Terry Protz is a lifelong resident of Norwood. Walking with me along Norwood Boulevard east of Norwood School, Protz provided fascinating details on local history.
Today these city blocks are victims of urban blight. “It used to be a good neighbourhood,” said Protz.
Norwood Boulevard was a lively mixed use area during the Second World War and the years following the war. This working class district contained several businesses, a church, and modest homes.
Although Rat Creek had been filled in by Protz’s youth, it once intersected Norwood Boulevard between 75 and 78 Streets. Protz looked east to the Coliseum grounds and said “there are wet spots in the northeast section of that ball diamond which are about all that’s left of Rat Creek.”
While searching through archives, I discovered many former employees of Norwood Foundry. Established in 1922 by Squire Hearn, the Foundry produced stove and furnace parts, agricultural and municipal castings. The large number of staff reflects the boom that began with the Second World War and continued into the post-war years.
The Foundry was in a plain commercial building on the south side of 111 Avenue and 91 Street. Old photos show the classic boomtown false front proclaiming Norwood Foundry Co. Ltd in large capital letters. The Foundry’s entry in the 1948 Henderson City Directory boasts “stove repairs a specialty.” Protz said “they had several fires over the years.”
Protz’s history is also here. His father John opened Norwood Shoe Repair in 1948. Steve Kucherepa, who ran North-Way Building Contractors across the Avenue, built the craftsman style building. The Protz family lived in the back while the shop operated at the front. Protz was born there.
The east portion of this duplex held Sig’s Barber and Men’s Clothing Shop. An outlet for Cloverdale Knitting Mills was in the next building to the east.
“Somewhere, I’ve still got an old hockey sweater from that place,” said Protz.
Several small grocery stores were nearby. Run by Michel Magus, Vimy Grocery stood at the corner of 93 Street and 111 Avenue. Magus owned a home close by on 94 Street, close to 112 Avenue. Mike Thomas ran Boulevard Grocery at 9406 and lived in the building. Norwood Meat and Grocery at 9432 was run by the Mah family, who rented a house on 110A Avenue.
On the corner of 95 Street and 111 Avenue across from Norwood School was Sloane’s Drug Store, later bought by Tamblyn’s. “This was a drug store run by Mr. Hollingsworth,” said Protz. The building now houses A-1 Pawn Shop.
Protz attended Norwood School, still a landmark. Built in 1908 for $65,000, the school was designed in Classic Revival architectural style and is impressive.
We were standing in front of the school when Protz pointed to the east and said “you see those two spruce trees? One of them’s mine; it was my Grade 1 project.”
What a treat to discover a personal account of local history.