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  Saskatoon Through the Ages:
selected photographs from Local History Gallery Shows
 
     
 

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

In Saskatoon, venerable older buildings are disappearing at an alarming rate, although revered by longtime residents. Newcomers from the Old World have been heard to comment on the blandness of Canadian cities, which lack a tangible architectural record of their past. Imagine if the historic buildings in Paris, Rome, Venice, Istanbul or Athens had been torn down before they were 100 years old!

During the past 20 years Saskatoon has lost the Standard Trust Building, the Temperance Colony house, the Capitol Theatre, the Crowe Block, the Ross Block, one of the Drinkle Blocks, the Queen’s Hotel, a couple of noteworthy warehouses, and most recently, the Hoeschen-Wentzler (LaBatt’s) Brewery. Countless other buildings of note were torn down before that.

Within the limitation of space and photographs available, this exhibition attempts to spotlight some of the heritage buildings we have left, but which are as yet unprotected by heritage legislation. All are familiar landmarks in Saskatoon neighborhoods, and are often included in heritage tours of the city.

Some of these buildings might best be erased from the cityscape and forgotten. Some have already been restored or renovated for “adaptive re-use.” But many others should be scrutinized for their heritage value, and restored or adapted in creative ways to preserve them. Where possible, the structures are shown in pristine condition, at or near completion of construction, suggesting how they might look if they were restored. The photographs were selected from the Local History Room’s extensive collection of images, available for viewing all year round. And yes, reproductions can be made on request. Inquire in the Local History Room.

Original gallery show prepared by: R. Millar, R. Jaremko, and G. Kovalenko.

With the assistance of: J. Flegg, M. T. Colombani, J. Neudeck and E. Dreher.

All of the information in this show is current from the time of the actual gallery show in 1995 - and in some cases has been brought further up to date. Since 1995, we have regrettebly lost more of these 'Dear Old Faces' and gained others as protected heritage properties. For more information, please visit the Local History Room.



1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Adilman’s Department Store, 126 20th Street West

During its heyday, Adilman’s was the largest retail establishment in Riversdale. From its initial small beginnings in 1920, Adilman’s expanded its store, extending its frontage at the end of the 1930s, completing the Bargainteria Basement in 1940, and later adding a second floor. The popularity of Adilman’s brought many other stores to the west side. The announcement of Adilman’s selling out sale in October 1974 marked the end of an era on Saskatoon’s west side.

Date: September 28, 1949.

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Avenue Building, 220 3rd Avenue South

No expense seems to have been spared to create the building on the southeast corner of 21st Street East and 3rd Avenue South for local entrepreneur Frank Roland MacMillan to house his department store. Constructed in 1913, the Avenue Building was built on a site previously occupied by the First Baptist Church.

At the grand opening of the F.R. MacMillan Department Store, ten thousand people crowded into the elegant store. It had a spiral staircase, passenger and freight elevators, plate glass windows, a 25-foot ceiling on the main floor, a balcony for an orchestra, decorative wall tiles, and mahogany and black walnut trim. In 1927 it was briefly the premises of the T. Eaton Co. After drastic renovations in which the outside walls were torn down and the inside transformed into office space, it was reincarnated as the Avenue Buiding that still stands today.

Date: [ca. 1931]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Bowerman Block, 130 21st Street East

The venerable Bowerman Block was constructed for Allan Bowerman on a site on the north side of 21st Street East between the former Union Bank Building and the now-vanished Ritz Hotel. Built prior to 1908, the Bowerman Block housed Saskatoon Drug and Stationery, the Dominion Express Co., and the United Typewriter Co. Over the years it has been extensively remodeled to accommodate a variety of occupants, among the most notable was Caswell’s Men’s Wear. It was also the site of the Electric Bakery, so named because it was the first bakery to bake bread using new-fangled electricity.

Date: [ca. 1911]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Broadway Theatre, 715 Broadway Avenue

The original land grant to the Temperance Colonists who founded Saskatoon included Lots 6 and 7, the site of the Broadway Theatre. In September 1945, an ex-mayor of Hanna, Alberta announced that he would build a $70,000 “theatre of modern design with seating capacity of 600 or more.” Webster and Gilbert were the official architectural firm that designed the playhouse, although it is said that “the Broadway” was actually the first project of architect George Forrester.

The building’s style is an architectural variant of Art Deco. It featured a “futuristic ceiling and wall designs” and a parabolic floor. The theatre first opened its doors to the public about a year later, in 1946. Not so long ago it fell in disrepute with less than respectable film offerings. In recent years the cinema has undergone a renaissance and now enjoys the esteem of a community of filmgoers who appreciate its repertoire of cult favorites, foreign films and classics.

