The Murals of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: Murals
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843 Main Street    Location Map
  

The view from the roof of this fine tribute to local Winnipeg icon, the late Nick Hill Sr. Photo courtesy of Mandy van Leeuwen.


Location: E side bet. Jarvis & Dufferin; North Face (high)

Occupant: Surplus Direct Liquidation (formerly Kern-Hill Furniture Co-op Ltd.)

District: North End

Neighbourhood: North Point Douglas

Artist(s): Mandy van Leeuwen, Michel Saint Hilaire

Year: 2004

Sponsors: Take Pride Winnipeg!, Mosaic Market BIZ, Neighbourhoods Alive! (Manitoba)

 

If you live in Winnipeg, unless you've been living under a rock you'll know this address: 843 Main Street is the home of Kern-Hill Furniture where the 'best deals' on furniture can be had. For years, the city's airwaves have been inundated with straight-talking voice ads enticing us to Come on Down (!) for best selection, prices and service. On March 18, 2003 our city lost that original voice and the beloved businessman, community icon and driving force behind this Winnipeg treasure.

Nick Hill was born and raised on the outskirts of Winnipeg. His family were dairy farmers and he used to ride a horse to school. Later he lived in the North End and in East Kildonan where he stayed for the rest of his life. He loved sports and gave tirelessly, especially to hockey. He almost made the NHL, playing for the Boston Bruins farm club the Milwaukee Bruins of the International League. During his tenure at Milwaukee, the team won the Memorial Cup.

He felt he could make more money selling TVs than playing hockey; and so he set up his first business, Manitoba Television at Dufferin and Derby over 50 years ago. That operation evolved into the current furniture co-op which has been running for over 35 years. Like in his ads, he had a 'thumbs-up' attitude to life. Mr. Hill was also a founding and guiding force in the development of the North Main Mosaic Market Business Improvement Zone. He served on the Board of Directors for Rainbow Stage; and gave generously to numerous community causes, especially children's charities, hockey and bowling. And he did it quietly, without seeking recognition.

Nick Hill, Jr.: "He gave more to people than perhaps they realize, including knowledge. He was always such a go-getter. He always told us to give back to people; and that you would receive in return. That was always important. Right up 'till the day he died he was always promoting something! We didn't realize how 'big' a guy he was until he was gone. He was a pretty humble guy."

All three of his sons were naturally drawn to the business and each began working there as soon as they finished school. None of them felt any pressure from their dad to work in that business: it was simply in their blood. Andy's ('number one son', see photo 3) distinctive voice is now the voice of the Kern-Hill ads.

Upon hearing the news of his death, the then Mayor Glen Murray released a statement paying tribute to the 'ol' cowpoke'. An excerpt: "Nick was a civic treasure who stood proudly among the many Winnipeggers who make our city unique and memorable. We all know him, or at least we feel we do. That's because on and off the air, Nick's personality connected with the hearty spirit of Winnipeg people. A no-fuss kind of man, he did his best to serve his family, his dedicated staff, and his community with a spirit of tenacity and optimism. Nick didn't try to impress anyone with carefully crafted flash or polish. His authenticity; his way of cutting through the clutter and noise of our lives and reaching our hearts always amazed me. He was a natural marketer, and a great friend to many. I think I'll miss Nick most for being a championing leader who didn't just say he loved this city--he proved it."

Nick Jr.: "We were talking about all of the great Murals around town, and one of our staff members suggested that wouldn't it be great if we did a Mural. The artists that came were excellent and they came up with good ideas. It was just something to try to remember him by and pay a little tribute to him. We're going to hook up a light so it's visible at night."