Friday, 30 June 2017

The Hudson's Bay Company - Celebrating Canada's Heritage

Guest post by J.V. Lukovich.
Editing and images by Cheryl Mann, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg.


The history of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) is rooted in the history of Manitoba and Canada. It is a narrative built on innovation and transitions; resiliency and adaptation; curiosity and discovery.

The history of the oldest company in North America began with the fur trade, initiated by Frobisher’s discovery of Hudson Strait in his search for the Northwest Passage, and Henry Hudson's discovery of Hudson Bay. This led to the fur-trading expedition by Radisson and DeGroseilliers via the sailing vessels the Eaglet, and the Nonsuch (a replica of which is now featured at the Museum of Man and Nature) financed by King Charles II and business associates – the original investors of the HBC. Only the Nonsuch secured safe passage to James Bay. Having with this expedition determined the economic viability of the fur trade, King Charles II issued in May, 1670 a Royal Charter granting lands of the Hudson Bay watershed to his cousin Prince Rupert as Governor and “The Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson Bay”, and the HBC was established.
A replica of the Nonsuch sailing in 1970 prior to arriving at the Manitoba Museum. Image courtesy of the Hudson's Bay Company Heritage website.

The HBC coat of arms from 1748. Image courtesy of the Hudson's Bay Company Heritage website.
Trading posts surrounding James and Hudson Bay, and within the interior of the continent along river networks were subsequently established in partnership with First Nations over the next century with the expansion of the fur trade, culminating in a merger with the Montreal-based Northwest Company in 1821 to establish a commercial enterprise encompassing the continent. In 1869 the HBC surrendered this territory in a Deed of Surrender to the newly self-governed country of Canada as an agreement between the British Company and British Crown, with compensation from the sale of the land holdings providing the primary source of revenue for HBC. Both the Deed of Surrender and the Manitoba Act (which became law on May 12, 1870) establishing Manitoba as Canada’s fifth Province, came into effect on the same day in 1870. The British North America Act of 1867 and Deed of Surrender of 1870 are both considered pivotal to the creation of Canada.

HBC post Upper Fort Garry in 1871. Image courtesy of wintorbos website and the Toronto News Company, 1889.
HBC post Lower Fort Garry in 1904. Image courtesy of the Hudson's Bay Company Heritage website.
Western settlement and the arrival of the Gold Rush further marked a transition in the HBC from fur trade to retail and sales in the late nineteenth century. In Winnipeg, Upper Fort Garry and the Forks served as the centre for trade, education, commerce, and government from 1838 until its demolition in 1882. The initial Hudson Bay store was built at the corner of Main and York in 1881. However, in recognition of increasing demand for department stores and following the example of Harrods, HBC developed six signature Hudson’s Bay Company department stores following 1912, one of which was in Winnipeg. In 1926, the Winnipeg downtown store was built at what was considered to be the hub of economic, retail, and shopping activity, namely its present-day location at Portage and Memorial. Little was it known that such dynamic and shifting localized centres of economic, social, and political activity in downtown Winnipeg would continue to this day.

The HCB store in Winnipeg at Main and York in 1926. Image courtesy of the Hudson's Bay Company Heritage website.


The Bay downtown, located at Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard, is a symbol of the history that defines the HBC, Manitoba, and Canada, and a critical element of Manitoba’s and Canada’s built heritage.

The Winnipeg Bay downtown store was the Hudson Bay Company’s original “flagship” store.1 The Portage and Memorial location for the Bay downtown is noted by heritage HBC as a “fortunate” site in light not only of its Portage Avenue location, but also its proximity to the Manitoba provincial Legislature built in 1920. [On the HBC heritage website it is noted “The location of the new store site was extremely fortunate. Not only was it directly on Portage Avenue but sat at the corner of Portage and the access road leading to the new provincial Legislature.”2] This strategic location underscores the Bay downtown’s historical and cultural significance and value to our city, province, and country.

