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 !

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Remembering Albert D. Cohen, O.C. (1914 - 2011)

Albert Cohen, O.C. (source)

It was sad news that Albert Cohen passed away on Monday. Most will remember him for the now defunct SAAN chain of stores but there was much more to the man. I have come across his name dozens of times while researching stories for my blogs.

Cohen Brothers in 1978 (Source)

Albert Diamond Cohen was born in the North End on January 20, 1914. The family, father Alexander, mother Bereka "Rose" Diamond and five brothers Albert, Sam, Harry, Chauncey, Morley and Joseph lived at 86 1/2 Lorne Avenue. (For more family history.)

He quit school in grade 10 to sell shoes and to work with his father, a traveling salesman. In 1931 they formally joined forces as A. Cohen and Son,
selling confectioneries and other goods across Western Canada.

Most of the family settled in Calgary in the 1930s where two of Cohen's brothers opened a small store. At the urging of his mother Cohen contacted his brother Sam to suggest that they do the same thing in Winnipeg.

September 14, 1947, Winnipeg Free Press

Cohen did a stint in the navy (1942 - 45) and thought that the military surplus trade would be a good bet. In September 1947 the two opened Surplus Army and Navy (SAAN) at 697 Main near Higgins. A few months later they had a second store at 471 Portage.

As the retail empire was budding Cohen also showed that he had a good nose for new products.

In the mid 1950s he read an article about a new invention of the Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Corporation of Japan: the transistor radio. At the time radios were still a piece of living room furniture and Cohen was intrigued. He flew to Japan to meet chairman of the company and bought 50 units, their first overseas sale.

Over the decades he advised the company (which changed its name to Sony in 1958) about accessing markets and retailing outside of Japan.

In 1995 Sony paid $207 m for Cohen’s 51% share of Sony Canada and in 2000 the 87-year old was flown to Japan to receive the company’s first Sony Lifetime Achievement award as thanks for his assistance during those formative years. (He is still featured on their corporate website as "The first man to sell a Sony product overseas.")

March 19, 1960 , Financial Post

Another product that he introduced to Canada was the Paper Mate pen. He saw someone using one in Vancouver, tracked down the company in San Fransisco and flew down to meet them. In 1952 Cohen and Frawley signed a deal that brought Paper Mate pens to Canada. Within in a year it proved a top seller.

Cohen also introduced a patented stainless steel shaving blade introduced by Japan's
Shiseido to Canada.

General Distributors (in 1983 the name was changed to Gendis) was the product distribution end of the business and the parent company of the retail arm. The company was owned by five Cohen brothers, each of whom ran one of the regional branches in Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The headquarters were in Winnipeg and Albert the President and CEO.

Portage Avenue Postcards 60's
Winnipeg's Met store, right

January 16, 1962, Winnipeg Free Press

In 1961 General Distributors purchased the Canadian Division of U.S. retailer Metropolitan Stores, based in London Ontario. The $18 m deal brought 87 stores, located mainly in Ontario and Quebec with one store in Winnipeg. They also acquired Greenberg stores and W.L. Green clothing retailers located in Quebec and Ontario.

By 1976 Gendis was riding high. Their portfolio included 51% of Sony Canada,
95 Met stores, 73 SAANs and 64 Greenberg and W.L. Green stores. Annual sales, at $18m at the time of the acquisitions, were now $137 m.

By 1985 Gendis had shares in natural resources companies and owned the Pomme Rouge (Red Apple) Clearance store chain in Quebec.

In 1988 Gendis invested $25m in a huge warehouse and distribution centre in Fort Garry. It ensured that Winnipeg would be the heart of the Gendis companies.

At the grand opening, MTC (Source)

Cohen also contributed to the community though a number of charities and non profit groups. One that most people know is the Manitoba Theatre Centre.

In 1964 he was the fundraising chair for the theatre group located in the Dominion Theatre near Portage and Main. He became president in 1966.

The MTC lost its home due to the construction of the Richardson Building and in 1967 Cohen announced that they found a new site for a 800 seat thatre on Market Avenue. At the opening ceremony for the new building in 1970 Premier Schreyer gave Cohen the key to open the door.

January 12, 1997, Winnipeg Free Press

The Canadian retail landscape changed with the 1994 entry of WalMart and in 1997 cracks began to appear in Gendis' retail empire. That year their Qu├ębec–based MMG Group, which held hundreds of Metropolitan, Greenberg, Pomme Rouge (Red Apple) stores, went bankrupt.

August 12 1997, Winnipeg Free Press

Seeing an opportunity, Gendis spent millions to buy back about 100 of the outlets and re-branded them SAAN, creating a single national chain of 350 stores.

In 2002 Gendis tried to expand the SAAN chain by 260 stores but the plan did not pan out. In 2004 it was sold off to a U.S. based group. In 2005 the Ontario based The Bargain! Shop bought the remaining 93 SAAN and Red Apple locations and in 2008 consolidated them under the TB!S banner. The SAAN name disappeared from Canada's retailing landscape.

Albert Cohen stepped aside as President and CEO of the Company in 1999, at age 87, taking the role of co-CEO.

In 1995 he was awarded the Order of Canada based largely on his community work, including his involvement with MTC and the University of Manitoba. In 2010 he was awarded Japan's equivalent, the Order of the Rising Sun.

Albert Cohen was still the co-CEO of Gendis when he died on November 21, 2011 at the age of 97. He leaves behind Irena, his wife of 58 years, and four children. (See his obituary in the Globe and Mail.)


A six minute interview with Cohen reflecting on his career can be found at the ITV Winnipeg channel on Youtube:
Part 1, Part 2.

Cohen wrote two books, images of the covers can be seen above. The Story of SAAN (2002) & Reminiscences of an Entrepreneur: How Sony Came to Canada & then to the World in 1955 (2010).

Albert D. Cohen's Fonds are at the University of Manitoba.

- Albert Cohen had an eye for Deals Globe and Mail, Dec. 6, 2011
Read about his friendship with Ian Fleming, author of James Bond !!
- If you have MTS TV there is a 45 minute interview with him from a couple of years back on Winnipeg on Demand