Wednesday, 30 November 2011

December 1: World AIDS Day and a Manitoba update.

Today UNAIDS released their 2011 Progress Report.

It shows a continuing trend of 'good news', relatively speaking. The number of AIDS related deaths leveled off in 2005 and has been in slow decline ever since. The number of new infections is 20% is lower than at its 1997 peak.

Still, the report has some very sad numbers for 2010:

34 million people live with HIV (up 17% from 2001)
2.7 million new HIV infections

59% of those living with HIV are women

1.8 million people died of AIDS-related causes

While sub-Saharan Africa accounts for about two-thirds of cases, there are other trouble spots in the world. China has announced that their HIV rate continues to rise at alarming rates. By far the hotbed for the epidemic is still continues Eastern Europe where there has been an eleven-fold increase in the number of deaths since 2001.

Canada is not immune to the epidemic.

Between 2005 and 2008 Ontario
saw a 31% increase in the number of people living with HIV with 1 in 120 Torontonians carriers of the infection. The 2010 Manitoba HIV Program Report notes that Manitoba's rate also continues to increase with 104 new cases in 2010, up from 99 the year before.
LinkIf I can give a plug for a local program ... Kali Shiva AIDS has been operating Sunshine House since 1987. It's a drop in centre located on Logan Avenue that caters at-risk populations living with HIV, (the transient, IV drug users, homeless, low-income and street-involved populations.)

I visited the centre earlier this year and they really do great work for their clients. Like many non profits, they are always looking for additional funding. With charitable donations, just like food purchases, sometimes it's better to think local because none of us are immune from HIV.

For more HIV AIDS info:
Nine Circles (Manitoba programming and care)
2011 World AIDS Day
Crowd Out AIDS.org

Today's WIPS: By-elections, budgets and Christopher Leo !

Today on Winnipeg Internet Pundits (5 p.m. at UMFM, 101.5 FM) we talk Saturday's by-election, infrastructure and capital budgets.

Special guest this week is Prof. Christopher Leo of the blog ....
Christopher Leo !

You can catch podcasts of past episodes at the WIPs Tumblr page.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Braunstein Block - 148 Higgins Avenue

Braunstein Block

The Braunstein Block at 148 Higgins Avenue is getting a much deserved renovation, just in time for its centenary !

Braunstein Block, Be Canadian First Building !
Braunstein Block, Be Canadian First Building !

Most don't know it by name but will recognize the wedge shaped building that had Point Douglas Trading Company and and the Be Canadian First signs on the facade.

The building and its owners appear to have had a quiet past, here's what I was able to dig up.

January 15, 1914


Israel and Tina Braunstein
came to Winnipeg from Vienna in 1899. They had the block built in 1913 to house their wholesaling business on the main floor with around four rental suites upstairs. It appears that the couple initially lived in the building until they started a family and moved to to 41 Argyle Street, (now demolished).

January 21, 1915. Winnipeg Free Press.

I see that Israel applied for a liquor wholesaling license in 1915. If he got it, I could find no mention of it being granted, he wouldn't have been able to do too much with it as Manitobans voted in favour of prohibition in March 1916 !

June 10, 1921, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1921 the first ads for the Braunstein's Quality Grocery and Fruit Market appear. Soon, there was a meat section featuring store-made sausages and an on-premises smokehouse. In 1941 the meat department equipment was sold off.

The store was a family affair. Both Israel and Tina worked there as did many of their 7 children, daughters Goldie and Bernita and sons David (who would go on to be a doctor), Albert, Cecil, Barney and Murray.

1945 ad from church bulletin

For a brief time in the 1940s there was a second location at 1527 Main Street (now demolished).

February 21, 1942. Winnipeg Tribune

One remarkable tenant was Mrs. Benoit. While her husband and three sons all went off to war, she lived at the Braunstein Block. A search of the Virtual War Museum indicates that all four survived. (Not, sadly, the same outcome for Mrs. Lytle who lived there during WWI.)

