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Monday 9 July 2012

Farewell Springfield Heights Shopping Centre

North Kildonan
North Kildonan, Winnipeg
Top: ca. 2009 (source). Bottom: ca. 2012

Another big development for North Kildonan is getting underway. In a year that has seen an expanded Chief Peguis Trail open and the reconstruction of what was River East Plaza, (see my post about these developments here), it's now time to say goodbye to Springfield Heights Shopping Centre at Rothesay and Kingsford.

February 28, 1959, Winnipeg Free Press

The Springfield Heights subdivision was a big leap for the Rural Municipality of North Kildonan which had always shied away from development. In fact, NK was created in 1925 when it split from the RM of East Kildonan because it preferring to keep its rural, agricultural way of life.

The RM couldn't keep a lid on the post war population boom, though. Through the 1950s, NK's population more than doubled from 3,200 to over 7,000 and more schools housing options were needed. Planning began on the 1,000 home subdivision in 1956 and in 1958 show homes were on display and the area was christened Springfield Heights.

North Kildonan, Winnipeg

Construction began on the mall in September 1961 and it opened one year later with just what a subdivision of the 1960s needed: a grocery store, hair salon, barber shop, pharmacy, doctor's office and Husky service station. The Scotiabank came in 1969.

January 7, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press

Not long after opening the mall had a near death experience when the grocery store, a Shop Easy, caught fire on the night of January 6 1964. Firefighters from NK and Winnipeg battled the blaze for over three hours before getting it under control. Though the store was destroyed, a firewall between it and the rest of the mall saved the damage from spereading.

The grocery store was rebuilt and reopened as a Foodmaster. It was owned by a man named Jim Penner who ran the family's small grocery chain based out of Steinbach. In 1978 the store was renovated and re-branded as Penner Foods.

In 198o Penner Foods relocated to the former Zeller's store at the Northdale shopping complex on Henderson and another grocery family took over. It became Weibe's Foods from October 1981 to 1997.

The new complex will be a $50 million, 350 square foot mixed-use development that includes 214 apartment units in three towers. The developer is one familiar with the North Kildonan skyline: Edison Rentals, now called Edison Properties, founded by Martin Bergen.

Bergen began his apartment development career in 1962 with Edison Court in North Kildonan. By the end of the decade he sold that building moved onto bigger things. He built more than a dozen large apartment blocks around the city in the period of a decade, from downtown to St. Boniface and Grant Avenue.

Much of his work, though, centred along Henderson Highway, his buildings distinctive for their orange brick and turquoise balconies, (though a number have been renovated away from this colour scheme in recent years.) His NK buildings include Oakland Gardens (on Oakland); Riverside Plaza (1660 Henderson); Parkside Plaza (1630 Henderson); Norway House (1301 Rothesay); Sarina Towers (1335 Henderson); Granite House (1100 Henderson) and Gable Arms (1590 Henderson).

For more on the new building:
Apartments Pay the Rent Again Free Press
Rothesay Mixed-Use Development MMP Architects

For more NK history:
North Kildonan History Miles Mac Alumni Association
R. M. of North Kildonan Manitoba Historical Society
River East Collegiate turns 50 West End Dumplings

N K dizzy with development West End Dumplings


Gerald said...

About time this kicked off...

Tara said...

My elementary school was across the street from this little mall, my Mum always took me to KC's restaurant after school. It'll be very weird to see something else in this spot, but this mall was an eyesore.

Christian Cassidy said...

Yes, it always struck me as odd that NK, despite being a nice suburb that kept adding upper middle class bits to it over the years, had things like River East Plaza and Springfield Heights Shopping Centre as two of its main shopping areas !

I notice that the first two floors of the new development will have retail / commercial space so hopefully some of the services people got used to will pop back up in the area.

Anonymous said...

Penners Foods actually relocated to the Loblaws next to Zellers at the Northdale shopping complex on Henderson. Penners and Zellers operated side by side for some years.

JD said...

I worked in the mall all through my childhood/young man. I worked at metro drugs then Penners on Rothesay and Henderson. Great memories.