Snow slogging and photo blogging in the Warehouse District

My final trudge through the snow taking photos for Historic Walks of Regina and Moose Jaw took me to the Warehouse District, where I saw–you guess it–lots of warehouses.

Here’s a favorite:

This 1920 building was built for the hardware and school supplies wholesaler Wood Vallance Ltd. It merged with Marshall-Wells of Moose Jaw in 1926, and remained here until 1970.

I like this one, too:

Sidney Comber, the Montreal architect who designed this 1929 building, gave it a distinctly Mediterranean look, thanks to the Spanish-influenced style and the red tile roof, and that’s one reason I like it. The other reason is…it smells delicious!

It was originally owned by Crown Bakery Ltd., but Weston purchased it in 1938 and has baked bread here ever since.

As usual, I found a couple of other things besides the warehouses to take pictures of:

Here’s a shot along the railroad track that crosses Dewdney Avenue from the north. You can see the dome of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in the distance. You’re also looking pretty much straight along the path taken by the deadly 1912 tornado.

That building on the left is the Laird building, built in 1906–which makes it one of the oldest buildings in the area. It was originally a two-storey building; the third storey was added in 1912. Although the building survived the tornado, it must have been damaged, so the addition may have added at the same time.

It was built for Henry Willoughby Laird and his wholesale grocery business, H.W. Laird Co., the city’s first. Laird’s an interesting fellow: born in Ontario in 1868, he worked as a reporter for various newspapers, then came west in 1901 to become private secretary to Frederick Haultain, premier of the North-West Territories. He left after one year, and soon established his wholesale business. He organized the Regina Storage and Forwarding Company to enable wholesalers and manufacturers in eastern Canada and the United States to carry stocks at Regina, and followed that up with personal visits to those wholesalers and manufacturers, pointing out the enormous market awaiting development in the West. In other words, he provided much of the impetus for the construction of the warehouses in this part of Regina.

Laird was elected to city council as an alderman in 1903 and was mayor in 1904 and 1905, when Saskatchewan became a province and Regina its capital. At the outbreak of the First World War Laird was a major in the Army Service Corps, and he served in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces for three years. As lieutenant colonel, he organized and commanded the Third Divisional Train and led it to England and then to France.

A man who liked to keep busy, in 1920 Laird was a co-founder of the Ontario Equitable Life and Accident Insurance Company, and became its first vice-president, and then vice-president of its spin-off company, Life Reinsurance Company of Canada. He also served as a director of the Northern Life Assurance Company of London and the Merchants Casualty of Waterloo.

He was appointed to the Senate in 1917 and served there until his death in 1940.

Various tenants occupied this building until the early 1920s, including the ordnance department of the Federal Military District 12. From 1948 to 1953 it served as the parts supply department for the Ford Motor Co. In 1953 the City of Regina bought it for the social services department. From the early 1960s until about 1995 it was the Regina Lions Junior Band Hall.

Finally, here’s a nice shot of three old buildings in a row, along Dewdney Avenue:

The one in the foreground is the Regina Cartage and Storage Warehouse, built in 1926. At its peak in 1950, it had 22 businesses occupying it.

The green one is the Canada Customs Warehouse, built in 1911. It, too, has had many occupants over the years.

Finally, the tall one is the Campbell, Wilson and Strathdee Building. One of the finest examples of warehouse architecture in the district, and one of the largest of its time, this 1913-1914 building was designed in the Chicago style (though with touches of Romanesque and Gothic Revival styles for good measure) by Winnipeg architect J. Russell for wholesale grocers Campbell, Wilson and Strathdee, founded in 1910.

The Saskatchewan Liquor Board occupied the building from 1925 to 1960, along with two retail furniture stores. The building was later renovated and renamed Strathdee Shoppes. Today it holds commercial offices and the micro-brewery and pub Bushwakker Brewing Co. (Best micro-brewery in Regina!)

Some people say the building is haunted by the ghost of James Strathdee, who was found dead on the tracks on the other side of Dewdney Avenue from here, a shotgun by his side.

And with that, my photo-touring is done. All (all!) I have to do now is relabel all the photos, figure out which ones to send along for the book, burn them to a DVD and get it in the mail.

So I’d better get to it.

Permanent link to this article: https://edwardwillett.com/2007/03/snow-slogging-and-photo-blogging-in-the-warehouse-district/

4 comments

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    • Roger on December 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm
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    Looking for where my Dad worked in the 50-60s when he was with Marshall Wells. I am to understand that the Marshall Wells building is the Crown store on Dewdney? Thx.

    1. Hi, Roger,

      No, the building in the photo in the blog post isn’t on Dewdney: it’s at 1933 8th Ave, a block north of Dewdney. It’s occupied by an assortment of small business right now, I believe.

      Here’s the info I have in my book:

      [Wood Valance Ltd. Warehouse

      1933 8th Avenue

      Architects: Storey and Van Egmond

      Date: 1920]

      This 1920 building is decorated with a particularly fine example of brick pattern work. In particular, note the initials W.V. in brick above the door on the 8th avenue façade.. They stand for Wood Vallance Ltd., the hardware and school supplies wholesaler who built this building (Storey and Van Egmond designed it), merged with Marshall–Wells of Moose Jaw in 1926, and remained here until 1970.

  1. The Laird Warehouse at 2338 Dewdney Avenue was totally destroyed in the 1912 tornado, except for the front door! Laird did not add a third floor. Quite the speculative comment which does not make sense. He built the present larger (25-foot wider) 3-storey warehouse later that year. See Regina Leader of 26 July 1912, page 24.

    1. Thanks, Ross. Unfortunately I can’t say, at this late date, what my source was for that information, though I know I had one, since I obviously wasn’t around in 1912 to see for myself…I appreciate the correction.

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