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MHS Centennial Business: Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Company / Winnipeg Supply Service Experts

On 6 March 1904, The Winnipeg Supply Company Limited was incorporated by a group of Toronto-area lime manufacturers and contractors. They opened an office on the northeast corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street and acquired a fuel business in Winnipeg and limestone quarry at Stonewall. Within a year the head office had relocated to their warehouse and yard at 298 Rietta Street in the busy north end, where they supplied a wide variety of fuel supplies and building materials including coal, wood, brick, lime, Portland cement, fire brick, fire clay, sewer pipe and stone.

By 1912 the name was changed to Winnipeg Supply and Fuel Company Limited to reflect more accurately the business in which they engaged. They had added a yard in Fort Rouge, acquired a lime-burning operation near Hillcrest, Alberta, and bought an abandoned brick plant at Balmoral. In 1919, the company purchased the Moosehorn Lime Company at Moosehorn from Winnipeg businessman William Martin. By their 25th anniversary in 1929, additions included a new yard in St. James, an industrial furnace department, a general construction division, and a limestone-crushing plant.

By the late 1930s Winnipeg Supply was positioned to pioneer automatic heating in Winnipeg with automatic coal stokers called “Iron Firemen.” In 1939, it opened a peat-mining facility at Shelly and, in the 1940s, strip coal mines in Saskatchewan and Alberta were added to the mix. During the postwar boom they built several suburban housing projects, became distributor for Lennox heating equipment, began delivering fuel oil, opened a concrete-batching plant, and purchased Pressur-Crete Limited, a concrete block manufacturer. Their retail supply centre on Portage Avenue opened in 1959. By the late 1960s, their role as a fuel dealer, building materials retailer and heating service supplier had expanded to include land developer, business leader in northern Manitoba and prominent business with branches from Thunder Bay to Vancouver.

In subsequent years the company refocused to meet current needs, even briefly taking the popular Mary Scorer Books into the corporation. In response to the advent of big-box retailers, the two building centres were closed in 1999 and the mechanical division was sold to Lennox Industries Canada. A new showroom, office and warehouse at 971 Wall Street and a new name “Winnipeg Supply Service Experts” underlined the new focus on customer support. Building on one hundred years of experience, Winnipeg Supply still provided four-season comfort to hometown customers.

On 15 January 2005, an MHS Centennial Business Award was presented to David Smith of Winnipeg Supply Service Experts by Ken Zealand.

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: Alexander Robertson (1909-1985)

Sources:

Based on the information in A Century of Hometown Service: The Story of Winnipeg Supply published by Winnipeg Supply Experts in 2004.

We thank Alex Graham for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 1 April 2014

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