Israel died in 1945 and sons Cecil, Albert and Barney became the proprietors. In 1950 - 51 there was a new owner named Nick Kowal.

August 28, 1959, Winnipeg Free Press

Tragedy came in August 1959 when a 13 year old boy who lived in the building, Daniel James Dufrane, fell to his death. He and a friend were playing on the rooftop.

ca. 1975

The property came up for sale again in 1975, the ad listing the deceptive 82 foot frontage.

ca. 1978. Source

In the early 1980s the building was renovated and became the Fort Douglas Trading Company, a discount store. In recent years, though the commercial section of the building appears to be abandoned it was actually home to a wholesale souvenir and plastics company.

I could find no details about the current renovation.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Winnipeg's Grey Cup history (1925-2011)

Winnipeg Rail Museum

I have two football related posts today !

Earlier was part 7 of my Great Winnipeg Stadium Moments series: Grey Cups (1991, 1998 and 2006). Now, a bonus post of interesting Winnipeg Grey Cup moments from assorted stadiums from the past 99 years !

December 6, 1925, MB Free Press:

December 5, 1925 - In Winnipeg's first appearance at the big game, the Ottawa Senators beat the Tammany Tigers 24 – 1 on home turf to win the 13th Grey Cup.

Winnipeg's Tammany Tigers Athletic Association, (which also fielded baseball and hockey teams), were western rugby champions but no match for their eastern counterparts. This was nothing new. The cumulative score of the 1922 - 1925 Grey Cup games was east 114, west 2.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1935
December 7, 1935 - The 'Winnipegs' defeat the Hamilton Tigers 18-12 to become the first Western Canadian team to win the championship! It was Grey Cup number 23.

The late, great Fritz Hanson scored a 78 yard touchdown seal the game. He led the Blue to two more Cups.

December 10, 1937 - The Bombers and Toronto Argonauts play for the 25th Grey Cup in a violent wind storm in Toronto. The result was a paltry seven total points, a record low for a Grey Cup game. Sadly, Toronto scored four of them.

December 10, 1938 - The Bombers are defeated 30 - 7 by the Toronto Argonauts in the 26th Grey Cup. It's the second loss in a row to the Argos.

It is, however, the first game recorded by the CBC. Check out the play by play !

Well Done Bombers
December 9, 1939 - The Bombers beat the Ottawa Roughriders at Lansdowne Park for the 27th Grey Cup.

CBC Archives has a radio clip of the game and post-game interviews. The team is also in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Coach Threlfall:

November 29, 1941 - Threlfall's Blue Bombers beat the Ottawa Rough Riders to win the 29th Grey Cup. The team is in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

At the final whistle, over 700 Manitoba troops invited to watch the game stormed Varsity Stadium's field and stole both goal posts. They surfaced the following day outside the Bombers' downtown Toronto hotel.

December 5, 1942, Wpg Tribune

December 5, 1942 - The two Rugby Unions that fought for the Grey Cup suspended play from 1942 to 1944. That didn't stop the game, though.

30th Grey Cup saw the Winnipeg R.C.A.F. Bombers (with jerseys very similar jersey to those of the modern day Winnipeg Jets !) play the Toronto R.C.A.F. Hurricanes. Winnipeg lost. The Winnipeg R.C.A.F. Bombers were back the following year but lost to the Hamilton Flying Wildcats.

November 25, 1950 - The Argos record the sixth and last shutout in Grey Cup history. Unfortunately, it was a 13-0 defeat of the Bombers in the so-called mud bowl, the 38th Grey Cup. Also see CBC TV archives footage !

On January 22, 1956 in the Royal Alexandra Hotel at Higgins and Main the Canadian Football League was created ! Winnipeg sports administrator Syd Halter is named its first commissioner.

Van Pelt:

November 29, 1958 - According to Vince Leah, the 46th Grey Cup final was the most thrilling the Bombers have ever played. They found themselves down 14 - 0 before Bud Grant's boys began clawing their way back. The Bombers won the game 35 - 28 and ended an 18 year Grey Cup drought.

