The last years
In 1971, a new company acquired possession of the Sallows & Boyd. The main floor was subsequently renovated to accommodate the Mighty Mart Discount Centre, which conducted its business until 1976.
Dance Connection also held dance classes on the second floor, the former premises of CJNB Radio, for some time between 1976 and 1978. Dance Connection, now a premiere dance company in the Battlefords, likely got its start at this location.
The building was then sold and the main floor again renovated to provide for Skopyck's Steakery, which operated from 1978 to 1980. During this time, a major fire ravaged the restaurant.
Skopyck's also leased the top floor in 1978 to Holliday's Teen Disco. The black decor, mirror balls and lights, and the high-volume, pulsating music, appealed to young people. The disco was quite a success from 1978 to 1980. The former owner, Lenn Holliday, pointed out each patron was required to take out a membership, all of which were stored on a computer. Each young person entering the club had his or her photo ID scanned to confirm his or her membership. This was a remarkable use of technology given that in 1978 the banks, businesses and schools had yet to acquire computers.
In 1980, the Sallows & Boyd Building was sold to Leung Enterprises Ltd. who renovated the main floor - the last of the succession of renovations at Sallows & Boyd - to accommodate the Dynasty Dining Room, a successful Chinese restaurant and takeout for a number of years. The Dynasty also sustained a fire, in its kitchen, that caused significant damage. The fire also persuaded the owners to shut down the restaurant. Since then, the Sallows & Boyd has remained vacant.
The City of North Battleford acquired the property in December, 1992.
What should be done with the historic Sallows & Boyd Building? Two related questions need to be answered. First, does the Sallows & Boyd Building's historic value justify the cost to repair it? Second, do we have the collective will to save this building? If we don't get a "yes" on the first question, there's no point in discussing the second. And even if we do get a positive response on the first question, we still must have the will to preserve this old structure.
Weighing the Options
The building has not been used for many years. Structures that are not occupied decay and crumble. As it stands, the old Sallows & Boyd Building is not usable. A restaurant fire in the structure's main area two decades ago caused considerable damage. And the roof must be in bad shape. The pigeons have been shut out of the building, but they've certainly left their mark. The steel band reinforced exterior walls, however, appear to be straight and true, without bulges and with no leaning.
However, the only way to determine conclusively if these walls possess sufficient structural integrity is to get an engineer's assessment. If they are sound, it might be feasible to gut the building, repair the roof and use the building for cold storage. Then, when the viability and appeal of the downtown core is restored, the Sallows & Boyd could once again become a coveted piece of prime commercial real estate ready for development. It's an idea which would require more data and professional estimates to sustain.
Demolishing the building and destroying yet another of the city's historic buildings, and thereby creating another giant parking lot stretching from 11th Avenue to the old credit union building on 12th Avenue is another idea. But that should be the last option, not the first.
North Battleford's Depressed Inner Core
It would be a shame to see the century-old Sallows & Boyd bulldozed into oblivion like so many of our historic downtown structures, of which the old post office in 1972 and the Royal Bank Building in the 1990s are perhaps the most notable. The decline of North Battleford's downtown core, beginning in the early 1970s, and its descent into an economically and socially depressed inner city with many vacant and deteriorating historic buildings, crime, vagrancy and a pervading culture of poverty, must be the most extraordinary transformation ever experienced by our city. Every middle-aged and senior person I know agrees with that assertion.
If at all possible, the repair and use of the historic Sallows & Boyd Building should be an important part of the overall restoration of our historic downtown core.
Identifying businesses, including partnerships and arrangements, and agencies that operated from the Sallows & Boyd during its 100 years of existence was a daunting task. Compressing the history of this remarkable building into a newspaper article was no less difficult. Fortunately, I was able to acquire some key information from long-time residents of the city who had personally experienced the Sallows & Boyd.
A large thank you to the McDonald brothers who worked in the family business and learned the history of the building from their father. I am indebted as well to David Dekker for the information on CJNB and the Dekker family. I also appreciate the city residents, whose names appear in this article, who shared their stories. Thank you as well, to the City of North Battleford building department for some important data. Finally, a special thank you to Tammy Donahue Buziak, city archivist, for her expert help in locating a number of important documents