Construction begins on the downtown Hudson's Bay store in Winnipeg, September 15, 1925. Image courtesy of the HBC Archives and the Winnipeg Free Press.
Construction began in September, 1925, and required 300 men, 120 teams of horses, steam shovels and 20 trucks to establish the basement and foundation, and drive 151 pillars into 52 feet of bedrock. Local materials were used including Tyndall limestone, steel, and lumber. The downtown store was opened in November, 1926. Unique features included murals depicting the history of the HBC, and twelve elevators later reduced to six. The store initially featured a library on the second floor. An auditorium and orchestra were introduced in later years, and in keeping with the HBC’s support of discovery, navigation and innovation, a beacon was installed in 1930 as a contribution to the aviation industry and airmail, providing the “brightest light in the British Empire”.3

A series of time lapse photos capturing the construction of the downtown Hudson's Bay store in Winnipeg. Image courtesy of the HBC Archives and the Winnipeg Free Press.
Winnipeg has been described as the “First City of the HBC”.4 Built heritage that pays tribute to this description include the Upper Fort Garry Gate, Lower Fort Garry, the downtown Hudson’s Bay store, the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives located in what was constructed as the Winnipeg Auditorium in 1932 on Vaughan, the Manitoba Museum, Hudson’s Bay House (Gibraltar House, built in 1911 and headquarters for the HBC Canadian operations until 1987), and the HBC warehouse (the Keg). The importance of the HBC to Manitoba and Canada and our cultural history is reflected in donation by the HBC of records to the Province of Manitoba in 1994 and subsequent inclusion of the HBCA in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Registry in 2007.5 The Hudson’s Bay Company Gallery at the Manitoba Museum, which opened in May, 2000, features the Hudson’s Bay Company Museum Collection, also known as Manitoba’s “National Treasure”,6 and builds upon the tradition of public museum exhibitions first housed in the Main Street location in 1922, and in 1926 in the present downtown Bay location, to highlight the history, heritage, and culture upon which the Company and its partnerships with First Nations was founded. The Beaver, established in commemoration of the HBC’s 250th anniversary provided an additional example of the Company’s contributions to Canada’s cultural and social identity. Under the name the Hudson’s Bay Company, Arts, and Crafts, HBC acted as a marketing agency for Inuit Art and in 1981 opened a showroom for Inuit Art in Toronto. The HBC also acted “as a patron of science” and contributed to scientific networks associated with mapping and field observations.

Founded by the HBC in 1920, the February 1922 edition of The Beaver featured "The Canadian Girl" from the Winnipeg Winter Carnival. Image courtesy of the Hudson's Bay Company Heritage website.
It is this link between HBC and the Arts, sciences, and cultural heritage that provides the foundation for HBC’s reinvention in the 21st century as a centre for ideas and their exchange for the benefit of society, building upon the commercial enterprise and initiatives of the 20th century.


The Bay downtown store is today occupied on two floors by the HBC as a department store. Events such as the New Music Festival performance “Ghosts of the Hudson’s Bay Building” in February, and the Third+Bird pop-up market promoted rediscovery of this building’s history and potential in contemporary society to inspire. In May the Bay downtown was also highlighted by Doors Open Winnipeg. It was the topic of discussion for Frontlines: Bay Daze Presentation and Panel Discussion, the event which commenced the Doors Open Winnipeg weekend. The Bay downtown store itself was also a building featured in Doors Open Winnipeg, with the sixth floor, home to the shuttered Paddlewheel Restaurant, being opened to the public for tours. All the events highlighted the need for sustained commitment to a vision that rediscovers our past for a more hopeful future.

The downtown Winnipeg Hudson's Bay store celebrates the end of WWII. Image courtesy of the Winnipeg Free Press.

Today, the Bay has the potential to be key player in social enterprise as local and global economies and societies transition to address the innumerable challenges of the 21st century.

Redevelopment of the Bay provides an opportunity to revisit Manitoba's history and in particular explore means to rediscover the connection between the Hudson Bay building, railway line, and port of Churchill as economic centres of trade and innovation for Manitoba and Canada.

Individuals such as architect and principal of Place Economics, Don Rypkema, have emphasized the economic opportunities and benefits to be found in heritage preservation. In a 2011 article, reporter Carma Wadley summarizes this truth in the statement “Old buildings are the new economy”. 7 Economic benefits include enhanced employment opportunities, tourism, increased property values. Environmental benefits include reduced emissions, waste, and consumption, and social benefits include more diverse and walkable communities.

The HBC Wholesale Dry-goods Department in Winnipeg on May 10, 1923. Image courtesy of the Hudson's Bay Company Heritage website.
A training program dedicated to the preservation and restoration of heritage buildings could be established in Manitoba, with the Bay downtown store as the foundation and launch for such a program. The training program could be established locally through partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and Aki Energy. Programs comparable to Strive for Change in California and training programs in the UK offered through such entities as Historic England that encourage property owners to train and hire individuals in heritage preservation could be developed. Canadian examples include education programs offered through Heritage BC, and conservation programs across Canada as listed at the National Trust for Canada.

