Our History

The Story of Justin's Auto

Once upon a time...

The industrial building located on the site of 1498 Kildare Road has been a Walkerville landmark for almost ninety years. Now home to Justin’s Auto Repair, the building was originally constructed for the Cunningham Sheet Metal Company in 1928.

As an already established firm, the company was in need to move to a larger facility, after acquiring large contracts related to the construction of the Ambassador Bridge. According to a brief article in the 1929 Iron Trade Review Vol. 84, the single floor 5,000 square foot plant was constructed by the Border Construction Company Limited.

Cunningham Sheet Metal Company was originally located in a much smaller building located a few streets over at 69 Lincoln Road.

Before It Was Justin's Auto

It Was The Cunningham Sheet Metal Company

A big attraction for the company to remain in Walkerville and to expand upon on land purchased from the Walker empire, was the investment and support offered by the Walkerville Land & Building Company.

During this era of Walkerville’s history the Walkerville Land & Building Company placed many advertisements in local newspapers including the Detroit Free Press to attract new investors to construct industrial plants in the Walkerville boundaries.

Detroit Free Press logo

They made note to those who wanted to take advantage of the newly constructed Ambassador Bridge, in order to grow new businesses in the aggressively planned and developed town of Walkerville.

Since the introduction of Ford Motor Company to the region in 1904, both Walkerville and newly formed Ford City experienced vast growth right up to the 1929 Stock Market Collapse, which brought on the Great Depression.

Cunningham Sheet Metal largest contribution the Ambassador Bridge project, was providing the roofing and sheet metal work for the customs terminals on the Canadian side of the Detroit River. Well known for its sheet metal work, the shop was also an early pioneer in trying new methods for working with copper and brass. When the Canadian Bridge Company required brass railing for its prestigious Walkerville Head Office, Cunningham Sheet Metal Company supplied their order.

Detroit Free Press logo

In 1930 the trade journal Canadian Engineer, announced that the Cunningham Sheet Metal company secured the roofing and sheet metal contract for the Canadian Immigration Building at the Windsor Detroit-Tunnel. These projects connected Windsor and Canada to the United States of America, increasing trade relations between the two respected nations.

Justin's Auto History Room

What can we say, we love our history

The shops doors remained opened during the Great Depression, although times were a bit slower in terms of production. The building supplied work and parts to some of the larger Windsor Plants, during both peacetime and the Second World War.

The Detroit Free Press noted in April of 1943, the Cunningham Sheet Metal building’s safe was broken into, as part of an evening of safe heists and robberies that were conducted by thieves targeting Walkerville businesses.

Windsor Police Department badge

At the time, the Windsor Police noted that over $1500 in total was stolen and the suspects remained at large.

Cunningham Sheet Metal Company continued to operate the shop for the rest of the 20th Century. By the 1980s the shop had expanded to offer a wide array of metal work services and worked on several local projects. In 1991 the firm constructed the inside railings for the Cleary International Centre, as the 30 year old building was going through an extensive twenty-nine million dollar renovation project.

According the September 6th 1991, edition of the Windsor Star, the Cunningham Sheet Metal company was contracted to build and instal stairway railings for the centre. In 1997, the firm was again upon by the city to help booster the downtown core at the Odette Sculpture Park.

A Sculpture at Sculpture Park

The September 3rd, 1997, edition Windsor Star noted the Cunningham Sheet Metal helped with bronze repair work of the Flying Man Statues by English artist Elisabeth Frink. At the time the Windsor Star estimated that the value of the pair of statues was around $300,000 Canadian.

Inside Justin's Auto Repair

We Clean Up Nice

A new century brought new changes to 1478 Kildare Road. Cunningham Sheet Metal was able to survive the mid 2000’s recession, focusing on offering a wide array of metal services, obtaining higher end clientele and reaching niche markets. According to the Oct 9, 2003 edition of the Windsor Star, the company helped construct the Peace Monument located at Charles Grant Square. Sadly vandals stole one of the monuments decorative doves, which required workers for Cunningham Sheet Metal to replace it, before the monument was officially unveiled to the public.

In March of 2008, the company was granted a contract to be part of the 430 million dollar expansion of Windsor’s casino. For the City of Windsor, the expansion of the Casino meant a new benchmark in the development of the Windsor skyline.

Windsor's Caesar Casino

The Casino’s new hotel tower overtook Victoria Place, as Windsor’s tallest building, a title that was held by the 125 Park street apartment building since 1979. By March of 2015, just like in 1928 when it outgrew its Lincoln Road location, Cunningham Sheet Metal, had found history had repeated itself. The company now required a larger space, so after heavy hearted decision the firm left Walkerville, after being part of the area's history for 107 years. The company has remained in the Windsor area and now operates in a modern 10,000 square foot facility.

The original Justin’s Auto Repair was located at 2378 Central Avenue in Windsor Ontario.

Justin's Auto on Central Avenue

Formed in 2009, by Walkerville native Justin Lapointe, Justin’s Auto Repair’s history starts years before this time.

Justin participated in the Kennedy Collegiate co-program in 2002-2003 at Volvo Recycle which used to be the business that he purchased. By the end of the school year, he was hired on as the sole technician. With the help of the owner, Martti DeLabarre, he acquired the valuable knowledge and ability to expertly repair Volvos which are one of the safest cars on the road.

Once Justin took over the business, he was accompanied by his wife Cherleen, who together rapidly evolved it based on their honest and ethical family values. Customers were quick to respond and loyally kept coming back to have their vehicles repaired and serviced.

In January of 2016, Justin and Cherleen chose to purchase the beautiful and renowned building of Cunningham Sheet Metal on Kildare road. Lapointe retrofitted the interior of the building with modern automotive hoists and equipment, but has kept the original shop floor feel. The building itself has held onto its original character, with the beautiful wooden floors, wooden barn door, shop windows and well kept original exterior as well as adding many unique historic artifacts to only add to the over feel of the building. It is the goal of the current ownership to preserve the building's rich history and use the buildings space to continue to serve the local Walkerville community.

With the hiring of two automotive technicians and a much larger facility, Justin’s Auto Repair was poised to continuously grow while respectfully serving all Windsor and surrounding residents. In June of 2016, Justin’s Auto Repair celebrated its grand reopening at 1478 Kildare Road. Just like Cunningham Sheet Metal, Justin’s Auto Repair outgrew it’s original dwellings located at 2378 Central Avenue.

Justin's Auto Repair

Today

Sources:
Canadian Engineer Detroit Free Press Iron Trade Review Southwestern Ontario Digital Archives Windsor Planning and Heritage Department Windsor Public Library Windsor Star