Bomber QB Jim Van Pelt set a Grey Cup record with 22 points. The team is in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

Nov. 29, 1959, Wpg Free Press

November 28, 1959 - The Bombers rallied for 18 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Hamilton Tiger Cats 21 - 7 for the 47th Grey Cup.

This was the first Grey Cup game for Bomber Mascot Teddy the Chimp who made the trip to Toronto with the rest of the team. They won it twice more with Teddy as a member of the team.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 1961
December 2, 1961 - The 49th Grey Cup game is the first and only one that required overtime. The Bombers' Ken Ploen scored the winning touchdown in the 73rd minute to beat the Hamilton Tiger Cats 21 - 14.

The team is in the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.

December 1 - 2 , 1962 - The 50th Grey Cup was a two-day affair thanks to a zero visibility fog that enveloped Toronto's Exhibition Stadium.

The Bombers were leading Hamilton 28 to 27 on the strength of
Leo Lewis who ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third when the game was suspended with 9:31 left in the fourth quarter. When it resumed the next day, no further points were scored.

November 18, 1984 - The Bombers defeat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 47-17 to win the 72nd Grey Cup in Edmonton.

Winnipeg's defense smothered Hamilton who set a Grey Cup record for the fewest rushing yards in a final: 24.

November 27, 2011 ... We will know soon !

Great Winnipeg Stadium Moments: Grey Cups (1991, 1998 & 2006)

Winnipeg Stadium
On August 14, 2011 the Winnipeg Stadium, (now Canad-Inns Stadium), turned 58. Barring a major construction setback, this will be the final season for the building. In this series I look back at the history of the Stadium and some of the great moments, football and non-football related, over the decades !

There were three Grey Cup finals played at the Winnipeg / CanadInns Stadium: 1991, 1998 and 2006.


Winnipeg was pumped for its first ever Grey Cup game on November 24, 1991. A week of parties and festivals climaxed with 75,000 fans jamming Portage Avenue to see the Grey Cup Parade that Saturday.

The story off the field was a temperature that only a true Winnipegger could love. The daytime low, just a few hours before game time, was -30. By the 1 p.m. kickoff time it had warmed up to a balmy -16.5 with a -24 wind chill.

On the field, 51,985 fans saw the Toronto Argonauts defeat the Calgary Stampeders 36 to 21. The man of the game was "Rocket" Ismael, the game's MVP. (For a recap of the game)

1991 Argo all-stars (source)

It was an incredible year for the Argos. Earlier they were purchased by an all-star ownership group that included Bruce McNall, Wayne Gretzky and John Candy. McNall scored an early coup by wrestling Raghib "Rocket" Ismael from the NFL with a CFL-record $24m, four year deal. (Also see The Art of The Rocket Deal.)


Winnipeg was home to the 86th Grey Cup in 1998 that pitted the Calgary Stampeders against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 24

Calgary's Mark McLoughlin made up for a missed field goal earlier in the game by kicking a 35 yarder with no time left on the clock to beat Hamilton 26 - 24.


Fast Forward to the 94th Grey Cup in 2006 on November 19, 2006.

Weather wasn't an issue at all for the 44,786 fans who packed CanadInns Stadium. Game temperature hovered around zero with no windchill !

The B.C. Lions defeated the Montreal Alouettes 25-14. A big story of the game was Paul McCallum who tied a CFL record for the most field goals in a Grey Cup game with six. Also, a young Buck Pierce made an appearance in relief of Dickinson.

For a great gallery of the 2006 festival and game see Manitoba Photos' gallery.

Next: Some memorable Bomber Grey Cup moments at other stadiums ....

Friday, 25 November 2011

Did I miss the memo on Black Friday ?

I'm pretty certain that up until last year Black Friday was this weird American phenomenon. Sort of like our Boxing Day except people get trampled, beaten, pepper sprayed and shot. (In 2008 it included a Walmart employee being trampled to death.)

Suddenly, Black Friday is our holiday, too ?! Papers are filled with Black Friday flyers and I'm pretty sure Janet Stewart had an orgasm on 24 Hours last night while the CBC was oozing on about our Black Friday in their newscast.

