Friday, 26 January 2018

A Part of Manitoba's Controversial History - The Thomas Scott Memorial Orange Hall

Blog by Cheryl Mann, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg

William of Orange was a Dutch prince, crowned King William III of Great Britain on April 21, 1689. As a Protestant, he was a hero in the eyes of the English commoners who were unhappy with the Roman Catholic King, James II. William went on to become the King of England, Scotland and Ireland, ruling until his death in March of 1702. Over 90 years after his death, Roman Catholics of Ireland who were tried of discrimination and harassment, demanded Catholic Emancipation, which escalated tensions with the Protestants. This led to a major clash between the two religious groups in 1795; known as the Battle of the Diamond, resulting in the formation of the Orange Order.

The Orange Order was a secret society that took its name from their Protestant champion, William of Orange. The Order was a unifying force, bringing the Protestant community together to defend Protestant ascendancy. They believed in “allegiance to the British monarchy, Protestantism and conservative values such as respect for the laws and traditions of Great Britain” (Historica Canada). The first official meeting was held on July 12, 1796 in Portadown, Ireland, the start of rapidly spreading organization.

William of Orange, also known as William III, the namesake for the Orange Order.
Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica
Although records are scarce, it is generally agreed that the Orange Order reached Canada prior to 1812 by way of Irish immigrants. The membership expanded to include English, Scottish, German and Indigenous people, numbering about 14,000 in 1834 and growing to about 60,000 in 1900, spreading to every province. The Order met at lodges, which generally hosted 25 to 40 members, representing every socioeconomic background and found everywhere from small towns to big cities. At the peak of the Orange Order’s popularity in 1920, there were about 100,000 members in Canada, which was more than anywhere else in the world, including Ireland.

The Orange Order in Canada provided its members with financial aid during hard times, social gathering, networking and comradery. Members joined the Order through initiations ceremonies, then learning secret passwords, taking part in rituals, wearing orange sashes and marching parades. They were deeply embedded in the Canadian political system, with Sir John A. Macdonald, three additional prime ministers, ten premiers and numerous mayors all being members of the Order. The members were exceptionally loyal to the colonial government in Canada, strongly anti-Catholic and willing to engage in violence to defend their beliefs.

The Orange Order Parade in Toronto on July 12, 1932.
Source: Historica Canada and City of Toronto Archives
One of these passionate and willing members of the Orange Order was Thomas Scott, who arrived in Canada from Ireland around 1863. Six years after his arrival, Scott moved to the Red River Settlement (Winnipeg) where he quickly found trouble, being convicted of aggravated assault a few months after arriving. Scott then befriended John Christian Schultz, the leader of the Canadian Party, an English speaking group who believed the Red River Settlement should be a part of Canada.

Thomas Scott, an Orangeman and protagonist of Louis Riel.
Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography
Unfortunately for Scott, the people of the Red River Settlement were more inclined to follow Metis leader Louis Riel, who was the leader of the provisional government for the area. Scott’s resistance to the Riel government led to him being captured on December 7, 1969 and held as a prisoner at Upper Fort Garry. Undeterred, Scott and several others escaped on January 9, 1870, using pocket knives to break though a barred window. Scott fled to Portage la Prairie where he began plotting to free his still jailed compatriots. By mid February, a group including Scott had retuned to the Red River Settlement to put this plan into action, but found no support from the settlers. Disheartened, Scott’s group decided to rebelliously pass though Upper Fort Garry, a final bold act of dissent.

Not surprisingly, Riel and his followers captured Scott and the group on February 18, 1870. Scott was an unruly prisoner, eager to voice his distaste for the Metis and threatening to kill Riel. Not wanting to be seen as weak, the Metis decided to court martial Scott on the charge of insubordination. Scott was convicted and sentenced to death. A firing squad executed Scott the next day, March 4, 1870. This angered the people of Ontario, particularly the members of the Orange Order, and made Scott into a martyr for the anti-French and anti-Catholic resistance.

