Thursday, 23 January 2020

The story behind the Fortune Block's ghost sign

© 2020, Christian Cassidy

During the restoration of the Fortune Block workers came across a ghost sign on the west-facing back wall of the building. When the adjoining building was constructed many decades ago the sign was protected from the elements and managed to survive mostly intact!

After some trial and error searching various names in newspaper archives it turns out that it is an advertisement for Charles Harrington - Butcher and Grocers.

Harrington family, 1901 Census of Canada, (Library and Archives Canada)

According to census records, William C. and Charlotte Harrington were born in Quebec of Irish parents. By 1879, they were married and living in New Brunswick where they started their family, beginning with son, Charles.

The family came to the Selkirk region of Manitoba around 1891 with at least seven children in tow ranging in age from 1 to 13 and had at least three more children after arriving here.

The family first appears in Winnipeg in the 1894 Henderson Directory, meaning that they moved here sometime in 1893. They owned a house at 423 Pritchard Avenue at Salter, now demolished, and William's occupation is listed as a carpenter.

Market Building, ca. unknown (Winterbos on Flickr)

By 1895, the Harrington family was running a meat and provisions shop called Harrington and Co. at stall 13 of the Public Market building behind city hall. A 'Christopher' and 'T. H.' Harrington ran it. Both lived at the Harrington family home on Pritchard, but it is unclear what their relation was to the family as they would have been too old to be Charles' siblings.

The following year, Charles, now 17, began working at the stall.

Around 1899, the family branched out by opening a grocery store called Harrington and Co. Grocers at 188 Higgins and the market stall became exclusively a butchers. (It may have been that the market did not operate year-round). The following year, a second store at 1079 Main Street near Aberdeen opened. Charles is listed as the owner of the Main Street building and some of the family lived above the store. At this time there is no listing for Christoper or T. H. which suggests they may have moved on to another city.

J. P. Lauzon's stall, next to Harrington's (CoW Archives)

By 1903, the Harringtons' the stand-alone stores closed and the enterprise was back to just the market stall now run by Charles with his father's assistance. A 1904 Tribune feature that profiled some of the stall owners noted that Harrington was one of the younger men in the trade and had a fine variety of meat, including beef, chicken and black bear “for those who have a taste for it”. It went on to say: "The stall is creditably decorated and everything looks neat and clean.”

It was around this time that trouble began brewing between stall owners, almost exclusively butchers, and the city. In 1904, the city tried to evict them so that the market building could be converted into city offices. The butchers, led by J. P. Lauzon, fought the eviction notices and won, though the victory was short lived. In the spring of 1905, the city issued new eviction orders and the butchers had to find new locations.

The storefront Harrington took over in 1905
Archives of Manitoba in City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Report

J. P. Lauzon moved to a custom built building just a block away on William Avenue and in April 1905 Charles Harrington secured the lease at the old Holman Brothers' store on the main floor of the Fortune Block at 232 Main Street.

Benjamin H. Holman came to Winnipeg in 1882. Originally from Napierville, Quebec, he worked as a butcher in a number of places, including Colorado, before coming here. Soon after his arrival he started a butcher business with H. Price on Main Street. By 1884, he was joined by his brother, Henry A Holman, and the name of the business changed to Holman Brothers. They relocated to the Fortune Block in 1885.

In 1904, the company merged with the Gallagher Company which owned a large abattoir and meat packing business and Holman got out of the retail trade.

September 22, 1905, Winnipeg Tribune

By June 1905, Harrington was settled in at the store and again able to expand the scope of his trade by offering “a full stock of staple groceries, the choicest meats – fresh and cured, butter and eggs, and seasonable vegetables direct from the gardens.”

It could be that some of the vegetables were grown by the Harringtons. Charles' father was quoted speaking as a vegetable producer at a trade show in the summer of 1905 and took out classified ads around the same time seeking to purchase 50 to 100 acres near the city limits.

There was a close call for the shop and the Fortune Block as a whole in October 1905 when an overheated stove at Harrington's caused a fire. The fire brigade was called and it was soon put out. The total damage was limited to $100 in stock.