The Broadway Theatre was officially designated heritage property on April 14, 1997, as the theatre turned fifty years of age.

Date: June 21, 1949.

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Caswell School, 204 30th Street West

To accommodate the increasing number of students on the west side of the city, the Saskatoon School Board authorized the construction of Caswell School. Designed by David Webster and constructed at a total cost of approximately $50,000, the school was officially opened in January 1911. Its style resembles the other so-called “castle” schools Webster designed – Sutherland, Albert, Buena Vista and King George Schools. Caswell School was considered up-to-date and featured such innovations as an air washing system. The name of the school honors R.W. Caswell who had at one time farmed the property on which the school was built.

Date: [ca. 1911]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Weston Building, 219 22nd Street East

“How buildings are rushed to completion in Saskatoon” was the caption under a photo of this downtown landmark. Its first floor was being laid September 25, 1911, and by December the building was complete. Known as the Weston Building, it was four storeys high with a frontage of 43 feet on 2nd Avenue and 100 feet on 22nd Street. The exterior was described as “oriental tapestry brick” with a base of Tyndall stone.

When the building opened, it housed a restaurant in the basement, stores on the ground floor, and offices on the remaining floors. The building was deemed of such architectural significance that in 1914 it appeared in the book Twentieth Century Impressions of Canada, on a page featuring buildings designed by Daniel and Colthurst. By 1912, the building housed the Canadian Pacific ticket offices. Another notable occupant was the Saskatoon Public Library in 1927/28.

Date: 1912.

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Connaught Block, 247 3rd Avenue South

The Connaught Block was likely named after the Duke of Connaught, Governor-General of Canada from 1911 to 1916, who visited Saskatoon in September 1912 with the Duchess and Princess Patricia. This imposing block was built by Frederick A. Blain at a cost of $160,000. Blain was a prominent pioneer real estate man and member of Saskatoon’s first city council. The building was erected on 3rd Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets, snuggled up against the Glengarry Block at 245; the latter was a project of Angus McMillan and designed by David Webster.

When first built, the Connaught Block had 100 rooms, an elevator, and “every modern necessity.” By 1944 it was known as the Herman Building. In 1949 the Connaught Block was purchased from Mr. Blain by Moore-Smith & Co. At that time it contained 52 “domestic suites,” several business offices, a grocery store, a furniture store, and the premises of the new owners. It was announced then that the suites would be remodeled and “fitted with power and refrigeration.” A heating and air-conditioning unit was also being installed.

Date: June 27, 1950.

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Dairy Building, 731 - 733 Broadway Avenue

This squat but classic Broadway fixture has housed so many dairy companies, it can’t shed its identity no matter what’s inside.

Davis Dairy bought the property and built this plant in 1930; the architects were David Webster and E.J. Gilbert. In 1942, the building was sold to Purity Dairy, and in turn to Silverwood Western Dairies Ltd. of London, Ontario, whose owner was a brother of flamboyant horseman and entrepreneur Billy Silverwood.

In 1952 the dairy changed hands again, this time to the Dairy and Poultry Co-operative Marketing Association, which used the named “Dairy Pool” on its products. In 1972 they amalgamated with Co-operative Marketing Association and moved to Ontario Avenue. Various commercial enterprises have occupied the building since. Now revitalized, the Dairy Building is home to the Living Room Lounge and other trendy establishments.

Date: [ca. 1952]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Dowding Building, 234 2nd Avenue South

The Dowding Building, a former bank building on the east side of 2nd Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets, is an example of a fine heritage building that has fallen victim to overzealous modernization.

Built in ca. 1914 by the Bigelow Brothers, this three-storey brick and terra cotta structure was built to accommodate the Bank of Nova Scotia, which had been in the adjoining Hanson Building. The Dowding Building featured three classical arches, which have since been removed - much to its detriment in the eyes of architectural connoisseurs. Many of its vintage features were retained, however. The bank was sold in 1930, and by about 1933 Wheaton Electric had moved into the premises.

The building is now named for Frank Dowding. He entered the flower business in 1924 in the employ of Mrs. Marriott, who owned Saskatoon Nursery. Mr. Dowding started his own store on 21st Street East and moved to the present building after purchasing it in 1960.

Date: August 1985.

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Grain Building, 129 21st Street East

The Grain Building, earlier called the Willoughby Building, was erected ca. 1910 on a site between the former Drinkle Building and the Canada Building. The Grain Building was one of several erected for Dr. J.H.C. Willoughby, pioneer physician and businessman, and an outstanding figure in Saskatoon’s early history. There were other buildings which bore his name, such as the London Building (which was at first called the Willoughby –Sumner Building). Perhaps to dispel the confusion, this one on 21st was briefly renamed the Minvalla Building in 1920, but by 1921 it had assumed this more prosaic name.

