Tag Archives: Ashdown Warehouse

I Live in A Piece of Winnipeg History

At the front door of The Ashdown Warehouse with my friend

The condo where I live is located in a building that is a Winnipeg historical landmark.

The Ashdown Warehouse on Bannatyne Avenue was built in 1895 by James Henry Ashdown, also nicknamed “The Merchant Prince.”

The warehouse, the largest in Winnipeg at the time, had sections added to it in 1900, 1902, 1906 and 1911.

The Ashdown Warehouse in 1903

It served as the headquarters for James Ashdown’s retail empire that made him one of Winnipeg’s first millionaires.

The ghost sign remains on the old Ashdown Store

At the turn of the century, our condo building was a warehouse used for keeping all the things sold in the Ashdown Store, which was located at the corner of Main Street and Bannatyne.

Once the rooms where we now eat and sleep and read the newspaper were filled with housewares, dishes, cutlery, sporting goods, paint, automotive parts, plumbing and electrical supplies, tools, agricultural equipment, furniture and wood stoves.  

Railroad tracks at the end of our block

Mr Ashdown who was a charter member of the Winnipeg Board of Trade used his influence to have a railway line spur built right near his warehouse so it would be easy for him to move things back and forth between his other warehouses in twelve different Canadian cities.  

An old Ashdown catalogue

He devised Canada’s first catalogue and used it to advertise his products across the country.

A set of scales that must have been used for weighing goods still sits in the front lobby of our building which was designed by S. Frank Peter and J.H.G. Russell.

The Ashdown Warehouse in 1970- photo University of Manitoba archives

The fact that the exterior of Mr Ashdown’s warehouse has been carefully preserved means our building is often the set for filming movies from past eras.

Mr Ashdown who was instrumental in Winnipeg becoming incorporated as a city and served as its mayor for two terms did not live in his warehouse or store but in this beautiful home at 529 Wellington Crescent. He shared it with his wife Susan and their five children.

My husband and I once enjoyed a wedding anniversary meal at 529 Wellington. The former home of the man who built our condo is now a restaurant with a fabulous reputation.

James Ashdown was born in London and came to Winnipeg in 1868. He first worked as a tinsmith before beginning to establish his hardware empire. Perhaps this is why there is still evidence of tinsmith work in the back lobby of the Ashdown Warehouse.

James Ashdown founded the University of Winnipeg, the city’s first YMCA, the St. Charles Country Club and established the city’s public school system. He led the drive to open Assiniboine Park, was a director of the Bank of Montreal, the governor of Winnipeg’s General Hospital and it was his initiative that got an aqueduct built to provide fresh water for Winnipeg and make typhus a thing of the past for its citizens.  

James Ashdown’s former warehouse was turned into 106 condo suites in the late 1980s. It was one of the first residential buildings in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

Photo from the Winnipeg Free Press

The building has wood post and beam construction, and the Selkirk stone and brick walls are visible in all the condos.

Photo of the lobby taken in 2009 when we first bought our condo. The lobby has since been modernized but here you can see the original stone and brick walls.

Additions like this beautiful rooftop patio have made the Ashdown Warehouse a modern place to have a home but there are still plenty of things to remind residents that we are living in a piece of history.

Other posts………….

Celebrating Our Marriage History in a Historic Building

The Street Where I Live

A Woonerf In My Back Lane

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Up on the Rooftop

We’ve been spending lots of time on our roof top patio lately.  We had drinks there with friends after we’d enjoyed a Sunday matinee performance of Johnny Cash at Rainbow Stage.  Dave entertained his Tuesday afternoon golfing buddies recently for snacks and refreshments.  When we invited some new acquaintances over for dinner and a walking tour of the exchange district we started our evening up on the roof top for appetizers. Yesterday a friend and I bought veggie dogs loaded with condiments from a food cart after our Fringe Festival show, and headed up to the roof top to eat them.  We’d just come back down when Dave turned up with a former teaching colleague he’d run into at the Fringe and they wound their way up to the roof top for a beer and some catching up with each other conversation.  

Dave and his golfing buddies unwind after their round.

Dave and his golfing buddies unwind after their round.

Shortly after we bought this condo we were asked to pitch in some extra money, along with the rest of our building’s tenants, for the roof top patio.  Turns out that was a pretty good investment.  If you’d like to enjoy our roof top give us a call and come on over!

Other posts…….

Up On Our Rooftop

Lunch on a Roof Top in Toronto

A Roof With A View

 

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The Christmas Spirit

A couple of days ago I put up a sign in the lobby of our condo building asking if anyone had an extra parking spot we could rent over the holidays. Our son and his family are coming from out of province for a visit over Christmas and we needed a place for them to park their car. We live in a busy downtown area where there is only metered parking on the street.  Within twenty-four hours we had received lots of calls from people in our building willing to let us use their spot because they would be gone over the holidays or had two spots and were willing to let us use one.    Not a single fellow resident who called was willing to take money for the favor. “You can just use our spot,” they volunteered. Now that’s the Christmas spirit!  I put this sign up in the lobby to say “Thank You.”Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 7.32.03 AM

Other related posts…..

Residential Parking Crisis in Winnipeg’s Exchange District

We’re Living in a Piece of History

And So This is Christmas

 

 

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A Roof With A View

I got a chance for a bird’s-eye view of the heart of the city on Saturday!


As part of the Doors Open Winnipeg event the Arts Space venue at 100 Arthur Street allowed access to their roof top. Visitors were free to walk around and take photos of the Exchange District from a very unique point of view. 