Charles Harrington's store did not last long. The last ad for it ran on September 22, 1905 and the October fire is the last mention that can be found. In 1906, Harrington and the store are gone from newspapers and the Henderson Directory.

What exactly happened to Charles Harrington is unknown. A scan of some archived rural Manitoba papers and Henderson Directories from other major cities in the West at the time turn up nothing.

It could be that he found producing food was preferable to selling it and got into the farming side of the family business. Perhaps his entrepreneurial spirit, which saw him running his own market stall at age 24, took him to larger centres. Maybe the family returned to their roots in New Brunswick.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

The music of Manitoba's centennial - Part 2

© 2019, Christian Cassidy

This is post two of two about the songs of Manitoba's centennial year of 1970. Part 1, Moody Manitoba Morning, can be found here.

Whilst Moody Manitoba Morning became a radio favourite and the unofficial song of the musical caravan that travelled the province that summer, there were a number of official songs funded by the provincial government that also hit the airwaves.

The Manitoba Centennial Corporation held a nation-wide song contest in 1969 to find what would be crowned Manitoba's "official centennial song". The grand prize was $1,500 in cash and having your song professionally recorded. Second and third place winners received prizes of $500 each.

There were 164 entries submitted from across the country and read by an impartial jury of members of the local music industry.

"Manitoba" by Gordon P Watson and Anne M. Collier (Listen here)

Source: Discogs

In November, it was announced that the winner was a song titled Manitoba submitted by two Portage la Prairie residents. Gordon P. Watson, who wrote the tune, was a musician and music teacher in Portage. Anne M. Collier, who penned the lyrics, was an author and historian. Verna Solmundson of Edmonton Street and Richard W Carr of Crofton Bay came in second and third.

On January 1, 1970 the public got their first listen to the song when a choir of 85 kids from the Portage la Prairie school division sang it at the Legislature during New Year's Day celebrations.

After the initial hubbub, news about the song died out prompting some complaints that the contest was just for show and a waste of $2,500. In April, Maitland Steinkopf, president of the Manitoba Centennial Corporation, announced that the song would be recorded on April 25, 1970 at the Centennial Concert Hall by Century 21 Records.

Three versions of Manitoba were recorded.

On the "A" side was the English version sung by a 160-child choir composed of the Daniel McIntyre Madrigal Singers, Portage la Prairie Indian Students Glee Club, and the Rossburn Collegiate Girls Choir.  It was followed by the French version sung by Daniel McIntyre's Madrigal singers and La Choral de l'Institut Collegial Louis Riel.

The "B" side of the record was the pop version recorded by local band The Fifth, (also see.)

The record was launched on May 29, 1970 in Portage la Prairie. There were 11,000 copies pressed and they sold for $1 each. Proceeds went to the Daniel McIntyre and Portage la Prairie choirs to offset the cost of their trips later that year to Osaka, Japan to sing at Expo 1970. (After December 31, 1970, any royalties from the song reverted back to the composers.)

Though this was the official song, there were others that were funded by the Manitoba Government:

"The Spirit of '70" by Neil Harris (Listen here)

Image: CitizenFreak

In January 1968, two years before the centennial year, the province announced that Manitoba's Department of Industry and Commerce was releasing Spirit of 70, a song it had commissioned from Manitoba composer Neil Harris.

Sung by the Neil Harris Singers, the song was recorded in three styles: as a march, a dixieland version and a Tijuana brass version.

"Manitoba Hundred" by Bobby Gimby (No audio)

Gimby at Lord Roberts School, June 1970

There was controversy when it came to the third centennial song composed by bandleader Bobby Gimby, the man behind the popular Ca-Na-Da Canadian centennial song.

News broke in April 1970, just before the recording of Manitoba, that the Manitoba Centennial Corporation has also hired Bobby Gimby to write a Manitoba centennial song, a deal which had apparently been struck in the autumn of 1969.

What was controversial, and not supposed to be released, was what the song would cost. Gimby was to receive $4,500 for the song and another $17,500 to go on a province-wide tour that summer. The amount caught people off guard considering there was already a centennial song and a centennial musical caravan that would be touring the province in the summer. Some also felt that having a Torontonian write the song and record it in Toronto didn't sit right.