A depiction of the execution of Thomas Scott
at Upper Fort Garry by the Riel Government on March 4, 1870.
Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography and Library and Archives of Canada
Several months after the death of Scott, the Orange Order officially spread west of Ontario, holding its first meeting in Winnipeg on September 18, 1870. The Winnipeg lodge grew quickly, with a membership of 110 by February of 1871 in a city of only 600 people. Winnipeg’s Orangemen included Members of Parliament, the Manitoba Legislative Council and eventually four of the city’s mayors. By 1899 it was decided to build an Orange Hall in Winnipeg, to be named in memory of Scott.

The Thomas Scott Memorial Hall was built at 216 Princess Street for a cost of $21,00. Construction commenced on July 12, 1900 with the hall officially opening in March of 1903. Successful contractor and self taught architect James McDiarmid drafted the original plans for the building, based on the Neo-Classical style, featuring four stories and a corner tower. McDiarmid’s design for the façade was then altered by Samuel Hooper, an English trained architect who went on to become the first Provincial Architect of Manitoba. Hooper’s revisions included shortening the building to only three stories and removing the tower.

James McDiarmid's original design for the Thomas Scott Memorial Hall,
as published on July 13, 1900.
Source: City of Winnipeg and the Manitoba Free Press

The Thomas Scott Memorial Hall shortly after opening in 1903.
Source: Virtual Heritage Winnipeg and the University or Manitoba Archives and Special Collections
The finished façade of the Memorial Hall was a symmetrical design made of rough cut limestone. An arched entrance is located at each end of the façade with a collection of squared off and arched windows on the three floors. The second floor is clearly divided from the first and third with stone cornices and ornamental brackets at each end, embellished with acanthus leaves and semi circular elements. The third floor is embellished with four large Ionic columns, flaking circular element inscribed with “AD” and “1902” and a central arched window flanked by small Corinthian columns, capped with an acanthus leaf keystone. The central portion of the second and third floors projects slightly, with the projection capped by a carved stone panel proclaiming “SCOTT MEMORIAL HALL”, large pediment with a semi circular window and a flagpole.  Raised leaf details on the front corners of the roof complete the façade.

The top story of the Thomas Scott Memorial Hall is the most embellished section of the facade, as seen in 2015.
Source: City of Winnipeg and M. Peterson
The Memorial Hall is 15.3 meters wide and 27.5 meters deep. It sits atop a stone foundation, with a full basement and a mezzanine in addition to the three stories. Although it was originally a free standing building, it later shared a party wall with the McLaughlin Carriage Company that was built south of the Memorial Hall. The north and back facades were plain buff brick, with windows and a fire escape on the back. The basement and ground floor were used as rented out warehouse and showroom space, the Orange Order had meeting rooms one the second floor and the third floor was a dance hall.

In 1943 a major fire destroyed most of the interior elements of the Memorial Hall leaving a few remnants such as the tin ceiling and mural on the second floor. Afterwards, the dance hall was moved to the first floor, meeting rooms remained on the second floor and the third floor was left unfinished. A caretaker suit was eventually added to the third floor in 1957. Although other groups used the building starting in the 1980s, the Orange Order owned the building until it was sold in the 1990s. Since then the building has been used as both commercial and storage space. The building was designated by the City of Winnipeg as a historical resource on July 19, 2017, protecting it from demolition.

A fire devastated the interior the Thomas Scott Memorial Hall in 1943.
Source: City of Winnipeg and the Winnipeg Free Press

An Orange Order painting still visible in a meeting room on the second floor in 2015.
Source: City of Winnipeg and M. Peterson
The original tin ceiling in the Thomas Scott Memorial Hall.
Source: Virtual Heritage Winnipeg

SOURCES

Canada: A Country by Consent
www.canadahistoryproject.ca/1870/1870-06-scott.html

Canadian Inventory of Historic Building – Historical Building Report
Thomas Scott Memorial Orange Hall

City of Winnipeg
www.winnipeg.ca/PPD/Documents/Heritage/ListHistoricalResources/Princess-216-long.pdf
www.winnipeg.ca/PPD/Documents/Heritage/ListHistoricalResources/Princess-216-short.pdf

BBC News
www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-18769781

Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada
dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/1477
dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/1523

Dictionary of Canadian Biography
www.biographi.ca/en/bio/scott_thomas_1870_9E.html
www.biographi.ca/en/bio/hooper_samuel_14E.html

