Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Portage and Main 1918

On November 11, the sheer joy about the end of World War I swept Winnipeg as it did much of the country. Although there was much pride in Canada as a nation, the war left deep losses in many communities including Winnipeg with many not returning home.

Winnipeg at this point was a very young city but the dynamic of Portage and Main was established as a place to celebrate and to remember.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Salisbury House Opens in The Exchange

Salisbury House is a Winnipeg tradition and used to be right downtown. The first one in 1931 was just off Portage and Main and had what became the signature look in the picture above.

In recent years Salisbury House has seen their ownership stabilize and they've tried moving into new ventures such as seasonal stores and Xpress stores that are smaller than the main stores. There has been some success and some closures.

Surprisingly, given its history, there have been no Sal's downtown for some time. That has changed with the opening of the new Salisbury House at 177 Lombard right across from the Richardson Building. Brent Bellamy took a pic inside December 21 and they are now open.

The exterior and interior of the Lombard building is very handsome and the location is so close to the intersection as well as the Exchange District. The first floor there has been used for a variety of uses including restaurants but this particular incarnation might stick. Fancy and expensive business restaurants abound but a place to just grab a coffee and burger has value as well. And having your own table compared to a food court is good.

It should be interesting to see how this Sal's fits in to the business, arts and sports of the surrounding area. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Polo Park 1965

This photo had been identified as 1967 but no evidence of Eaton's Polo Park under construction and completed in 1968 nor of the Winnipeg Velodrome which would have been completed by for the Pan Am Games by this time.

As seen in this picture, the Velodrome and high school football field is complete by end of May 1967. The Eaton's building in well under construction for opening in 1968 the following year. Take not of where Loblaws is at the bottom of the picture. It would to the Empress side in a face to face to death match with Dominion shortly after this.

It would appear the picture at the top of the page is around 1965 or possibly 1966 because land would been getting cleared for the Velodrome at least a year before the 1967 Pan Am Games.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

SK8 Opens on Main Street

Since 1987 SK8 has operated in Winnipeg as one of the go to places for skateboarding in Winnipeg. The people who owned the store didn't just operate it, they lived the life and promoted as a sport as much a hobby. Even grizzled city councillors and other politicians started to recognize that chasing kids away from physical activity was not only self defeating, it was dangerous insofar as kids wanted ever so much to play but were being denied it.

It was stores like SK8 that kids and their parents felt at home and helped promote the wheeled sport to the point that parks were built specifically for skating both outdoors and indoors. In recent years SK8 has been down at The Forks operating close to the award winning skateboard park there. However, they have made a bold move to Main Street just north of city hall to a space that Christian Cassidy says has had quite a history. Certainly this is the most youth oriented the spot has seen in recent years.

Moving to Main might seen counter to most retailers thinking. However, skateboarder didn't get to be good at what they do without being bold. Moreover, the indoor skate park for kids is only a skate away at Higgins and Main. Kids are likely to be pretty fearless about going to the store. And for more timid parents there is parking in the back. By all accounts this week has been pretty spectacular for the store since moving.

The move by SK8 creates vitality on the street and the owners and employees seem to want to be involved in the health and safety of the neighbourhood. Raising money for causes dear to downtown helps.

The renovation of the building is handsome and very noticeable although the other day the street splash left them with dirty windows. The hazard of being on such a busy street.

Winnipeg is going through a fair crisis with drug problems as of late. This store and a sporting lifestyle is exactly what we need to see. A shining example when it is too easy to get down on what can be done to help with today's youth.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Pint Closing February in 2019

It is tough to be in the restaurant and bar business in Winnipeg. Coming on the heel's of Pete's Place closing less than a year after it re-located to Osborne Village, The Pint is closing in downtown Winnipeg after four years in business.

The Pint proved popular for the hockey and event crowd at the BellMTS Place just down the street from their 274 Garry Street location. There may be nothing more sinister about the closing other than they got an offer they couldn't refuse. Despite The Pint being part of a small five restaurant chain across Canada, they didn't own their building fully. The original reno cost just north of $2 million and required an equity investment firm to partner up to get it done.

According to employees the building was sold to the company that control Joeys restaurants in Canada. The company has intentions for the handsome building not for their Joeys concept but for their pub concept called Local Public Eatery. A cursory look on their menu shows standard pub grub and pictures of their Toronto location show a similarity to Winnipeg's Pint building. Don't expect to see wings though as there appears to be none on their menu. They do have HD TVs but it remains to be seen whether Local Public Eatery considers themselves a sports bar.

It would appear the fear though that this building will be empty is warrantless. This may only be an indication of a bigger player with bigger pockets jumping in and being able to buy the whole building and put their concept in a city that has already made them plenty of money though Joeys.

As for the Osborne Village, Pete's Place, which had operated for 17 years in West Kildonan could not make a go of it because of the high cost of rent. There are a few long term landlords in Osborne who have held onto high rent and seen high turnover in recent years. Osborne Village is not about to come up with a huge amount of parking out of the blue either. It needs foot traffic within its high density.

What we see in Osborne is being described as high end blight. In others words, high rent drives out the very thing that was attractive about a neighbourhood in the first place.

A number of cannabis shops have filled some gaps and a few bold businesses and new landlords have come to the fore. However, the neighbourhood remains in transition. The local where Pete's Place was may not be able to support a restaurant anymore. It may have to be subdivided to be affordable.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Loving Barbers Co. Opens on Portage Avenue

For over 40 years Mike's Place was a fixture as old style men's barber shop on the south side of Portage Avenue east of Ferry Road. Surrounded by banks, grocers and restaurants, it was smack in the middle of where guys needed to be to get a few things done at the same time and making sure they didn't look like cave men.

At age 78 Mike retired after 57 years in the business and 41 of them in the building that displayed barber ship poles on either side of his business. I recall him saying he hoped a barber shop would follow in his space.

His wish came true. The Loving Barbers Co. has opened a second location after their Corydon location. Essentially, they inherited the empty space as even the old barber chairs left with Mike. The plentiful Playboy magazines likely left as well.

The space has lovingly been restored and made over. It is a little brighter than the men's clubhouse feel of their Corydon location and the green paint makes you think 1960s St. James but it also feels rich and warm. Will former Mike's people go? I guess the big question is the cut, the price and the feel of the place. Lots of young guys want a great style and cut. However, most guys would blanch at the price women pay.

In recent years Winnipeg has seen some new barber shops emerge both in malls and independently. As more experienced barbers retire, we have seen many men have to hunt for a new place. The Loving Barber Co. on Portage feels like they want to continue the tradition and make guys feel like it a return to the old. The look is right out of the history books but the cuts as modern as they come.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Kenaston Becomes Luxury Car Alley

It first started off with Mercedes Winnipeg opening not just a dealership but a large collision center at Kenaston and Rothwell. The dealership which was located on Portage Avenue now is closer to customers who can see their cars every time they drive down the busy street.

The plans for a new Birchwood Group double luxury dealer is set for just north of Trans-Canada Brewing Co. on land presently occupied by industrial users such a hydro and construction.

The dealers will be a Birchwood Lexus and a combination Bitchwood Janguar/Land Rover along with the supporting service centers.

The completion of this project would in short order turn Kenaston into Luxury Car Alley with Audi, Porsche, Mercedes, Jaguar/Land Rover and Lexus all having locations in proximity to to the Seasons of Tuxedo site.

Give the reclamation of industrial land happening every month this might not be the last luxury car announcement for the area.