Manitoba is in need of such a conservation program, which could be created through partnerships between Heritage Winnipeg, Red River College, the UofW and/or the UofM, and Habitat for Humanity to further address social needs. Instilling a sense of pride in Winnipeg's older buildings provides a means of revitalizing the city and offering hope, employment and accommodation to promote and ensure a more equitable and progressive society.

The downtown Winnipeg Hudson's Bay store as it stands today. Image courtesy of the Metro.
The Bay downtown store, as a symbol of innovation and resilience demonstrated by the HBC, our city, province, and country, has the opportunity to allow us to collectively reinvent and navigate the challenges of the 21st century, and to realize a vision for our city, province, and country predicated on hope and the imagination.
Redevelopment of the Bay also has the potential to create employment opportunities and could serve as the foundation for a longer-term apprenticeship program in the restoration of historic buildings. Participants in the BUILD Inc. and Aki Energy programs could help with refurbishment of the Bay. Partnerships could also be established with Habitat for Humanity.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

All People's Mission and The Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre

Canada's social security programs are a pillar of the collective Canadian identity, ensuring that all people, regardless of their socioeconomic standing, have access to basic human resources like healthcare, social security, and a Pension Plan. But the services Canadians have come to rely on did not exist at the turn of the 20th century, anyone who had the misfortune of falling onto hard times were sometimes left without a safety net sometimes left to fend for themselves and had to look to other sources for basic necessities like food and clothing. Stepping in to help was the city's religious groups, most notably the All People's Mission in Winnipeg. Spearheaded by James Shaver Woodsworth, his mission worked to address the multifaceted needs of the city's North End communities. In the process a building was erected at 119 Sutherland Avenue that still stands today.
The All People's Mission in 1909 (Source: Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)
In the 1890s, Miss Dollie McGuire led a Methodist Sunday school for German speaking children. The children in attendance often came from families who faced shortages of basic resources, such as food and clothing. McGuire recognized the plight of the families and strove to offer more than religious teachings, providing the families with basic resources that were desperately needed. After using several locations to temporarily house the Sunday school, McGuire arrived at the McDougall Church, north of the Canadian Pacific Railway Station at 939 Main Street. Here the fledgling Winnipeg Mission officially became the All People's Mission.

The Canadian Pacific Railway Station (Source: The Manitoba Archives)
Run by the Methodist church, the All People's Mission was primarily focused on addressing the needs of recently arrived immigrants. Given that most of Winnipeg's immigrant community arrived in the city via the CPR Station at 181 Higgins Avenue, the church became concerned that their location could not properly serve the needs of the newcomers. The pending arrival of nearly 12 000 immigrants of Austrian descent was the final factor to move the mission to a larger facility closer to the the railway station. In 1902, the All People's mission made its final move, setting down roots at 119 Sutherland Street.

The exterior of the All People's Mission in 1909 (Source: Archives of Manitoba)
Two years after the relocation of the mission, the missions new Minister James Shaver Woodsworth arrived. Born in Toronto, Woodsworth moved to Winnipeg with his family in 1885 where he attended Wesley College. He received a "well rounded education" and later studied theology in Toronto and England. While in Europe, Woodsworth came face to face with the despicable conditions of the city's urban slums, an experience so profound it influenced his beliefs for the rest of his life.

James Shaver Woodsworth (Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia) 
In 1908 Woodsworth contracted architect J.H.G Russel to design a new structure on the mission's land to better serve the people of the North End. Intended to be "utilitarian and efficient," the new structure was completed at a cost of $10 000. A place of service first and religion second, the plain brass plaque on the structures exterior read the "All People's Mission," and was the only outward reference to the mission's Christian origins.

Woodsworth believed that everyone in the community should have access to proper recreation facilities, so the missions basement was set aside for a large recreation room and swimming tank. The main floor and was left open for community gatherings and an assemblage of four folding doors that could be moved around to create a large classroom, sewing room or a reading room.

Children pose with flags from their home countries outside of the All People's Mission, circa 1909 (Source: Manitoba Historical Society)
The second floor was divided into small classrooms which were used for the mission's boys and girls clubs. The boys and girls clubs afforded families peace of mind and allowed neighbourhood children to interact with other kids their own age.A small kitchen was used by volunteers with the mission to teach cooking and nutrition classes.

