Sommerfeld Blocks, located at 813 – 817 Broadway Avenue, presently
house the Saskatchewan Crafts Council and Bud’s on Broadway.
These two buildings were erected concurrently in the spring and summer
of 1912. Previous to this date, the lots were vacant except for a
brief tenure by the Nutana Variety Store, which is believed to have
existed between 1910 and 1911. Both buildings were designed by Bugenhagen
and Turnbull and built by Paul Sommerfeld.
originally from Windom, Minnesota, and the product of German ancestry,
came to Saskatoon in 1901 at the age 40. His wife and six children
followed in 1902. From 1902 to 1906 they farmed on land which straddled
Eighth Street East, near present day Holliston School. Shortly thereafter,
Mr. Sommerfeld gave up his farming operation to pursue business interests
with Real Estate Co. and Robert Irvine’s lumberyard and hardware
business. He was also the president of the Saskatoon Mutual Fire Insurance
Co. which occupied an office on the second floor at 813 Broadway Avenue.
The first floor’s original occupant was the Royal Bank of Canada’s
Nutana branch; it opened on February 10, 1913. The Royal Bank remained
on the ground floor of 813 for 53 years until they moved to their
present day site at the northwest corner of Broadway and Main in 1966.
The original longtime location of the Royal Bank caused this portion
of the Sommerfeld Block to become incorrectly known as the ‘Royal
Bank building’. The rest of the building saw continual changes
from tenant apartments to print shops to construction companies while
the Royal Bank endured.
7, 1951, the Royal Bank was subject to a bizarre daytime holdup by
two Vancouver men wearing masks. At approximately 2 p.m. two men from
Vancouver, Peter Melnyk and John Hunter, stole a green ford sedan
from outside the Technical Collegiate in Saskatoon. The two thieves
drove the stolen car to Broadway’s Royal Bank, a few minutes
before 3 p.m. (closing time for the bank). They were wearing blue
overalls and light brown stocking masks with holes for eyes; each
was brandishing a revolver. A total of $10, 731 was stolen by the
two armed men who then fled west on Tenth Street.
residents, Clayton Rogestad of Saskatoon and Walter Koshman of Moose
Jaw, had just pulled off Broadway when they noticed the suspicious
men and made a u-turn at 9th Street to park in front of the bank near
what they later learned was the getaway car.
could see the holdup taking place inside the bank and proceeded to
follow the robbers after they left. In their Ford sedan stolen from
a Saskatoon school teacher named Marion Graham, the robbers led the
civilians and two police cars in a circle beginning down Broadway
and then left on 10th as far as Lorne Avenue. Turning left on Lorne,
they traveled south past the Saskatoon Golf and Country Club and turned
left yet again. On a dirt road they went east as far as Clarence and
swung left on Clarence heading due north reaching speeds near 85 mph.
Apparently, shots were fired at the fleeing bandits by the city police
car on Lorne but this was to no avail. The car was spotted heading
onto the University campus at the street car terminal on College Drive
(across from where the Dairy Queen is now).
abandoned their car and headed towards the riverbank pursued by the
unarmed civilians, who fortunately never encountered the armed robbers
before the police arrived. With the help of civilians and the new
invention of car radios, the police apprehended the criminals less
than an hour after the robbery. A police dog called ‘Dirk’
discovered them dividing the loot in some bushes near the Chemistry
Building and they surrendered without incident.
town the size of Saskatoon, (52,732 in 1951), the robbery had all
the elements of a Hollywood picture. There was premeditated crime,
civilian intervention, a police car chase, shootings, hysterical people
running out of the bank after the fact, barricaded streets and bridges,
abandoned vehicles, a foot chase, a manhunt dog search, and the eventual
arrest of the bad guys. As if planned by a modern day director, the
lead actor, robber Peter Melnyk, booted a reporter in the side of
the head just as the reporter took a picture of Melnyk being escorted
into the police station by five men in blue. It seems a storyline
fit for a screenwriter.
the rest of the bank’s 53 years at 813 were not as eventful.
After the bank moved in 1966, the main floor and basement were taken
over by the Saskatoon French School for three years until several
nursery schools occupied the area until 1974. Northland Books was
the next tenant, after their original location at 902 Victoria Avenue
had been badly damaged by fire earlier that same year. Garry Shoquist’s
store specialized in antiquarian and out of print books. After Northland
Books moved to 630 10th Street East, the assorted tenants included
print shops, artist studios, and various tenants occupying the 2nd
and 3rd floors, which at the time were rented out as single apartments.
Before the current tenants took their place, Bread and Broth Restaurant,
the Shoestring Gallery, Canada World Youth, Broadway Book Repair,
and Safeguard Business Systems all spent time in the Sommerfeld Blocks.