Auto shop

Winnipeg auto shop closes

JW McDonald Auto Service has had a few names over the years, but it has always been able to provide vehicle service to Winnipeggers.

But now, the Exchange District staple is escalating and poised to close its doors for good.

Andy Baranowski, the shop’s owner, said now was the time to close things down and move on to the next chapter of his life.

“I just decided to pull the plug and spend more time alone and with my wife and travel, instead of working on everyone’s cars,” Baranowski said.

Andy Baranowski inside JW McDonald Auto Service before it closed. (Credit: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News)

According to the Manitoba Historical Society, the business at 189 Bannatyne Avenue opened in 1923 as Blackie & Price. It belonged to Arthur Blackie and John Price.

In the 1930s the name changed to Blackie & Douglas and in 1948 the current building was constructed.

In the late 1950s the company became Handfield Motors after it was acquired by Roland Handfield. Then in the early 1960s, John W. McDonald took over the business, giving the garage its current name.

Baranowski said he worked under McDonald’s and in 1987 bought the garage from him and has been in charge ever since.

Recently, he said someone approached him about buying the building, and although the deal fell through, it got him thinking about quitting the business.

A sign for JW McDonald Auto Service. (Credit: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News)

“I’m getting too old and getting too close to 70.”

The garage will close either at the end of this week or the first week of July.

Baranowski said he still owns the building and hopes the right offer comes along to give the area something it needs.

“I would like to see a small grocery store come here. They need it at the Bourse here…it would be a real improvement for the neighborhood.”

A Rolls Royce being worked on inside JW McDonald Auto Service. (Credit: Jamie Dowsett/CTV News)


While Baranowski is ready to move on in life, he said it would always be difficult to part with those he has helped over the years, adding that he has serviced vehicles for generations of the same family.

“It’s hard to walk away from the customers you’ve dealt with all these years. You all know them, everyone’s like a friend, they’re more than a customer. That’s the hardest part the real part of the physical labor is not hard to get away from.”

He said his clients are happy to hear he is retiring, even if they are sad to see him go.