Way to go, Canada ! A great American tradition for a wannabe American country. I guess the pressure will now be on to change our Thanksgiving to the U.S. Thanksgiving so that we get the full effect.

The next target, I assume, will be adopting Presidents' Day so that we can have our very own Presidents' Day sales - just like the Americans.

Airport art update and where's all that old furniture going ?

Airport murals find new homes Winnipeg Free Press Dec 6, 2011

Airport Art

Back in October I blogged about the groovy public art that has graced the Winnipeg's International Airport over the years.

Airport Art

I linked to a January 2010 FreeP article that said the U of M was negotiating to obtain Eli Bornstein's 100' x 40' feet Structural Relief in Fifteen Parts (1962). At the time I emailed both the WAA and U of M about the art to see what the status was.

I got no reply from the WAA but a spokesperson at the U of M said that they are still interested in the piece and are still in negotiations.

Airport Interior

Also, does anyone know what is happening to the furniture etc. from the old terminal ? Someone I know works for a group that was located in the old terminal. Because the new space is already furnished their suites of office furniture were being disposed of. When he inquired where it was off to he was told the dump.

Grain Exchange Curling Club Grain Exchange Curling Club

I hope that's incorrect or an isolated case, and not a much larger version of the Friends of Upper Fort Garry's demo of the Grain Exchange Curling Club with all of the furniture inside. The old terminal must have enough commercial grade office furniture, seating, tables etc. to furnish a hundred non-profit groups around town.

If someone knows what's up, or can find out, please let me know !

Thursday, 24 November 2011

West End History: Thelmo Mansions, 519 Burnell

Are you a former resident of Thelmo Mansions, know someone who was or have memories of the place ? If so, there is an oral history project underway on the building. To share your memories or find out more information contact winnipegking@me.com

Thelmo Mansions
519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg

Now an imposing, vacant building (currently undergoing renovations) Thelmo Mansions at 519 Burnell has quite a colouful history and strong ties to the West End’s Icelandic past.

Source: Heimskringla June 7, 1906

Source: The Voice, July 3, 1914

Thelmo Mansions was designed and developed by Thorsteinn Oddson. He was an Icelandic immigrant who was responsible for most of the the residential developments on and around Burnell Street from Portage to Ellice.

St. Paul
Oddson's St. Paul 'triplets'

Oddson's specialty was smaller blocks or terraced housing with small living spaces. His portfolio already included Claremont Court, a development of small attached cottages near Ellice (now demolished), and the 'triplets' Komoka, Kelona and Kolbrun on St. Paul Ave, all filled with 600 sq ft. units. (More on Oddson and his developments in a future post !)

It was so important for him to get the most out of small spaces that he traveled to Seattle prior to construction of Thelmo to meet a man who had invented a new style of 'invisible bed', (a variation on the Murphy bed), for inclusion in his new block.

September 11, 1914, Winnipeg Free Press

ca. 1931 ad

Construction began in April 1914 and was open by September. With 78 suites and a price tag of $235,000, Thelmo was Oddson's largest project to date. It also had a greater variation of suite sizes than his previous projects, ranging from two to five rooms.

Hignell on Burnell

Before construction was completed Crescent Creamery began building their ice cream plant just a few meters south on Burnell, (the only building remaining from that complex is Hignell printing).

J.W. Nixon (source)

Some of the first tenants were families that had to downsize when a member went off to war. At least four residents served, two died.

Private John Scott of the 8th Battalion, Canadian Infantry was killed on May 19, 1915. He was 22 years old and left behind his parents of unit 19 Thelmo Mansions.

John William Nixon (above) lived at unit 32 with his wife Kathleen when he enlisted in February 1916. He was killed on the front lines in France the following May.

Gairdner Funeral Home ca. 1918 (source)

Immediately following the war, Thelmo Mansions became infamous for a disease that killed more people worldwide than the war did - Spanish Influenza.

