One of the oldest continuously run businesses to remain at its original location is Coad's Drug Store. Percy Howard Coad opened the drugstore as a manager in 1906, and after four years purchased the business and named it Coad's Drug Store. The drugstore, which was housed in a modest two-storey wood-frame building, was the first to be located on the west side of town. At the time, most of the prescriptions were tonics, powders, liniments or capsules, and most of them required compounding.
Percy Coad was born in Ontario, apprenticed as a pharmacist in Toronto and after three years apprenticeship, enrolled in the Ontario College of Pharmacy. Upon graduation, he decided to come west. In 1908, Dr. Norman Wright, a veterinary surgeon, made his quarters in the back of the store and conducted his business there for over 40 years.
Coad's grandson, Peter took over the business in 1971 and a year later the store was rebuilt. The Western Development Museum now houses original prescription files, fittings and a range of stock from the original store. Some idea of the old drugstore is conveyed by its replica at the museum. Many of the bottles and packages on the shelves bear the original Coad's label.
Three generations of Coad pharmacists have operated this store. The family still retains ties to the current operation.
Adilman's Department Store
Northeast Corner of Avenue B and 20th Street
Adilman's Department Store served Saskatoon from this location for over 50 years. A cornerstone of the 20th Street shopping district, it survived the hard times of the 1930s, and grew and expanded over the years to become the largest retail establishment in Riversdale.
Max and Harry Adilman were operating a clothing store and William Adilman, a second-hand store on 1st Avenue when their brother Nathan came to Saskatoon with his family in 1919. He had emigrated from Russia in the early part of the century and had turned his hand to a variety of trades – factory hand in Ohio, clerk n Winnipeg, and fur trader and gold prospector in northern Ontario – before settling in Saskatoon.
In 1921, Max, Harry, and Nathan formed a partnership to open Saskatoon's first department store, Adilman's Ltd. At 126 20th Street West. A fourth brother, William later joined the firm. Nathan's son Jack eventually took over, running the store until it closed in 1974.
The Albany Hotel
Northwest Corner of Avenue B and 20th Street
Construction began on the Iroquois Hotel on the northwest corner of 20th Street and Avenue B in early 1906. In 1912, after the building had been extensively altered and enlarged, it was renamed the Albany.
Cecil B. Daughtery, who had been operating a hotel in Wadena, Saskatchewan, bought the hotel in May 1912 at the height of the local building boom. Then, in the midst of a serious recession in 1922, the property was returned to its previous owner, Francois Colleaux, whose family retained ownership until 1957.
The hotel underwent a series of renovations between 1951 and 1980 when Dale Beavis acquired the title to the property. The hotel is witness to a century of Riversdale's history, and as the years have passed, has itself changed greatly.
The Barry Hotel
Southwest Corner of Avenue B and 20th Street
The Barry Hotel has stood on this corner since its grand opening on August 1st, 1913. In June 1911, proprietor Robert J. Barry had the Butler Hotel moved down the street to make room for a newer, larger and more prestigious hotel.
The building was designed by Thompson, Daniels & Colthurst architects who had also designed St. John's Anglican Cathedral & The Saskatoon Club. It had a full basement, and was built of reinforced concrete and brick and tile construction, with fire-proof floors. The hotel was laid out around a centre well which opened into prism lights on the ceiling of the main floor, and provided window space for interior rooms on the second and third floors. Floors were of terrazzo tile and the walls were paneled in oak. The basement extended out under the sidewalks when the hotel was built. The basement was intended to house a pool room, Turkish bath, massage rooms, a pressorium, barber shop, three full-size bowling alleys and a cafeteria.
In November 1915, during the recession that started a year earlier, Robert Barry lost his hotel to the Union Bank of Canada.