Encyclopaedia Britannica
www.britannica.com/biography/William-III-king-of-England-Scotland-and-Ireland
www.britannica.com/topic/Orange-Order
www.britannica.com/event/Catholic-Emancipation

Grand Orange Lodge of Canada
grandorangelodge.ca/history/

Historica Canada
www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/orange-order/
www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/thomas-scott/

Manitoba Historical Society
www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/scott_t.shtml

The Orange Order
www.grandorangelodge.co.uk/history.aspx?id=99488#.WmjxEiMrL5Y

Virtual Heritage Winnipeg
www.virtual.heritagewinnipeg.com/vignettes/vignettes_012W.htm#

Friday, 12 January 2018

208 Princess Street – Carriages, Cars and Community

Blog by Cheryl Mann, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg

The Red and Assiniboine Rivers were the first mode of transportation in the burgeoning settlement that would become Winnipeg. Canoes traversed the muddy waters, followed by York boats, barges, flatboats and steamboats. The floods in the spring, rapids in the summer and ice in the winter all made the river a challenging route to take. But travelling by land was no easier.  Meandering foot trails followed the paths of the rivers, laying the foundation for the later Portage Avenue and Main Street. Red River Ox Carts soon took to the trails, a painstakingly slow mode of transport but capable of carrying nearly a half ton load over the unforgiving terrain.  Stagecoaches appeared for a brief seven years, disappearing with the arrival of the first train from St. Paul, Minnesota on December 7th, 1878. 

The Red River Ox Cart was used to transport freight over rough prairie terrain.
Source: Manitoba Historical Society
Prominent citizens of Winnipeg were determined to see the city flourish, lobbying to ensure the Canadian Pacific Railway would bring its groundbreaking transcontinental railway through the city. In 1886 the railway arrived, further spurring the growth of the city. Expansion that originally followed the old trails along the rivers now followed the steel tracks of the railway, further creating a sprawling urban jungle.

The growing city was clearly in need of improved transportation, although the pioneering attempt at public transportation in 1877 was considered a failure in just one day. It was not until 1882 that a successful streetcar company took to the roads, with horse cars on rails in the summer and horse drawn sleighs in winter. Although the streetcar’s popularity did not initially explode as the horses slowly slogged through the muddy streets, demand did increase enough that by 1891 Winnipeg introduced electric streetcars. 

Capitalizing on the growing demand for transportation in Winnipeg was the McLaughlin Carriage Company. The company was started by Robert McLaughlin, a farmer from Ontario, who fell into the carriage business by accident, having sold his first sleigh to a neighbor who just happened to see it. With a growing reputation for the finest quality sleighs and wagons, McLaughlin went on to open a carriage plant in Oshawa and was quickly overwhelmed with more orders than he could possible fill. With two of his sons, George and Robert Samuel, McLaughlin began expanding westward, first to Saint John, New Brunswick and later westward.

Robert McLaughlin was the founder of the McLaughlin Carriage Company.
Source: Harvey Historical Society
By 1902, the McLaughlin Carriage Company arrived in Winnipeg and began construction on their own warehouse and showroom at 208 Princess Avenue. Located on the northwest corner of the block, the building was designed by Ontario architect James H. Cadham in the Romanesque Revival style. Cadham was a self trained architect, prolific in Winnipeg during the early 1900s, designing many of the buildings in the area that later became known as the Exchange District. For $20,000, a three story buff brick building was erected, with a heavy stone foundation, the rhythmic placement of windows in bays topped with graceful arches, all capped with a detailed dental cornice. The east façade facing Princess Street featured two large plate glass windows on the ground floor flanking the central main entrance. The south façade facing Ross Avenue was also finely dressed, featuring a single plate glass window on the corner and advertising painted on the wall above.

The McLaughlin Carriage Company in Winnipeg at 208 Princess in 1903.
Source: City of Winnipeg
The McLaughlin Company quickly found success in Winnipeg. By 1906 construction started on an expansion on the north side of their building, doubling their space. The same architect designed the expansion, at a cost of $20,700. Built with the same materials and in the same style as the original, the main distinguishing feature from the original building is the slightly wider window bays. Interestingly, the addition was never tied into the original building, resulting in some separation of the old and new facades over time.

