Thursday, 19 May 2016

New life for a landmark Logan Avenue church

Logan Avenue Church

The church building at 376 Logan Avenue has served Winnipeg's immigrant communities for 110 years, but has been a rather lonely place of late.

It was built in 1901 as Zion Swedish Lutheran Church and in late 1949 was transformed into Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church. It was closed in 2011 and the building sold off in 2012.

In 2014 it had a new owner: Kelly Hughes of Aqua Books fame. He and partner Andrea have just announced that in 2017 it will reopen as a performing arts space called The Valiant Theatre.

To read about the history of the building, check out my Winnipeg Downtown Places post. To keep up with future developments, follow The Valiant Theatre's Facebook page !

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Chapman School's Final Month?

Indications are that Chapman School on Roblin Boulevard will close at the end of the year, as the parents and guardians of all 51 remaining students have requested that their children be transferred to Royal School next year.

Chapman is the smallest public school in winnipg, neslted into a built-up suburb. For much of its 102-year history, however, it was a cornerstone of community life in Charleswood.

For more, check out my story in today's Winnipeg Free Press !

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Manitoba's WWI Fallen: Colin S. Dow of Gilbert Plains

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I am working on a series of blog posts and radio shows that will look at some of the Manitobans who died in action. For more about this project and links to other posts, follow this link.

Private Colin Stanley Dow was born in Russell, Manitoba in 1889*. His family lived near Binscarth but moved to Gilbert Plains in 1900. 

(*  Dow's birth year and place varies. On his hand-written attestation papers the year is 1889 but in in the Manitoba Vital Statistics database it says 1888. the later is, presumably, a a typo. As for his place of birth, his attestation papers say“near Gilbert Plains”. The Manitoba Vital Statistics database says "R.M. of Birtle” but his military medical papers list Russell, Manitoba.)

Gilbert Plains, ca 1912. (Source: Peel's)

In Gilbert Plains his father, James Munroe Dow, operated the post office and in later years served as reeve. He died of stomach cancer in 1911 leaving his widow, Annie, and seven sons.  

When Colin enlisted in with the 107th Battalion in February 1916 he was single and noted his occupation as farmer.  

Dow arrived in England aboard the SS Olympic on September 25, 1916 and was killed in action on October 11, 1917, at the age of 29. His Circumstances of Death certificate notes only that it happened near Avion, France.

He is buried at Sucrerie Cemetery, Ablain-St Nazaire in
Pas de Calais, France.

Gilbert Plains cenotaph
Canadian Virtual War Memorial entry
Attestation Papers
Circumstances of Death certificate

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Manitoba's WWI Fallen: Albert C. Ross of Winnipeg

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I am working on a series of blog posts and radio shows that will look at some of the Manitobans who died in action. For more about this project and links to other posts, follow this link.

By the time World War I broke out, Albert C. Ross had already lived a very full life.

Born in Ontario around 1871, he came to Manitoba in 1885. He was a member of a Northwest Rebellion veterans organization, so could have come as a teenager to take part. He then settled in Winnipeg, eventually becoming a police officer.

Top: April 29, 1905, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: November 25, 1904, Winnipeg Tribune

In 1903 he left the force to set up the Ross Detective Agency at 646 Main Street. His clients included the likes of the CPR and HBC, many of his cases had to do with employee theft.

A few months later he also opened the A. C. Ross restaurant at King and Alexander.

He operated both business under one roof, first on king Street then at 646 Main Street.

In April 1911 a small notice in the Winnipeg Tribune noted that A. C. Ross was seriously ill in hospital, though no further information was provided. He recovered and soon took a job as a deportation officer for the Department of Immigration, then possibly as a police officer with the Manitoba Provincial Police based in Virden.

107th On Parade, May 14 1916
WWI Museum Pilot Mound / Winnipeg Free Press

On August 13, 1915, Ross enlisted with Brandon's 79th Battalion as a cook. When Lt. Col. Glen Campbell was forming his 107th Battalion, he selected Ross as one of his handful of officers which gave him the rank of Sergeant - Cook.

Ross left for England in September 1916 and then on to France. He was stationed in the kitchen of the battalion's field headquarters which came under fire, once being destroyed by a mortar attack.

It appears that Ross did make it home for at least one visit. In March 1916 he gave away his daughter, Ethel, at her wedding in Winnipeg.

Ross contracted influenza in France and died in a field hospital on January 16, 1918, at the age of 47. His body was returned to England and was buried at Shorncliffe Military Cemetery.