Although the mission continued to serve the community for another 60 years, Woodsworth left in 1918 after a crisis of faith caused him to rescind his religious beliefs and to turn to a career in politics. The career change, however, did little to affect Woodsworth and his need to serve Winnipeg's North End community. He was elected to Manitoba's House of Commons in 1921 and served the Winnipeg North Centre constituency until his death in 1942. As a result of his time in office, Woodsworth is credited with helping to enact Manitoba's first Old Age Pension Plan, which is considered to be the cornerstone of Canada's Social Security System.

The Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre pre-renovation (Source: MICEC)
In 1975, the All People's Mission was purchased by the Manitoba Indian Brotherhood in conjunction with the Winnipeg Indian Council. Together they established the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre (MICEC) within the walls of the former mission. Under this new ownership the building underwent many changes, including the construction of a television studio in the basement and a library on the second floor.
The Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre under construction in 2011 (Source MICEC)
In 2011, MICEC worked with  Bridgman Collaborative Architecture to rehabilitate the 110 year old heritage building. Seven large poles representing the languages spoken by Manitoba's Indigenous people were installed to welcome visitors as they walk up to the centre. A people's garden was planted in front of the building, where traditional plants and medicines are grown. The building was lowered by six feet so visitors would no longer have to climb a set of stairs to gain access to the entrance. The main facade was reworked to include a large glass terrarium, which helped to break up the monotony of the original facade.

The Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Centre post-renovation
(Source: Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)
Inside, the walls were painted a crisp almond colour to match the centre's dark oak floors. A gathering space, teaching kitchen and circulation desk are located on the first floor while the second floor was converted into a mezzanine level, storing the organization's huge collection of books and periodicals.

In 2011, The MICEC hosted the 26th Annual Heritage Winnipeg Preservation Awards in their new rehabilitated space. They were presented with the Institutional Conservation Award for the historic rehabilitation of 119 Sutherland Avenue.

Today, the MICEC provides Winnipeg's Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities with the resources required to keep the provinces First Nations languages, traditions, and teachings alive and flourishing. Heritage Winnipeg was proud to have the MICEC take part in the 2017 Doors Open Winnipeg event!

To view a complete list of the programs and services currently offered by the centre, please visit the MICEC's website.


119 Sutherland Historical Report

The Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre

James Shaver Woodsworth - The Canadian Encyclopedia

Manitoba Historical Society - James Shaver Woodsworth

Manitoba Historical Society - All People's Mission

The Methodist Church and the "European Foreigners" of Winnipeg: The All People's Mission, 1889 - 1914

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Closing the Door on the 14th Annual Doors Open Winnipeg Event

It was a time to celebrate at the 2017 Doors Open Winnipeg Volunteer Reception and People's Choice Awards at the King's Head Pub in the Exchange. Heritage Winnipeg hosted the event, thanking the dedicated volunteers in attendance who generously contributed endless hours to make Doors Open Winnipeg an incredibly successful event. Over 500 volunteers helped make this year's event the biggest, most successful event to date. It was also the seventh year in which the People's Choice Awards were held.

The People's Choice Awards represent five categories, Best Restoration, Best Guided Tour or Programming, Best Architecture, Best Experience and the Hidden Gem. Online voting was open to the public, showcasing 91 amazing buildings and walking tours. Hundreds of votes poured in the week following Doors Open Winnipeg, making for a close race in several of the categories. In the end, the votes were tallied and the winners were rewarded for their efforts with framed original drawings of their buildings by local artist Robert Sweeney.

Dalnavert Museum and Visitors' Centre at 61 Carlton Street

The Dalnavert Museum and Visitor' Centre has undergone an incredible transformation through detailed restoration that is immediately visible to guests as they enter the 1895 home of Sir Hugh John MacDonald, son of Prime Minister John A MacDonald. The grand old house was nearly lost in the 1970s, and was slated for demolition. Thanks to dedicated volunteers and philanthropists, restoration to the house began almost immediately after the purchase.

Then again in 2014 Dalnavert Museum was closed and in risk of being lost forever. The Friends of Dalnavert Museum was formed and took over ownership with a new business model. In 2015 the museum officially reopened stronger than ever, guaranteeing it will be part of our social and architectural fabric for generations to come.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Dalnavert Museum and Visitor Centre was the manager of Dalnavert, Thomas McLeod and Susan Moffatt.
Vaughan Street Jail at 444 York Avenue

An unassuming building located at the corner of Vaughan Street and York Avenue, the Vaughan Street Jail represents our province's judicial history. The brave souls who dared to enter for Doors Open Winnipeg were treated to an theatrical tour and introduced to some of the prison's most infamous inmates. The performances were brought to life by Friends of the Vaughan Street Jail volunteers.