Source: 45cat .com

The 7-inch special release would have two versions. The "A" side would be the rock version and the "B"side by a choir of children. Gimby came to Manitoba in May 1970 to do auditions.

The children, (S. Lanyon, D. Adams, A Beckman, A Leydier, P. Drummond, S Harrison, C McNabb and C Barstead), and band, Sugar N Spice, were flown to Toronto at the Centennial Corporation's expense to do the recording.

Gimby's 30-site tour kicked off on June 15, 1970 at Lord Roberts School. The bandleader was dressed in his trademark Pied Piper costume and led schoolchildren through a series of songs, including teaching them the lyrics to his. The tour wrapped up July 5 in Portage la Prairie.

There were 10,000 copies of the record cut and they were sold for $1 each.

It is hard to gauge the popularity of the songs. They were all sung at numerous public events and concerts that took place that year. None, though, achieved the staying power of Moody Manitoba Morning, the song that became the unofficial anthem of the centennial.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Moody Manitoba Morning turns 50 !

© 2019, Christian Cassidy

This is part 1 of 2 about music featured during Manitoba's centennial year of 1970. (Part 2 is still to come - stay tuned !)

March 1, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press

Moody Manitoba Morning turned 50 this year !

If you are of a certain age you will be very familiar with the song. It was taught in music class, sung at choir recitals and The Five Bells' cover version hit the charts in 1970. There have been other covers of it since, and in my humble opinion you've not really heard the song until you listen to the wonderful version by Alana Levandoski from a couple of years back (alternate link to audio.)

Moody Manitoba Morning became an unofficial anthem of Manitoba's 1970 centennial celebration and, who knows, might get a bit of airplay during Manitoba's sesquicentennial in 2020.

I caught up with songwriter Rick Neufeld to talk about Moody Manitoba Morning's origins !

Neufeld in 1975, Tribune Personality Collection, U of M

Rick Neufeld was born in Deloraine, Manitoba and raised on farms around Boissevain. After completing grade 12 at Mennonite Collegiate Institute in Gretna he moved to Winnipeg and spent a year at the University of Manitoba.

Things did not go exactly to plan in the big city. Neufeld explains, "After a tough first year in the U of M architecture program they changed the degree format completely and I was having doubts about continuing, so when I met Paul Simon after a Simon and Garfunkel concert at UMSU* I decided to quit school during my second year and commit to being a singer songwriter."

(In this interview for the Harvest Sun Music Festival, Neufeld recalls how he met Paul Simon in Memorial Park and chatted with him !)

After a year of playing coffeehouses and working as a draftsman at Dominion Bridge, Neufeld went on an extended visit to Europe in late 1967. He says that while in Munich, "I noticed a note on the youth hostel bulletin board of a Canadian with a car looking for someone to help with expenses and driving." That someone turned out to be Richard Hahn, son of composer Bob Hahn who was making a name for himself on the Canadian music scene.

When Neufeld returned to Canada in 1968 it was to the Hahn household in Montreal where Neufeld met Bob. Neufeld recalls, "I was broke and stayed at his home in Montreal and played some of my songs for him which touched his Saskatchewan heart. (H)e gave me money to get me back to Winnipeg and told me to write, write, write." Hahn would become Neufeld's musical mentor and publisher.

March 9, 1970, Winnipeg Tribune

Back in Winnipeg, Neufeld set about establishing himself on the local music scene playing both his own music and covers of folk icons at clubs, coffeehouses and festivals. He also made the finals of the guitar competition category at the Winnipeg Guild of Folk Music's annual festival in the summer of 1968.

Neufeld recalls putting Moody Manitoba Morning to paper. "I was living with a family in Fort Garry and remember vividly sitting at the kitchen table and writing it". When asked if it really took him just 20 minutes, as was reported back in the day, he replies, "Yes it did and virtually without any changes after that."

As for its delightful portrayal of lazy, content summer days in small town Manitoba, he explains that "Having spent most of my life on the open prairie, it was on reflection of that after the time in Winnipeg and the historical clutter of Europe that I wrote the song."

