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Military Maneuvers: Remembering the Fort Osborne Barracks

There have been a variety of Fort Osborne’s in Winnipeg.

The very first opened in 1873, along the banks of the Assiniboine River. A wooden fort, much like Fort Garry and Fort Gibraltar, it sat on the lot that would one day become home to the Manitoba Legislature. The Fort's wooden structures would be torn down and replaced as Winnipeg grew – though the Fort remained on in the same location well into the First World War. It was here that the Royal Canadian Mounted Battalion, Lord Strathcona’s Horse and Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry would congregate and train during the early years of the war effort.


A sketch of the original Fort Osborne in 1873.
Source: Toronto Public Library Digital Collection.

As concerns mounted about “enemy aliens” in Canada over the course of the First World War, the government of Canada began utilizing Fort Osborne as a processing station for the thousands of Germans and Ukrainians who were sent to internment camps in the 1910s. Known as the W…
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The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike: Russell Sedition Trial

As 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, Heritage Winnipeg is commemorating the year by looking back at the events during this tumultuous period of history that helped shape our city. This article is part of a series of guest posts reflecting on the some of the places that bore witness to the Strike and the events leading up to it.  Read the previous blogs in this series:   Walker Theatre Meeting Sets the Stage Population Growth and the Canadian Pacific Railway Station The Western Labour Conference in Calgary Breaking Point - Contract Negotiations Stall  The Strike Shuts Down Winnipeg Veterans Protest With and Against the Strike Specials and Strikers Riot
Bloody Saturday
November 1919, Court House:

When the Strike ended, the police and legal officials had eight men out on bail (Armstrong, Bray, Heaps, Ivens, Johns, Queen, Pritchard, Russell) and four men in jail (Charitonoff, Schoppelrie, Alamazoff, Verenchuk) but were not sure what to do with them.


The men had…

History Among the Headstones: Elmwood Cemetery

The opening of Elmwood Cemetery in 1902 was more controversial than many of Winnipeg’s other cemeteries. It is a privately owned, non-denominational cemetery built on 37 acres of land in the municipality of Kildonan – and was the first cemetery of its kind in Winnipeg.

Plans for the cemetery were meant to maintain as many of the surrounding trees as possible. It was these old hardwood trees, including ash, maple, and elm that led to the cemeteries name of Elmwood. To add new greenery, such as shrubs and flowerbeds, a nursery with a greenhouse was added to the lot. In the early years of the cemetery, it was possible to purchase flowers and shrubs as well as a burial plot.









Issues arose, however, because the cemetery was being built in the Municipality of Kildonan and not in the City of Winnipeg proper. The municipality had not been consulted, and local property owners were worried about their property values decreasing if the cemetery were too open. There were protests and letters of c…

The Watcher Among The Graves: St John's Cemetery

Passing by St. John’s Cemetery today, you would be hard pressed to find anything out of the ordinary. It is a small, well-treed cemetery, next to St. John’s Anglican Church (158 Anderson Avenue)– an assortment of headstones, large, small and everything in between cover the grounds.

What you cannot tell from simply passing by, is that inside the cemetery you can find the final resting places of some of early Winnipeg’s most prominent citizens.

St. John’s in the oldest Anglican Parish in western Canada, founded in 1820 by Reverend John West, when he arrived to serve as Chaplain to the Hudson’s Bay Company. Their first church was erected on the lot in 1822, the first of four churches to be constructed for the Anglican Church.





The cemetery is, in fact, older than the church itself – predating the parish by about 8 years. It was established by the Selkirk Settlers, sometime after their arrival to the area in 1812. Few records remain about these early burials, however, the first known bu…

Fire Fuels Uncertainty: the Keewaydin Building

Real estate was a hot commodity in Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century. Companies new and old were coming through the city, looking to take advantage of a booming economy and quickly growing population. Larger, wealthier companies could get away with constructing their own office buildings while many others utilized the wealth of rental space available in Winnipeg.

The Notre Dame Investment Company capitalized on the need for space, and in 1909 invested in a modern 7-storey office building near Portage and Main. Construction of Keewaydin Block cost $70,00 with James McDiarmid acting as both the architect and contractor. McDiarmid had been working in Winnipeg for well over two decades by this point, starting out as a contractor and moving into designing buildings by the early 1890s. McDiarmid worked on a number of notable projects in downtown Winnipeg, including the Pantages Playhouse Theatre and the Manitoba Legislature (after the original contractor, Thomas Kelly, had been fire…