The Princess Street facade shows the original building on the left and
the new additional on the right, seen here in 2015.
Source: City of Winnipeg
Inside, the building was supported by square timber posts and beams, with wood flooring.  Metal fire doors separated the old and new parts of the building and an ornamental tin ceiling was featured on the first and second floor of the original section of the building. There was also a freight elevator and walk in safe. The ground floor was used as a showroom while the upper two floors were used as storage, supposedly capable of holding “65 carloads of carriages” (City of Winnipeg).

An ad for the McLaughlin Carriage Company.
Source: City of Winnipeg
The start of the 20th century was a time of great change in Winnipeg, with innovation creating rapid change. On June 14, 1901, the first private automobile arrived in Winnipeg, ushering in a new era. The introduction of private automobiles did not spell the end of the horse era in Winnipeg, which was good for the McLaughlin Company, for McLaughlin had dismissed automobiles as a passing fad. Roads were being paved and progressed moved forward, with more and more automobiles taking to the new asphalt.

By 1907 McLaughlin’s sons were finally able to convince their father that they should produce automobiles. They set about creating the McLaughlin Motor Car Company and were just starting production when their engineer fell ill. The McLaughlin’s turned to an old friend, Bill Durant, who was working for the Buick Motor Company. An agreement was struck - Buick would provide the engines for the automobiles and McLaughlin would provide the rest of the parts. By 1908, the McLaughlin Company produced 154 automobiles, soon advertising its new products in Winnipeg.

A 1909 McLaughlin Buick, a brand favoured by Canadians.
Source: Generations of GM History
Although the new automobile company struggled, the McLaughlin brand was a favourite of Canadians, dominating the streets of Winnipeg in 1912. During the same year there were still over 6,000 horses plodding through the streets of the city, hauling freight and delivering essential services. By 1915 the McLaughlin’s conceded that carriages were becoming a relic of the past, selling their carriage company after producing 270,000 carriages. The same year the McLaughlin Company began producing Chevrolets, further investing in the automobile business.

A picture from the February 12, 1916 Manitoba Free Press,
showing the inside of the showroom at 208 Princess Street in Winnipeg.
Source: City of Winnipeg
In 1918 the McLaughlin Motor Company was sold to General Motors of Canada. George was appointed vice president and Robert Samuel was appointed president of the new company. They remained at the Princess Street building until 1924, when they moved to a different Winnipeg location. The building stood empty for nearly a decade after the McLaughlin Company left, eventually reopening as the Princess Street Dining Hall, as a soup kitchen that fed citizens during the 1930s depression. In 1942 the building was purchased the Beatty Brothers Limited, manufactures of farm implements. The building subsequently changed hands again in the 1970s, with various businesses occupying the space throughout the decades, until its final use as a storage facility. Despite changing owners, much of the building has remained unchanged, with minor alterations taking place on the ground floor.

Heritage Winnipeg would like to support the proper redevelopment and reuse of this important heritage building. Mixed used with retail on the ground floor and commercial/residential on the top floors would be ideal.  Allowing this historic building to once again make a significant contribution to the urban landscape of Winnipeg's downtown and the Exchange District, a national historic site.


SOURCES:

City of Winnipeg
www.winnipeg.ca/PPD/Documents/Heritage/ListHistoricalResources/Princess-208-long.pdf
winnipeg.ca/History/HistoricalDates.stm#1875

Generations of GM History
history.gmheritagecenter.com/wiki/index.php/McLaughlin

Harvey Historical Society
blog.harveyhistoricalsociety.ca/mclaughlin-motor-car-company/

Manitoba Historical Society
www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/3/transportation.shtml
www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/mclaughlinmotorcar.shtml
www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/transactions/3/redrivercart.shtml

The Manchester of Canada
industryinoshawa.wordpress.com/automotive/mclaughlin-motor-car-company/

Winnipeg’s Great War: A City Comes of Age by Jim Blanchard


Thursday, 28 December 2017

First Church of Christ, Scientist – A Holy Transformation

Blog by Cheryl Mann, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg

On the north east corner of River Avenue and Nassau Street in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village sits a stately building reminiscent of a Greek temple. It was originally built as a place of worship, but not for the likes of Zeus or Athena. It was the burgeoning First Church of Christ, Scientist who erected the building, a grand church designed to accommodate a large flock. But in time the First Church of Christ, Scientist left the building and it’s fate seemed doomed as a Greek tragedy. But fate smiled kindly on the church, with new owners finding creative ways to make the heritage building shine bright again.