Dr. Willoughby was the first storekeeper in Nutana, opening his first place of business in a tent, and later building a store near Main and Broadway. He was also the first postmaster. Willoughby served as a surgeon with General Middleton’s forces in the Riel Rebellion, and was captured by the rebels and imprisoned in the basement of his own store. Willoughby gave up his medical practice in 1905 and concentrated on brokerage, insurance and real estate, amassing a considerable portion of real estate himself. The firm of Willoughby, Butler and Richardson was a forerunner of Butler-Byers Limited. Willoughby also served on City Council, the School Board, was president of the Board of Trade and was active in many service clubs.

Date: [ca. 1935]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Hanson Building, 238 2nd Avenue South

The two-storey Hanson Building originally housed the Bank of Nova Scotia soon after the bank opened its first branch in Saskatoon in 1906. At that time, according to one account, the first bank manager, A. Mooney, had to live in a tent due to the shortage of affordable accommodation. The bank rented the space from A.H. Hanson, a prominent early realtor, and subsequently purchased the building in 1910. The branch later moved to the adjoining building.

This image depicts the Hanson Building with a relatively plain façade compared to its neighbour. Now its façade has been attractively remodeled by former occupant, designer Colin Holliday-Scott, blessed by an appreciative eye for design and tradition. When the Hanson Block became Holliday-Scott Interiors, they used the former bank vault as a drapery room. (Holliday-Scott also once co-owned the Louis Riel Coffee House where he turned down as a singer, neophyte Joni Mitchell.) Together the two structures bear testimony to early bank history in this city.

Date: [ca. 1946]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, 300 Avenue J South

Holy Trinity parish holds a prominent place in the history of the Church since it was here the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada was established in 1918. The present cathedral situated at Avenue J and 20th Street replaces an earlier building. Built in 1949 of brick with a stucco finish, the cathedral has seen the addition of a community hall as well as the installation of new items in the ceiling and dome in 1987 by the New York artist Boris Makarenko.

Date: August 5, 1985.

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Kewanee Apartments, 502 5th Avenue North

Designed by David Webster and built in 1930, the Kewanee Apartments represent the kind of stylish apartments constructed in the postwar period in Saskatoon. Of particular interest is the rounded entrance decoration. The electric refrigerators featured in front of the block were a novelty when most people used ice boxes to keep food cool.

Date: [1930 or 1931]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Little Chief Service Station, 344 20th Street West

Built by the Texas Oil Company in 1928 or 1929, the Little Chief Service Station at Avenue D and 20th Street is the last remaining service station in Saskatoon constructed in the Spanish mission style. Built to a standard design used by the Texas Oil Company, this white stucco building with its distinctive red tile roof has long been a Riversdale landmark. It is first listed in 1931 as the West Side Service Station and later as the Texaco West Side Service Station. The name change to Little Chief Service Station did not occur until 1943.

The Little Chief Service Station was officially designated heritage property on February 10, 2003 and is now the Little Chief Community Station of the Saskatoon Police Force.

Date: [ca. 1944]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

McKague’s Funeral Home, 300 3rd Avenue South

G.H. McKague and sons, funeral directors, came to Saskatoon in 1913. At that time they opened a funeral home at 240 3rd Avenue South in the Travellers Block. In 1921, the present downtown location opened at 300 3rd Avenue South. The building was enlarged and remodeled in 1929.

McKague’s has the distinction of having the first “automobile funeral” in Saskatoon in March of 1918. Prior to this most funeral processions were horsedrawn.

Date: August 1985.

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

McKay Block / Mikado Silk, 223 2nd Avenue South

Mikado Silk, it is said, “may be the oldest Saskatoon business in its original location operated by the same family.” The business is almost synonymous with the building it occupies, the McKay Block, on the west side of 2nd Avenue near 21st Street.

The Block was listed as early as 1912, although at a previous street number of 219. Dr. William J. McKay’s practice was located at approximately that site in 1908, and possibly as early as 1904. The Block somehow miraculously escaped the fires that destroyed its neighbours - the Drinkle Block, the D.C. Block next to it, and the tall Stephenson Building on the other side. Even the Spanish villa-style Tivoli Theatre suffered a fire in December 1935, when 200 theatre-goers quietly filed out. Dr. McKay’s wife was not so lucky. She was severely burned in a freak fire in her home in 1911.