When constructed, the Barry was widely advertised as being of fire-proof construction. But on December 8th, 1946, fire broke out; 11 people died and eight were injured when flames gutted the building. The interior was gutted and many walls destroyed, but the exterior walls stood unscathed. When the hotel was restored, some structural changes were made to enlarge the rooms. In the 1960s new windows were installed and a new roof covered the top floor. New sidewalks were installed on the outside, moving the prism lights to the basement.
Throughout its history, the Barry Hotel and its restaurant were managed by numerous local entrepreneurs, attracting a large farm trade from west of the city and business people from across the country.
Al Anderson Sports
208 Avenue B South
Although the premises have been substantially enlarged and rebuilt since he first opened in 1957, Alton Anderson, now in partnership with his son Kirk, still operates the sporting goods store at 208 Avenue B South. Al's father Clarence and his brothers opened a hatchery at this location in 1952. When the hatchery was closed a few years later, Al decided to set up a sporting business in the family's empty building. Al had been coaching basketball at the University of Saskatchewan and was active in the local sports scene. He also consulted with architects on the building of school gymnasiums and specialized sporting equipment and supplies. He decided that instead of supplying referrals, he would supply the equipment himself.
In the beginning, the company concentrated on institutional sales, supplying teams, schools and contractors with equipment such as bleachers, score-clocks and team supplies. Eventually the business became an icon in retail sales of sporting goods and equipment. The company has undergone many changes throughout the years. Today, Al Anderson's Source for Sports continues to supply equipment, clothing and advice to professional athletes, school teams and local health and fitness buffs.
Western Commercial Company
210 20th Street West
The Western Commercial Company, a wholesale outlet for wine, liquor and cigars, was one of the first substantial commercial buildings constructed on 20th Street West. It was built by A.S. Levine of Vancouver, BC in 1905. At the time, Mr. Levine intended the second floor to be used as an opera hall, having movable partitions that could create one large entertainment venue. The Saskatoon Branch of the Western Commercial Company closed in 1915 after the outbreak of war. Throughout the next 8 decades, the building was home to a number of interesting businesses, including the Saskatoon Exchange Mart, Joes Cycle and General Automotive. The property has been home to Boomtown Outfitters since 1999.
G.W. Norman, Printer
225 20th Street West
George Wesley Norman was born in Alliston, Ontario and came to Saskatoon to help his brother publish the first edition of the Phoenix newspaper in 1902. He established his commercial printing business in 1904 after his brother sold the local paper. He retained ownership of the building until 1939 when the City of Saskatoon took possession.
George was elected to city council and later served as mayor for three terms and Liberal member of the Provincial Legislature. When he retired in 1947, he and his wife moved to Vancouver, where he died in 1970.
The building housed Walter's Cycle from 1966 to 1989. Walter's Cycle was another long-lived family business in Riversdale. Started by Jack Walters, a Welsh immigrant in 1913, this business was an agent for Harley Davidson, introducing motorcycles to Saskatoon.
A popular sport of the time was to try to climb the riverbank at Devil's Dip on the University Campus. Jack's son Les recalled: 'At the most dangerous spots there would be crews with a rope and a hook ready to catch the bike if the rider lost control.'
Les took over the business in 1946, and after moving to various locations in the Downtown and Riversdale districts, ran the business at 225 until he retired in 1989.
Les's daughter recalls working in the shop and telling local ladies of the night they had to 'move along' when she opened in the morning. The 'girls' would bring their children in to buy skates at the Saskatoon Skate Exchange, an auxiliary business started by Walters.
The building has recently been restored for use as a bike shop by Doug Cushway of Boomtown Outfitters. Note the pressed tin cornice on the façade. Inside, the walls and ceilings are covered in pressed tin panels that were uncovered during the recent renovations.
The Butler Block: A Witness to the Village History
Southwest Corner of Avenue C and 20th Street
One of the oldest and most prominent continuously occupied buildings in Riversdale is the Butler Block. In 1906, as Saskatoon was entering its first real boom, Dr. J.H.C. Willoughby and John Butler began construction on the Butler Block. Butler was a speculator-developer from Minneapolis whose adventurous career included travelling with his sons to the Klondike during the gold rush.