The flu arrived in Manitoba in October 1918. A Free Press article of November 21, 1918 notes that Thelmo Mansions was one of the worst effected places in the city with almost every one of the 78 units under quarantine. Officials blamed overcrowding in small suites.

Spanish Flu - Winnipeg

The following day, Thelmo's caretaker refuted these claims saying that only a handful of suites were under quarantine. An investigation found that the health nurses had, indeed, over-exaggerated the situation. There were just seven suites under quarantine and one death, an infant who was already ill with measles. (More on the Thelmo influenza situation can be found in Jones.)

The flu situation didn't scare off Bill Pulham. He and wife Margaret moved in during this time and stayed until 1940. You can see a history of the Pulhams here.

May 9, 1936, Winnipeg Free Press

One resident that certainly needs mention is Eva Leadbetter who lived in unit 27. At the beginning of the Depression the Salvation Army Adjutant created the Helping Hand League. They collected donations of fabrics and wool to make into quilts for poor families, especially single women with children.

The League's work expanded to include used clothing and continued on though the end of World War II. For a few years her apartment was the League's headquarters, home to up to a dozen sewing machines and a volunteer army !

November 13, 1942, Winnipeg Tribune
In May 1942 the Winnipeg Tribune tells the story of Leadbetter walking into the Simonite Real Estate Agency with $200 that she saved from her Salvation Army stipend and her own savings. She was seeking a home for an evicted family with eight children and wanted the agency to help find them a home. She offered to pay them an additional $10 a month until the balance was paid off. (I will have more on Eva in a future post !)

519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg
Where Barnett was nabbed then and now !

In February 1940 Thelmo Mansions had a chilling visit.

John Barnett was one of three men involved in a botched downtown robbery that ended in the death of police Constable John McDonald. The group, whose ringleader was the infamous Mike "The Horse" Attamanchuk, fled.

Police caught up with Barnett at Furby and Ellice and shot him in the ankle. He still led them on a 15 minute foot chase through the West End and into Thelmo Mansions. Police searched the building only to find his cap, jacket and some blood in the laundry room. He had escaped through a back door but was nabbed in the back lane.

Images from Winnipeg Tribune (left, right)

Another war meant another casualty. Private William G. Monk (above, left) of suite 35 was killed in 1943 and is buried in Germany.

Captain Thomson (above, right) served but survived, as did Training Officer Arthur Perceval, Sgt. Wallace A Swanson of suite 24, Eric Sinclair of suite 40 and Sgt. Stanley J. Child of suite 72.

January 5, 1944, Winnipeg Free Press

September 29, 1945, Winnipeg Free Press

Then there is the odd case of Private Arthur Roland Quinn, whose parents lived at 43 Thelmo Mansions. He was injured in action in December 1944 and in January 1945 appeared on a list of war dead. It was some sort of error, (which, I imagine, wasn't uncommon), because the very same Private Quinn married a British singer the following September !

ca 1963 ad

From the 1950s to the 1970s Thelmo Mansions led a fairly uneventful existence. That came to an end in 1987 when Hazel Toye (60) was found dead in her suite. The following year a fellow tenant was charged with her murder.

In 2004 another tenant, Stephanie Ann Buboire (30), was stabbed to death in what the Free Press referred to as a "rundown apartment building."

519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg

Later that year Thelmo stopped advertising suites for rent. In 2005 the building was cited for fire code violations. It closed soon after.

Winnipeg Free Press, April 12, 2007, page B3 (Phil Hossack)

In 2007 the building was back in the news over a garbage pile that formed adjacent to the building. The city ordered the mess cleaned up, though the owners argued that the pile just appeared and had nothing to do with their building.

519 Burnell Street,  Winnipeg
519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg519 Burnell Street, Winnipeg

The owners defaulted on the mortgage and the building sat unheated and was vandalized a number of times. In 2010 it suffered a $20,000 fire.

519 Burnell Street
Nov 21 2011 519 Burnell

In 2010 Thelmo Mansions had new owners. They are renovating the building and plan to reopen it as rental suites in the near future.