Taking a seat: sale of Bay restaurant items churns up nostalgia

Browsing for bargains at the soon-to-be-closed downtown Bay store has many shoppers browsing through memories.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/11/2020 (695 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Browsing for bargains at the soon-to-be-closed downtown Bay store has many shoppers browsing through memories.

Hudson’s Bay Co. will shutter its historic flagship building on Portage Avenue in February, forcing the sale of its assets. One of the hottest items Wednesday: the chairs that once supported generations of hungry Winnipeggers at the old Paddlewheel Restaurant (1954-2013).

“I was actually browsing to see what the Bay might have on sale,” Carol Guicheret said, while testing the stability of one such chair.

“My daughter texted me from Toronto and said, ‘Go upstairs and check, they’re selling out Paddlewheel chairs and furniture.’ That’s when I was downstairs buying shoes. So, I came up and I just sent her a couple of pictures and she said I had to buy a couple just for memory sake.”

Carol Guicheret was going to buy a couple of chairs, but didn't know where she was going to put them. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

Guicheret said she will buy two, but doesn’t know where she will put them.

“I don’t need chairs,” she said with a laugh. “My husband will probably have a fit because I’m always telling him not to bring things home. But you know, 10 bucks, how can you go wrong?”

It is a sentiment near to Winnipeggers’ hearts.

On Wednesday afternoon, at least a dozen people could be seen carrying out the telltale wooden chairs with a beige cushion.

“These are actually going to go to our cabin, where all of our family has a connection to and they all remember the Paddlewheel Queen (riverboat),” said David Fache, while taking four chairs to his vehicle on Vaughan Street.

“I’m the last of four siblings here in Winnipeg — so they’re all going to be jealous.”

David Fache is going to put the chairs around a dining room table from Wilson Furniture, another downtown Winnipeg store that held family memories. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

As a youth, Fache said his mom took him to Bay Days sales twice a year; they would always take the bus to the store and have lunch at the Paddlewheel Restaurant.

He said the chairs will soon surround the cabin’s dining room table he purchased from Wilson Furniture, another shuttered downtown Winnipeg store that held family memories.

“I appreciate these (Bay) folks doing this and giving us an opportunity to zip down here. I mean $10 a chair, that’s a bargain because the memories are priceless,” Fache said.

Meanwhile, Lynn Fosty was loading up on 11 chairs and three tables from the old Paddlewheel for use at a community snowmobile shack near Stead.

She recalled visiting the restaurant frequently as a teenager, and was excited when she heard the Bay was selling its furniture.

Clearance signs are up at the Bay. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press)

“My girlfriend called me and said, ‘Lynn do you want to go? They’re clearing out all this Paddlewheel furniture.’ And I said when I was a teenager, we used to meet here with all our friends. I said, you will probably find some of my gum stuck under the tables,” Fosty said with a laugh.

The furniture is sure to make even more memories in its new home, she said.


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