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Sunday, 3 October 2021

Art from the Attic

The Grands 'n' MoreArt from the Attic” sale is on now. They couldn’t do one last year due to COVID and this year they are doing it entirely online!

Proceeds support the work of community-based organizations in sub-Saharan Africa that improve the lives of grandmothers raising their own and other orphaned grandchildren.

Herea re just a few of the eclectic mix of works with some additional background information:

Two pastels by Manitoba’s PAUL PANTON
- His obituary, which reads in part: “At Paul’s request, there will be no service. To remember him you need only look at the luminous surface of any one of his hundreds of paintings and photographs.

Here is a 1970s review of one of his shows:

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

A history of the Gateway Industries site in Point Douglas

We're finding out that the Gateway Industries site in Point Douglas has had ten major and five minor fires in the 2000s.

It's hard to imagine that it was once a bustling industrial site employing up to 300 people, but that's what it was in the early 1940s when Building Materials Ltd. opened a paper mill and shingle manufacturing plant there.

Here's a look back at the site's history.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

1920s style vaccination passports

From the "no news is new news" file, this is a Winnipeg Tribune article from January 10, 1920 about proof of vaccination needing to be shown before entering Manitoba.

Thankfully, we were able to stamp out smallpox.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Farewell to Ellice Buy and Sell

Another long-time West End business, Ellice Buy and Sell at 804 Ellice Avenue, has closed after 30+ years in business. The building has been sold and the store emptied out.

The building is one of three service stations that were built on the site since 1929. The second was the McColl-Frontenac station from Portage and Main that was moved there in 1944!

For a history of the site, see my Winnipeg Places post.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Polson House faces demolition

Continuing my the theme of buildings have an interesting history but are on the "wrong side of the tracks" to receive much interest, here is Polson House at 94 Cathedral Avenue.

It is facing demolition so that its 75 foot lot can be split in two to create space for two new bungalows.

It has a fascinating history. Home to the Polson family for over 60 years, it has stood in for a church and was the home of what is believed to be Canada's oldest amateur radio club.

You can read about its history here. The hearing for its demolition takes place September 9, 2021 at city hall.

Inside Selkirk's Garry Theatre

© 2021, Christian Cassidy

I've written a lot about Selkirk's Garry Theatre in recent years, (you can read more about that here), but have never been inside the building. I got a tour last week courtesy of the its new owner, the City of Selkirk.

The theatre certainly had not been "mothballed". It was very good shape with all of the equipment, from the projector to fountain drink machine, intact and ready to serve again if called on.

The auditorium portion is what you would expect from a modern cinema with black fabric covering the walls and ventilation system taking up most of the ceiling. The only architectural detail of note, (like here and here), could be found in the lobby area which appears to have been built with poured concrete. (This makes sense as the only flammable items - water heater, concession stand, and projector room - are all located in this front section.)

One thing I noticed when comparing the building with the couple of 1954 fire damage photos that exist is that the lobby section of the building appears to have survived the blaze. Those architectural details, then, are likely original to the building.

The city will soon have public consultations to decide what to do with the theatre.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

West End blacksmith Jack Watson

© 2021, Christian Cassidy

While delivering a community newsletter in August, I kept my eyes peeled for the dwindling number of beautiful wrought iron fences in the West End. Each year, more and more get replaced by chain link but a few of the old beauties remain.

Fences are normally not the sort of thing you can research, but I came across one on Simcoe Street that still had the badge from the maker: John D. Watson of 711 Maryland Street. It was a great find and I thought I would see what I could find about the man.

At a blacksmith's picnic. July 18, 1921, Winnipeg Tribune.

John D. "Jack" Watson came to Canada from his native Scotland. His obituary and entries in a couple of census documents vastly differ as to what year - it may have been 1908 when he was 23 years of age. His wife, Rosa, and her son, Arnold, came to Canada from Ireland around 1906 when the boy would have been about eight years old. It is unclear what year they married.

Jack first appears in a Winnipeg street directory in 1907 having taken over the blacksmith shop of G. A. Authier at 725 Furby Street near Notre Dame, (now demolished). At the time he was living in a rooming house a couple of blocks over at 669 Langside Street.

April 22, 1911, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1911, Watson moved his business to (presumably) larger premises at 711 Maryland Street.

Today, this land is now home to the Maryland Tot Lot, an extension of Wellington Avenue, and a modern-era apartment block, but up until 1910 was home to the Duncan Fuel and Cartage Company, (fuel at the time meant wood and coal). Because it was such a horse-intensive business they also operated Maryland Stables on the site. In 1910, two men are listed as working there as horseshoers.

The Duncan's businesses went under and its contents were auctioned off in April 1911. The site was then split with the Crescent Creamery Stables to the south, at number 709, and Watson's blacksmith shop at 711.

Along with the new business address came a new home address: a rented house at 484 Sherbrook Street. (This makes me believe he got married around this time as having a wife and growing boy in a rooming house would have been difficult.)

Watson ran a small shop with just one other blacksmith / horseshoer working for him.

The blacksmithing industry saw great change in Watson's time and this could be seen in his ads. He rarely advertised in the teens to late 1920s, then did so regularly from the late 1920s into the early 1940s. His ads reflected the growing importance of things like wrought iron fences and gates to his business.

Normally it would be impossible to date a fence without seeing a receipt or an order book, but this one might be an exception. Watson only used the name "Watson Fence Works", as per the badge on the fence, to describe his business in Free Press classified ads that ran from April to October 1931. This fence could be from that period.

February 10, 1927, Winnipeg Tribune

Watson was a long-time member of the Manitoba Blacksmiths, Horseshoers, and Carriage-makers Association and served in various roles on its executive from the 1920s through the 1940s. The organization entered teams in sports leagues, set prices and wages, and ran an apprenticeship program to try to attract the next generation of workers.

Watson was treasurer in 1946 when 120 members from Manitoba and Saskatchewan came to Winnipeg for an annual meeting held over two days at the McIntyre Block and wrapped up with a banquet at the St. Charles Hotel. At that meeting, they changed the name of the organization to the Blacksmiths, Welders and Repairmens Association to reflect the evolving nature of their industry.

1916 Census of Canada, Library and Archives Canada

Around 1915, the Watsons moved to 1053 Sherburn Street and by 1924 moved into 630 Simcoe Street where they would live for more than two decades.

Watson retired in 1948. Fred Buck, who had been manager of the shop for a couple of years, took over and kept the Watson Iron and Wire Works name.

Around 1950, the Watsons moved to Victoria B.C. where Jack died on June 30, 1963, at the age of 76. His body was returned to Winnipeg for a funeral and burial at Elmwood Cemetery.

As for the shop, Buck left around 1965 and Mr. Pingel took over until at least 1967.

In February 1969, Crystal Builders applied for a zoning change to build a 2.5 storey, 13-suite apartment block on the site. The Marywell Apartments took the address 605 Wellington Avenue.

Some examples of West End wrought iron fences at my Flickr album.