Originally the Eastern Judicial Gaol, the Vaughan Street Jail, designed by architect Charles Osborne Wickensen, was built in 1881 by the Province of Manitoba on land purchased from the Hudson’s Bay Company. Children, women and men were all imprisoned in the building during its history, with the mentally ill receiving the most treacherous treatment. Significant hangings at the jail include those of notorious serial killers John "Bloody Jack" Krafchenko and Earle Leonard Nelson, the "Gorilla Killer". Today it no longer functions as a jail but instead has become the oldest provincially owned building still standing within city limits. 

Heritage Winnipeg would like to congratulate the Vaughan Street Jail for their unprecedented third win in the category of Best Guided Tour or Programming. Accepting the award on behalf of the Vaughan Street Jail was Kristen J. Treusch.
Now available for purchase
Forgotten History: The Untold Stories of Manitoba's First Provincal Jail 1881-1930  
by Kristen J. Treusch

Canadian Museum for Human Rights at 85 Israel Asper Way - new this year

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights was a delight to the eyes of guests who came to marvel at the winning design envisioned by architect Antoine Predock. The soaring glass museum is the fruition of 14 years of planning, fundraising and construction, offically opening its doors on September 20, 2014.
"The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is rooted in humanity, making visible in the architecture the fundamental commonality of humankind-a symbolic apparition of ice, clouds and stone set in a field of sweet grass. Carved into the earth and dissolving into the sky on the Winnipeg horizon, the abstract ephemeral wings of a white dove embrace a mythic stone mountain of 450 million year old Tyndall limestone in the creation of a unifying and timeless landmark for all nations and cultures of the world."
-Antoine Predock, architect
Representatives of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights accepted the award on behalf of the museum.
The White House at 234 Portage Avenue

In 1904, Oldfield, Kirby and Gardener, then one of Winnipeg's most recognized and respected accounting firms, commissioned Winnipeg architect J.D. Atchinson to design a building that would command the attention of every passer by. The result of Atchinson's commission was The White House, a classical structure that retains its sense of impact to this day. The architectural equivalent of an exclamation point, The White House's impeccable design has continued to attract tenants long after its original owners went out of business in the late forties.

Michael Fillion and Richard Irving purchased The White House in 2006 with the intention of converting the 103 year old heritage structure into a personal residence and home office. The restoration took two and a half years with the final product being well worth the time and effort. Five original character elements were preserved, the main staircase was beautifully restored and marble colonnades and Romanesque busts added contributed to the neo-classical aesthetic. We applaud the owners for their dedication and commitment to the conservation of our city's built heritage.

Accepting the award on behalf of The White House was owner Michael Fillion.
McBeth House at 31 McBeth Avenue

On the west side of the Red River, a sprawling piece of land granted to the McBeth family in 1815 went on to become the family home for the next 134 years. Originally just used for farming, the first home on the property was built by Robert McBeth Sr. around 1850. It was a log building with a small store attached, of which only the foundation remains today.

Robert McBeth Jr. inherited the property from his father and after expanding his land holdings, commissioned the construction of a new house in 1912. William W. Cross designed the new house, built of red pressed brick in the Edwardian-style. The two and a half story home was located on the newly acquired land, adjacent to the older property. Far more spacious than the log building and elegantly appointed, it was indicative of upper class families of the period. McBeth Jr. died in 1915 but the house remained in the family, continuously lived in by members until 1984. At that time, the last living daughter of McBeth Jr., Isabel, passed away, willing the house to the City of Winnipeg. Today the house is a hidden oasis is a lush park like setting, providing a wonderful meeting place where all walks of life can enjoy with the dedication and commitment of volunteers.