Mary Baker Eddy was born in 1821 in Bow, New Hampshire, to a family of devout Congregationalists. Although she was interested in religion from a young age and studied the Bible, Eddy was unappeased by the Calvinist doctrine imposed on her, always in search of something more. At 45, Eddy slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk, leaving her badly injured and bedridden. With no family for support during her time of need, Eddy turned to the Bible, reading a story about healing. Upon her reading of the Bible, Eddy suddenly found herself well again and filled with conviction that the Bible was the source of her healing. This belief lead to nine years of study to uncover the science behind spiritual healing, which she explained in her 1875 book, Science and Health.

Eddy went on to teach many about her system of healing, eventually founding the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. But Christian churches disappointed her once again, having no interest in her work. In 1879 Eddy took matters into her own hands and founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, becoming a teacher, author and preacher at a time when women were afforded little power or influence. As her popularity grew, so too did the controversy surrounding her practices. Eddy persevered through the opposition and continued to grow her church until her death in 1910.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
Source: Library of Congress and Encyclopedia Britannica
Three years before Eddy’s passing, plans began for the construction of a church for Eddy’s followers in Winnipeg at 511 River Avenue. To be built in two phases, construction started in 1910. The first phase of the building, a basement and first floor, opened in 1911, built in the shape of a Greek cross. In 1915 construction of a second story began, this time an auditorium with soaring ceilings. A grand dome was to crown the second story, but was substituted with a more affordable leaded glass dome in the roof of the auditorium, which was built to accommodate 1060 people in mahogany pews. The interior of the church was also outfitted with four grand staircases and green carpeting. The second phase of construction was completed in 1916, with the two phases costing a total of $100,000.

The original plans for the First Church of Christ, Scientist
in Winnipeg called for a large dome atop the building.
Source: Archiseek
The Church of Christ, Scientist in Winnipeg, as it was originally built.
Source: Century 21 Bachman & Associates
The Winnipeg architecture firm of Jordan & Over designed the beaux-arts style church. Walter Percy Over was an architect from Toronto, moving to Winnipeg to lead the firm of Darling & Pearson from 1902 to 1906, (at which time it was called Darling, Pearson & Over). Lewis H. Jordan was a New York born architect who moved to Canada around 1905, stepping in as manager of the Winnipeg branch of Darling & Pearson the same year that Over departed. In 1910, the two architects joined forced and opened their own firm in Winnipeg, Jordan & Over. The new firm went on to design many buildings including banks, churches, apartment blocks and two churches for the First Church of Christ, Scientist (one in Virden, Manitoba and the other in Winnipeg). Both were also elected as President of the Manitoba Association of Architects for various terms.

The Alloway and Champion Bank at 362 Main Street in Winnipeg (the small building on the right)
was designed by the firm Jordan & Over, completed in 1913.
Source: City of Winnipeg and Archives of Manitoba
The facade of Jordan & OVer's Alloway and Champion Bank was moved to the Forks in 2015.
Commemorating millionaire banker William Fordes Alloway,
who's $100,000 donation helped established the Winnipeg Foundation,
the first community foundation in Canada.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Over the years the leaded glass dome was removed from the church and the parishioners moved out. Ben Haber and Steve Freed purchased the building in 2004, with the intention of converting it into condominiums. But they found the building to be full of mold, asbestos and airborne spores, requiring the removal nearly the entire interior at a cost of over $700,000. With climbing costs, the condominium project was deemed financially unfeasible and the owners instead decided to demolish the church.

