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Showing posts from August, 2015

A Brief History of the Winnipeg Hotel

The Winnipeg Hotel at 214 Main Street does not look like much now, but it is thought to be the oldest hotel still operating in Winnipeg, as well as the last brick veneered wood frame commercial building left in the city.

Brick veneered wood frame commercial structures such as the Winnipeg Hotel have tended not to survive due to their inability to withstand heavy fire damage, the high insurance premiums associated with such buildings, their tendency to be replaced with more substantial structures, and the structural problems presented by the brick veneer. The Coronation Block on 238 King Street that housed the Shanghai Restaurant was another such building, demolished a few years ago. You can read a CBC News article, written just prior to the demolition, here.

The "Garry Saloon" was erected in the summer of 1873 as a two storey wooden frame structure built in an L-shape with a false front. Operated by a James S. Wheeler, the saloon soon came to be known as the Garry House or G…

Winnipeg's North End and the Community

Though the North End is not an official neighborhood, residents of Winnipeg still know of it.The North End is  filled with stories of struggle and survival. Though a poverty stricken area, it is rich in culture. Every year since 1999, Picnic in the Park is held at St. Johns Park in hopes to bring neighbors in the North End together.

The North End community is significantly shaped by its past. The period after 1896 brought large numbers of eastern European immigrants arrived in Winnipeg and settled in the North End. It was a poor and overcrowded area. There was more than 20 people living in house at a time. The houses were not connected to the water supply and this combined with overcrowding made the area a perfect place for disease to spread.

Many people were employed, often working seasonal jobs on farms or on railway construction. The problem was that they had low wages. In fact, they were earning less than half of what was needed for a normal standard of living. Not only was the No…

Heritage On Main: In the Beginning

Winnipeg's most famous intersection, Portage Avenue and Main Street, had surprisingly humble beginnings as the location of Henry McKenney's store. When McKenney arrived in the settlement where the Assiniboine River joins the Red River in 1859, the main route was the Portage Trail, which followed the Assiniboine River to the main road at Upper Fort Garry, whose location is now commemorated by Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park.

This was of no consequence to McKenney, who purchased an established store only a short distance from the present Portage Avenue and Main Street, but a fair distance from the fort. The store's previous owner was Andrew McDermot, a pioneer from the third shipload of Selkirk Settlers that arrived in 1815. The store was almost immediately converted into the Royal Hotel, the first hotel in Canada's West.

Due to the hotel's popularity and that of its bar, regulars began to cut across the prairie, straying from the established route to make a beeline…

The Fence is Coming Down - Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park

The moment many of us have been waiting for has finally arrived. The fences are coming down at Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park! The green space will now be open for your enjoyment, providing both a beautiful space to relax and an opportunity to learn more about this city's beginnings.

Over ten years of planning by the Friends of Upper Fort Garry have gone into this project, with a few last elements still on the way. The Heritage Wall is set to be completed and installed this winter, and there are plans to eventually build an Interpretive Centre on what is currently a temporary parking lot.

Upper Fort Garry was an integral part of building the city that we know today. The area at the place where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet was a major trading post, allowing people from all over North America and from every direction to meet in the same place. Naturally, with its interest in the fur trade, this is where the Hudson's Bay Company decided to build its fort.

When the origin…