Accepting the award on behalf of MeBeth House was Edna Krosney, senior's centre chair (tenants of the house) and board member.
And so concludes yet another successful Doors Open Winnipeg! Heritage Winnipeg would once again like to thank everyone who came out to visit some of our city's architecturally, socially and culturally significant heritage buildings. It is apparent by the incredible turnout of over 30 000 site visits that this event truly resonates with Winnipegger's and visitors. We feel it is imperative that we continue to showcase our city's incredible built heritage and have it contribute to the future of our community. Please remember to follow Heritage Winnipeg on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news on upcoming events. We hope to see you next year during the last weekend of May, the 26th and 27th of 2018!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Cultural heritage rehabilitation on Main Street

Since 1994, Neechi Commons has been a unique Indigenous co-operative supermarket and business complex.  Originally located on Dufferin Avenue, the facility has been an indispensable part of the "North End" community, providing area residents with locally sourced food and employment opportunities.  In 2010, co-operative members decided to move the supermarket to the larger, more centrally located building on the corner of Main Street and Euclid Avenue. The Euclid Block is located at 865 Main Street, and bridges the North Point Douglas and Lord Selkirk Park neighbourhoods of Winnipeg.
Neechi Commons at 865 Main Street

The new location was purposely chosen with the intention of fostering neighbourhood revitalization, and setting an example that would encourage others to invest north on Main Street.

The Euclid Block in the 1990's (Photo courtesy of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)

The buildings are located on Main Street, north of the railway underpass and represent a thriving turn-of-the-century district, filled with an array of stores, hotels and markets. Many of these businesses were owned and operated by immigrants of Eastern European descent, catering to the needs of Winnipeg's close-knit immigrant communities. Over time many of the buildings in this area, especially those closest to the railway underpass, have begun to deteriorate, with little capital being allocated and invested towards the preservation of these valuable heritage buildings. Today, Neechi Commons represents a reverse in this trend.

 Farmers Market's were a common sight along North Main Street in the 1900's.  (Photo courtesy of Greg Agnew)
Originally known as the Euclid block and built in 1904 as mixed use at a cost of $18 000. The first floor was commercial space divided into six narrow storefronts, with residential units on the second floor. The first tenants of the block were Dominick Zilli and S. Cossavella, two Italian immigrants who opened a grocery store in 1906. A restaurant, hardware store, tobacconist, shoemaker, furniture shop and butcher soon followed.  In the 1940's, a new structure was erected next to the Euclid block, followed by a second building in the late 1950's. These three buildings form the basis for what is now the Neechi Commons Complex.

A farmers market facing North Main Street (Photo courtesy of Greg Agnew)
Renovations to the Euclid Block and two adjoining buildings began in 2010. The project was undertaken by Bridgman Collaborative Architecture, who are known for sensitive restorations of heritage buildings. Some of their heritage projects include Doors Open Winnipeg participants in the VIA Rail Union Station, Dalnavert Museum and Visitors Centre, the Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Centre and Barber House.

The project was initially budgeted at 5 million dollars, but that number quickly increased to 6 million after a slate of unforeseen issues complicated the project. Extensive mould growth between the walls in the building's main annex caused delays, while older, water damaged bricks from the building's main facade needed to be replaced.

Despite the often unexpected and costly problems that arise when renovating heritage buildings like the Euclid Block, such an endeavour also provides its share of pleasant surprises. Peeling back years of modifications can reveal surprising architectural features that have been forgotten for decades. After removing the ceiling from the Euclid Block, three steel support beams were uncovered, likely salvaged from an earlier bridge project. Neechi Commons President, Louise Champagne found the beams so striking, she decided they should remain exposed as an architectural feature.

Three Sisters Fruit and Vegetable Courtyard (Photo courtesy of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)

Further renovations to the Euclid Block included enlarging window openings to create bright spaces for workers and visitors. A closed loop geothermal heating and cooling system was installed below the parking lot, helping meet sustainability goals of the project. The building was divided and outfitted to accommodate the Come N' Eat Restaurant, Kookums Bakery, Three Sisters Fruit and Vegetable Courtyard, a full service supermarket, office space and the Neechi Niche Aboriginal Art and Craft Centre. When completed, over 90% of the existing building was reused, preserving much of the building's embodied energy and creating minimal environmental impact.

Come N' Eat Restaurant (Photo courtesy of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)

The double-height court with and metal spiral staircase (Photo courtesy of Bridgman Collaborative Architecture)
The new Neechi Commons complex officially opened on March 31, 2013, and has been thriving ever since.  In 2015, Neechi Commons was a recipient of the Heritage Winnipeg Special President's award which is given to heritage building owners that play a key historic and leadership role in their community.

