One of the more interesting building on Ouellette Ave., and one that I’ve been asked about several times is the HMCS Hunter building on Ouellette Ave., just north of the Masonic Temple.
The building was built in 1929, and designed by R. J. Davies, president of the Toronto Building Company. It was built by Fred W. Martin, the man who was behind the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. Originally it was known as the Martin Marketorium, and basement was planned as a giant food market (what I wouldn’t give to have that back!).
The building shows up as the “Marketerium Building” on the Fire Insurance map, as well as being the home of the Frontier Badminton Club.
*Photo above from the December 31, 1929 issue of the Windsor Star
As seen in the first photo the building has some great stone trim around the entrance way, and a hint of art deco styling. I’m not sure when it became the HMCS Hunter, or when it ceased to be a food market…
The article below is from the Michigan Architect and Builder – March, 1929:
Windsor To Get $400,000 Building
Immediate construction will start on Ouellette Ave., near Erie St., of a composite business building to be erected at a total cost for building and land of $400,000. The building will include, in the basement, the largest food market in Canada.
Fred W. Martin, promoter of the Detroit-Windsor vehicular tunnel and owner of the new project, has announced the awarding of the construction contract to the Davies Construction Co., Toronto. Plans for the building were prepared by R. J. Davies, president of the Toronto Building Company. Plans have been filed with George E .Wood, Windsor building inspector.
The building, which will be two stories and basement, is to have a frontage on the east side of Ouellette Ave. of 140 feet and will extend back 210 feet to Dufferin place. Necessitating an outlay in excess of $225,000 in structural costs, the building, when completed, will house 10 retail concerns and will have a total floor space of 90,000 square feet. The Davies Construction Co. within the next week, will let sub-contracts on the structure. Exterior of the new building, facing Ouellette Ave. will be of tapestry brick and stone trim with interior of birch trim. The structure is to be completed within three months.
I got an email this afternoon from the Commanding Officer of the HMCS Hunter who sent along a little background information:
The Windsor Division, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, set up shop in an unused portion of the Toledo Scales Factory, 2462 Howard Ave., near the CP tracks just after the start of World War II. The official opening was 5 March 1940.
The search for a new building led the Navy to 960 Ouellette Avenue.
Our unit historian has this to say about the building:
“At this time an experiment was being tried in a large building on Ouellette Avenue. It was called a Marketorium and was the forerunner of the shopping complex we now know as a mall. In the area that now serves as HUNTER’s Drill Deck was a large open market surrounded by a number of small specialty shops, all covered by one roof. It must have been ahead of its time because it failed. The promoter, by the way, was the same man who was involved in another Windsor venture that is still a resounding success – the Detroit Canada Tunnel. The mortgage company, in an effort to at least realise some revenue, rented out the Drill Deck area to the Frontier Badminton Club, a well patronized organization with activities almost every day. The club set its bar up in the room that now serves as HUNTER’s Wardroom.”
HMCS HUNTER was commissioned on 1 November 1941, and occupied the current building 23 March 1944.