Monday, February 8, 2016

608 Broadway - West Broadway Community Organization

Place: 608 Broadway (Map)
Constructed: ca. 1900
Architect: Unknown

The house at 608 Broadway was constructed ca. 1900, likely as an investment property rather than an owner-occupied dwelling. There was a main residence on the ground floor and up to two rooms for rent upstairs. These alternated as servants quarters when tenants required live-in help.

A scan of the address through decades of Henderson Directories shows that it was often home to more than one household at a time and rarely home to the same one for more than a couple of years. 

City records suggest that the building permit was issued in 1900, though there is no listing for this address until the 1903 Henderson Directory, meaning that construction may have been delayed.


These are the earliest residents, (note that only the head of the household is listed in these directories so it is hard to determine which ones had wives or families):

- 1903: J. Boxall, a travelling salesman with an office at 522 McArthur Block, corner of Broadway and Colony.

- 1904: Alexander Cavanagh, grain commissioner, with an office at 248 Grain Exchange Building.

- 1905: George F. Rawles. His company, Rawles and Co. was a steam and gas fitting company that had a shop at 312 Smith Street. Their big push at this time was to get people to convert to gas lighting in their homes. While Rawles lived there, J. D. Walsh, tea agent, lived in the rooms above.

June 6, 1906, Winnipeg Tribune

The house was put up for sale in 1906 and may have been purchased by Thomas Godard and family, as he is listed as the new resident starting later that year. He was a travelling salesman with White and Garside Co. of Toronto, Ontario.  Soon after, the rooms upstairs housed Charles Stanley, a clerk at Northern Bank and Olive J White, a stenographer at the Theil Detective Agency.

September 21, 1906, Winnipeg Free Press

Tragedy struck the Godard family in September 1906 when their four year-old daughter Gladys died. Mrs. Godard, (some newspaper stories used the spelling Goddard), left the house for a few moments to look for her youngest child who had wandered into the garden. She was there for just a couple of minutes when Gladys came running from the home screaming with her clothes in flames.

A group of labourers working nearby doused her but despite their quick action the girl was blackened by severe burns. She was rushed to hospital but died a couple of hours later.

It was thought that her clothes must have come into contact with the gas stove that was left burning when Mrs. Godard went outside.

The funeral was held at the home on September 22nd.


By 1910 the next longer term tenant or owner was J. W. Astley and family. Astley, a civil engineer, had just spent a couple of years in Dawson City as manager of the Klondike Mines Railway. He, along with wife Ada and their three daughters, returned to Winnipeg when he accepted the position of Engineer of Construction for the city's Water and Light Department.

The Astleys lived here until around 1915. For a couple of those years Edward Complin, manager of the Red River Loan and Land Company, rented out an upstairs room.

A couple of years after they moved ou, Mr. Astley was elected to the city’s board of control and was a vocal proponent of a Winnipeg Aqueduct, though not a fan of the original plan that the city engineer came up with. When the construction contract was awarded to Kelly Brothers Construction, they hired him to be the supervisor of construction for a large portion of the project.

September 1923 ad, Winnipeg Tribune

After another series of short term tenants the house appears to have been converted into a rooming house in 1910 offering up to ten rooms for rent.

Initially, it catered to working women. The 1920 lineup included: Stephanie Evans, clerk; Stella Evanyk, operator at Simmonds Ltd.; Hazel House, a clerk at Eatons; Ruth Norman, a clerk Eatons; Lettie K O’Brien, a clerk at Eatons; and Mrs. K Oddson, clerk at Grand Trunk Pacific Railway.

Top: Oct 1921 ad from Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: September 1923 ad from Free Press

In 1921 the house was foreclosed upon and it and its contents sold off to cover the debts of its owner, P. O'Brien, who, it appears, never lived there. It was up for sale again in 1923 and the new, unnamed owner auctioned off its contents and refurnished.

The house was for sale year again in 1927 and this owner converted it into a two-suite duplex.

September 21, 1943, Winnipeg Free Press

There was some stability in the early 1940s when suite No. 1 was home to the Rubin Family. Louis was an accountant with a practice in the Somerset Building on Portage Avenue and had been president of the General Accountants Association of Manitoba. His wife, Winifred, stayed at home with their two girls, aged 4 and 2.

In September 1943 Mrs. Rubin gave birth to triplets. The three weighed just over 4 lbs each and were named Kenneth, Ronald and Lawrence. In 1945 the Rubins moved to a larger home on Niagara Avenue and the house was put up for sale.

September 7, 1945, Winnipeg Tribune

Also there in the early 1940s was the Kitching family, headed by Robert and Eva, who ran Kitching's Confectionery right next door at 610 Broadway. By 1943, though, the store was renamed Kaplan's and the Kitchings were gone. The family returned in 1947, (perhaps a sign that they owned the home), after taking over Hill's Waffle Shop at 625 Portage Avenue. When the restaurant closed in 1950, the Kitchings moved on.

The Hanson family, one of the last to live there, were among its longest serving residents. Carl and Marie Hanson, along son James, first appear in the Henderson Directory of 1945. Carl died around 1953 and Mrs. Hanson continued on until at least 1955.

October 26, 1978 Winnipeg Free Press

In the late 1970s, 608 Broadway's run as a residence ended.

In October 1978 it became home to Creative Connections, a shop which featured artwork from over a hundred local artists. In 1980 it was a hair salon. In July 1982, Little House Antiques opened there and in 1986 it became Gilded Lily’s, which sold vintage jewellery and "wearable art".

May 17, 1992, Winnipeg Free Press

In March 1992 it became the constituency office for Jean Friesen, MLA for Wolsely. It was followed by the West Broadway Youth Builders Program.

In 2004 the building was vacated. The following year, the West Broadway Development Corporation (now West Broadway Community Organization) purchased it and continued to call it home.

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