Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Heritage On Main: In the Beginning

Article by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.   
Thank you to Greg Agnew, Heritage Winnipeg Board Member, for his assistance with archival photographs.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.


 
West side of Main Street looking North from Graham ca. 1876. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Archives N21073

A History of Portage & Main 

335  Main Street, Bank of Montreal ca. 1913. Image courtesy of the Provincial Archives.

Perhaps Winnipeg's most famous corner, Portage and Main 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 in 1859, the main route was the Portage Trail, which followed the Assiniboine River to the main road at the fort, whose location is now commemorated with the Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park.

Henry McKenny Image courtesy of Greg Agnew.

This was of no consequence to McKenney, who purchased an established store only a short distance from the present Portage and Main, 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.

McDermot's store ca. 1858. Image courtesy of Library & Archives of Canada Henry Youle Hind photo.

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 for the hotel. This split the Portage Trail into two branches - the original, which followed the Assiniboine River, and a second to the north that lead directly to the Royal Hotel.

Winnipeg in 1869. Image courtesy of the University of Manitoba Archives.
Being an ambitious entrepreneur, McKenney then sold his hotel and built a general store even farther to the north than the hotel had been. According to Alan Artibise in Winnipeg: An Illustrated History, "This choice of site caused much amusement and even jeers from the [locals]... The store was a considerable distance from the Red River and was situated on land so low that it often flooded in spring." 
Looking north down Main Street from Market Avenue ca. 1900. Photo courtesy of the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections (Winnipeg Tribune Photo Collection) Call Num: PC 18/7192/18-6236-004.

McKenney's store served as the anchor of today's corner of Portage and Main. He deliberately chose to build the store at an angle to Main Street, saying he wanted the store's corner to be a central hub for the settlement, from which roads would branch out like the spokes of a wheel.  

Current Heritage Buildings on Main Street

The Millennium Centre at 389 Main Street is an example of a building that is both on Main Street and in the Exchange District National Historic Site.
Ever wondered about the status of an older building you pass on Main Street? Wonder no more! Here is a complete list of every heritage building on Winnipeg's Main Street, its heritage status, as well as links to the historical reports and blog posts I've written about them. There will be more blog posts as time goes on and I work my way through as many as I can!

North of Portage Avenue & Main Street - Exchange District; designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

Main Street & McDermot Avenue - Early Skyscrapers in Winnipeg; designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. 

Main Street Bridge, Tyndall Stone Portion. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
0 Main Street - Main Street Bridge, Tyndall Stone Portion; built in 1931, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview. Blog Post: "Main Street Bridges - Guest Post by David Loftson"

123 Main Street - Union Station; built in 1908, designated as a Heritage Railway Station of Canada. Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. Blog post: "Union Station at 123 Main Street - Home of the Winnipeg Railway Museum" (and Streetcar 356)

130 Main Street - The Upper Fort Garry Gate; built in 1853, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report. Blog post: "The Unveiling of Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park" and "The Fence is Coming Down - Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park". Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

214 Main Street - The Winnipeg Hotel; built in 1873, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview. Blog Post: "Heritage On Main: The Winnipeg Hotel at 214-216 Main Street".

218-224 Main Street - Now a vacant lot, this space was once home to the Dominion Hotel, later known as the Blue Note Cafe. Blog Post: "Heritage on Main: The Former Dominion Hotel (Blue Note Cafe) at 218-224 Main Street".

226 Main Street - The Macdonald Block (Commercial Hotel); built in 1873, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview. Blog Post: "The Macdonald and Fortune Blocks at 226-234 Main Street".

232 Main Street - The Fortune Block; built in 1882, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview. Blog Post: "The Macdonald and Fortune Blocks at 226-234 Main Street".

Breen Motors at 245 Main Street. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
245 Main Street - Breen Motors (The National Film Board); built in 1922, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

269 Main Street - Federal Building; built in 1935, designated as a Federal Heritage Building.

272 Main Street - The Scott Block; built in 1915, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report. Blog post: "Advocacy Alert: The Scott Block at 272 Main Street".



280 Main Street - The Cadomin Building; built in 1912, not designated. Blog Post: "Heritage On Main: The Cadomin Building at 280 Main Street".

335 Main Street - The Bank of Montreal; built in 1913, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report. Blog Post: "A Winnipeg Landmark: The Bank of Montreal at 335 Main Street".

389 Main Street - The Bank of Commerce; built in 1910, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report. Blog Post: "The Millennium Centre at 389 Main Street - Where It All Began".

395 Main Street - The Bank of Hamilton; built in 1916, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

423 Main Street - The Canadian Wheat Board Building; built in 1928, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

436 Main Street - The Former Bank of British North America (Newmac Building); built in 1903, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report

The Imperial Bank of Canada at 441 Main Street. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
441 Main Street - The Imperial Bank of Canada; built in 1906, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report

456 Main Street - The Bank of Toronto; built in 1905, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.


457 Main Street - The Confederation Life Building; built in 1912, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report. Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

460 Main Street - The Royal Bank of Canada Building; built in 1900, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report


466 Main Street - The Woodbine Hotel; built in 1878, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

468 Main Street - Birt's Saddlery (The Baker Block); built in 1901, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

474 Main Street - The Duffin Block (Birt's Saddlery); built in 1881, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview

480 Main Street - The Ashdown Store Annex; built in 1951, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

492 Main Street - The Former Macdonald Shoe Store; built in 1883, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report

The Fomer Macdonald Shoe Store at 492 Main Street. Images courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
500 Main Street - The Union Bank Building Annex; built in 1898, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report. Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

504 Main Street - The Union Bank Building; built in 1903, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report. Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

510 Main Street - Winnipeg City Hall; built in 1962, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report

554 Main Street - The McLaren Hotel; built in 1910, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

586 Main Street - The Maycock Block; built in 1885, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

594 Main Street - The Allman Block; built in 1904, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report. Blog post: "The Allman Block at 594 Main Street".

