Historic Sites of Manitoba: Havana Cigar Syndicate Block (187 Sutherland Avenue, Winnipeg)
On 9 January 1901, the Havana Cigar Syndicate (HCS) was founded at Winnipeg by German immigrant Charles Momburg (1852-1912), who arrived in Canada in 1882 and worked 15 years at the Drewry Brewery, rising to the position of brewmaster. As his independent venture got off the ground, so did the demand on his time, and he resigned from Drewrys in November 1901 to focus solely on the HCS. His departure was given a send-off gathering by his Redwood plant colleagues along with a gold watch to commemorate his tenure with the company.
Initially, Momburg's company occupied space at 90 Albert Street, hired Paul Prozesky as its manager, and commenced cigar production, with a staff of about seven employees. By July 1902, the payroll had grown to 37 employees. In 1903, Momburg commissioned architect John Schwab to design a dedicated cigar factory and hired contractor Louis A. Pachal to build it. The two storey yellow-brick building measured 30 feet of frontage and a depth of 60 feet. Construction began in August 1903 and was completed at a cost of around $10,000. The factory opened for business in mid-November 1903.
At some point over the next four years, Momburg sold his interest in the cigar factory and returned to the brewing trade, joining McDonagh & Shea. The HCS Block was sold to Thomas Lee, owner of the Western Cigar Factory at 713 Main Street.
In February 1908, Paul Prozesky, his wife Carrie Kress Prozesky, merchant Andrew W. Krausmann, his wife Minnie Prozesky Krausmann, and agent Philip Samon formed the Havana Cigar Syndicate Limited, obtaining a charter of incorporation via Letters Patent under the Manitoba Joint Stock Companies Act on 2 April 1908. Their newly-incorporated venture carried on the existing business of the HCS and held a capital stock of $100,000. The Havana Cigar Syndicate continued business at this site into the early 1920s, with ownership of the property passing to Lee's wife upon his death in 1921. The premises was then consecutively leased during the 1920s by Green River Limited, an aerated water company, and the N. P. Beverage Company, being vacated around March 1928. Its next occupants, the Western Wicker Works, a willow furniture company, moved into the building in October 1928. After some 18 months, the site was then used by a soda fountain supply company. It sat empty around 1934-1935 and was finally sold circa 1938.
The building has since been occupied by a variety of commercial and industrial vendors, including the long-running machinist firm of Muzeen and Blythe (c1939-c1965) as well as shorter occupants such as Selkirk Metal Products Limited (c1948-c1950), Capitol Carpet Company (c1951-c1952), and Rainbow Rug Company (c1953-c1956). In the 1970s, several expansions were made to the building, which otherwise remains in its original structural configuration. Last purchased around 2016, it was occupied at the time of a 2021 site visit by the Manitoba Garage Doors Limited.
Photos & Coordinates
Death registration [Julia Johnson], Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Pleasing presentation,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 November 1901, page 5.
“Thirty thousand paid admission [The Havana Cigar Syndicate],” Manitoba Free Press, 24 July 1902, page 10.
“Notice of removal,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 May 1903, page 2.
“Removal notice,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 October 1903, page 16.
“The Havana Cigar Syndicate,” Manitoba Free Press, 14 November 1903, page 16.
“The famous “T.L.” Cigar,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 December 1903, page 9.
“Western Cigar Factory,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 23 December 1903, page 2.
“Winnipeg cigars of right quality,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 July 1907, Industrial Section page 18.
“Western Cigar Factory,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 December 1907, page 28.
“Many new industries in last three years,” Winnipeg Tribune, 25 May 1911, page 4.
“Expired in theatre,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 November 1912, page 28.
Death notice [Charles Momburg], Manitoba Free Press, 9 November 1912, page 20.
“Buy your cigars by the box,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 November 1916, page 52.
“Cigars for Christmas [...],” Manitoba Free Press, 19 December 1917, page 6.
“Mystery solution in keys,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 May 1937, page 6.
“Baffling mystery is closed,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 June 1937, page 27.
“List Johnson case unsolved,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 October 1937, page 6.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit #702/1903, City of Winnipeg Archives.
Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 58H - Havana Cigar Syndicate Limited, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.
Business Names Registration files (CCA 0062), 2523 - Havana Cigar Syndicate, GR13054, Archives of Manitoba.
Business Names Registration files (CCA 0062), 2808 - Havana Cigar Syndicate, GR13054, Archives of Manitoba.
Business Names Registration files (CCA 0062), 2814 - Havana Cigar Syndicate, GR13054, Archives of Manitoba.
Orders-In-Council (EC 0003B), Order-In-Council No. 12791, GR1530, Archives of Manitoba.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
We thank Josh Kreviazuk (Manitoba Garage Doors Limited) for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 21 December 2022