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Dates of existence
The J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company began on 11th September 1869 when the recent immigrant to Winnipeg, James Henry Ashdown, purchased George Moser’s tinsmith shop at Portage and Main. Soon after in 1871, the original shop inadequate for his growing business, Ashdown erected a structure at the corner of Bannatyne and Main. Winnipeg’s 1873 incorporation as a city and the arrival of the railway in 1878 brought waves of immigration, and between 1875-1885, Ashdown expanded his building several times to accommodate its success and patronage.
Ashdown saw the trend of western expansion and launched Ashdown Hardware stores across Canada – including Portage la Prairie and Emerson (1881), Calgary (1889), Saskatoon (1912), Edmonton (1923), and Regina (1929). Back in Winnipeg in 1896, he started construction on his warehouse close to the docks in order to better receive shipments via river traffic and to launch distribution for more stores. Business was booming – in 1900, he launched the “Ashdown Special,” a promotional spectacle consisting of an entire train of goods shipped west with specially marked cars.
In 1902 the business was officially incorporated as the J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company Limited with the Province of Manitoba, and they released their “Diamond A Brand” – the company’s mark of quality – in 1904. The same year, his Main Street store burnt and was rebuilt within a few months; that building still stands at the corner of Main and Bannatyne to the present day.
The founder J.H. Ashdown passed away in 1924, and was succeeded as owner of the business by his son, Harry C. Ashdown. When Harry Ashdown passed away in 1970, the company was sold to the local liquidation outlet Big 4 Sales.