When it came time to publish Moody Manitoba Morning there were suggestions that the lyrics be changed to "Mississippi" or "Missouri" to give it wider appeal. Neufeld stuck to his guns and the song was published as written by Bob Hahn's Laurentian Music in 1969.

Image: Discogs.com

It was around this time that Montreal cover band The Five Bells, also see, were looking to break into the recording industry.

They chose Moody Manitoba Morning as the B side for their first single, Big City. A few weeks later the accompanying album, Dimensions (1969), followed and included a second Neufeld composition called Little Children. Despite being on the B side it was Moody Manitoba Morning that ended up hitting the charts.

When asked what it was like hearing one of his songs on the radio for the first time Neufeld says "it was overwhelming". He admits that many of his friends thought he could have done a better version of the song, "but the deejays liked (The Five Bells') sound and played both sides of the single until ‘Moody Manitoba Morning’ charted."

The song earned Neufeld a Loyd C. Moffat Award for most popular folk song. At the May 1970 BMI Canada Music Awards he received a certificate of honour for Moody Manitoba to recognize its "outstanding contribution to Canadian Music." (Two other Manitobans, Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, also walked away with BMI awards that night.)

Moody Manitoba Morning found new life in 1970 as an unofficial anthem for Manitoba's Centennial celebrations.

There were two official songs commissioned by the Manitoba Centennial Corporation, see part 2 of this post for more about them, but Moody Manitoba Morning proved so popular that it was added as the "theme song" of the Manitoba 100 Caravan show that toured the province that summer. It was also sung by various artists and choirs and at ceremonies and on radio and TV specials.

To take advantage of its centennial popularity Neufeld's own version of Moody Manitoba Morning was released as a special single in 1970 backed with Boissevain Fair.

Image: YouTube

Neufeld's album release of Moody Manitoba Morning came on his first album Hiway Child (1971). Another version of the song released in 1971 was by American country artist George Hamilton IV on his album featuring Canadian songwriters called North Country (1971).

To top off a successful couple of years, Neufeld was invited to Nashville in 1971 where he played on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

Brian Groy in his Winnipeg Tribune Youthbeat column reported that upon his return from the U.S. Neufeld said that his ambition was now to "buy me a farm, bed up, and write music", and that's just what he did.

Along with Dianne "Rosie" Giesbrecht, whom he married in 1970, he bought a 38-acre farm south of Winnipeg and continued to write music. He also toured as both a solo artist and with his band, Prairie Dog.
In 1973, Neufeld released his second album called Prairie Dog.

On May 23, 1975, Neufeld and Prairie Dog performed at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium in Brandon. It was recorded as both an album and to be made into a half-hour CBC TV special.

The album, ManitobaSongs, was released in November 1976 and contained tracks about different regions of the province, such as Souris River Valley Ups and Downs, Flin Flon Gone, Pukatawagan and The People in The Pas. After its release, Neufeld and his band were back on the road for another tour.

In 1977, Neufeld had a stint on CBC TV as co-host, along with fellow folk singer Colleen Peterson, of the musical variety series The Road Show. The four, one-hour episodes were shot on the prairies and aired in June as a summer replacement for the The Tommy Hunter Show.

January 26, 1976, The Manitoban

ManitobaSongs was Neufeld's last album, so what happened to him after that?

Neufeld explains, "I always had anxiety as a performer and always liked entertainment coaches, so I bought a twenty-year-old Flyer Canuck 500 in Winnipeg". He then drove for the likes of Graham Shaw and Bruce Cockburn and went on to spend the next three decades as a tour coach driver.

Around 1980, Neufeld visited Salt Spring Island for the first time to pick up a new coach and says he "fell in love with the island at first sight". He would soon divide his time between the island and the road, eventually retiring there.

Neufeld still writes songs and says he's written some of his best recently. He also still performs.

Recent gigs have included opening for The Bros. Langreth in 2017 at the Salt Spring Folk Club, the 2019 Crankie Festival in Winnipeg to honour Mitch Podoluk, and annually at the Harvest Sun Music Festival in Kelwood, Manitoba.

