Friday, 23 September 2016

Fort Street & Notre Dame

The Vendome Hotel

This week, the Vendome Hotel, located at 308 Fort Street, made it onto the agenda at City Hall to the Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Development.   The recommendation was from the Historical Buildings and Resources Committee for this 118-year-old hotel to be added to the List of Historical Resources under the Historical Resources By-law 55/2014 with the following Character Defining Elements:

A.  Exterior:

1.  Four-storey brick building with a flat roof located on the west side of Fort Street, its main facade east onto Fort Street, its south facade partially hidden by neighbouring building, and its west and north facades facing the back lane; and

2.  The front (east) facade with ground floor openings with arched transoms with leaded glass, the upper floors with ornamental brickwork and windows in arches openings and flag pole.

B.  Interior:

1.  Wood finishes of the main (south) staircase including the handrail on the north side.

A 1898 advertisement for the Vendome Hotel
Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Building Report
Construction of this centenarian began in 1898, and the Vendome Hotel was completed at a cost of $14,000. The Vendome Hotel opened on December 17th.  It was expanded in 1902, using designs from Architect Henry Sandham Griffin, who also designed several other important Winnipeg buildings, including Fire Hall Number 1 in the Exchange District, which was demolished in the 1960s.

Portage Avenue had overtaken Main Street as the commercial hub of Winnipeg at the time the Vendome was built, making its location right of Portage Avenue very desirable. The Vendome had a very decorative exterior to catch the eye of people passing by. It had broad canopy marquees, towering vertical signs, and the kind of outdoor electric lighting that had been developed by theatres in the nineteenth century. The 1902 expansion altered the roofline, but did not make any significant changes to the exterior, although it has changed significantly over the century.

Colour post card, date unknown. View looking down on Portage Avenue
The black arrow points out the Vendome Hotel on Fort Street
Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Building Report
The Vendome Hotel offered a restaurant and bar on the main floor, along with its rooms on the upper floors. In the early 1910s it underwent interior remodelling, which brought running water to all rooms, and some rooms were even given private washrooms. There is evidence that there was once a wide main staircase that wound up the centre of the building, but the walls have now closed in that space.

The current main staircase in the Vendome Hotel
Although not the original, the railing is lovely and ornate
Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Building Report

The Vendome marketed itself as "one of the most homelike and quiet hotels in the downtown." The original owner of the hotel was David Murray. He came to Winnipeg with his wife and children from Ontario. It is unclear if opening the hotel is what drew the family to Winnipeg, or if he came for a different business first, and joined the hotel industry once he was settled in Winnipeg. When his sons grew up they joined their father working to manage the hotel.

The hotel was a frequent meeting place for the 90th Winnipeg Battalion, an Infantry Battalion from the First World War. The hotel also served as home for different lengths of time for some high profile guests, including Joe Hall, a major league hockey player, and Reginald Buller, a scientist who founded the Botany Department at the University of Manitoba.

Reginald Buller is considered one of the most eccentric men from the University of Manitoba's history
Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Building Report

Occasionally more unusual guests made their way into the hotel. A man who worked as a night clerk at the Vendome once found a bear cub wandering down the streets of downtown Winnipeg and brought the cub back to the hotel. Once safely at the hotel, the man fed the cub a bear's traditional diet of cheese, apples, milk, and beer. (We kid, of course as we do not recommend giving bears beer.)

In the 1950s, a company called Shea's Brewery purchased the hotel. Shea's was quickly taken over by a Canadian beer company, Labatt Breweries. It was common around this time period for breweries to own hotels.

The Vendome Hotel in the 1970s
Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Building Report

The St. Charles Hotel

Just across Portage Avenue, Fort Street turns into Notre Dame. At 235 Notre Dame, right at the corner of Albert Street, is another one of Winnipeg's historic hotels – The St. Charles Hotel. Unfortunately, the St. Charles Hotel is no longer open, and is sitting vacant.

The St. Charles Hotel
Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Building Report

The St. Charles Hotel was constructed in 1913, just over a decade after the Vendome Hotel was built. By 1913 Winnipeg had firmly established itself as the economic hub of the prairies, and the hotel was business was booming as people flocked to the city for business. 

