A Fond Farewell to Redshaw Auto Care – Loyal Customers Salute Local Garage Owner Prem Sookdeo

Craig Turner

Craig Turner and Brian Harrison, two self-described "old British car fans", presented Tim Hunt's sketch of Redshaw Auto Care to owner Prem Sookdeo. Photo by Michael Turner

Craig Turner and Brian Harrison, two self-described “old British car fans”, presented Tim Hunt’s sketch of Redshaw Auto Care to owner Prem Sookdeo. Photo by Michael Turner

This is a sad day for old British car fans (and full disclosure, I qualify as both old and as a fan of old British cars). The reason for the sadness is that a neighbourhood
icon, Redshaw Auto Care (Redshaw) on Hawthorne Avenue closed during the third week of November – before this edition of The Mainstreeter hit the street.

The owner of Redshaw, Prem Sookdeo (Prem), began working at the original Redshaw garage 41 years ago and took over when the founder retired. A consummate professional of the old school, Prem learned his trade in British Guyana where British cars ruled the road. He is now a key part of a network in Ottawa which is relied upon by owners of cars such as MGBs, Triumphs, and Austin Minis. A gentleman who was always ready to explain a problem and offer advice, he has become a friend to many loyal customers.

I relied on Prem for my own MGBs, and more recently for a 1964 Jaguar Mk2, although he is less interested in that car given how long it could tie up his shop while waiting for parts. While he has focused on old British cars, he did not limit himself, as there were often more modern cars in the shop for various reasons, including regular servicing and tire changes – so the loss is to the entire neighbourhood and not just to those of us with old British cars.

Although Prem doesn’t seem any older to many of us, he claims to be ready to retire and has grown tired of the labour involved in running a garage. The signs have been there for a while. He started to transition last winter when he came into the garage only on a part-time basis. Also, last summer, I came across him practicing a new skill in the garage – his golf swing. And his interest in golf has increased this summer, to the point where it may be stronger than his love of old cars.

Auto mechanic Prem Sookdeo worked on Austin Minis, like the one pictured here in Tim Hunt's sketch, for 41 years at Redshaw Auto Care. Sketch by Tim Hunt

Auto mechanic Prem Sookdeo worked on Austin Minis, like the one pictured here in Tim Hunt’s sketch, for 41 years at Redshaw Auto Care.
Sketch by Tim Hunt

Coincidentally, there was a watercolour sketch of the Redshaw garage by Old Ottawa East artist, Tim Hunt, featured in the October issue of The Mainstreeter. When I saw Hunt’s sketch, just after Prem had mentioned his retirement plans, it seemed to be serendipitous, and I have since purchased the sketch. Another loyal customer who will miss dropping in on Prem, Brian Harrison, an MGB owner, and I recently presented the sketch to Prem as a retirement gift. Hunt was enthusiastic about the idea, as he was one of many people over the years, owners and nonowners of old British cars, who enjoyed walking by the open door of the garage and looking in to see the car show inside. The Ottawa MG club also commemorated the impromptu gift-giving ceremony with a well-received plaque from an event held at the garage some time ago.

Fortunately, this is not exactly a full retirement for Prem, as he intends to keep busy, presumably when he is not golfing, by working on old cars in their owners’ garages. This is something that Prem has done generously in the past, as I can attest to. On occasion, working in my own garage, I came up against something beyond my very limited skills as a mechanic, and Prem would kindly drive over and sort it out.

The physical premises of the garage will remain in place for the moment. It will be reopened soon by Cycos, which is located just down the street. However, the future of that block of Hawthorne Avenue remains in flux until the Ministry of Transport Ontario finally decides on its plans to use the land for staging work connected with replacing the two nearby Queensway bridges. That work has been delayed, but still looms over the street, so major changes beyond Redshaw’s closure are possible. Also, for unrelated reasons, the antique store next door to Redshaw Auto Care is also for sale.

Filed in: Community Links, Front Page Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You might like:

SHARING LUNCH WITH….OOE’s Terra Firma Celebrating 25 years!! SHARING LUNCH WITH….OOE’s Terra Firma Celebrating 25 years!!
Two Families Joined at the Hearts By The War in Ukraine Two Families Joined at the Hearts By The War in Ukraine
OPINION – The Manifestation of People’s Park OPINION – The Manifestation of People’s Park
No-Left-Turn Ban at Colonel By Drive and Main Street Leaves Residents Puzzled No-Left-Turn Ban at Colonel By Drive and Main Street Leaves Residents Puzzled
© 2022 The Mainstreeter. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.
Proudly designed by Theme Junkie.