The block was purchased in 1929 by Shoquist Brothers and remodeled. Prior to 1933, the buildings housed a miscellany of enterprises, including a five-and-dime, a restaurant, and a clothing store. The upper level was used for apartments. In 1933, Tokujiro Wakabayashi opened his store in the block, taking over the main floor in 1941. In its early years the store was a “general merchandise emporium,” offering a mix of fabrics, lingerie, hosiery and ready-to-wear. Another expansion took place in 1955, and Tokujiro’s son George became manager in 1957. In 1972 they expanded further with the Fabric Boutique upstairs. After more than 60 years, Mikado Silk has withstood the test of time.

Date: [ca. 1945]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Modern Press Building, 466 2nd Avenue North

This downtown edifice with its sleek, somewhat art deco lines, holds considerable significance in Saskatchewan’s political history. For decades it housed the prominent newspaper and publishing enterprise that was inextricably linked with major agricultural movements:– the co-operative movement, the Progressive political party, the Ssskatichewan Wheat Pool and other farm organizations such as the SGGA, the United Farmers, and the Farmers Union.

The brick-faced building was constructed in 1927 to house the burgeoning business of Modern Press, which claims as its earliest predecessor a small printing plant called the Saturday Press, later renamed Turners’ Weekly. In 1923 Modern Press' owners began publishing The Progressive, later renamed the Western Producer. Farm organization and co-ops looked to Modern Press to do their printing because it was considered “part of the family.”

Major additions to the Modern Press Building were built in 1947 and 1961. Modern Press moved to new quarters in 1979, and in 1993, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. located its Candu design team in the former Modern Press building.

Date: [ca. 1950]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

Municipal Justice Building, 140 4th Avenue North

The long arm of the law in Saskatoon reaches back to 1886 when the first detachment of six Royal North West Mounted Police officers arrived. Gradually this force was reduced to one – Constable Clisby, said to be the first permanent police officer in Saskatoon. An early police barracks was located on 1st Avenue, south of 20th Street, next to Clinkskill’s store. Then around 1903 a cement block building was erected at 3rd Avenue and 21st Street to serve as town hall, police and fire station. When Saskatoon became a city in 1906, Robert E. Dunning was appointed constable. By 1908 he was chief with a force of four men.

The building now known as the Municipal Justice Building officially opened in 1930. Designed by Architect David Webster and built by A.W. Cassidy & Co. Ltd., the building housed police department offices along with the jail, courtroom and garage. This new police station was an early example of split level design, with three storeys and seven levels - the basement and ground floor were split and formed two intermediate levels. Much of the building remains intact today, despite extensive alterations and additions. When in 1979 the newer station was built, the two buildings were connected by a skywalk linking cells in both buildings to facilitate transfer of prisoners. If buildings could speak, this one could spin a yarn or two.

Date: [ca. 1965]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

National Trust, 271 or 273 2nd Avenue South

When J.D. Gunn opened the first branch of the National Trust Co. in Saskatoon, its quarters were located in a shack. Two years later, business growth justified the construction of this enduring structure. With space of 75 feet by 140 feet, the National Trust Building was then considered a “spacious and handsome block” and “one of the most substantial bank buildings in the city.” Built ca. 1908, the building was situated on the northwest corner of one of the city’s principal thoroughfares: 2nd Avenue, Saskatoon’s equivalent of New York’s Wall Street or Toronto’s Bay Street. The building is now usually called the Folk Building, after Lex Folk, who founded Folk’s Finer Furs.

Date: [ca. 1911]

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1995 - Dear Old Faces with Stories to Tell: Buildings at Risk

President’s Residence, University of Saskatchewan campus

This mansion overlooking the river owes its distinctive style to a decision made by the first president of the university, Dr. Walter Charles Murray. After visiting Washington University in St. Louis, he recommended that the Collegiate Gothic style be adopted for U of S buildings. And so it was.

The imposing residence was designed by Brown & Vallance of Montreal, and built in 1911-1913 by Smith Brothers & Wilson. It is constructed of Tyndall stone (also used for the Bessborough Hotel) and the locally available greystone that clads many similar vintage buildings on campus. Colloquially known as the “Pres Res,” its grandeur reflects the status of its occupants. Indeed it was deemed “fit for a king,” or rather, a queen. In 1978 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were guests in its stately rooms, and in 1982 Princess Anne stayed there.

In 1989, the building underwent major renovations. The entry was changed to make a large vestibule and ground-floor washrooms, both wheel-chair accessible, and the kitchen was enlarged and modernized. Like any building of its vintage, the residence also required some updating of its pipes and wires.

Date: [ca. 1914]

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