1913 saw the economy in Winnipeg take a slight down turn. With many people looking for work, it was easy to find people to fill labour jobs. Because of this, the St. Charles hotel was built in just three months, at a cost of $122,000. 

The view down Notre Dame in 1914, one year after the completion of the St. Charles Hotel
Photo from the Heritage Winnipeg Archives

One year after its completion, in 1914, George Skinner bought the St. Charles Hotel. Skinner had already been involved with the Manitoba hotel business for a number of years. He worked for the Manitoba Hotel until it burned down, and later became a partner in the Mariaggi Hotel located at McDermot and Albert Street. Skinner managed the St. Charles Hotel for over 15 years, then sold it in 1933. 

The building has a stone basement and reinforced concrete, with a dark tapestry brick facing, set against white limestone trim. The trim is used extensively in vertical bands between alternate window sets on the upper two storeys; pedimented window heads on the second floor; horizontal belts and a bracketed cornice; and on the parapet. The façade is rounded at the Albert Street/Notre Dame Avenue corner and topped by a carved stone panel that once carried the hotel’s name. 

The Argyle Building

The Argyle Building, located at 224 Notre Dame was also on the agenda of the Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Development.   They also concurred with the recommendation from the Historical Buildings and Resources Committee to add the Argyle Block to the List of Historical Resources under the Historical Resources By-law 55/2014 with the following Character-Defining Elements:

A.  Exterior:

1.  Four-storey brick and stone building with flat roof located mid-block on the south side of Notre Dame Avenue, its main facades north onto Notre  Dame Avenue and south onto Garry Street and its east and west facades hidden by neighbouring buildings;
2.  The Notre Dame facade with its upper floors divided into two bays by single and paired brick pilasters with carved stone heads and bases, rectilinear window openings with stone sills and heads on the second and third floors and arched openings on the fourth floor topped by arched brickwork and large metal bracket-like keystones, a complete metal entablature engraved with the word "ARGYLE" and a heavy overhanging cornice;
3.  The Garry Street facade with its upper storeys divided into three bays, the east bay holding doors for the open metal fire escape, the other bays with paired windows, rectilinear on the second and third floors and arched on the fourth floor, oversized keystones, a complete metal entablature engraved with the word 'ARGYLE' and a heavy overhanging cornice; and
4.  Light wells in the west wall.

B.  Interior:

1.  The third and fourth floors with side hallways with doors and transoms, glass/wood fire escapes vestibules, suites, common bathrooms, murphy beds and decorative wood finishes. 

The building can also be entered from the other side, where its address is 333 Garry Street. It is named for the company that built it, the Argyle Land Company and they developed and sold land in Winnipeg. One of their first developments was called Argyle Gardens, it existed in the west end area. The company was based out of a couple other buildings before building the Argyle Building, which they built in 1908. 

The Argyle building in present day. This is its Notre Dame Street Entrance
Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Building Report
Like the St. Charles Hotel, the Argyle Building was completed within a handful on months, and it went up years before the St. Charles Hotel. Its record breaking construction speed made headlines, and crowds of people gathered on the streets to watch the construction. The Winnipeg Tribune published an article that said: "(The building's) smart red appearance will be a distinct addition to Garry Street."

The building was occupied not just by the Argyle Land Company, but some floors were rented to other commercial tenants, and the upper floors were built as residential units. 

Present day Argyle Building, the Garry Street Entrance
Courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Building Report

Argyle sold their one-year-old building to Frank Lindsay in 1909, but continued to occupy it and continued to sell land, until 1911 when their company became plagued by scandal. They eventually relocated to an office in the McIntyre Block located on Main Street in 1916.

On July 29, 1920, the Argyle Building caught on fire. Three firemen were injured, and one person died. It was thought that the man who died may have started the fire by accident after falling asleep with a cigarette, but no cause was officially ruled. The building caught on fire again a second time in 1926, but thankfully there was no casualties. 

