“The building is a blob. It makes Regina airport look exciting.”

Peter Dickinson's 60 Waller in 1984. Empty, but a full decade before demolition. Image: Hellmut Schade / Carleton University Audio-Visual Resource Centre.
Peter Dickinson’s 60 Waller in 1984. Empty, but a full decade before demolition. Image: Hellmut Schade / Carleton University Audio-Visual Resource Centre.

Midcentury Modern. Modernism. International Style. Whatever one’s choice term to describe the style of architecture, the road to recognition of buildings in the style as being worthy of preservation on a heritage basis has been a long one and the journey is far from over. Today, most would still take one look at the building above and fail to shed a tear over its 1994 demolition. Even among those who were present to advocate for its preservation, the arguments usually had more to do with who designed it than they did with what it was.

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Not (D)workin’ Anymore

Customers crowd in for Dworkin's fur sale, February 1954. Image: City of Ottawa Archives CA043229.
Customers crowd in for Dworkin’s fur sale, February 1954. Image: City of Ottawa Archives CA043229.

In 2012, Dworkin Furs announced that it would liquidate its stock and close up business after 111 years. Although sales of fur have continued to fluctuate on a global level, changes in how what was once a staple of the Canadian economy is understood means that it is unlikely that the long-established Rideau business would have ever seen the sorts of lines that it did in the 1950s.

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Can There Be Only One?

Universal Appliances, 409 Rideau Street. January 24, 1954. Image: City of Ottawa Archives CA042915.
Universal Appliances, 409 Rideau Street. January 24, 1954. Image: City of Ottawa Archives CA042915.

Universal Appliances, 409 Rideau, and a car painted in a tartan pattern to promote Maytag’s Highlander automatic washer. Unlike the case in a certain movie, it was a popular line and far more than one was produced. Interestingly, the well-known appliance brand does not seem to have been entirely common in Ottawa: it was rarely advertised in either of the local papers when the photograph was taken. Instead, Ottawa was a Connor town, with Inglis, GE, Westinghouse, Easy, Viking, Beatty, and a few others being a common sight in the city’s laundry rooms.

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Parkdale’s Kinghurst Plaza (1961)

Kinghurst Plaza, May 2016. Image: Google Maps.
Harry's. Image: omgrealestate.ca.
Harry’s. Image: omgrealestate.ca.

Admittedly, I’ve never been to Harry’s. I’m absolutely certain that the love it earned in Parkdale over its 48 years was absolutely earned and well-deserved. Though I’m not familiar with Harry’s itself, the story is one I believe we’re all familiar with. The family-owned establishment becomes a neighbourhood staple, the owners retire, and a new one comes in with promises not to radically alter what has been established. The promises are often broken as the new owners soon discover that the business fundamentals weren’t as healthy as the community love or that an entrepreneur close to retirement is rarely motivated by future growth. Sometimes, as is the case with Boushey’s on Elgin street here in Ottawa, the retirement means the end of business entirely. For the purposes of this story, however, it is not actually Harry’s that has captured my imagination as such,1Though I do now regret not stopping in at least once on my walks in the area. but rather it is the smart midcentury retail plaza on King West between Jameson and Springhurst that has served as its home that has.

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Notes   [ + ]

1. Though I do now regret not stopping in at least once on my walks in the area.