Looking back on Moody Manitoba Morning after 50 years, Neufeld says, "it is very cool to have people sing along to most of the song. It is obviously the touchstone of my comparably brief time as a songwriter."

Thanks to Rick Neufeld for answering my many questions for this post!

Rick Neufeld w/ Don Zeuff, Moody Manitoba Morning, 2017 (Play)

Author's interview with Rick Neufeld, December 2019.
Moody Manitoba Morning - Winnipeg Free Press, Mar. 1, 1969
Songwriter Rick's a Manitoba Booster - Winnipeg Tribune, Sep. 6, 1969
Three Manitobans win awards - Winnipeg Free Press, May 11, 1970
Rick neufeld is confident after two years - Brandon Sun, Oct. 13, 1971
Meet Rick Neufeld Down on the Farm - Winnipeg Free Press, May 31. 1975

Simon and Garfunkel play the U of M

Nov. 1, 1966, The Manitoban

Flashback to 1966 when Simon and Garfunkel played the UMSU West Gym in 1966. Admission was just $3, even less if you bought in advance. Apparently they were well received according to this review in The Manitoban.

Friday, 27 December 2019

Vista Apartments, 1911- 2019

Sadly, the Vesta Apartments on Agnes Street which had a major fire on Boxing Day had to be torn down today.

I feel bad for those who lived there - flee a fire in the middle of the night and never be able to go back.

For a history of the building.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

7-Eleven's arrival in Winnipeg 50 years ago

(C) 2019, Christian Cassidy
 October 8, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press

Recently, some Winnipeg 7-Elevens, including Ellice and Arlington and Ellice and Maryland, have reduced their operating hours from 24 hours a day down to 5 am to midnight. This is pretty close to the 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. the stores had 50 years ago when the chain first came to Winnipeg.

Here's a look back at the opening of the first 7-Eleven stores in Winnipeg 50 years ago and its battle to remain a 24-hour chain.

 Winnipeg's first Sev on Dale Boulevard, Charleswood (Google Street View)

John P. Thompson, president of the Dallas, Texas based Southland Corporation, announced in April 1969 that its 7-Eleven convenience store chain would enter the Canadian market later that year with stores in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg. It had already scouted some locations and set up a Canadian subsidiary to run them.

The chain would use the same custom-designed 2,000 square foot store as many of its 3,000 or so U.S. locations. The layout and product selection, which contained groceries such as a fresh produce section but no fresh meat, would be identical at each outlet which was part of the convenience for customers.

October 28, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press

Southland Corporation partnered with local development company Ruttan Investment Corporation to acquire land and build the stores on their behalf. The locations were then leased to franchisees.

The first Winnipeg site chosen was on Dale Boulevard in Charleswood as part of the first phase of development of the Westdale Shopping Centre. It was opened by Charleswood mayor Arthur Moug on October 27, 1969. (Stores in Alberta opened earlier that summer, so this wasn't Canada's first 7-Eleven.)

Stores under construction as of December 1969 were: 772 Mountain Avenue at Arlington Street and 438 St Anne's Rd at Sadler Avenue. In 1970, new stores were added at 55 Nassau in the 55 Nassau Apartment block and at 1393 Henderson Highway at Sutton Avenue.

55 Nassau is interesting as it was the only store not in a stand-alone building. It proved unprofitable and in 1973 was closed. Southland turned the space into "sandwich factory" making up to 900 sandwiches a day for shipment to 7-Eleven and Mac's Milk stores around the city.

Residential tenants complained about the smell of meat and condiments and it turned out that the factory didn't have the proper zoning to operate there. It received a warning from the city but continued to churn out sandwiches until the company was slapped with a $1,000 fine in 1974. Soon after, the factory was moved on to a new location.

Top: Winnipeg store locations in 1972. Bottom: "select stores" in October 1978

In 1971, at least seven new stores came on board. They included: 411 Aberdeen Avenue at Salter Street, 3021 Ness Avenue at Mount Royal Street; 244 Dalhousie Drive at Silverstone Avenue; 815 Ellice Avenue at Arlington Street; St. Mary's Road at St. Michael's Road; Portage Avenue at Woodbridge and Main at Bannerman. (By the end of 7-Eleven's first decade in Winnipeg it boasted around 40 locations.)