It is an outstanding example of how heritage buildings can be successfully rehabilitated, addressing the needs of the community and environment, while maintaining their heritage value. Neechi Commons is a positive step in breathing new life into the community. They truly are an example that others can aspire to, building a brighter future for all Winnipeggers!

Neechi Commons Website

Peel's Prairie Provinces - Henderson Directory (1895 - 1965)

Bridgman Collaborative Architecture

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Celebrating the Stories Behind 91 Doors: Doors Open Winnipeg 2017!

Doors Open Winnipeg poster designed by Creative Communications student Alanna Yuen
Winnipeggers came out by the thousands this past weekend for Doors Open Winnipeg 2017, discovering the captivating stories behind the beautiful facades of many of our local buildings. Despite some dreary weather, smiling faces abounded as participants, volunteers and guests alike indulged in the fascinating history that shaped the Winnipeg we know and love today. With 91 buildings, events and tours taking place there was something to please everyone, from trolley tours to ghost stories to modernist architecture. Early attendance numbers indicate that this year's Doors Open Winnipeg is on track to be the most successful ever!

Heritage Winnipeg would like to thank everyone who participated in Doors Open Winnipeg this year, particularly the volunteers and sponsors. Over 500 selfless volunteers put in countless hours to ensure that every guest had an amazing experience while our generous sponsors ensure Doors Open continues to grow and flourish while remaining completely free. Thank you!

The Haunted History Walking Tour had countless people clamouring for the opportunity to learn about the ghosts that haunt Winnipeg. Inspired by the book written by tour guide Matthew Komus, old and young alike where "dying" to see the buildings behind the stories.

Tour guide Matthew Komus and the Haunted History Tour (Courtesy of Dalnavert Museum)

The Vaughan Street Jail is a perennial favourite of Doors Open Winnipeg crowds, drawing in more visitors than any other building, tour or event. The volunteers are the star of the show, going above and beyond to portray the colourful characters that once inhabited the jail. Even a little rain could not keep the crowds away, with many people waiting in line for their chance for an encounter with a ghost.

Friends of the Vaughan Street Jail in character (Courtesy of the Friends of the Vaughan Street Jail)

A new participant in Doors Open Winnipeg this year was the Hudson's Bay Company downtown store. Visitors were invited to explore the sixth floor of the store, home to the Paddlewheel Restaurant, which closed in 2013. Just over 1500 people came by on Sunday, many of whom were eager to share fond memories of the department store.

Heritage Winnipeg was at the Bay collecting names from Doors Open visitors interested in forming a "Friends of the Bay Downtown" group. The response to the initiative was very positive, with many people passionate about ensuring a future for the building. We hope to have a web presence sometime in the near future! Check out Christian Cassidy's blog for more photos and stories from last weekends event. 

The Paddlewheel Restaurant (Courtesy of Susan Belmonte)
So how did you spend your Doors Open weekend? Did you check out a new location or get reacquainted with an old favourite? Let us know in the comments! Your feedback will help us fine tune next years Doors Open Winnipeg event.

The Exchange District Biz Walking Tour

If you did not get a chance to take in this year's Doors Open Winnipeg, don't worry, there is still a chance to take in some of the action from the weekend! Like Heritage Winnipeg on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to check out the awesome photos from this years event!

Do not forget to vote for your favourites in the Doors Open Winnipeg People's Choice Awards at Voting closes Friday, June 2nd 2017 at 5:30pm.

Once again, thank you to everyone who took part in Doors Open Winnipeg 2017. Make sure to mark your calendars for the last weekend of May in 2018. We can't wait to have you back!

Here are some photos courtesy of our amazing participants who took part in Doors Open Winnipeg 2017! 
The Fire Fighters Museum (511 Visitors)

The Cornish Library (164 Visits)

McGregor Street Armoury (521 Visitors)

Dalnavert Museum (1668 Visitors)

Trolley 356 (Winnipeg Trolley Company)

Winnipeg Police Museum (729 Visitors)

St. Michael's and All Angels Anglican Church (61 Visitors)

Government House (682 Visitors)

The Costume Museum of Canada (1279 Visitors)

St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church (70 Visitors)


Hazelwood Mosque (247 Hazelwood Avenue)


Charleswood Historical Museum (31 Visitors)

The White House (230 Visitors)

Ross House Museum (360 Visitors)

Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral - Sts Vladimir and Olga, Winnipeg (193 Visitors)

Masonic Memorial Temple (420 Corydon) 

Minto Armoury (340 Visitors)