The view down Notre Dame in 1928
Photo from the Heritage Winnipeg Archives
Other historic buildings nearby include the Christie Block, a retail block located at 245 Notre Dame, and the Oxford Hotel at 216 Notre Dame, right next to the Argyle block. We are pleased at the recommendation for the Vendome Hotel and the Argyle Building to be added to the List of Historical Resources, so it can join its fellow buildings from the pre-WW1 era and be protected from demolition. 

Friday, 16 September 2016

Visit The Winnipeg Railway Museum

This Saturday, September 17 & Sunday, September 18, 2016 is Rail Days, a free public event. Rail Days celebrates railway history and culture as it evolved in Winnipeg. Rail Days takes place at the Winnipeg Railway Museum, which is located on the second floor of the Via Rail Station at 123 Main Street in Winnipeg. Come down between 11 am and 5 pm.

The Railway Museum was started by The Midwest Rail Association, a group of railway enthusiasts who wanted to see pieces of our railroad heritage preserved. When the group opened the Winnipeg Museum, it wasn't their first rodeo. 

The Midwestern Rail Association purchased their first museum in Miami. No, not Miami Florida, Miami Manitoba. Miami is a small town southwest of Winnipeg. Miami's railway station was built in 1889, operated by both the Northern Pacific Railway Company, and the Manitoba Railway Company. In 1973, the station closed permanently and in 1974, the station went up for sale, and The Midwestern Rail Association purchased it, and opened their first museum. The Association sought to restore the station to as close to its original appearance as possible, and to show people what a rural railway station was like in 1889.  In 1994, the Midwestern Railway Association transferred control of the Miami Railway Station Museum to a another local non-profit organization.  

The Miami Railway Station Museum
Source: Government of Manitoba
Back in 1977, the Midwestern Railway Association had begun acquiring rolling stock in Winnipeg. Rolling stock refers to any locomotives, carriage, wagon, or any other vehicle that travels on a railroad. The Association was looking for a home for their collection to preserve, restore, and protect the equipment. 

Before the Winnipeg Railway Museum got to where it is today, they considered a variety of other homes. They looked at the building which houses The Children's Museum at the Forks as the building was once a repair shop for trains. It closed in 1909, but was used for various purposes until 1960, then it closed for over 30 years before becoming the Children's Museum. The Midwestern Rail Association also looked at locations in the Canadian Pacific Railway Station, located at 901 Logan Avenue in Winnipeg. They also considered Hurst Way, even going as far as to break ground, before that project fell through. The Winnipeg Humane Society would later open their new facilities at that site in 2007.

After all those attempts to find a location, finally, the Winnipeg Railway Museum found its home when Via Rail declared that tracks 1 and 2 at their Winnipeg Main Street Station were being declared surplus, and would no longer be used. It was the perfect fit for the Winnipeg Railway Museum.

The Via Rail Winnipeg Station on Main Street
with a Streetcar driving in front of it down Broadway
These days, the Winnipeg Railway Museum is filled with many pieces of equipment in various stages of restoration. The centrepiece of the museum is The Countess of Dufferin. 

Drawing of The Baldwin 4-4-0, the model of locomotive the Countess of Dufferin
Source: The Milepost, Winnipeg Railway Museum's bi-monthly newsletter
The Countess was purchased from the bankrupt railway in North Dakota. The Countess is a Baldwin 4-4-0 model, described as "the workhorse," of railway construction across North America. It was the one of the most common types of locomotive ever built, which gained it the nickname of the "American Standard." The Countess was one of 26 thousand Baldwin 4-4-0s when it was built, but now very few are left.

The Countess of Dufferin on display in the Museum
Source: The Milepost, Winnipeg Railway Museum's bi-monthly newsletter
The museum also has a refrigerated railway car.  Refrigerated cars were a huge milestone when it came to food transportation.  Food could be transported farther than ever before and refrigerated cars completely changed the game of food.  Regional foods could now be transported from coast to coast, allowing for things that never would have been possible before, like eating a lobster dinner in Chicago. That's right, the first lobster ever prepared and eaten in Chicago arrived there via a refrigerated railway car in 1842. It also meant that Georgia peaches became available to Winnipeggers.

