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A Widower's Tribute: The Waddell Fountain in Central Park

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.

Drawing of the Waddell Fountain

The Story

The Waddell Fountain in Winnipeg's Central park is named after Emily Margaret Waddell. Emily and her husband Thomas, a local temperance leader, moved to Winnipeg in the early 1880s.

The couple was childless, and lived on Sargent Avenue near Central Park prior to her death. On January 23, 1909, Emily passed away in Rochester, Minnesota, after a serious operation.

A "before" photo from the 2010 restoration.
In 1911, Thomas and the City of Winnipeg were informed of Emily's 1904, which stated that if he planned to remarry, he must donate $10,000 to the City for the construction of a fountain in Central Park in her memory.

Thomas already had plans to remarry, but did not have the funds for the fountain. Finally, in 1914, he succeeded in saving up the money, and the fountain was built.

The Fountain

Built in 1914, at a cost of $9,722.19, the Waddell Fountain was designed by Winnipeg Architect John Manuel, who was later also responsible for the University of Manitoba Science Laboratory (1919-1920) and a two storey expansion of the Science Building at the Fort Garry Campus (1923).

Architect's drawing of the Waddell Fountain, circa 1914, courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
The Fountain was modelled after the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was built in 1844 as a tribute to Sir Walter Scott, a writer known for popularizing Gothic styles of architecture and literature. As such, the monument reflects the trend towards excessive ornamentation of the Gothic era.

The Fountain is a rare example of High Victorian Gothic Revival Architecture and was considered very elaborately ornamented by the standards of 1914 Winnipeg.

Note the missing piece from the top - photo circa 1988, courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
The structure consists of white stone on a granite base, with a concrete basement to house the water pump - the four water spouts are housed within lions' heads, one on each side of the fountain. The William Penn Stone Company of Minneapolis did the stonework, with all of the stone cutting and dressing done within the city of Winnipeg.

Close-up of one of the lion's heads, after the 2010 restoration.
Vandalism damaged parts of the original structure over the years, including the removal of the delicate star finial from the top.

Recent Developments

Councillor Harvey Smith accepting on behalf of the City of Winnipeg.
In 2010, the Waddell Fountain was restored by the City of Winnipeg, and received a preservation award from Heritage Winnipeg as a result of their efforts, along with Cohlmeyer Architecture Ltd. and Alpha Masonry.Below are some of the photos from the restoration process:

The fountain was dismantled from its location and moved to the stone mason’s shop where the pieces were worked on.  Indiana limestone was used with colours matching the original limestone.  New pieces were carved to replace the missing and damaged pieces in order to restore the detailed design.


A coating on the lower basin was applied in the 1980s and it was determined that it required removal.  In order to preserve the basin a minimal amount of coating will be applied to the areas that come into contact with water.

No chemicals or mechanical interventions took place in order to complete the restoration.  All processes were done by hand and where possible pieces were re-used.

The cabling and piping for the lighting and the water have been re-built. The stonework and foundation have also been completed. The bronze finial has been redrawn using photos and once it is fabricated it will be installed.

The finished product!

Sources & Links

City of Winnipeg Historical Report - Long 
City of Winnipeg Historical Report - Short
Provincial Heritage Designation Listing of Waddell Fountain
Heritage Winnipeg Presents a Preservation Award for Work on Waddell Fountain on the Waddell Fountain
Manitoba Historical Society Website
Postcard Including the Waddell Fountain from the University of Alberta Libraries
Scott Monument Virtual Tour
Waddell Fountain used as a stage for Shakespeare in the Ruins production

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