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Behind the Stained Glass: Westminster United Church

Since 1992, the Westminster United Church has been both a municipally and provincially designated heritage building.  It's a well-earned designation; the Westminster Church is a distinctive landmark in the neighbourhood of Wolseley and has played an important role in the community since its 1910 construction. Today, the church is a part of the United Church of Canada - a Protestant denomination created in 1925 that merged the Union of Methodists, Presbyterian, and Congregational church. However, the Westminster Church was not always a part of this group; in 1910, it serviced just the Presbyterians in Winnipeg, who already had a long and established history in Winnipeg.

Many of these new settlers were members of the Church of Scotland, a Presbyterian denomination. With no church to worship at in their new homeland, they attended services offered by the Church of England (which was Anglican). Finally in 1854, the Kildonan Presbyterian Church at 201 John Black Avenue opened, spearhea…
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The New Edition of the St. John's Library

The stately St. John's Library stands, newly renovated, at 500 Salter Street as a testament to the power of libraries both today and at the turn of the 20th century.

Today, there are 20 libraries spread out across Winnipeg's neighbourhoods but when the St. John's Library opened in 1915, it was one of just three. By this point, the library system in Winnipeg was hardly new, but having a purpose-built space for the city's collection of books was.

Created in 1848, Winnipeg’s library system had spent several decades (1888-1905) in Winnipeg's 'Gingerbread' City Hall, a space that was growing increasingly crowded by the end of the 19th century. Winnipeg, apparently a city of avid readers, kept demand high and the library added a new juvenile section in 1899. By the start of 1900, it was apparent that a new space was needed and librarian J.P. Robertson hatched a plan.

Robertson wrote to wealthy American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie for financial assistance. By…

The Granite Curling Club: History Between The Sheets

The Granite Curling Clubhouse and Rink at 1 Granite Way is a picturesque building on a shaded lot just off of Osborne Street and has been a mainstay of the Winnipeg curling scene since its opening in 1912. The Granite Curling Club itself, though, is much older. It was founded in 1880, a time before indoor rinks, in Winnipeg and when most curling matches were played on the frozen Red or Assiniboine Rivers.

Curling had been introduced to Manitoba by Scottish settlers sometime around the 1860s, and the game was often played with whatever materials were readily available. At the time, this could mean wood, or stones, but jam-pail curling is a more modern example. For Winnipeg in the 1860s, the material of choice for curling rocks was iron. Foundries surrounding Winnipeg made the manufacturing of iron rocks significantly cheaper than ordering granite rocks, which were produced in Scotland and shipped to Canada.

For a time, bell-shaped iron rocks were the defacto curling equipment in Mani…

The "Cool Factor" of Cold Storage: The Johnston Terminal

The Johnston Terminal was not built to be pretty, but functional.

In fact, a 1986 structural study of the Johnston Terminal described the building as “simple and utilitarian with no outstanding architectural features”.

Now, outstanding architectural features were not a requirement at the time of construction . When it was built in 1928, it was intended to be used as a cold storage warehouse for National Cartage and Storage Ltd - a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railroad. At the time, The Forks was a bustling site known as the CNR East Yards - brimming with train tracks and industrial crews. The Johnston Terminal was hidden away on the outskirts of the site and was far away from the public eye so an aesthetically stunning facade was likely the last thing on the company’s mind. They couldn’t have realized that one day their cold-storage warehouse would become one of the center-pieces of a massive tourist destination in Winnipeg.

Unknown employees of the CNR’s architectural depar…