The refrigerated cars that are on display in the Winnipeg Railway Museum were built in 1929 by the Canadian Car and Foundry Company to ship perishable food items. Workers would load ice through trap doors into a steel cage. The vents at the top allowed cool air to move into the main compartment where the food was stored. The cars could travel 250-400 miles on one load of ice.

A wooden, refrigerated reefer, made to transport food
Source: The Milepost, Winnipeg Railway Museum's bi-monthly newsletter
The Railway Museum is also home to Heritage Winnipeg's Streetcar 356, Winnipeg's last wooden streetcar. Car 356 is just starting its rehabilitation, and not normally available to the public for viewing.  If you want to see the streetcar, this is your chance!

Streetcar 356
Source: Heritage Winnipeg Archives
We hope you will join us at The Winnipeg Railway Museum this weekend for Rail Days with family or friends to learn more about our rich railway history that helped shape our city. This is a free public event, but donations are encouraged, as this wonderful Museum that is truly a gem for our city, is run completely by volunteers.  If you're interested in learning more about Museum, please visit their website, and sign up for their fantastic bi-monthly newsletter, The Milepost.

Friday, 9 September 2016

The Winnipeg Police Service & The Winnipeg Police Museum

Guest Post by Randy James, former Winnipeg Police Officer, and Winnipeg Police Museum volunteer. Edited by Laura Wiens, Marketing & Communications Officer for Heritage Winnipeg.

Early Winnipeg & The Police

In its beginning, Winnipeg grew rapidly. According to the Dominion Census, Winnipeg had a population of just 241 people in 1871. When it officially became a city in 1874, it was close to 5,000. Such a huge jump in population meant more crime, and the Winnipeg Police Force had to respond. When the CPR arrived in Winnipeg in 1881 there was another large influx, and the population rose to 7,985. People came from other parts of Canada, and many immigrants came from overseas. In 1911 the population reached 136,035. The city expanded to new suburbs, and was comprised of about 25 square miles.  
Point Douglas under construction in 1875.
Point Douglas would go on to house a high volume of Winnipeg brothels.
Winnipeg was the last urban city point before the “wild" North-West, and Winnipeg always had some of that “wild” in it. There was a lot of liquor and prostitution, both of which were major issues for the police force.
An early arrest ledger on display at the Winnipeg Police Museum.
The first crime listed is: "Drunk on Street: 5:30 pm."
The first Chief of Police, John Ingram, had a reputation as a scrapper. The mayor at the time did not think well of him at all. Ingram also had a well-known weakness for wine – and women. He was reportedly found in a house of ill repute, in a state of undress, by his two constables.  After being caught in a compromising position, he was permitted to resign. He was replaced by one of his constables, D.B. Murray. Murray left his position years later amid speculation that he was taking protection money from the Madams. Although a Sergeant was charged with taking money from a Madam, it was never officially linked to Murray himself.
In 1881, John C. McRae joined the ranks of the Winnipeg Police Force.  He rose through the ranks to become Chief Constable in 1887. He was known as being one of the most progressive of all Chiefs, causing many improvements to the Force. He changed the rank structure within the force, adding a Sergeant Major to supervise the Sergeants, a Patrol Sergeant to supervise the beat Constables, and even had a Police Surgeon on staff. The first women were hired by the force in 1899 to be matrons, caring for the females arrested. McRae obtained the first mode of transportation for the force, a bicycle, which was used by Patrol Sergeants and Detectives only. He would go on to get the first motor vehicle in 1906, and later in 1910 obtained motorcycles for the Motor Patrol.
John. C. McRae. As Chief, he brought huge progress to the Winnipeg Police Force. 
McRae understood the challenges the police force faced in Winnipeg at that time. He saw the city increasing in size, and as a transportation hub, saw an increase in the criminal element. Railway lines connected with Chicago for the movement of grain, and many people with criminal intentions made their way north.


In 1909 John McRae opened the Rupert Street Police Station, at the corner of Rupert & Louise.  He also saw a need for substations, and in 1909 the city purchased parcels of land designated for these substations. 
With A Division being the Rupert Street Station,
B Division (Fort Rouge) Nassau St. & Jessie Ave.
C Division (West End) Arlington St, near Westminster Ave.
D Division (Notre Dame) was located on Notre Dame Ave. & Pearl St.
E Division (North End) Magnus St. & Charles Ave.
F Division (Elmwood) Levis St. & Regent Ave.