By 1904, the hotelier, millionaire and member of the Chicago-Minneapolis Board of Trade had acquired real estate interests in Saskatoon and became one of the signatories on the petition to incorporate Riversdale as a village. Butler died while traveling back to Minneapolis, but Willoughby and Butler's widow Bridget completed construction on the block in 1907.
The building is typical of business blocks built during that era. It is a two-storey wooden structure with a full stone and cement basement. Originally, it had numerous entrances to accommodate a variety of businesses on its ground floor and a number of suites on the upper level to house the business owners, their families and the odd visitor to the city.
On a Friday in 1925, Joseph Germek purchased a small lot of cigarettes, confections and fruit, moved into the upstairs apartment with his family and opened the doors to the West Star Fruit Co. During the next 31 years, Germek shared the block with businesses such as the Star Meat Market, the Westside Clothing Store, and Lipsett's Dry Goods. When Germek finally closed up shop, the Butler Block became home to a series of Chinese restaurants.
Today, some of the best dim-sun in Saskatoon can be had at the Mandarin Restaurant, now the sole business operating out of the Butler Block.
Landa Auto Body Works
222 Avenue C North
Four generations of Landas have been involved in the management of this family firm since it was founded by William Landa in 1908. What began as a small blacksmith shop soon became the Landa Carriage Works, manufacturer of buggies, carriages, democrats and sleighs. This, in turn grew into the Landa Carriage and Body Works when the shop expanded to include the servicing of cars and trucks. Today, Landa Auto Body Works still operates out of its original location at 222 Avenue C South.
William Landa, a carriage maker from Yekaterinoslav, now Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire) arrived in Saskatoon in 1908 with his wife and children. He bought the property at 222 Avenue C South and built a blacksmith shop and, for a number of years, the family lived in apartments above it. William Landa's blacksmith shop was a modest 14x16 feet in size. In it he repaired buggies, made horseshoes, shod horses, fixed wheels and sharpened shears.
Harry Landa joined the family business in 1928 and ran the shop until 1958, retiring in 1961. His son, Mendy, who had joined the staff in the 50s, managed the business until he retired in 1981. At that time he handed the reigns over to Don Henderson who managed the business for the next six years. In 1986, David Landa, Mendy's son and William's great grandson, joined Henderson as a partner. 2008 marked 100 years of the Landa family business.
A hearse, built by the Landa's for the Jewish Burial Society, is on display at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon.
312 & 317 Avenue C South
Although the Beehive Flooring Group did not open their premises on Avenue C until 1950, it had a much earlier association with the Riversdale business community.
Joseph Wake emigrated from England in 1904. In 1913 he opened the Beehive General Store, a grocery store at 113 Avenue C South. He offered his own mixes of teas, baking powder and cured hams for sale. Joseph and his wife delivered groceries in a horse-drawn wagon. By 1915, Joseph had closed this store and opened the Beehive Second Hand Store across the tracks on 1st Avenue South. His son Doug took over followed by grandsons Tim and Brent.
In the mid 1950s the name was changed to Beehive Furniture and the firm relocated to 312 Avenue C South. The original building appears on the 1912 Fire Insurance Map as an Automotive Garage and Repair shop. In 1979 they moved across the street to a new building at 317 Avenue C South, and the old building was converted to a remnant store. The company has since been known as the Beehive Flooring Group, specializing in carpeting and flooring.
The Roxy Theatre
320 20th Street West
Saskatoon's minor building boom of the late 1920s tapered off with the onset of the depression. The Roxy Theatre was built in the summer of 1930, just as the depression was settling in. It is the oldest and most elegant movie theatre still in operation in Saskatoon.
