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Sunday, 5 April 2015

Behind the Photo: Streetcar 716 and the Valour Theatre (1955)

Often I will see an old photo or ad and spend some time digging into its back story. Sometimes I find a great story, sometimes not. Either way, I learn a few things about the city's history. Here's my latest attempt:

https://www.facebook.com/uwarchives/photos/pb.172431604649.-2207520000.1428037122./10153177270039650/?type=3&theater

This is "Streetcar on Portage Avenue and Valour Road traveling west. Valour Theatre on right," September 1955, from the Western Canadian Pictoral Index, Delza Longman Collection, No. 39157, (used with permission.) It shows Winnipeg streetcar number 716 passing the Valour Theatre located on Portage Avenue at Stiles Street. The theatre is now home to Advance Electronics.


Initially, the year associated with the photo was vague. I was able to track it down by searching for the same combination of films as on the theatre's marquee. This being a neighbourhood theatre meant that it would not have been showing Calamity Jane during its initial Winnipeg release. I found what I was looking for in the September 15, 1955 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press. They played for about a week.



What makes this date significant is that the last day of service for Winnipeg's streetcars was September 19, 1955. Madam Longman took this photo on one of the last, perhaps THE last, day of streetcar service.

http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~wyatt/alltime/pics/winnipeg-weco-trams.html

According to David Wyatt's Winnipeg Transit All-Time Fleet Roster this was one of twenty streetcars purchased by the Winnipeg Electric Railway Company from the Ottawa Car Company in 1919. Above is a photo from the All-Time Fleet Roster of one of 716's sisters back in the day. (Later photos of sister cars can be found here in colour, and here, here, here, here, here in black and white.)

All twenty cars remained in service until Winnipeg Transit scrapped them in 1955. The car bodies were sold off, many used as cabins, chicken coops or storage sheds.


The Valour opened on November 25, 1937 as part of the Western Theatre chain. In 1949 it was cut loose and purchased by Albert D. Cohen. It remained a theatre until May 1960, after which it had a short stint as a funeral parlour, then billiards hall, before Advance Television and Car Radio relocated there in October 1967.

For a more detailed history of the Valour Theatre and Advance Electronics, see my Winnipeg Downtown Places post next week !

For more "Behind the Photos".

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