The Rupert Street Police Station.
The first substations constructed were B & E Divisions, which opened May 23rd ,1911.  They were mirror images of each other, with the stables at opposite ends of the building. The stables for the horses made up half of the main floor. Station Duty was at the front of the main floor. The second floor had a recreation room with a pool table, and a suite for the caretaker. Often the caretaker’s wife would also be a matron to look after the female prisoners. 
Subdivision B
Winnipeg entered in an economic downturn in 1913. The next year, the Great War broke out, which drained the city of many men who went to fight, and cut off any excess spending. As a result, the remaining substations substations were never built. In 1966 the Rupert Street Station closed when the Public Safety Building opened and the two existing substations closed on June 30, 1967.
Blue prints the subdivision.
B Division was torn down but the E Division station remained intact, though closed until 1990.  Then a developer purchased the building and land, and converted it to an apartment building. It still stands at 200 Charles Street and Magnus Ave.
Former subdivision E, now an apartment building.

In 1990, the Winnipeg Police Museum was approached with the idea of recovering artifacts from within. Numerous parts were recovered including one of the 11 jail cells. 
A jail cell from E Division, now on display at the Winnipeg Police Museum.
The glamorous interior.

Visit the Museum

An exhibit on the "Special Police" from the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919.
Any officers who went on strike were fired, and replaced with "special" constables. 
The museum is home to a huge variety of amazing artifacts that were saved over the decades by the Winnipeg Police Service, from the earliest days until the present. The museum even has early memorabilia from individual police organizations prior to Winnipeg's incorporation of a city. 

Police officers themselves aren’t the only ones remembered in the museum. Some of Winnipeg’s most infamous criminals have earned spots in the museum, including serial killer Earle Nelson who killed dozens of women across North America before being apprehended in Winnipeg. The gory, yet fascinating details are all available in the museum.

Infamous serial killer, Earle Nelson. Photograph displayed in the museum.
Another story of an infamous criminal displayed at the museum.
Kerfanko conspired with law enforcement to escape from jail.

The Winnipeg Police Museum is now located inside the police headquarters at 245 Smith Street. It had its grand opening in its new location in June of 2016. Many dignitaries and community leaders attended to see the impressive space and artifacts. 

Shotgun shells fired by the Winnipeg Police.

You can visit the Police Museum Wednesday - Saturday, from 10 am - 3pm. 

Admission is free!

Friday, 2 September 2016

Assiniboine Park

Written by Laura Wiens, Heritage Winnipeg Marketing and Communications. On Behalf of Heritage Winnipeg

Assiniboine is a large, popular park in Winnipeg. If you visited Assiniboine Park over the summer of 2016, you likely saw large groups of people playing the game Pokémon Go. The Pokémon Go craze may have inspired a large surge in visitation to the park, but it's always been a popular place for Winnipeggers.

Assiniboine Park Foot Bridge to Portage Avenue in 1915
Source: Heritage Winnipeg Archives
The idea for Assiniboine Park came up in 1893, when the first parks board of Winnipeg was created. They wanted to create a large park in Winnipeg, based off English parks. 

A map of Assiniboine Park in 1967
Source: City of Winnipeg Parks and Recreation Department
The board purchased 283 acres of land along the Assiniboine River. They decided they would house the city’s zoo in this park, and also had other ideas for what they would do with the space.

The Pavilion

The first pavilion was built in 1908. Assiniboine Park didn’t officially opened in 1909, but people were using the park and pavilion before that. Winnipeg architect John S. Atchison designed the original pavilion, and it cost $19,000 to build. The City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee describes it as “ornamental and visually striking,” and it was only intended for summer use.

The original Pavilion
Source: City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee
The pavilion was broad and sweeping with lots of windows and partially enclosed loggias. There was a 90-foot tower which was visible above the park’s trees, and within the tower there was a massive water tank that and pump for the water system that carried water to the park from the river.

