire hall in the city since the closure and subsequent demolition of No. 7 on Burrows Avenue at Aikins in the early 2000s. It is not designated a heritage building, though in November 2014 it was added to the Historical Building Commemorative List.

Related:
Winnipeg Fire Museum website
The Fire Halls of A and W Melville West End Dumplings


Former Fire Hall no. 11, Sinclair Street, built the same year as No. 5
(source: City of Winnipeg)


Call for tenders, Fire Hall No. 10
April 28, 1910, Winnipeg Tribune

Call for tenders, replacement fire hall
February 14, 1981, Winnipeg Free Press

Monday, November 17, 2014

614 Simcoe Street - Former Laclede Apartments

614 Simcoe Street 
Place: 614 Simcoe Street (Former Laclede Apartments)
Address: 614 Simcoe Street (website)
Opened: 1913 - 1914
Architect: Bruce William

 Above: November 1917. Bottom: August 1930

The Simcoe Apartments, (renamed the Laclede Apartments in 1919), was designed in 1912 by Scottish-born and trained architect Bruce William, who practiced in Winnipeg from 1907 to 1913. Other notable buildings of his include the Bible House (Ukrainian Cultural Centre) on Alexander Avenue (1912), the Pritchard Avenue Public Baths (1911 – now demolished), and Minnewaska Court on Spence Street (1911), which is now called Chateau Apartments with a Balmoral Street address.

I cannot find information about the original owner or developer of the building. The first advertisement for the block appears in the December 16, 1912 Winnipeg Free Press, though it probably opened over the course of a few months as the next want ads do not appear until the summer of 1913. The 1913 Henderson Directory still notes "block under construction" for the address.

The building's seven, two-bedroom apartments filled up quickly. The first batch of tenants, according the the 1914 Henderson Directory, were:

Suite A - Arthur Williams, caretaker
Suite 1 - Charles Wolfe, travelling salesman
Suite 2 - James Kemp, employee at St. Regis Hotel
Suite 3 - John Orr and John Sparling, salesmen at Yale Shoe Store, 321 Portage
Suite 4 - Maude Hunt, finisher at Holt Renfrew and Co. and John Peltier, an electrician
Suite 5 - Ralph L.Smith, architect and engineer 
Suite 6 - Henry N. Stephenson, an assistant city editor at the Winnipeg Free Press


Tenant Ralph Smith came to Canada from the U.S. in 1907. His architectural specialty was schoolhouses, though most of the buildings that still exist today are churches. He designed First Lutheran Church on Victor Street and co-designed St. John's Church on Cathedral Avenue. In 1916 he formed a company called Western Canada Marble and Tile Co. with William and James Purtell.

Smith may have worked for a larger company, plied his trade in rural areas or stayed to the engineering side of things as his name does not appear in Winnipeg newspaper stories, just a couple of small classified ads in 1909 and 1910.


On December 19, 1941 Cecil Ernest Smith, 21, one of three sons of Mrs. Marguerite Smith of Suite 5, was killed at the Battle of Hong Kong. His mother did not receive word of his death until 1943. When the POW camps were liberated in 1945, any unmailed letters that were discovered were forwarded on. As a result, Mrs. Smith received in the mail a letter Cecil had written less than a month before he was killed.


In the mid 1940s Constable James Duthie of the Winnipeg Police Force and wife Dortothy lived in suite 2. He was a policeman in his native Scotland and in 1929 the couple came to Canada, initially settling in Cabri SK, then in Winnipeg in 1936.

In 1941 Duthie joined the Winnipeg Police Force as a "War Baby". This was a nickname given to older than average recruits, usually former police officers or military men, brought into the police force during the war to fill the gap left by the fifty-nine officers who had enlisted. The agreement was that once the war was over, the original officers would be reinstated, a new class of regular recruits would be graduated to make of for deaths and retirements, then the War babies would be let go.

James died at Misericordia Hospital in 1947 at the age of 52, still a police constable.

May 29, 1935, Winnipeg Free Press

Another tenant was Charles E. Lambert. Born in Ipswitch England, he came to Canada in 1907 and was an  accountant at Winnipeg Envelope Co. He, his wife, and son Ivan lived at suite 2.

614 Simcoe Street 
ca. 2009 (DMSMCA)

The early history of the building is a quiet one. Tenants were mostly clerks, accountants, drivers, retirees and widows. There were no fires or major crimes reported in the newspapers until the 2000s.

In October 2005 the block, which had been known to police for a number of years, hit "rock bottom" when  57-year-old Cornelius Fisher was attacked by a machete at a party in one of the suites. He died later in hospital.

In 2009 there was a drive-by shooting that damaged the windows of one of the suites. Soon after, authorities shut it down for health and safety violations. Later that year it was sold to a new owner, a numbered company based in Surrey B.C. headed by Matthew Birch.