Initially, the stores were open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except Christmas Day. The staffing compliment for each store was small enough to fly below the radar of Manitoba’s Lord’s Day Act.

By October 1972, there were more than twenty 7-Eleven stores in Greater Winnipeg and eight of them stayed open 24-hours. It was a risky proposition as the robbery rate was high. By that time, just nine months into the year, there had already been at least 11 overnight hold-ups at 7-Eleven stores.

The general manager of the Econo chain of convenience stores from Ontario said Winnipeg was one of its worst cities for overnight robberies with eight holdups at their stores by that point. Mac’s Milk tried a six-month experiment of having one of its stores stay open overnight, but ended it after the store was robbed three times.

Still, 7-Eleven continued to expand its 24-hour format. By March 1976, 27 of its 37 Winnipeg stores operated around the clock whilst the other ten were open from 8 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m.. (At the time, 7-Eleven had 110 Canadian stores.)
Dec 18, 1970, Winnipeg Free Press

The Winnipeg Police department certainly noticed the overnight stores. It took a six-month sample of data in 1975 that showed 37% of its calls to convenience stores for criminal matters took place between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m.. These 320 or so calls were a strain on its overnight service and police chief Norm Stewart recommended to the Police Commission that there be an overnight curfew for convenience stores.

7-Eleven bristled at the recommendation and district manager Dan Daley appeared at a Police Commission meeting in March 1976 to argue that such a ban would throw hundreds of people out of work at the 37 stores that operated overnight. (Daley told a reporter later that summer that the chain did "about a third" of its business between midnight and 8 a.m..)

As for the security concerns, Daley said that at four of its stores there were security guards on weekends and that they had a security patrol to check on stores at night. He added that its Dallas headquarters was in the midst of putting together a robbery reduction plan that would soon be rolled out to all of its nearly 6,000 North American outlets.

Daley's assurances appear to have bought the chain a reprieve from the Police Commission forwarding the motion to council for a vote.

Later that summer, Southalnd printed thousands of postcards that were left at the tills of 7-Eleven stores. The cards were addressed to city council with a  pre-printed message urging councillors to allow the stores to stay open overnight. Customers just had to add their names.

Ray Johnson in Winnipeg in 1980 (G. Bird, Winnipeg Tribune)

The roll-out of the company's robbery prevention plan took place in June 1976. It included signage on store doors indicating that no more than $35 was kept in the till at any one time and that clerks cannot open the safe. They also removed posters from store windows to so that the interiors could be better seen at night, provided better staff training and other measures that the company did not want to share with the media.

One year later, in June 1977, 7-Eleven held a robbery prevention seminar to show police and the media what improvements had been made. It rented space at the Convention Centre, had a Calgary-based public relations firm come make the formal presentation and flew in high profile former U.S. criminal-turned-security-consultant Ray Johnson who helped its U.S. headquarters draft its robbery prevention program.

The gist of their message was that since its implementation a year earlier the robbery prevention plan reduced the number of robberies at its stores by 67%.

Not everyone was impressed. One item some officers spoke out against at the meeting was the claim that a minimum amount of money was kept in the till, noting that robbers knew that wasn't true and routinely made off with hundreds of dollars at each hold-up.

The presentation again took the issue of an overnight ban off the political front burner.

January 17, 1978, Winnipeg Tribune

In January 1978 there were 23 overnight 7-Eleven stores and some service station chains, such as Shell, had begun opening their own 24-hour convenience stores.

That same month, the issue of overnight stores popped up on the agenda of city council's environment committee. Police and city councillors were dealing with an increasing number of complaints from fed-up neighbours about "gangs of youths" gathering at the stores late at night and causing disturbances. (The noise bylaw fell under the environment committee, so they were asked to look into it.)