At the time, Spanish Mission or Spanish Colonial was a popular architectural style. Although the Roxy's facade is of two-toned brick rather than the usual white stucco, it shows the influence of this style. The theatre was designed by F.F. Maistre of Winnipeg and built by R.J. Arrand of Saskatoon. Originally, the inner lobby consisted of two curved ramps leading up to the auditorium. At the front of the auditorium was a sunken orchestra pit which accommodated 15 to 20 musicians. The walls were covered with small balconies, windows and towers that gave the impression of a quaint Spanish village. The ceiling was painted dark blue and had twinkling lights set in the plaster to give the impression of the night sky. Two cloud machines added to the effect.
The Roxy opened August 29, 1930 at 7:30pm. The program featured the film "Is Everybody Happy?" (1929), the comedy short "Sugar Plum Daddy", and the Mickey Mouse Cartoon "Barnyard Battle." Ticket prices for the evening show were 40 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. A highlight of the theatre experience was the luxury of air-conditioning, the first in a commercial space in Saskatoon. The auditorium was cooled by water that was pumped from the artesian well located beneath the property.
The Roxy was recently restored by Magic Lantern Theatres and operates as a cinema with occasional live performances. Many of the features in the original theatre, such as the outdoor neon sign, balconies, murals and star-lit ceiling have been preserved or reproduced to create the same magical effect as in days gone by. Nels Warner was a longtime manager of the Roxy, and Ken Bell was manager of the theatre when it was the Towne Cinema between 1976 and 1991 followed by Jason Bell the second generation of the Bell family to operate the theatre.
The theatre was dark from 1996 to 2005 and in serious disrepair. The basement had flooded twice, the roof was leaking and the once magical twinkling ceiling was falling down, and the musty odor of a boarded up building greeted you when entering the once majestic lobby.
Enter Magic Lantern Theatres and Mr. Tom Hutchinson who essentially prevented a parking lot from appearing here. Renovations exceeding one million dollars revived Western Canada's last Spanish Courtyard Atmospheric Theatre and the identifiable soul of the Roxy Theatre emerged behind the historic neon marquee. This refurbished crown jewel of the Business Improvement District is not only offering a historic and out of the ordinary movie atmosphere, but also serves as a venue for lectures, perfomances and even wedding ceremonies.
The Roxy Theatre is also the best venue for the Riversdale Business Improvement District's silent film and orchestral event, Silence is Golden. In partnership with neighbours down the block, The Saskatoon S
New Community Savings and Credit Union
321 20th Street West
The founding meeting of the first Ukrainian Credit Union to be established in Canada was held in Saskatoon on February 7, 1939. The name "New Community Savings and Credit Union Limited" was adopted by the 31 people present, and with a limited capital of $77.68, the newly established organization was opened for business.
In June 1963, New Community Saving and Credit Union moved into its own building at 313 20th Street West. The building, purchased for $24,500, was chosen because of its location in the heart of the Ukrainian community. In 1974, the directors of the business decided a move to a larger property was in order. They engaged the architect Okeren and contracted Piggott Construction to develop the building at 321 20th Street West. The official opening of the offices was held on May 6, 1978. The New Community Credit Union continues to operate from this address, offering services to businesses and residents throughout the city.
The Little Chief Police Station
Northwest Corner of Avenue D and 20th Street
The small, white stucco building with its distinctive tile roof and overhanging eaves was known for almost 40 years as the Texaco Little Chief Service Station. Built in 1928 by the Texas Oil Company, it has attributes of the attractive architectural style variously called Spanish Colonial or Spanish Mission. It was built according to standard design used by the Texaco Oil Company, and sported the company's logo and colours. Both design and colour were intended to capture the motorist's attention.
The building, which was recently restored to a house community police station, is the only remaining service station in Saskatoon from that time period and one of very few examples of this style left in the province (a similar structure can be found at Waskesiu Lake in northern Saskatchewan). It retains its original colours and is an excellent example of adaptive reuse of historic commercial building.
All Black and White Photos courtesy of the
Saskatoon Public Library - Local History Room