614 Simcoe Street
ca. 2009 (City of Winnipeg)

The building was still vacant on March 17, 2010 when a fire caused damage to two upper floor suites. The city ordered the owner to secure the site and make repairs. Finally, in November 2011, the city issued a derelict building certificate, the final step in the process of seizing it.

Before that could happen, the building was sold to a new owner who began extensive renovations in 2012. The apartment block has now reopened.

Before, during and after photos !


614 Simcoe Street
In 2009 (above) and in 2013 (below)

614 Simcoe Street
2009 (DMSMCA)

614 Simcoe Street
2009 (DMSMCA)


614 Simcoe Street
2009 (DMSCMA)

614 Simcoe Street

614 Simcoe Street

 614 Simcoe Street
614 Simcoe Street
May 2014

614 Simcoe
May 2014

614 Simcoe May 2014  283

Thursday, September 25, 2014

376 Logan Avenue - Former Zion Swedish Lutheran Church

Logan Avenue Church
Place: Zion Swedish Lutheran Church /
Address: Logan Avenue
Architect: J. A. Mattsen
Opened: 1901

ca. 1899 (source)

The Swedish Lutheran Church was established in Winnipeg on October 4, 1890 by visiting Reverend Louis G. Almen of New London, Minnesota. The congregation of around 40 created a small church on Henry Avenue between Laura and Ellen Streets. The first regular pastor was Svante Udden who was appointed in August 1891 and served for six years.

In November 1893 a schoolroom was added to the site. It was used both for Sunday school and to teach English to adults.

The following year, the congregation numbered 50 but saw as many as 200 people at their Sunday services. The church was torn down to make way for a larger structure that cost around $1000. It opened on the evening of Saturday, January 26, 1895.

A tenant of the church in the late 1890s was the Winnipeg Free Kindergarten Association. Earlier in the decade they created the city's first kindergarten on Ellen Street at Logan Avenue. When they outgrew the space, they relocated to the church until 1901.

Top: Church ca. 1901 (source)
Bottom: March 19, 1901, Winnipeg Tribune

By 1900 Zion Swedish Lutheran Church's congregation had grown to more than 200 and a larger site and building were needed. They found one just a block away at Logan Avenue and Fountain Street. 

The old church building was moved there and in March 1901 a $4,500 building permit was issued for the expansion of the building, the addition of a brick fa├žade and the construction of a parsonage. The new pastor, Rev. J. A. Mattson, is credited as the architect.

May 16, 1903, Winnipeg Free Press

The church became a hub for Winnipeg’s Scandinavian community as a whole. Aside from religious services and Sunday school, it was used for meetings, political events, social activities and cultural performances. 

Rev. Mattson’s wife gave a glimpse inside the life of the church in an interview with the Winnipeg Free Press of May 16, 1903. Mrs. Mattson was born in Sweden and came to Moline, Illinois with her family when she was a child. She soon became a teacher at the Swedish Lutheran Sunday school there.

She understood the plight of the newcomers, especially young women. “A Swedish pastor’s wife is supposed to entertain all visiting Swedish people and to look after all the Swedish girls who come to the city without friends or a home….” On top of this, Mrs. Mattson had three children to raise. 

Mattson was also the president of the church's Women's Aid Society. They hosted annual craft sales that raised much needed money for church operations. Their teas and lunches were important social gatherings for the women of the small community right through to World War II.

November 1, 1930, Winnipeg Tribune

By the time the church celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1915, the congregation was more than 500 strong. In 1930, the 40th anniversary of Zion Swedish Lutheran Church, Winnipeg's Swedish population numbered 5,000 and a week-long celebration was held. 

The anniversary was bittersweet as it also marked the early stages of the church's demise.

The heyday of Swedish immigration was over and their population was increasingly made up of second and third generation Swedes. As they established themselves, English became their language of choice, (the church began offering English services in 1927), and they no longer lived clustered around the CPR tracks. Attendance began to trail off.

May 22, 1948, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1948 the Home Mission Board of the Lutheran Church, which financially supported Zion's operations, put it on notice that their support would continue only if they changed their name, (dropping "Swedish"), and relocated to a more residential area.  

The church was put up for sale in May 1948 and it was lucky that there was a building left to sell.

December 3, 1948, Winnipeg Free Press

Rev. Floyd Johnson and his wife came from Kiron, Iowa on the evening of December 2, 1948 to take over the church. They arrived to an unexpected welcome: fireman battling a fire. It was contained to one corner of the basement and did $1,200 in damage. The church was back in action in time for Christmas services.

The final service as Zion Swedish Lutheran Church took place on January 1, 1950. The new church, St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church, operated from the U of M's St. John's College from 1950 - 1953 before finding a new site at Cambridge Street and Corydon Avenue.