The pavilion had a dance hall, a banquet hall, and catering facilities. The pavilion was very popular with the public, and it’s facilities meant it was also frequently used as a meeting place for official city functions. The park and the zoo were expanding quickly, and the pavilion needed to meet higher demands than ever. Despite its popularity, other parts of the park received the majority of the available funding, and by 1925 the pavilion had fallen into disrepair. It had major structural problems, and there was no funding for the pavilion for anything beyond minor repairs.

The original Pavilion from across the field
Source: City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee.

It seemed like the pavilion was doomed to deteriorate more as time went by, but it was spared a slow demise. On May 27, 1929, the pavilion burned to the ground in what is described as “a violent early morning fire.” The building was completely destroyed, but the vine covered walkways escaped the blaze, and even the fish in the pond were unscathed. The day after the fire the Parks Board held an emergency meeting and unanimously approved the construction of a new pavilion.

The new pavilion opened one year later, on May 30, 1930. The new pavilion is significantly larger than the original, but mimics its shape, and cost $96,000 to build. The architects Northwood and Chivers also designed several other prominent Winnipeg buildings including the Wheat Board Building, the Winnipeg Auditorium, and the Victory Building.

The pond and walkways are still standing at the Pavilion today
Source: City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee
Leo Mol Sculpture Garden

Leonid Molodoshanin, known as Leo Mol, was a Ukrainian Canadian sculptor. He was born in Polonne, Ukraine in 1915, which was part of Russia at the time. His interest in sculpting began at a young age. He began learning from his father, who owned a pottery shop. Mol went on to study sculpting at the Leningrad Academy of Arts from 1936-1940. As an adult he moved to Germany and later the Netherlands before settling in Winnipeg.

Leo Mol as a young man
Source: Library and Archives of Canada
Mol donated a large collection of sculptures, paintings, drawings to the City of Winnipeg. The Leo Mol sculpture garden at Assiniboine park on June 8, 1992. Mol and his wife both attended the opening. Leo Mol died in 2009. During his life he was inducted into the Order of Canada, and received numerous honourary degrees.

The Leo Mol Sculpture Garden is a short walk from the pavilion, and is a very popular spot in the park. The garden is also home to the Leo Mol School House Studio. The interior of the School House has been maintained intact and has molds and plaster cats of some of Mol’s major works. This allows visitors to gain a glimpse into the process of creating a bronze sculpture. The Sculpture Garden is great place to relax and view world class art from a Winnipeg artist.

A sculpture in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garen
Source: Assiniboine Park Conservancy
Assiniboine Park Zoo

The Assiniboine Park Zoo was established in 1904. began with animals native to Manitoba like deer, bison, and elk. 
Deer in 1937
Source: Scott Grey, Tails from the Zoo
Today, The Assiniboine Park Zoo has undergone huge renovations and has animals from all over the world. It has hundreds of mammals and birds, and dozens of reptiles.The zoo made headlines with the construction of its new Journey to Churchill Exhibit. Journey to Churchill features exhibits of arctic animals, including polar bears, arctic fox, wolf, musk ox, caribou, snowy owl, and seals.

A Bear in 1942
Source: Scott Grey, Tails from the Zoo

Assiniboine Park Zoo is one of only five zoos in Canada that is accredited by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The association has an accreditation program that has guidelines for all aspects of how a zoo operates, including animal care, animal transportation, and the nature of animal/human contact. The zoo must pass a full inspection before it can become an accredited member. 

Elk at the Zoo in 1912
Source: Scott Grey, Tails from the Zoo
Assiniboine Park has many other things to offer, like the English Garden. The English Garden is now home to some of the shards of historic Winnipeg.

A shard in the English Garden
Source: Heritage Winnipeg Archives
This week, Heritage Winnipeg was pleased to attend a fundraiser at the park to support the creation of Canada’s Diveristy Gardens. The Diversity Garden will be the final step in Assiniboine Park’s rejuvenation.

Assiniboine Park says the gardens will offer “an exploration of the human connection with plants and nature will showcase our nation’s extraordinary multicultural heritage. Visitors will discover the role plants have in shaping the life and identity of their community and their country – past, present and future.”
Learn more about the Diversity Gardens.