7-Eleven found a champion at city hall in the form of the city environment commissioner David Henderson. He produced a report for the committee's January meeting which concluded that there was no need for a ban. He wrote that owners had made "considerable efforts" to reduce crime, be it disorderly conduct or robberies, and that between the powers of bylaw officers and police there was already enough legislation in place to handle any situation.

At the January 16, 1978 meeting of the committee Henderson defended his report in person. He pointed out that in recent years the city had been reducing funding to churches and community centres that ran late night programming for teens, so the fact that they were hanging out at convenience store parking lots shouldn't be a surprise. "It may be that we have only ourselves to blame for this," he told councillors.

Henderson said that stores had done what they can to prevent some types of crime and agreed with 7-Eleven's legal counsel, who also appeared at the meeting, that in this case store managers were as much the victims of "rowdyism" as area residents.

The committee voted not to support a ban, but did ask bylaw officials and police to monitor complaints and report back to them in six months.

January 31, 1980, Winnipeg Tribune

Despite the fact that the police still supported an overnight ban the issue appears to have faded in importance as the months and years went on. This wasn't because the problems associated with overnight stores suddenly disappeared, but due to the number of new 24-hours stores that opened in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

To keep up with their competitors, the big gas station chains redeveloped many of their properties to include 24-hour convenience stores which, in turn, prompted other convenience store chains, such as Mac's, to open more 24-hour locations to compete with them. The genie was out of the bottle and fighting multiple national chains over a ban would be a futile battle.

On the robbery front, 7-Eleven officials and Ray Johnson were back in town in January 1980 to show off a new piece of technology that was being installed in its Winnipeg stores. The Timed Access Cash Controller, or TACC-1, solved the issue of stores keeping too much cash on hand through the night. Employees could now deposit large bills and call up change as it needed which made robbing a 7-Eleven much less lucrative for robbers.

In light of the recent closure of the 7-Eleven on William Avenue at Isabel and the reduction in hours at its two Ellice Avenue stores, the words of 7-Eleven lawyer William Palk at that January 1978 environment committee meeting resonate. He was asked if the chain might close or eliminate the overnight hours at stores where crime was the worst. He replied: "there could come a point where it would be impossible to stay open, but we want to be the judge of that."

I guess 2019, 41 years later,  is that point.

Source: Slurpee.ca

SLURPEE BONUS: You can't write something about 7-Eleven in Winnipeg and not include something about Slurpees !

Slurpees likely appeared in Canadian stores as soon as they opened in 1969. According to a feature article in the Fort Worth (Texas) Star Telegram that also ran in the Winnipeg Free Press in September 1996, Southland began working on their own version of an iced soda drink in 1966 and by 1967 had  "Slurpee" machines in all of its American stores.

It can only be assumed that by 1969 they had made it to Canada, though no mention of the drink can be found in local newspaper stories until 1980.

Also in September 1996, likely as a local follow-up to the Star Telegram piece, Free Press reporter Randy Turner did a story on the Slurpee market in Winnipeg. He was surprised to find that the average number of Slurpees sold per store in North America was about 4,500 per month, but in Winnipeg it was 6,800.

In 1999, 7-Eleven began their "Slurpee Capital" marketing campaign and, yes, Winnipeg still tops the sales charts 20 years later.

Today, 7-Eleven has nearly 67,000 locations worldwide including 11,600 in North America

Farewell Mac's Milk West End Dumplings

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Brandon's Park Community Centre to be demolished?

© 2019, Christian Cassidy

On the agenda of the next Brandon city council meeting is a report that recommends the permanent closure and demolition of the 73-year-old Park Community Centre located at 1428 Louise Avenue. The administration cites the dilapidated condition of the building, most notably the failing centre floor beam, as the reason for its recommendation.

Replacing this beam and related structural work is estimated to cost at least $130,000. On top of that, there are accessibility issues and other repairs, such as $90,000 to replace the roof and up to $55,000 for a new HVAC system, that would still be needed. Demolition, on the other hand, would cost between $70,000 and $100,000.

The council meeting takes place Monday night at Brandon City Hall. An online petition has been created urging councilors to vote in favour of fixing the centre rather than demolishing it.

