Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Touring Town: East & West Exchange District BIZ Walking Tours

Roshanie and Laura with tour guide Maddi
Article by Roshanie & Laura (The Minions), on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.

WHO: Exchange BIZ Tour Guide Maddi & Summer Students Laura McKay and Roshanie Balkaran

WHAT: East & West Exchange District BIZ Walking Tours

WHEN: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 (we recommend doing the tour in the morning, before it gets hot)

WHERE: Met outside the Exchange District BIZ office beside Smoke's Poutinerie at 133 Albert Street

HOW MUCH: $8 for adults, $6 for youth/students/seniors, Free for kids 10 and under 

CONTACT THEM: 204-942-6716 for more details

As we are both slightly geographically challenged, this tour allowed us to familiarize ourselves with, and learn more about, the Exchange District.

Did you know that the Exchange District is a National Historic Site? Or that it was named after the Grain Exchange?

Interesting facts: 
  • Winnipeg used to be known as the 'Gateway to the West' and the 'Chicago of the North'.
  • The Exchange District exists because the expansion and success of Winnipeg ended by the 1920's due to the opening of the Panama Canal in 1913, as well as men leaving for WWI.
  • The canal caused Winnipeg to be built out, rather than up, so many of the older buildings were preserved by fluke. 
  • The big explosion at the turn of the 20th Century meant lots of very wealthy people who would hire some of the best architects, for example from Chicago, hence the 'Chicago-style'

West End Tour  

Old Site of the Bijou Theatre

Old Site of the Bijou Theatre
The meeting and finishing spot for both tours.


Old Market Square 

Old Market Square
The first executions took place behind
what is now the Cube Theatre.

The Peasant Cookery  

The Peasant Cookery
(283 Bannatyne Avenue)
A Turkish bathtub used to be located 
in the basement of this building.

King Street Parking Lot

  King Street Parking Lot
used to be the first Ford dealership
in Western Canada. 

Stovel Block

Stovel Block
(245 McDermot Avenue)
Red brick was more expensive so this building's
owners painted it red to make it stand out.


Newspaper Row 

Newspaper Row
(Journalists, not printers)
McDermot Avenue


 East End Tour 

The Crocus Building

The Crocus Building (211 Bannatyne Avenue)
used to be James Ashdown's hardware store.
It was re-bricked in the 70s.


Ashdown Hardware Store 
Ashdown Hardware Warehouse
(167 Bannatyne Avenue)
The first building in the district to
be converted into condos. This is one of the greatest examples of the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture in North America.

Parc Stephen Juba Park

Parc Stephen Juba Park (Waterfront Drive) is named after the longest running immigrant mayor of Winnipeg. 20 years to be exact! (Roshanie's favourite!)

James Street Pumping Station 
The James Street Pumping Station
 (109 James Street)
Provided water to 70 hydrants downtown.
At the time, the cost was $1,000,000.
The materials, machines and operators were
all brought from England.

Hell's Alley - Parallel to Market and James Avenues 

Hell's Alley
(Lane parallel to Market and James Avenue)
Where the 'special police'
(made up of retired veterans)
trapped 200 people.
(Laura's favourite!)

Exterior of Pantages Playhouse

 Exterior of the Pantages Playhouse
circa 1914
Pantages Playhouse/Theatre Interior

Pantages Playhouse/Theatre Interior
(180 Market Avenue East)
This is the stage where they
screened acts, particularly Vaudeville.

This tour is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbourhood and its history! Tour guide Maddi was friendly and enthusiastic, as well as very knowledgeable. As well, tour guides are equipped with tablets containing archival photos, giving perspective to the tour. We highly recommend you try it!

Links to Check Out:

Exchange District BIZ Website
Doors Open Winnipeg - Exchange District BIZ Tours

Already taken the tour? Tell us about your favourite piece of history in the comments!

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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Advocacy Alert: The Scott Block at 272 Main Street

Article by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.

The Scott Block at 272 Main Street - Archival Photo
October 4, 2012: The Scott Block at 272 Main Street is designated as a heritage building by the City of Winnipeg
February 17, 2014: The Scott Block's owners are awarded an Annual Preservation Award by Heritage Winnipeg (more details below).
June 19, 2014: 272 Main Street is on the agenda for the Historical Buildings and Resources Committee; the owner is requesting it be delisted to make it easier to sell after complications to work done which may have structurally compromised the structure. The proposal is moved to the next meeting.
July 17, 2014:  Heritage Winnipeg attended the HBRC meeting and is pleased to report that the committee voted to recommend that the Scott Block keep its designation
Fall 2014: Delisting proposal will go to the Standing Policy Committee on Downtown Development, Heritage, and Riverbank Management for a final decision.
Jot Notes:
- an example of Romanesque Revival/Richardsonian Romanesque architecture
- one of two pre-1920 structures still standing on the block of Main Street between Graham and St. Mary avenues
- Delisted - that is, no longer designated and protected as a heritage building by the city


Brief History:

The Scott Block is named after Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Scott (1814-1915), member of both the First and Second Red River Expeditions. He retired from the military and settled in Winnipeg after the second expedition and founded Scott Furniture in 1874. He was also very active in politics and the community, serving as a school trustee, councillor on the first city council in Winnipeg, mayor of Winnipeg, MLA, MP, and collector of the Customs in Winnipeg.

