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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Resurrecting "The Cave"

Last week, there were announcements about TWO Winnipeg landmarks possibly reopening. One was the Wagon Wheel Lunch and the other was The Cave nightclub.

Winnipeg Free Press, Oct 3, 1935

The Cave was a chain of three nightclubs. The first was opened in Winnipeg at Ellice Avenue and Donald Street, likely where the Giant Tiger is now, by Gordon King in 1935. In 1937, a second was opened in Vancouver, then a final one in Edmonton.

It is Vancouver's The Cave that is expected to be revived.

Cave Interior, Wpg Tribune Dec 18, 1944

According to a recent the interview in the Vancouver Sun, the clubs went from being kitschy, decorated to look like caves complete with faux stalactites and featuring an odd mix of entertainment, to being a force on the Canadian entertainment scene:

"The list of people who played there from the late 1940s to the 1970s is staggering, from Tony Bennett to Bette Midler, Johnny Cash to Count Basie. The Fifth Dimension and the Supremes played there in the '60s; Doug and the Slugs played there in the '70s."

Winnipeg Tribune, August 4, 1942

A dig back through newspaper archives shows that Winnipeg's The Cave never got as far as that star-studded era. Line-ups often consisted of flamenco dancers, contortionists and magician acts, (see above and here and here).

Some notable names did come through the doors, though:

Hattie Noel
, the larger than life singer, comedienne and the live action model for Disney's Hyacinth the Hippo, came through at least twice. (Read the Trib's review !).

Also, June Lang headlined for a while in 1941.

In 1943, "due to the difficulty of obtaining acts from the U.S." the floor shows at The Cave were discontinued (Tribune, Apr 20 1943).

The final show consisted of: singer and vaudevillian Thelma White, (mistakenly referred to in the Tribune as a Winnipeg girl - she was the one-time dance partner of Marjorie White who was from Winnipeg); a dance duo called the Todds; and Crawford Price, a "colored midget" trumpet player and singer.

In December 1944, while Max King, son of the founder, was manager, the club's jute and plaster interior caught fire and smoldered overnight causing extensive damage to the walls and ceiling. The club had to be extensively renovated before reopening.

The Cave always had a house band.
They included, (insert "and his orchestra" after each name): Arthur G. King (1937); Doug Ferguson (1939); Harold Green (1941, 42); Marsh Phimister (1942, 43); Lloyd Semers (1946); and Johnny Bering (1947).

Winnipeg Free Press, May 2 1947

In spring 1947, manager Vic Hamilton announced that The Cave's lease was not being renewed and that the venue would close effective May 24, 1947. From the ad above, however, it appears that The Cave's run ended earlier than expected.

There have been a couple of establishments that have used that name since 1947 but I found nothing to indicate that they had an association with the original club, or the Vancouver version that carried on.

Arlington and St. Matthews

In the early 1960s, the Westwood Inn on Portage called their club The Cave Lounge and Dining Room.
At at the corner of Arlington Street and St. Matthews Avenue there was also a cave-like building called "The Cave". It appears to have morphed out of a circa 1969 grocery store called Trevi's foods, to become a store / restaurant, then a restaurant / lounge called Fountain of Trevi.

This The Cave had its contents auctioned off in 1995 and is now a residence.

The Cave, Vancouver
The Gothic Cave Supper Club (B.C.) Google Books

Monday, 29 March 2010

Wagon Wheel Rolling Again !

After reading the sad, but expected, news that Winnipeggers simply can't get enough chain restaurants it's nice to see that a local institution is back in the saddle again. The Wagon Wheel reopens today under a third generation of the Mathez family !

Here's a little history I prepared about this Winnipeg institution for my Downtown Places blog .....

WFP Dec 3, 1951
The Wagon Wheel Lunch opened on the main floor of a newly expanded and re-christened Norlyn Building on Monday, December 3, 1951. Not a lot is known about the man / men who started the place. Advertising for the first round of staff asked people to apply in person to W. F. Toy at the Devon Cafe, 311 Carlton. The first proprietor was Jim Dare.

Time Building Fire. Source.
On the evening of June 8th, 1954 the Norlyn Building was nearly destroyed in the Time Building fire, (seen above left, behind the collapsing Dayton / Dismorr Building). The Norlyn's top floors were completely gutted and lower floors had extensive water and smoke damage. In October 1954, however, the lunch counter began hiring again and would reopen by November.

Norlyn Building
In 1958 William Hubert Mathez took over the business. Mathez was a Swiss immigrant who came to Canada in 1927. He worked for the St. Charles Golf and Country Club and the Winter Club before taking over Wagon Wheel Lunch. Mathez died April 6, 1978 at the age of 68. His son, Louis, who had worked at the business since day one, took ever the reigns with his wife Marina.