Here's a look back at the Park Community's Centre's early history.

 October 13, 1953, Brandon Sun

As the Second World War drew to a close, cities across Canada knew that they would soon have a large population of young, athletically fit men returning home to reunite with their spouses and start a family. Addressing the recreation needs of the men and their families became a priority for many cities.

Winnipeg, for instance, hired Charlie Barbour away from Montreal to be its first director of recreation in 1946. He was tasked with taking the patchwork of playgrounds and athletic clubs run by private groups, churches and service organizations into a network of city-sanctioned and funded playgrounds and community centres.

Something similar happened in Brandon's Park community which is located in the city's centre.

October 10, 1946, Brandon Sun

The Park Community Club had existed for a number of years. It was a group of residents who managed the winter rink and summer baseball diamond on Park School's greenspace. Community meetings took place in the summer of 1946 to discuss the creation of a more permanent amenity that would be separate from the school and have its own building so that additional programming could be offered.

These talks culminated at a meeting at Park School on September 17, 1946 when residents voted in favour of establishing the Park Community Centre. Stephen A. Magnacca, president of the old club, was instrumental in putting forward the creation of a new community centre and was elected as its first president.

The funds for the new centre had to be raised by community members. They got a break when the Kinsmen offered to donate part of a building at one of its rinks at McTavish Avenue and Eleventh St. to the cause. An additional $2,800 was spent to expand the building to 80 x 16 feet so that it could include a hall, canteen and washrooms.

Construction was underway by the first week of October when the partial basement, which would hold the furnace, was dug. The rest of the construction took place over the next 10 weeks.

Park Community Centre was officially opened on Wednesday, December 18, 1946 by mayor Frank Williamson. The local MP and MLA were also there for the ceremony. The building and its grounds still needed about $1,500 to put the finishing touches on the centre, but that would have to wait until spring and another round of fundraising.

March 23, 1967, Brandon Sun

The centre had three rinks: one regulation size for hockey and two smaller ones for skating. Mr. J. J. Ross was the first rink manager. In May 1947, he hosted a work bee inviting residents to come remove the boards and prepare the grounds for the baseball season.

Organized hockey was one of the more popular activities at the centre. Its best year hockey-wise was likely 1966 - 67 when it won both the city Tom Thumb and Pee Wee championships.

February 20, 1948, Brandon Sun

One of the centre's longest-running traditions was its Winter Carnival, the first of which was held in February 1948. The evening event included ice races, costumes and the crowning of a Park Community Centre Queen who would go on to face off against the other community centre winners for title of Ice Queen. The carnivals lasted at until at least the early 1980s.

The money to host these events and upkeep the centre came through a variety of events. The largest was an annual door-to-door canvass of the Park Neighbourhood. Eventually all community centres in Brandon did such a drive and even synchronized them so that they would all be on the same night.

February 5, 1962, Brandon Sun

The centre was not just a place for families, it was an important community hub for people of all ages.

In the early 1960s, the Brandon Council of Women hosted seniors afternoons twice a month. There were also regular whist tournaments and coffee parties to appeal to the older crowd.

 November 2, 1967, Brandon Sun

The Park Teen Committee hosted regular dances there through the 1960s, but by 1965 they had become so popular that they were causing trouble in the community.

At a town hall meeting at In October 1965, 30 adults and 300 teens packed the hall to discuss the issue. Residents complained of noise, fights and other disturbances outside the centre during and after the dances. The youth countered that the troublemakers were people who had come but were not allowed in, something they couldn't be responsible for. Besides, they argued, cancelling the dances would just mean that there would be a couple hundred more teens hanging out on the street getting into trouble.

The dances were allowed to continue, but had to be approved on a month by month basis by the centre's board.

In a public relations masterstroke, two months after the community meeting the Park Teen Committee paid off the remaining $3,800 of an $11,000 loan the centre's executive took out seven years earlier to do renovations to the centre. It helped offset the wear and tear of the dances and showed that they took the centre and the community seriously.

Park Community Centre City of Brandon
Park Community Centre Facebook 
Park Community Centre faces Closure Brandon Sun