Prior to the completion of the T. Eaton Company store in 1906, which shifted development to Portage Avenue, Main Street was the commercial hub of Winnipeg. Thus, at the turn of the century, it was on Main Street that Scott Furniture decided to build a new home for its company.

The original building was constructed in 1904, designed by architect James H. Cadham. It was six storeys tall and contained both the retail and wholesale aspects of Scott Furniture, including multiple showrooms on the upper floors.

272 Main Street - The Scott Block with Metal FacadeA large fire from a lightning strike destroyed most of the building in June of 1905 although it was rapidly rebuilt and was open for business again that same year.  Done by the same architect as the original, the reconstruction converted some of the showrooms on the upper floors into office space.

Another fire damaged much of the building once again in 1914. The building constructed to replace it is the one that currently stands at 272 Main and was completed in 1915. It was designed by local design team R.B. Pratt and D.A. Ross and built off of the foundation walls and concrete skeletal columns and posts from the old building. This structure brought about major changes to the interior of Scott Furniture, with the company occupying far less of the building. More offices were added to the upper floors and the ground floor was subdivided into two retail spaces.

Upon Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Scott's death in 1915, his son Fred W. Scott took over the company. Eventually, in the 1930s, the building was sold to the Canadian National Fire Insurance Company. Since then it has housed a variety of tenants including lumber dealers, dentists, oil companies, and insurance agents. It is unknown when the metal facade in the above picture was added to the building, although it is believed to have been sometime between the early 1960s and 1979.


Annual Preservation Awards 2014:

Heritage Winnipeg's Annual Preservation Awards 2014 awarded the Scott Block a Preservation Award of Excellence - Commercial Conservation "for the daring unveiling and conservation of the Scott Block's original handsome facade". The result, below, is indeed very handsome and contributes to the beautiful historic streetscape of Main Street.

272 Main - The Scott Block with Orginal Facade Restored


For More Information:

The Historical Buildings and Resources Committee Agenda for June 19, 2014 (the proposal was moved to the next meeting to take place on July 17, 2014)
Blog Post by Winnipeg Downtown Places about the Scott Block - there are especially lots of fantastic, dated photos of the building to give you an idea of timeline
The City of Winnipeg Historical Reports for 272 Main - long and short versions available, as well as a map to help you find it

Have any helpful links or information of your own about 272 Main? Let us know in the comments or email us at!

We've made some changes to the blog! Let us know what you think in the comments! 

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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Something to Think About...

"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."
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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Introductory Remarks from the Minions

Article by Laura McKay & Roshanie Balkaran (The "Minions"), on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
 To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.

Heritage Winnipeg (creators of Doors Open Winnipeg) has decided to join the blogging world! Join us every Wednesday for news, events, history tidbits, cool photos, and the explorations of Heritage Winnipeg's staff and summer students, respectively.

At the moment, the main authors of this blog will be the summer students Laura McKay and Roshanie Balkaran, employed with help from Young Canada Works and the Winnipeg Foundation's Summer Internship Program, respectively.

Laura McKay: I am going into my fourth year at the University of Manitoba as an Honours English Major. I'm originally from Carberry, a small town near Brandon, Manitoba. As an English Major, I love a good story. Heritage and history are all about hunting out the stories of the past so that they can be preserved and shared with the world. Favourite part of Winnipeg: So far, Armstrong's Point. I love all of the green spaces and gorgeous old houses!

Roshanie Balkaran: I recently graduated from Fort Richmond Collegiate and will be going into my first year at the University of Manitoba's Asper School of Business where I am hoping to pursue a major in Accounting. I was born and raised in the southern part of Winnipeg and I've never really spent much time outside of the Waverly Heights area so being able to work at Heritage Winnipeg allows me to have more of a downtown experience. Favourite part of Winnipeg: I love the Exchange District, to be more specific, Waterfront Drive. I love the beautiful colored flowers, and overall vibe from the unique restaurants in the area!

Cindy Tugwell: Cindy has been the Executive Director at Heritage Winnipeg for over 21 years. She's involved in pretty much everything here at Heritage Winnipeg and she will be the one posting when the summer is over.

We affectionately refer to ourselves as the "minions" of Heritage Winnipeg. Basically we do whatever needs to be done, but that also means we get to work on lots of cool projects, such as helping out with Doors Open Winnipeg, the Explore the Exchange Membership Drive, and the creation of this blog. We hope to do posts on a weekly basis, so check back every Wednesday for the latest post!

Finally, a special thank you to Christian Cassidy of West End Dumplings for his assistance in learning the basics of setting up a blog.

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Thursday, 10 July 2014

Win Over $700 in Prizes! "Explore the Exchange" Membership Drive

Explore the Exchange Heritage Winnipeg Membership Drive - featuring prizes from businesses in Winnipeg's Exchange District

Renew your current membership with Heritage Winnipeg or take out a new one before August 25, 2014 and be entered to win one of two Explore the Exchange prize packs worth over $700! Draw dates are July 31 & August 25, 2014! Individual memberships are $20 - only $15 for students and seniors! A donation of $50 or more will earn you an extra ballot in the draw; donations over $100 will get you a free gift from Heritage Winnipeg! All donations will also receive a charitable tax receipt. Check out the image above for a list of the generous Exchange District businesses that donated prizes.

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