Jalland Block

 

 

1907

602 17 Avenue SW

 

From 1884 until 1907, when this building was constructed, 17 Avenue was Calgary's southern bourdary. The owners and builders of the Jalland Block were Thomas and Robert Jalland of Victoria, BC. , who operated Jalland Brothers, a construction and real estate business. They owned the building until 1910.

The Jalland Block housed a storefront on the main floor along 17 Avenue, a second storefront accessible from 5 Street West (1519 - 5 Street W), and rental apartments upstairs. Commercial tenants in the main storefront included numerous grocers over the years. The second storefront housed a series of shoemakers and a tailor.

In October 1912, the Jalland Block was the scene of a double-murder / suicide that made headlines for days. Mildred Dixon, a private detective who lived in one of the building's apartments, had been hired by real estate salesman John C. Davis to shadow his wife Minnie, whom he had suspected of infidelity. Dixon quickly judged him abusive and his suspicions unfounded. She quit the case, informed Minnie Davis, and persuaded Minnie to move in with her temporarily. On Oct 6, 1912, John Davis entered Dixon's apartment, shot and killed his wife, mortally wounded Dixon, and killed himself. A month later, it was learned that Davis was really Spencer Holder of Alabama, and that he was a bigamist who had a wife and children in the United States.

Between 1923 and 1951, the building housed Viccars Grocery. English-born grocer George Harry Viccars (1890-1945) moved to Strathmore around 1913, and later settled in Calgary, where he became a tennis champion and once served as president of Associated Grocers Ltd., an independent retailers' buying group formed in 1927. Harry Viccars owned the building and lived upstairs with his family, in what had eveidently become a single dwelling untit 91521 - 5 Street W). He died in this suite, and his son Roy later took over the buisiness.

The building remained a grocery until photograoher Peter Gold bought the building in 1974, and converted it into Gold Studio of Photograohy. The main floor became the reception and sales area, with the camera room and darkrooms upstairs. Gold replaced the roof's cedar shingles with corrugated steel, and covered the exterior brick, which had been previously sandblasted, with ceda. THe photography business eventually took over the 5 Street storefront space, which had housed Walter Downes' Art's Barber Shop from the 1930s to the 1960s. Upstairs windows that had been closed off during Gold's occupancy have since been reopened.

 

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