598 Main Street - The Guest Block; built in 1902, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

600 Main Street - The McKerchar Block; built in 1902, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview


The Corbett Block at 611 Main Street. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
607 Main Street - The Mindell Block; built in 1925, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

611 Main Street - The Corbett Block; built in 1901, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview

661 Main Street - The Calder (Kaplan) Building; built in 1912, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

662 Main Street - The Bell Hotel; built in 1906, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview

667 Main Street - The Alloway and Champion Bank; built in 1905, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

669 Main Street - The Lighthouse Mission (Zimmerman Block); built in 1913, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

678 Main Street - The Dominion Bank Building; built in 1907, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report

765 Main Street - The Canadian Pacific Railway Post Office Building; built in 1924, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

782 Main Street - The International Harvester Building; built in 1904, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Post Office Building at 765 Main Street. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
785 Main Street - The Palace (Sutherland) Hotel; built in 1900, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview

786 Main Street - The West (New West) Hotel; built in 1905, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

802 Main Street - The Beveridge Block; built in 1907, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

826 Main Street - The Northern Hotel; built in 1906, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

939 Main Street - McGregor (Methodist) United Church (St. Ivan Suchavsky Church); built in 1891, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

1023 Main Street - The Chesed Shel Ems "House of Truth" Chapel; built in 1905, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview.

1048 Main Street - Postal Station B; built in 1907, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview. Designated as a Federal Heritage Building.

Inkster House aka Bleak House at 1637 Main Street. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
1175 Main Street - The Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral; built in 1949, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview

1386 Main Street - The Merchant's Bank; built in 1913, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report

1417 Main Street - The Ogniwo Polish Museum Society, no heritage designation. Click here to go to their website.

1611 Main Street - The Green Briar Inn; built in 1929, Commemorative Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview

1611 Main Street - Battle of Seven Oaks; built in 1816, designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

1637 Main Street - Inkster House (Bleak House); built in 1874, designated as a Historical Resource. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Report

2373 Main Street - The Kildonan School (Nisbet Hall); built in 1865, nominated for Heritage Designation. Click here for the City of Winnipeg Historical Overview. Designated as a Heritage Site by the Province of Manitoba.

Meanings of Heritage Designations

Here's a quick guide to what the various designations mean and how buildings are now designated in the City of Winnipeg. For more information, there's an entire blog post about the process here

The Fortune Block at 232 Main Street is an example of a building that has been nominated for heritage designation. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
 Nominated - If a building is on the nominated list, this means that it has been nominated for consideration by the various committees in hopes that it will eventually be designated as a Historical Resource. These buildings are protected from demolition but have no restrictions on alterations.

The Confederation Life Building at 457 Main Street is an example of a building that is on the City's List of Historical Resources. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
Designated as a Historical Resource - Any building that is 40 years old or more can be added to this list if it is deemed to have significant heritage value. These buildings are protected from demolition and have a caveat on their title to notify owners and potential buyers of the designation. A heritage permit is required for alterations and they may be eligible for financial assistance from the City or other funding agencies.

The former McGregor (Methodist) United Church at 939 Main Street is an example of a building on the Commemorative List. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
Commemorative - The Commemorative List is intended only to celebrate Winnipeg's history, not protect it. A small amount of information is provided on the City of Winnipeg website but there are no restrictions based on this listing and buildings are not eligible for heritage-related financial assistance. Buildings may remain on this list even after demolition. 

What Can I Do?

So now you have all of this information about the heritage buildings on Main Street. You're probably even interested in learning more about one or two of them. So what can you do about it?


First, I would recommend giving the blog post or Historical Report a skim-over. The information I post on the blog is mostly taken from the Historical Report, so no need to read both unless you're feeling ambitious. Consider looking for a community history in your local library or online. Informing yourself about the history of your community's buildings gives you a jumping off point for the next few steps. 


Second, take a look at what the building's designation is. Is it designated, nominated, or on the commemorative list? If it's nominated for designation, consider writing your local councillor with your support for designation to show them the community cares. Tell other people about it too or talk about it on social media to get the conversation going. For a list of the City of Winnipeg councillors and the areas they represent, click here


Third, support the buildings in your area that are already designated. Tour the museums, pop in to check out the businesses, and take advantage of tours and events like Doors Open Winnipeg. Encourage visitors to the city to do the same and show off your city when you have the opportunity. Heritage buildings have a lot to teach us, but are vulnerable without the support of their community.   

Sources & Links

Artibise, Alan F.J. Winnipeg: An Illustrated History. Toronto: Lorimer, 1977. Print. 

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