The City of Winnipeg and Heritage Winnipeg disagreed with the owners assessment of the church and purposed listing it as a heritage resource in place of issuing a demolition permit. Although advocates rallied for the designation of the building, it was not listed as a heritage resource, being placed on the commemorative list, which recognizes the historic value but does not prevent demolition. Despite this weak recognition, the church did manage to avoid demolition. It sat empty until 2008 when Giovanni Geremia and Brian Wall (of gw architecture) came to its rescue. Geremia and Wall partnered with Stonebridge Development Group to buy the church and convert it into condominiums. Recognizing the importance historic of the building to the community and considering the negative environmental impact of demolition, redevelopment was the only option considered by the new owners of the church.

A sketch of the facade of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, prior to redevelopment.
Source: Prairie Architects 
After three months of consultation with the community, stakeholders and the city, the new plan for the church included five floors, 46 one bedroom units (500 to 900 square feet), additional windows, balconies, bike storage and three car share vehicles. Although efforts were made to save various features of the original interior, in the end the church was completely gutted aside from a space on the fifth floor. Due to code restrictions, only part of the fifth floor could be used as a loft space with the inaccessible portion being left as a repository of the past.

An effort was made to save the organ screen and reuse it in the lobby,
but brittle plaster and hazardous material made the effort futile.
Source: Century 21 Bachman & Associates
Four years after construction started, Studio 511 opened in 2013. With mortgage payments in line with the cost of renting in the area, all the units in the church quickly sold. Heritage Winnipeg recognized the contribution of the owners in conserving an historical neighbourhood landmark, honouring Stonebridge Development Group and gw architecture with the Heritage Winnipeg Special President’s Award for Studio 511 in 2014. The First Church of Christ, Scientist is an excellent example of how built heritage can be successfully repurposed in a profitable fashion while taking into consideration the needs of the community and environment. From the past we can forge a beautiful future, filled with creative solutions and no need for demolition.

The renovated First Church of Christ, Scientist as Studio 511 in July 2017.
Source: Google Maps

Read more about the renovation of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in


SOURCES:

Appraisal Institute of Canada
aicexchange.ca/adaptive-re-use-of-an-historic-church-structure/

Archiseek
archiseek.com/2010/1916-first-church-of-christ-scientist-winnipeg-manitoba/

Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada
dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/183
dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/133

Century 21 Bachman & Associates
www.century21.ca/bachmanassociates/blog/PRAYER_TO_FLARE_A_condo_conversion_in_the_heart_of_Osborne_295699

City of Winnipeg
www.winnipeg.ca/PPD/Documents/Heritage/ListHistoricalResources/Main667-long.pdf
www.winnipeg.ca/ppd/Heritage/ListCommemorativeResources.stm
www.winnipeg.ca/ppd/Heritage/MunicipallyDesignatedSites.stm#3

Encyclopedia Britannica
www.britannica.com/biography/Mary-Baker-Eddy
gw architecture
www.gwarchitectureinc.com/single-post/1A16EE5C-1427-4968-9496-63F4EF3D5E4C

Google Maps
www.google.ca/maps/place/511+River+Ave,+Winnipeg,+MB+R3L+0C9/@49.8782682,-97.1492268,3a,75y,15.81h,104.39t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sR-pu6ooTom0IdsADnZazWg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x52ea7400dd8b8439:0xaf5d4b78f9bf8a37!8m2!3d49.878583!4d-97.149198

Heritage Winnipeg
www.heritagewinnipeg.com/blog.html?item=144

Mary Baker Eddy Library
www.marybakereddylibrary.org/mary-baker-eddy/the-life-of-mary-baker-eddy/

Prairie Architects
Church of Christ, Scientist Community Consultation from September 2000

Winnipeg Free Press
www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Alloway-Arch-unveiled-at-The-Forks-to-celebrate-community-foundations-329984791.html
When a heritage church doesn't have a prayer by David O’Brian on February 21, 2008
Panel trying to save church by Joe Paraskevas on February 20, 2008

Monday, 18 December 2017

Cheers to West Broadway's Community Heritage!

