Mary and John Streets, June 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

39 George Street, part 2

At the end of World War II the returning veterans were settling down, getting married, starting families and that created a housing shortage across Canada. As mentioned earlier, #39 George Street was sold by the original owner (the Snyder’s) to a partnership of Harold and Shirley Bordman, and his parents, Edward and Sylvia in 1946. The mansion was turned into 5 apartments. After a year of renovations, in 1946 Harold, Shirley, and their young daughter, Heather moved into the main floor apartment on the east side. Harold’s parents, Edward and Sylvia and their daughter, Marnie, moved in above them and the other 3 units were rented out.  

Marnie recalls growing up on George Street. She was 8 when she moved in, after living on both Herbert and John Streets. The neighbourhood was full of children. Here are some of her recollections.

Four-year-old Marnie Bordman in front of one of the houses at the foot of Herbert St (near William), recently demolished.
The community discouraged children from going house to house on Hallowe’en evening. Instead the kids from Elizabeth Ziegler, St Louis, Alexandra, and Central schools would gather at the park at William and King Streets and parade to the market (which is now the location of the Marsland Building on Erb Street). Prizes were given out for the best costume, and all the kids got donuts and hot chocolate. When Marnie was older her friends would gather in the basement of 39 George Street for a Hallowe’en party. There was a trap door that got the guests into the party room.

Hallowe’en Party in the basement of 39 George St.

Older kids would also hang out at Beese’s Dairy Bar (which is now Newtex Dry Cleaners at King and John). It had a U-shaped bar with round seats that you could spin on. Beese’s specialized in cherry cokes and vanilla milkshakes.

Marnie’s father was a bartender at the City Hotel (corner of King and Willis Way, now Investor’s Group). Wearing her Brownie uniform, Marnie would sit quietly on a stool at the bar. When it was almost closing time she would go table to table and sell her Girl Guide cookies. She won a prize for selling the most cookies.

The house next door, #43 George Street was owned by the Simpson family when Marnie was growing up. They had two daughters, Carol and Sally, as well as an attic full of old clothes from Carol’s grandmother. Marnie and Carol would play dress-up. Here they are in the garden in their finery!

Marnie Bordman and Carol Simpson
Marnie’s mother and sister-in-law opened Bordman’s Gift Shop on King Street where Whole-Lotta-Gelata is now. It was right beside a Chinese Restaurant. The gift shop was the place in town to purchase fine china and other specialty items. It closed in 1957. That same year Marnie married Bill Wharnsby and the house at #39 George Street was sold. It continues to have 5 apartments.  

As you walk around the Mary-Allen neighbourhood, take delight in discovering the stories behind some of these beautiful homes. We can be proud that we live in such a lovely area.

Newlyweds Marnie and Bill Wharnsby, in front of the sunroom of 43 George St.

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