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HERITAGE AT RISK: The Monte Cassino Court

At first glance, the Monte Cassino Court at 639 Portage Avenue is a neglected little three storey heritage building, a plain ground floor facade with metal security bars in the windows and a big sign above for a business that no longer exists. But if you stop and take a closer look, you might notice ornate stained glass transom windows on the second and third storeys or the decorative stone and brick work adding subtle flare to the front facade. They quietly hint at what this building once was, a well appointed mixed use building from Winnipeg's boom period in the early 20th century. It is a hidden gem that has been sentenced to a slow and painful decay, highlighting exactly how Winnipeg's irreplaceable built heritage should not be treated.


The Monte Cassino Court was originally built in 1907 as a nameless one storey commercial building. Italian immigrant George Benedetto Persichini commissioned it, having arrived in Winnipeg in 1895 and worked in the restaurant and fruit bus…
Recent posts

Planning with Purpose - Fire Hall No. 1

Cities faced many problems at the turn of the 20th century, one of the most persistent being the high risk of fires. Prior to the introduction of steel-framed structures in Winnipeg, our downtown warehouses and factories had interior support systems of wooden posts and beams. Combined with often lackluster heating systems, machinery prone to producing sparks, and workers smoking indoors, there were endless potential ways your building could go up in flames.

As such, Winnipeg had a busy and thriving fire department. Formed as a volunteer brigade in 1874, by the turn of the century they had moved to paid positions and increasingly auspicious headquarters. Their grand new central fire hall, Fire Hall No. 1, opened in 1899 at 110 Albert Street, an address now replaced with Old Market Square.


The Exchange District was a fitting place for this new location; the warehouses and factories being built nearby were at high risk for fires and the fire hall remained near the Red River, which was …

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike: Population Growth and the Canadian Pacific Railway Station

Economic and social conditions in Manitoba were dramatically changing at the turn of the 20 century, and laid the foundation for the Winnipeg 1919 General Strike. In particular, immigration from Europe increased dramatically, bringing a stream of workers and their expectations for a new life. Families from Britain, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Russia, Iceland and Ukraine moved to Canada to take up farming and then work in the industries of an expanding economy. With this migration came a strong sense of ethnic group affinity, a deep understanding of class differences, and a capacity for facing difficult conditions. While this migration was designed by government policy to develop the economy, it also created new challenges for social relations, urban planning and political systems that were unpredictable.


A massive new wave of immigration started around 1896. The Canadian Pacific Railway Station on Higgins Avenue (now the Neeginan Centre) was the last stop for thousands of new Canadians …

The Scott Fruit Company Warehouse: Heritage Innovation

As the First World War started and and the Panama Canal opened, Winnipeg's great boom period drew to a close. In the fading light of this grand era the Scott Fruit Company put forth one final hurrah, erecting a warehouse on Elgin Avenue. An ode to the railway that made Winnipeg the wholesale centre of western Canada, the warehouse was "thoroughly modern in every way, having all the most up-to-date appliances that are to be found in any to the leading fruit warehouses of the continent" (Winnipeg Tribune, September 18, 1914, page 11). Now over one hundred years old, the warehouse that has stood tall while those around it were torn down, is being modernized for the 21st century. Come 2020, it will be home to Red River College's Innovation Centre, allowing entrepreneurship and innovation will flourish within its wall once again.


The Scott Fruit Company was established on July 10, 1912, when A. C. Macpherson of the Macpherson Fruit Company retired. The company was then b…

Celebrating Heritage Day 2019

On February 18th, 2019 Heritage Winnipeg celebrated Heritage Day. Heritage Day was created by the National Trust for Canada in 1973 to "preserve and promote Canada's natural, architectural, and historical heritage" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Although it is not a official national holiday, it is celebrated throughout Canada, usually on the third Monday of February.

Heritage embodies both tangible and intangible pieces of our collective history: music, language, stories, pictures, maps, documents, artifacts, regalia, traditions, buildings, meeting places and so much more! It brings us together and reminds us that we are all connected; to each other, the past, the present and the future. What started over 45 years ago as a single day dedicated to heritage has now grown into an entire week. In 2019, Heritage Week is celebrated from February 18th to 24th. The National Trust's theme for Heritage Week in 2019 is "Heritage: The Tie that Binds".


To celebrate Herita…

Modernism for the Masses - The St. Vital Library

St. Vital is home to one of the most unique public library buildings found in Winnipeg. Built in 1962-1963, the International Style building was designed to fit an odd shaped piece of property, resulting in a memorable modernist design. Over 50 years after opening, the building retains its original form and function, providing literature for the public in an outstanding setting. In May of 2014 the City of Winnipeg recognized the historical and cultural significance of the building and added to the List of Historic Resources, ensuring it is protected for generations to come.


In the 1950s the Municipality of St. Vital was experiencing a period of development and modernization, transforming the once rural, agriculturally focused area in to a more urban and populated one. The residents of the area had already expressed their desire for a library in 1948, and their request was finally addressed in 1954, when with it's increasing prosperity, St. Vital opened its first public library. Th…