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Showing posts from August, 2017

St. Boniface Fire Hall No. 1 – Reigniting a Heritage Treasure?

In the romantic age of fire fighting, when brave men slid down fire poles and jumped into their horse drawn fire engines, racing do battle with flames while brandishing minimal technology and equipment, St. Boniface fittingly built a fortress for a fire station. St. Boniface Fire Hall No. 1 broke the mold at a time when nearly all newly built fire stations were essentially identical. Built during a period of growth for the French community, it continually served the community for over 60 years. Today the heritage building is seeking reincarnation, looking for the opportunity to rise from the ashes, injecting life into the community it has so dutifully protected over the decades.
The City of Winnipeg was a not even a year old in September of 1874 when the first Volunteer Fire Brigade was established. Insurance companies at the time were either charging exorbitant rates for fire insurance or refusing to provide any fire coverage at all, causing great distress amongst property owners. The…

The Upper Fort Garry Heritage Wall - Illuminating Manitoba's History

Where the Red River and Assiniboine River meet in Winnipeg, there are thousands of years of history buried within the ground. From the Indigenous people to the European fur traders to the current multicultural community, it has always been a gathering place of great importance. This is what drew the Hudson’s Bay Company to build Upper Fort Garry, the gateway to the west and the birthplace of Manitoba. Over time the fort was being lost, first to demolition and later to neglect. When it seemed as though part of the site was going to be lost to development, the citizens of Winnipeg made it clear that their history is a priority, donating over $10 million so that Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park, featuring the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Heritage Wall, would forever preserve the history of the keystone province.

6000 years ago Indigenous people built a fire at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. The hearth that remained became a part of the archeological record, showing th…

The Royal Albert Hotel - A Crown Jewel in the Exchange

The Royal Albert Hotel was built during the end of a period of great prosperity for Winnipeg. As the city’s economy faltered the hotel was never able to reach its full potential, becoming a place where many have tried and failed. Overshadowed by a long and unsavoury history, none of the owners have been able to turn the tide for this hotel. And yet it still stands, a monument to lost dreams, the starting point of successful music careers and an ode to the potential held within the neglected walls of heritage buildings.
In 1881, the Canadian Pacific Railway built the main line of its transcontinental track through Winnipeg. With this new connection to the world, Winnipeg thrived, becoming a center of commerce, drawing in people from all corners of the globe. Special shipping rates in Winnipeg for goods moving from western to eastern Canada, achieved thanks to the lobbying of businessmen, further attracted commercial enterprise. Railway branches were built into the city, leading to huge …

Priceless Heritage on the Crescent - The Gordon House

Urban sprawl is one of the worst plights of the modern city, eating up precious natural habitat and farmland to satisfy the desirers of those who disregard their lifestyle’s impact on the environment. Infill housing would then seem like a welcome solution, providing much needed houses without expanding the city and increasing the efficiency of preexisting infrastructure. But what happens when infill becomes a synonym for demolition? Is anything truly gained when so much of the past is lost? This is the conundrum faced in Winnipeg, where grand repositories of history are staring down the wreaking ball in the name of progress.

Long before Winnipeg became a city, the Indigenous people of the area walked along the southern shores of the Assiniboine River on path that followed the curves of the waterway. That trail became Wellington Crescent, a winding road along the south side of the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, connecting Assiniboine Park in the west with Osborne Village in the east. Th…