Blog by Cheryl Mann, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg

On the corner of Langside Street and Sara Avenue an unassuming three story brick building has sat for over one hundred years. A long time grocery store, the building is located in the heart of the West Broadway, one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods. The building has quietly watched the neighbourhood rise, fall and rise again, serving the community as both a grocery store and apartment. It changed owners many times over the years, but remained a cornerstone in the neighbourhood, looking much the same as it did when first built. In the fall of 2017, the once grocery store was reborn as a restaurant, breathing new life into an old space, where locals can once again gather, nourishing their bodies and souls.

Born in Ireland in 1814, James Mulligan came to Canada with the British military in 1848. Mulligan was promised some land upon completion of his military service, which seems to have ended with an early retirement after he lost an arm. A river lot on the north shores of the Assiniboine River in the Red River Settlement (Winnipeg) was given to Mulligan, bounded by Maryland Street, Furby Street and Portage Avenue. Mulligan then set about purchasing more property in the area, including some on the south side of the Assiniboine River. By 1878 Mulligan had become one of the largest property holders in the fledgling City of Winnipeg.

Map of Winnipeg in 1880.
Source: Heritage Winnipeg
As the 1880s began, Winnipeg began to grow at a feverish rate, with rampant land speculation in anticipation of the arrival of the railway in 1882. As land values skyrocketed, Mulligan was eager to partake in the potential for wealth. With his land mostly unoccupied, in 1881 Mulligan began subdividing his property, selling residential lots. By 1882, the railway had arrived and Mulligan had sold most of his property, and so began the West Broadway neighbourhood in Winnipeg.

In 1903, James Spence, who held land just east of Mulligan, followed suit and subdivided his property into 63 residential lots, further expanding the neighbourhood. Middle and upper class family built large, well crafted, single family homes, with most of the neighbourhood filled by 1915. Low rise apartment buildings, schools, churches and a hospital were also built, while commercial development mostly restricted to Portage Avenue, Broadway and Sherbrook Street.

The West Broadway neighbourhood in Winnipeg, highlighted in red.
Source Google Maps
It was during this initial period of growth that a three story mixed use building was erected at the corner of Langside Street and Sara Avenue. Although the entrance is placed on the pleasingly angled front corner of the building, the official address is 164 Langside Street. Set amongst a residential area, the building fits in well with the similarly clade three story apartment buildings on the other side of Langside Street. There are few records of the building from this early period, with the 1913 reference to the Hill Brother’s Grocery at the corner being the first concrete proof of its existence. As it was a rather small and subdued building constructed during a period of opulence and grandeur, it would have been unlikely to garner much attention in the historical record.

The Hill Brother's Grocery, owned by James and William Hill,
was the first proprietor listed at 164 Langside Street.
Source: Winnipeg Downtown Places
The two main facades of the building, facing Langside Street and Sara Avenue, are a plain red brick with a small, brick dentil cornice detail running along the roofline. The entrance to the building is located on the angled front corner of the building, set back from main façade, creating somewhat of a portico effect. Display windows flank the entrance on the ground floor, featuring multi paned windows and a cornice detail that wraps around the front corner of the building. The second and third floor facades on Langside Street have matching sets of paired one over one windows, accented by a light stone sill. Single one over one windows in the same style continue the pattern on the angled section of façade above the front entrance. On the Sara Avenue façade the same style of window is used in a variety of sizes, spread inconsistently over the two upper floors. A small door on the far north end suggests a separate entrance to the upstairs apartment. The north and west facades of the building are a plain, unadorned buff brick with a smattering of windows on the second and third floors. The north west corner of the building is cut away, making room for a fire escape.

164 Langside as seen in 2016.
Source: CBC News Manitoba
After nearly a decade at the corner of Langside Street and Sara Avenue, William Hill sold the grocery store in 1922. It remained a grocery store though, first as part of the Red and White chain and later as part of the Shop Easy chain. In 1942, under owners Jack and Alma Schiller, the store was christened the “Langside Grocery,” a name that held fast for several decades. Owners continued to come and go, sometimes living upstairs, sometimes changing the name.  