Under Louis the Wagon Wheel earned a reputation for having the best clubhouse sandwiches in town, (in 2007 Readers Digest
gave it a shout out as the best Clubhouse Sandwich in Canada). An avid sports fan, something he inherited from his father, the restaurant also became a popular spot for both home and visiting sports teams.

In 1994 Marina Mathez died and Louis surprised customers by showing up for work the next morning. He told the Free Press: "This is where I belong. My wife would have wanted me to be here. Besides, when you have a business you have to attend to it. You have to be loyal to your customers even today" (Source: Diner looses it's soul
WFP Feb 19, 1994).

On February 7, 2010 Louis Mathez died at the age of 75 and the Wagon Wheel closed for a time. In March 2010 it was announced that the restaurant would, indeed, reopen with a third generation of Mathez in charge; daughter Jill and son Gary.

Reopening day is Monday, March 29th, 2010.

Hero for the Hungry WFP Mar 1, 2010
Diners in the 'Peg The Uniter Feb 19, 2009
Lunchtime Institution Celebrates 50th WFP May 2, 2008

Thursday, 25 March 2010

CKJS at 35 !

Happy 35th birthday CKJS !

On March 25, 1975 CKJS (810 AM) first hit Winnipeg's airwaves.

Source: CFMB.ca
CKJS was the brainchild of Polish-born Casimir Stanczykowski. After spending World War II in the Polish underground and a Nazi concentration camp, he settled in Montreal and worked in ethnic radio. In 1962 co-founded Montreal's CFMB, Canada's first full-time multicultural radio station.

Stanczykowski then set his sights on Winnipeg. Why here ? He told Gene Telpner (WFP Aug 18, 1966): "I love this city, it's the centre of life and culture for many ethnic groups and it is probably the greatest Ukrainian cultural seat outside of the Ukraine itself".

The first CKJS application was made in 1966 but was was turned down due to opposition from existing radio stations saying that there was no room for more competition. Stanczykowski and his consortium tried five more times before finally being granted a licence in July 1974.

Downtown Winnipeg
The station began with a staff of five in offices on the 12th floor of the Union Tower at Lombard and Main and a transmitter south of Winnipeg. It was to begin broadcasting in February 1975 but technical difficulties moved the launch to March 25th.

The inaugural broadcast began with words from Mayor Stephen Juba, Archbishop Hacault, Liberal Leader Charlie Huband and, of course, owner C. G. Stanczykowski.

Juba was that he would mis-identify the station but was reminded by Stanczykowski to just look at the call letters written on the mic. He ribbed the mayor not to accidentally call it CJOB. When the broadcast got underway, however, it was the station's own announcer that welcomed people to "CGJS". (WFP Mar 26, 1975)

The station broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week in 15 languages, 60% in English or French and the rest in German, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Greek, Urdu, Portuguese, Filipino, Yiddish, Hungarian, Dutch and Russian. By the end of the year the lineup included Hindu, Italian, Caribbean and Romanian. There was some Italian programming from their Montréal station but, for the most part, the content was created locally.

When asked if he had plans for more multicultural stations across Canada Stanczykowski told the Free Press "In Canada, anything is possible". Sadly, though, he would not get a chance to pursue them. On July 12, 1981
54 year-old Stanczykowski was killed in a car accident at Rawdon, Quebec.

Stanczykowsk was a Member of the Order of Canada (1973) and posthumously inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame (1986).

CKJS continued on. By 1984 they were in new premises on Corydon Avenue. In 1986 they increased their ethnic programming from 40% to 60%. (Here's the 2010 program schedule).

In March 2006 the CRTC
approved the sale of CKJS by C.G. Stanczykowski & Associates Ltd. to Nova Scotia-based Newcap Radio Inc.

Related Dumplings:
Winnipeg's Multilingual Press

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Safeway in Winnipeg Part 4 - Sweeping Styles

1929 - 30s era stores

1940s era store

The 1950s brought continued growth and a different way of building Safeways. For 25 years they used the 'cookie cutter' method of identical stores for every situation but in the 1950s they loosened the reigns.

The average 1950 store size was 11,000 sq ft., almost ten times that of their 1929 stores. New innovations included: larger, free parking lots; open, refrigerated displays for produce and dairy; self serve meat sections and electric 'turntable' check-out counters (to 'minimize the handling of produce' !)

Exterior finishes and some design elements were varied to suit the lot and fit in with the neighbourhood around them, though the interior layout of the stores remained identical. A design feature that appeared at many of the early 1950s stores was the "big fin", (my term, not theirs), bearing the Safeway name, as seen above.