 

This is the Crocus Building which houses the Crocus Investment Company, the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and the Winnipeg Contemporary Dancers. It used to belong to the Ashdown Hardware Company as you can see from the white letters still etched on the brick near the roof top.  Mr. James Ashdown, a former Winnipeg mayor built it in 1905 to use as a hardware store. It replaced an earlier building erected in 1870 which burned down in 1904. 

 

I live in a condo in the Ashdown Warehouse where Mr. Ashdown stored the goods he sold, not only in Winnipeg but all across western Canada. Here is my building tucked in between two other buildings. 

 

The Cube is the focal point of the park in Old Market Square a popular venue for outdoor summer concerts in the Exchange District. The Cube is a performance stage that opened in 2010 and was built at a cost of $1.2 million. During the Winnipeg Jazz Festival and the Fringe Festival the park is alive with performers and people. 

 

The distinctive Confederation Building was built in 1912 in the Chicago style of architecture and was occupied by the Confederation Life Association for over 50 years. 

 

The popular Kings Head Pub and Eatery is housed in a building erected in 1896 as a trading centre for hides, wool and furs. In 1906 it became home to a German language press which published 20,000 copies of the paper Der Nordwestern weekly. After serving as offices for an airline and a radio and television wholesaler it became a restaurant in 1983.

 

The new Red River Community College Paterson Global Foods Institute will be housed in the old Union Tower Building which is currently being renovated and added on to. The new facilities will have a student residence and be home to the college’s hospitality and culinary programs. I am looking forward to having the students living in the Exchange District and adding to our resident population. The facility will also house a restaurant that will be open to the public. 

 

The Travelers Building was constructed in 1907 as a headquarters for a union of traveling salesmen that was founded in 1882.  It housed offices, meeting rooms, lounges and recreation facilities including a Turkish bath. In 1954 it became the home of federal government offices and in 1976 was redeveloped into a shopping center with specialty shops, galleries and a restaurant currently housing the Peasant Cookery. 

I have been doing lots of walking in the Exchange District since moving here in July and have seen much of it from on the ground. Thanks to Arts Space I was able to get a view from above on Saturday that gave me a different perspective on the neighborhood I now call home. 

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I Live in a Piece of History

The condo where we live is located in a building that is a Winnipeg historical landmark. The Ashdown Warehouse on Bannatyne Avenue was built in 1895 by James Henry Ashdown, also nicknamed “The Merchant Prince.”

The warehouse, the largest in Winnipeg at the time, had sections added onto it in 1900, 1902, 1906 and 1911. It served as the headquarters for James Ashdown’s retail empire that made him one of Winnipeg’s first millionaires.

At the turn of the century, the building was a warehouse used for keeping all the things sold in the Ashdown Store, which was located in a building at the end of Bannatyne- housewares, dishes, cutlery, sporting goods, paint, automotive and electrical supplies, tools, agricultural equipment, plumbing supplies, furniture and wood stoves.  Mr Ashdown who was a charter member of the Winnipeg Board of Trade used his influence to have a railway line spur built right near his warehouse so it would be easy for him to move things back and forth between his other warehouses in twelve different Canadian cities.  A set of scales that must have been used for weighing goods still sits in the front lobby of our building which was designed by S. Frank Peter and J.H.G. Russell. The building has wood post and beam construction and the original walls of Selkirk stone and brick are still visible in all the condos.

James Ashdown came to Winnipeg in 1868, but at the time it was just a little village called The Red River Settlement. Born in London, England, in 1844 James and his family had immigrated to Toronto when he was eight years old. James began his work life as an apprentice to a tinsmith- which is perhaps why there are beautifully tooled tin ceilings in the lobby and elevator of our condo.  James was imprisoned for 69 days by Louis Riel, a Metis’ leader. James was part of a group of fifty citizens who resisted Riel’s attempt to take control of the Red River settlement. 

The enterprising Mr Ashdown devised the country’s first catalogue as a method to advertise his products across the country.  Once he loaded up a train that travelled across the country making stops in every town along its route, opening up its doors to sell goods to the local citizens. The forward-thinking James chaired a committee of citizens that insisted Winnipeg be incorporated as a city, long before it qualified as a city because of its size.   James would later serve as Winnipeg’s mayor for two terms. 

529 Wellington was where Mr James Ashdown had his home. Today it is a well-known restaurant, with a pricey menu. Mr Ashdown lived at 529 Wellington with his wife Susan and their five children. His son took over his business when he died in 1924 and ran it till his own death in 1971.

There is a statue of James Ashdown in the walkway of famous citizens in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park. Mr Ashdown certainly deserves to be there. He founded the University of Winnipeg and served on its board of directors for 36 years.  He also founded the first YMCA and public school system in Winnipeg. He led the drive to open Assiniboine Park and was a life governor of Winnipeg’s General Hospital. He was a director of the Bank of Montreal and founded the St. Charles Country Club. It was his initiative that got an aqueduct built to provide fresh water for Winnipeg and make typhus a thing of the past for its citizens.  Mr Ashdown was barely finished one civic improvement before he began thinking about what was next on the agenda to make Winnipeg a better place to live. 

 My home is in a building that belonged to a pretty important man! The Ashdown Warehouse was the first building in Winnipeg’s Exchange District to be turned into residential condos. Now there are quite a few others and more are being built and renovated all the time. 

An updated version of this post can be found here. 

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