Top: March 5, 1928, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: July 17, 1935, Winnipeg Tribune

As with all churches, Zion Swedish Lutheran was the site of thousands of ceremonies, both happy and sad.

On March 3, 1928 hundreds showed up to mourn the death of  Mrs. Lottie Adams, (nee Sundin.) The young housewife went missing from North Drive in St. Vital in mid-February. Her body was found ten days later in a snow-filled ditch, shot and chopped with an axe.

Reverend Bertil Erling, who presided over many weddings at the church, tied the knot himself there in 1935.

Rev. Gustav Grahn

More than a dozen men presided over Zion Swedish Lutheran Church, (see the list below.) The most interesting of the bunch appears to be Gustav Grahn from 1937 - 1938.

Grahn was born in remote, northern Sweden and at an early age developed a sense of adventure and desire to travel. He came to the U.S. as a young man and became an ordained minister. Prior to Winnipeg, he was the pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

Grahn was perhaps better known for his side-gig as a film maker. He traveled the world for months at a time to remote parts of Europe, Africa and North America. He then edited the film into movies and lectured with them on the Chautauqua circuit. Prior to Winnipeg he spent months in East Africa and did a coast-to-coast tour of Canada's wilderness. While here, he took a three month extended vacation to travel Palestine. (For more of his movie programs.)

Logan Avenue Church
December 29, 1949, Winnipeg Free Press

The new owner of the building was the Ukrainian Catholic Church. On December 28, 1949 Archbishop Basil Ladyka, head of Canada’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, blessed the building as Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church. The first service was a Ukrainian Christmas celebration on January 7, 1950.

Christ the King was a small congregation and one of ten Ukrainian Catholic churches in the city. Its small size, and the fact that newspapers did not report on church news in as much detail as it did in the earlier part of the 20th century, means that less information cane be found about Christ the King than its predecessor.


The first permanent parish priest was Father Michael Romanchuk, who came in July. He was born in Western Ukraine and ordained in Stanislaw in 1936. After facing hardship and persecution during World War II , he fled his homeland and arrived in Canada in 1947.

In his new post Romanchuk was a vocal in his condemnation of gambling and other vices that were taking place in the nieghbourhood around the CPR tracks. He was also an outspoken critic of communism.

On the night of April 12th 1952, there was a knock at the rectory door. Two men entered and began yelling profanities at Romanchuk, who was 41 at the time. He asked them to leave but the men began beating him, giving him a black eye, cuts to the face, then knocked him unconscious. The men broke some windows and left. He later told the Free Press that he thought one of the men had used brass knuckles and that: "I think someone is trying to shut me up."

Romanchuk was soon off to rural Manitoba, where he served as a priest in Sarta, Neepawa, Pine River and Gimli. In 1966 ill health caused paralysis in his legs. In 1976 he moved into the Holy Family Nursing Home on Aberdeen Avenue where he acted as the resident pastor until his death on October 10, 1981 at the age of 71.


Rev. Zachary Zoloty took over the parish and served for 18 years, from 1952 until his death in 1971. Like Romanchuk, he was born in Western Ukraine and ordained in Stanislaw in 1923. He fled his homeland during World War II and worked in displaced person camps in parts of Europe. In 1949 he came to Canada, first to the Rosa district then Neepawa. He was also president of the board of governors for the city's private Ukrainian Schools in the 1960s.

Interior ca. 1990s (source)

In the 1970s Rev. Antin Pakosz became the parish priest. The last priest appears to have been Rev. Bohdan Borowec in the 2000s.

The church lasted long enough to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2010 and mass was celebrated as late as the fall of 2011.

Around 2012 it was sold off to private interests. In 2014 it was put up for sale again and purchased by new owners. Their plans for the structure have not yet been announced.

Logan Avenue Church

Clergy (as Zion Swedish Lutheran)

Louis G. Almen of New London, MN (1890)
Svante Udden (1892 - 98)
E. Rehner (1899 - 90)
J. A. Mattson (1901 - 03)
Augustus G. Olson (1903 - 05)
A J Ryden of Texas (1906 - 07)
Augustus G. Oleson of Teulon (previous pastor) (1907)
J. G. Dahlberg (1907 - 14)
Victor J. Tengwald (1914 - 20)
Carl A. Anderson (1922 - 25)
Hjalmar Oleson (1927 - 28)
Rev. Arvid Vickman (1930 - 33)
Bertil Erling (1934 - 36)
Gustav Grahn (1937 - 38)
C. E. Hoffsten ( 1940 - 48)
Floyd Johnson (1949)

Clergy (as Christ the King UCC)
Michael Romanchuk (1951 - 52)
Zachary Zoloty (1952 - 1971)
Antin Pakosz (1970s)

Related
376 Logan Avenue Historic Buildings Committee
St. Mark's Lutheran Church history
My photo album of 376 Logan Avenue
The Swedes Multicultural Canada