Stores built in the 1950s included:

Isabel and Notre Dame
Oct 1950 (since demolished)

St. Annes and St. Mary's Rd
Feb 15, 1951 (50s version since demolished)

Portage at Ferry
May 31 1951 (since demolished)

Old Safeway
Corydon and Stafford
May 1952

Marion at Braemar
1953 (50s version since demolished)

Old Safeway
Portage at Burnell
Opened July 25, 1951 (see)

Mountain and McPhillips
June 7 1956 (since demolished)

Lanark and Corydon
July 16 1956 (since demolished)

Nairn at Bird's Hill Rd (now Lagimodiere)
May 1957 (since demolished)

Sargent and Wall
1957 (since demolished)

Portage at St. James
Nov 1958 (since demolished)

1960s logo

In the late 1950s and into the 1960s competing chains caught up to the trend of larger stores. Continued suburban expansion and wider, faster traffic routes meant that 'curb appeal' became an important feature. To see some of the myriad of designs used in the U.S. check out the Safeway posts at Pleasant Family Shopping. Winnipeg, though, had a more limited selection.

One design that made its debut in 1960 was the "Ranch-style" (Safeway's term). Stores built in this style included:

Maryland and Sargent
Sept 28 1960 (since demolished)

Old Safeway
Logan near Keewatin
(date unknown)

St. Anne's and St. Mary's
(Sept 24 1959) Featured an underground car park !
Old-School Safeway

Likely the most-loved style of Safeway throughout North America was, and is, the 'Marina Style', named for the prototype store on Marina Boulevard in San Fransisco.

Old Safeway
Old Safeway
Old Safeway

The Marina Style, or 'theme', as there were variations on the original design, was distinctive for its wavy roofline, full glass front and stone side wings.

Stores built in the Marina Style included:

Old Safeway
St. Mary's Road and Dakota opened June 11, 1963

Tuxedo Park Shopping Centre opened October 30, 1963 (demolished)

Pembina Highway at McGillivray Blvd. opened 1963 (demolished)

Henderson Highway at Bronx Avenue, opened February 11, 1964 (60s facade demolished)

1031 Autumnwood Drive opened February 27, 1964 (60s facade demolished)

3292 Portage avenue at Westwood opened July 16, 1964 (demolished)

Portage Avenue at Ferry Road opened November 24, 1964 (demolished)

Old Safeway
Main Street and Luxton Avenue, opened April 1964

Mountain Avenue at McGregor Street

1965 Kildare and Wayoata, opened September 28 1965 (demolished)

McPhillips at Mountain
unknown (since demolished)

Former Safeway
Ellice Avenue and Wall Street opened November 5, 1964

Old Safeway

The Ellice Avenue and Wall Street store, their 32nd built in Winnipeg, was recently closed. There is a video of the store in it's final days and being de-commissioned on Youtube. The store's original facade was demolished the following year.

Nov 9, 1965 Free Press

This location had a unique tie-in to a local gas stations chain and was a pioneer, in Winnipeg at least, for tying grocery sales to savings on fuel purchases. 

Dominion Motors ran two gas stations in the city, one at their Dominion Motors sales lot and one at the Dominion Centre on Marion. They opened a third in the parking lot of the Ellice and Wall Safeway in 1965.

'Dominion', however, was also the name of a Canadian rival supermarket chain so a new name had to be found and Dominion Gas Bars were rechristened DOMO. As you can see in the above photo from the DOMO website they even had a little architectural fun mimicking the Marina style roof of the neighbouring store.

Not all Safeway stores were custom builds. The former Tivoli Theatre (now a Food Fare) at Maryland and Westminster was converted into a Safeway in 1959.

The Marina-style's era was short lived and by the mid 60s a new style emerged boasting 28,000 square feet of space.

Old Safeway

This style was described by a Free Press writer as "modern-gothic" with sweeping arches framing the storefront. Stores built in this era include:

Old Safeway
Old Safeway
Marion and Braemar
Oct 1966 (exterior renovated, arches remain)

Crossroads Shopping Centre
1967 (since demolished)

Old Safeway
Sturgeon Park

December 1969

The following stores were also built in the late 1960s but there were no photos in the grand opening ads so it's unknown what style they were.

St. Anne's at Trans Canada
March 26, 1968 (style unknown)

Lanark and Corydon
Aug 1969 (style unknown)

Grant Park Shopping Centre
Oct 1969 (style unknown)

In the 1970s there was less emphasis on the stand-alone store and more on strip mall and shopping centre developments. This effectively ended the era of architecturally unique Safeways.

