Monday, July 27, 2015

236 Edmonton Street - Ming Court Restaurant

Place: Ming Court Restaurant
Address: 236 Edmonton Street (Map)
Constructed: ca. 1888 (house), 1938 (commercial addition)
Architect: Unknown
 Top: Aerial of downtown, south of Portage, east of Eaton's ca. 1913 (source)
Bottom: Edmonton Street ca. 1910 (source)

The Ming Court restaurant's building started out as a house in the very residential downtown Winnipeg of the late 1800s. In the above image, also here, you can get a sense of how complete a residential neighbourhood it was, with schools, parks and churches. 

The second image shows a close-up of Edmonton Street around 1910. The bell tower is Alexandra School, which was on Edmonton Street between York and St. Mary Avenues. Number 326 Edmonton was a neighbour to one of downtown's terrace housing complexes, torn down in the 1960s to make way for the Medical Arts Building parkade.

The first Henderson Directory listing for the property comes in 1888 as the home of J. E. C. Williams and family.

The Williams' came to Winnipeg from their native England in 1886. John's first occupation was as a bricklayer, but by 1891 he was a grain inspector. By1896 he was an insurance agent, representing the Aetna Insurance company in Winnipeg. In 1910 he was a partner in Williams Rainey Co., insurance brokers.

Mrs. Williams was involved in the church, for a time she was on the Presbyterian Synod. She was also a life member of the Women's Christian Temperance Movement.

The family consisted of five daughters and two sons. One son, Jack, was killed in the war in 1915. In 1918 they, along with three of their daughters, moved to Long Beach California.

January 1918 classified ad, Winnipeg Tribune

The Williams' sold 236 Edmonton in 1913. It was then converted into a rooming house with as many as six people living in it at a time. By 1918 the number of suites was reduced to two plus a common area.

1938 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1938 the house began its life as a commercial building for Campbell and Hyman Ltd, created in the late 1920s by  J. Campbell and Claude M. Hyman. They sold medical devices direct to the public, everything from trusses to hearing aids. They also sold pharmaceuticals and other specialty supplies to physicians. Originally located in the Donalda Block, by 1930 they relocated across the street at 262 Edmonton Street.

In 1938 they purchased 236 Edmonton and hired R. Sigurdson to add a  31 x 34 brick extension to the front of the main floor, bringing it to the sidewalk. The rear extension and another small extension to the south were added sometime after 1960.

1961 ad, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1959 Campbell and Hyman moved to larger premises and put this building up for sale. It was briefly a realty company, then became Bonnycastle Travel Agency, which stayed for over a decade.

Starting in 1973, 236 Edmonton began its long association with the restaurant trade. 

It was the Red Lion Steak House, then in November 1977 became Café de Paris, the second location of a St. Pierre, Manitoba restaurant, (Marian Warhaft gave it an excellent review in February 1978 !) Through the early 1980s it was home to a pair of Aboriginal restaurants, Bungees then The TeePee, before becoming an Angelo's Pizza.

1993 Winnipeg Free Press

Ming Court restaurant was created by Tom Yung and his wife in 1979 at the corner of Broadway and Donald. In a Free Press "advertorial" in 1997, Yung said: “When we started, we were the very first Northern Chinese restaurant in the city.… I knew it was a big gamble, but I was ready to work very, very hard.”  In 1987 they relocated to 236 Edmonton Street.

In July 2015 new owners took over from the Yungs. They are currently renovating the property and plant to reopen under the same name in August 2015. During the exterior renovation, for a brief time, the original brick work was exposed, including a painted sign for Bonnycastle Travel.

I also found connections to two Winnipeg non-profit organizations. On January 11, 1940, while Campbell and Hyman, it hosted the first AGM of the Winnipeg Association of Big Brothers. For a few weeks in September 1971, while Bonnycastle Travel, the Winnipeg Jaycees used it as their mailing address for a conference they were hosting. It's unclear if either of the organizations had an office in the building.

(Above image courtesy of Winnipeg Architecture Foundation)


  1. Was this not a Hy's Steakhouse in 1973? I thought I remembered going with a friend when her Dad took her out for steak for her 14th birthday. I had never been to any restaurant fancier than the Paddlewheel at the Bay prior to that and just overwhelmed at how was at how posh this place was.

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