Outside the first incarnation of the Langside Grocery on February 15, 1978.
Source: The Winnipeg Tribune and Winnipeg Downtown Places
With the end of World War II, a shift began to take place in West Broadway. The allure of newly built suburban neighbourhoods and the rise of a car-centric culture saw the leafy streets West Broadway being abandoned, with elegant homes being subdivided and low income tenants moving in. Crime and poverty were on the rise and prolonged disinvestment saw the neighbourhood fall into disrepair. The grocery store felt the effects of the decline, as the violence spilled over into its space, with holds ups becoming far to common of an occurrence. A particularly horrific altercation in April of 1996 was the final tipping point, with the grocery store being closed for good soon afterwards.

By the mid 1990s, community groups, dismayed by the sad state of the neighbourhood, began to take action. Reinvestment in housing slowly began to yield results, with housing values on the rise by 2001 and a growing fear of gentrification instead of decay. The grocery store soon became a part of the revitalization of the area, sold to architect Don Courtinage and artist Pat Courtinage in 1999. They converted the building into a main floor studio and a second floor office space.

164 Langside is designated as a West Broadway Heritage Site.
Source: Langside Grocery Instagram
In 2013 the building was sold again, this time to siblings Jason, Ryan and Shelley Armstrong. The three purchased the building with the intention of converting it into a pizza restaurant that would serve the local community. But those plans were put on hold in when it was instead rented out to in the Canadian comedy series Sunnyside. The grocery store was converted into a fictional café known as Dark Roast, used regularly as a set until 2015. After the departure of Sunnyside, the siblings once again began work on their pizza restaurant.

164 Langside was the set for the fictional cafe "Dark Roast" in the Canadian comedy Sunnyside.
Source: Canstar Community News

Initially the restaurant was to be named Corticelli, serving appetizers, personal pizzas and drinks. As plans were developed for the space, it was recognized that large pizza ovens would overrun the small footprint of the ground floor, leaving little space for diners. Instead the owners opted to serve locally sourced, French inspired small plates, accompanied by a wine and cocktail bar.

The exterior of the new Langside Grocery restaurant.
Source: Peg City Grub
Original tin ceiling tiles were savaged and reinstalled during the renovation of 164 Langside.
Source: Langside Grocery Instagram
The grocery store officially opened as a restaurant in the fall of 2017. Although the official name is Corticelli, the local community tends to still call it by its former name, the Langside Grocery. A dark wood bar dominates the room as the salvaged tin ceiling draws your eye upwards. Doing their best to not change the original space, the new restaurant accommodates about 30 people and features a patio in the back yard with room for 28. It is intended to serve the local residents, a cozy space to gather and commune, harkening back to an era before cell phone overtook peoples’ lives. Often packed with people, the growing success of the Langside Grocery is a tribute to the owners who let the character of the heritage building speak for itself and for focusing on the people who matter the most, the local community.

The newly renovated interior of the Langside Grocery at 164 Langside in 2017.
Source: Langside Grocery Instagram

SOURCES

Canstar Community News
www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/metro/Former-storefront-a-bustling-restaurant-454147073.html?k=XUpa3c
www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/metro/Comedy-set-turned-pizza-eatery-388698522.html
www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/metro/correspondent/Imagining-sinfully-good-coffee.html
www.winnipegfreepress.com/our-communities/metro/Take-a-walk-down-Sunnyside-367232601.html 

CBC News Manitoba
www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/sunnyside-restaurant-real-1.3694318

Google Maps
www.google.ca/maps/place/West+Broadway,+Winnipeg,+MB/@49.8839795,-97.1648138,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x52ea73f9a330569b:0x9acdf1fbf244032!8m2!3d49.8841219!4d-97.1569803

Langside Grocery Instagram
www.instagram.com/langsidegrocery/?hl=en

Manitoba Historical Society
www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/people/mulligan_j.shtml

Neighbourhoods of Winnipeg
now.winnipeg.ca/history/west-broadway

Peg City Grub
www.pegcitygrub.com/read,post/661/langside-grocery-charming-old-new-neighbourhood-haunt-has-destination-cocktail-bar-aspirations

The Uniter
uniter.ca/view/favourite-local-place-to-eat-new-independent-business/

West End Dumplings
westenddumplings.blogspot.ca/2011/05/west-broadway-neighbourhood-history.html

Winnipeg Downtown Places
winnipegdowntownplaces.blogspot.ca/2016/07/164-langside-street-hill-brothers.html