With the announcement that 271-273 Princes Street will make way for a 48 unit immigrant and refugee housing complex, I thought I would give it and a couple of its more interesting tenants a eulogy. Without a building name or an anchor tenant it is a bit hard to trace the exact origins but here's what I could find ...
April 12, 1912, Manitoba Free Press
The building likely sits on what was John Arbuthnot's original lumber yard. John Arbuthnot Co. advertized locations at this intersection and at Nassau at Mulvey but months after the above ad appeared the Nassau address was the only one that remained.
Some have commented that its proximity to most of the city's missions make it a poor location for housing. Ironically, the first tenant was a mission and the city's first 'soup kitchen'.
Harry Mead's Mission opened in 1913 at 271 Princess, with his soup kitchen at 273, just in time to serve 600 Christmas dinners that were underwritten and served in part by local footwear magnate Thomas Ryan.
I can't find a great deal about Meade. He burst onto the scene in 1913 as a preacher and soon opened the mission. From then until 1916 he was a popular speaker on the local temperance circuit.
In April 1916 Meade held his first annual 'spring fair', hosting representatives from most of Winnipeg's evangelical churches to show off its good works. There was praise for what had been accomplished and a promise to look into funding for an expansion.
That is the last reference I can find to Meade or the mission ! Did he move on ? Did something happen behind the scenes that the press didn't report on ? I guess we'll never know.
July 10, 1919 Manitoba Free Press
In 1916 - 17 a new tenant opened at 271, one that Harry would not have liked: a Jitney Bar. It was in trouble a couple of times for illegal alcohol sales and went bankrupt in 1919.
Other tenants that came and went included the Union Metal Company 1920s, Kaplan and Son Wholesale Tobacco, Silverman Furs warehouse, a couple of furniture factory / warehouses and Julius Moving and Storage.
The longest lasting and best known tenant was the Ham and Eggs Grill which opened at 271 Princess in 1950 or 1951. This was the second home for the grill, it began around the corner on Logan Avenue a few years earlier.
Initially it was called Ham "and" Eggs Grill. The "n" first appeared in 1959 and the two names were used interchangeably until 1961 when "Ham 'n' Eggs Grill" won out.
I'm not sure how large the original restaurant was or how well they paid their staff but form the time it opened until the early 1960s it advertised almost daily looking for new waitresses.
The restaurant didn't advertise, except in classifieds, and I can't find any news articles until a June 21, 2008 'Urban Jungle' feature in the Winnipeg Free Press. It profiled Al Friend, who had owned the place for 20 years. The story noted that the restaurant was 'now closed' on Saturdays because "Simply put, it was too busy — Saturdays were just unbelievable,” Friend told the Free Press.
The Ham 'n' Eggs Grill closed in late 2010.
February 2011 the tripartite Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness Initiative announced funding of The Peace Tower, a housing project for immigrant and refugee families at the corner of Princess and Logan. In June 2011 construction began.
Though the tower itself is located across the street, a demolition permit was issued for 271 - 273 Princess, presumably to be a staging and parking area for the construction.
In December 2011 the building was demolished to make way for the Peace Tower Housing Complex.
News Release Government of Manitoba
Chinatown to get affordable housing Winnipeg Free Press
271 - 273 Princess Winnipeg Downtown Places
Goodbye Ham 'n Eggs, hello housing One Man Committee
Ham 'n' Eggs Grill Winnipeg Breakfast.com