He left behind a wife, Mary, eight daughters and two sons. Four of the daughters still lived at the family home at 475 William Avenue at the time of his death. 

A son in law, W. J. Lee, also with the 107th, was killed in action five months earlier.

Attestation Papers
Canadian Virtual War Memorial entry
Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Burnell Street's Sporting History

Today, 280 Burnell Street is home to the fabled Thistle Curling Club but the site's sporting roots date back much further. Since the 1920s it has been home to one of Canada's largest softball leagues, the West End Orioles Athletic Club and the Valour Road Curling Club.

For a look back at the site's history, check out my recent Winnipeg Downtown Places post !

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Chalet Hotel up for grabs?

Later this month, the Chalet Hotel on Archibald Street, better known as the home of Teaser's strip club, was to have gone on the block in an auction sale, (that sale has since been postponed / cancelled.).

I thought I would take a look back at the history of the hotel and the site. Though the current structure is circa. 1964, that site has been home to a hotel for over a century. One incarnation was the scene of the bloodiest day in Manitoba policing history.

 Top: 1920. Bottom: 2016

It turns out this isn't the first time a hotel there has been put up for sale in this manner. The same thing happened when it was known as the Stock yard Hotel in 1920!

You can check out my post at Winnipeg Downtown Places.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

"Largest tax increase in the province's history..." Really?

See update below !!

Source: YouTube

I decided that I wasn't going to post much, if anything, about the provincial election. That is, until one of the parties decided that they were going to rewrite history.

A Progressive Conservative election ad currently airing on TV calls the 1% increase in the PST imposed by the Selinger government in 2013: "The largest tax increase in the province's history...." That actually isn't true. In fact, it's the PCs themselves that hold that record !

Until 1967 Manitoba and Alberta were the only two provinces in Canada without a provincial sales tax. The Progressive Conservative government of Duff Roblin introduced a PST of 5% that went into effect on June 1st of that year.

By my math that's five times higher than the recent hike.


Between the mid to late-1960s, Premier Roblin was responsible for a massive modernization of the province's infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and cultural institutions.

One example was replacing the ca. 1905 Grace Hospital on Arlington Street with a $7.5 million facility in St. James. Gone were the ca. 1911 versions of Kelvin and St. John's high schools in favour of state of the art facilities at a combined cost of $2.7 million.

Cultural places built during that period include Winnipeg's Centennial Concert Centre Complex, replacing the 1930 Winnipeg Auditorium, and Brandon's Centennial Auditorium. Check the cornerstones of the buildings on any of the province's major university or community college campuses and you'll be sure to find many that date to this period.

To raise the money for this modernization Roblin needed new tax revenue that only a provincial sales tax could bring in.

June 1, 1967, Winnipeg Free Press

The imposition of the sales tax set off a province-wide spending spree.

In the last days of May 1967 car dealerships stayed open until midnight, people lined up at liquor stores and one department store manager, who asked not to be identified, told the Free Press that they were busier than they had been at Christmas.


On "the Twitters" my post has raised a lot of discussion as the different tribes take up shields for their various parties. Before I start to get death threats or anything, here are a few additional points that I made on Twitter that I'd like to add here.

Some have pointed out that the issue is the total dollars raised by the tax increase versus the actual percentage tax increase. (I did try to find stats as to what the additional tax brought in for the year following each increase, then adjust for inflation, population etc. I simply couldn't find them and I am sure that even the writers of the ad didn't have them, either.)

If they did crunch those numbers before producing the ad, shoot them over to me and I will ad it to the post above that the math was done.

In my defence, when it comes to tax increases, most people think of them in terms of percentages. If the property tax goes up 3% this year, it goes down in the books and in people's minds as a 3% tax increase. this, despite the fact that the actual number is likely not 3% after assessments are factored in. people consider a 2% tax increase to be lower than a 3% tax increase when, in dollar terms, it might not be. Therefore, someone raising a tax from 0 - 5 % is a huge increase compared to a 1% rise.

The point of my post was not to be political. Instead, I was trying to point out a huge pet peeve of mine.

I regularly hear or read statements from individuals, politicians, organizations stating that something is the first, or the worst, or the last "in history" when, in fact, it usually isn't. We often confuse "in recent memory" with "in history" and the two are not the same thing.

Try sending a correction to a media story that erroneously claimed that something was the first or the worst, even with a newspaper clipping or link to something that proves it isn't and it will NEVER be corrected. Why? Historical accuracy isn't part of the fact checking of a story. As long as something is in recent memory, that's good enough.

We should strive for better than that.