Some early 70's stores included:

River East Plaza, 1442 Henderson

River and Osborne, ca. 1973

Safeway History Bits and Bobs:

Old Safeway

The only original, ca.1929, Safeway still used as a grocery store is now a Pal's Supermarket on St. Matthews at Beverley. It survived into the 50's under the company banner then it became a Payfair.

 Pal's on Broadway
The only 1940s style store still in operation is also a Pal's on Broadway near Young Street.

Old Safeway
On Portage between Burnell and Arlington you can see a 1931 and 1951 era Safeway almost side by side. In 1985 the 1950s era safeway closed and a former Safeway Manager, Harry Halbesma, took it over to create Harry's Foods.

Old Safeway
The only Marina Styl;e Safeway left in Winnipeg is at 1441 Main Street.


On June 12, 2013 it was announced that Sobey's had bought all of Canada Safeway's assets, including over 200 retial stores in Western Canada. Safeway's 84 year run as come to an end.

If you like vintage stores, check out:
Flickr Vintage Supermarket Pool
Pleasant Family Shopping
Groceteria.com Supermarket History

The full (4 part) Safeway in Winnipeg series:
- Safeway in Winnipeg Part 1 - Setting Up Shop
- Safeway in Winnipeg Part 2 - The Boom Years
- Safeway in Winnipeg Part 3 - 1939 to 1949
- Safeway in Winnipeg Part 4 - Sweeping Styles

- Related Maps

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Safeway in Winnipeg Part 3 - 1939 to 49

1940s logo

1939 was a busy year for Canada Safeway.

The company purchased Vancouver-based Empress Manufacturing Company, a producer of jams, jellies and packager of everything from spices to fruit.

Winnipeg Tribune Feb 28, 1940
Under new district manager E.J. Belshaw, Winnipeg pared down their Piggly Wiggly outlets and incorporated 12 of the 22 stores under the Safeway banner, including:

Old Safeway
700 Osborne Street

Old Safeway
467 Sargent Avenue near Balmoral Street

Old Safeway
775 Westminster Avenue at Chestnut Street

Also (since demolished):

525 Academy Road
619 Broadway

471 Broadway

1413 Main Street (perhaps incorporated with 1411)

137 Osborne Street

607 Portage Avenue
1821 Portage
61 Sherbrook Street

673 William Avenue

This meant that a number of stores were closed, including some original Safeways built just a few years earlier at: 605 Main Street; 1413 Main Street and 653 William Avenue. This brought the chain down to 40 stores from 49.

Safeway opened a new store in Winnipeg Beach on July 15, 1939 and began advertising stores in Selkirk and Transcona, though I am not sure if the last two were new marketing or brand new locations.

Also in 1939, Safeway began construction on a series of new era stores simply called the "1940 Model Store". Safeway 'pushed the envelope' with larger floor plans and features like central air conditioning, full meat counters, shopping buggies and customer parking. The first of the 1940 stores were built at Salter (NW corner of Mountain), Broadway at Young, Academy at Niakwa and Carlton and Graham.

Winnipeg Tribune Nov 13, 1941

Also opened in 1940 was what has likely been the busiest of the Winnipeg stores over the decades at River Avenue and Osborne Street.

Old Safeway
 619 Broadway at Young

The only 1940 era store that appears to have survived is Broadway at Young Street. It's now a Pal's Supermarket. (Coincidentally, the only 1929 era store still used as a grocery store is also a Pal's on St. Matthews Avenue.)

The new stores further changed the Safeway landscape in Winnipeg between 1940 - 42. ('S' indicates an original Safeway Store, 'P' indicates a Piggly Wiggly store):
- 441 Academy replaced three locations at 525(P), 384(P) and 410(S) Academy.

- 619 Broadway closed 595 Broadway(S) and Broadway and Young (P).

- Also closed: 1843 Ellice(S); 221 Kelvin/Henderson(P); 1413 Main(P); 108 Marion(P); 102 Osborne(S); 137 Osborne(P); 422 Portage(S); 893 Portage(S); 1006 Portage(S); 2611 Portage(S); 607 Portage(P); 875 Portage(P); 1315 Portage (P); 862 St. Mary's Rd(S); 393 St. Mary's Rd(P); 61 Sherbrook(P) ; 294 Westminster(S).

When the amalgamation and construction settled down in 1942 the chain was smaller with 32 stores in the city and 60 in the 'Manitoba Region'.

For a map of 1943-1949 Safeway chain.

The full (4 part) Safeway in Winnipeg series:
- Safeway in Winnipeg Part 1 - Setting Up Shop
- Safeway in Winnipeg Part 2 - The Boom Years
- Safeway in Winnipeg Part 3 - 1939 to 1949
- Safeway in Winnipeg Part 4 - Sweeping Styles