Wednesday, 23 May 2018

McGregor Street Armoury - Standing On Guard for over 100 Years

Written by Natassja Brien for Heritage Winnipeg

McGregor Street Armoury (1915)

The McGregor Street Armoury, a federally designated heritage building, is a returning participant in Doors Open Winnipeg 2018! Visit their page at the Doors Open Winnipeg site here to find out more information on opening hours and tour times. Doors Open Winnipeg runs from May 26 - 27, 2018.

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McGregor Street Armoury
Source: Manitoba Historical Society
Sitting on the corner of McGregor Street and Machray Avenue, this imposing building dominates the landscape. Although many people may have only noticed it in passing on the way to the ever-popular North Star Drive In, the McGregor Street Armoury has been a mainstay of the North End landscape for more than 100 years.

McGregor Street Armoury shortly after its construction
Source: Fort Garry Horse
"Drill Hall Sam" aka Sir Samuel Hughes
Source: Canadian Encyclopedia
In the early 20th century, before the Great War, a blustering new officer had been appointed to the position of Minister of Militia in 1911 by then-Prime Minister Robert Borden. The influence of Sir Samuel Hughes quickly became apparent - he had convinced Sir Wilfrid Laurier to send troops overseas to the Boer War, and his dream was to see a distinctly Canadian militia in the British Army. One of the plans he supported to achieve this dream was an intensive armoury building program to standard designs. That, combined with Frederick Borden's Militia Engineer Services Branch, resulted in the construction of 59 armories in the years 1911-1914, made to five different standardized designs. In 1913, designs were drafted for McGregor Street Armoury - of "Standard Armoury Design Type D, Alternate Plan with Towers". Sir Hughes would receive recruits from McGregor Street Armoury in 1915 when men came from Winnipeg (and all over Canada) to Hughes' training camp at Valcartier.

Noted architect Herbert Edward Matthews, who also designed Minto Armoury and what is now the West End Cultural Centre, must have wanted the armoury to look imposing, a sign of Canada's military health and strength. The armoury was designed in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts style, modelled on classical antiquities. Although the style is heavily influenced by European and British trends, and following the Type D plan of Sir Hughes, the materials used reflect local character. Yellow clay brick, likely from the now-defunct Snyder Bros. brickyard, is used for the exterior, combined with Tyndall limestone to accent in lighter colours. These same bricks would be used in such familiar structures as the Legislative building, the Law Courts, as well as many of the original buildings at the Forks - and as for Tyndall limestone, it would be easier to say which buildings in Winnipeg don't use it.

Some of the other architectural features which make McGregor Armoury so distinct are the sturdy steel trusses over the drill hall, which allows the hall to be wide and open - and filled with natural light, thanks to the large multipanelled steel windows.

Modern-day photo showing the unchanged interior of the armoury.
Source: Fort Garry Horse Museum and Archives, with thanks to G. Crossley

The original unit housed in McGregor Armoury in 1915 once it was completed was the Winnipeg Light Infantry. This unit earned its stripes in the Great War when, filling the ranks of the 10th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force, they held the line during the first large-scale poison gas attack at Ypres in 1915. While the use of chemical weapons was prohibited by article 23 of the Hague Convention of 1899, all major powers began to use poisonous gases after the first attack - these included phosgene, chlorine gas, and mustard gas. At Ypres, the weapon of choice was chlorine gas, which was buried in canisters below the ground and then detonated by the German soldiers, causing upwards of 8000 casualties for Allied soldiers.

A Sherman M4A tank, once used by the Fort Garry Horse, stands in Martin Park, just north of the McGregor Armoury.
A Sherman tank in the north field of the McGregor Street Armoury
Source: Winnipeg Free Press
Returning to McGregor Armoury after the end of the war, the Winnipeg Light Infantry opened the building up to the community - including allowing a nearby school to hold classes in the building after a drastic increase in the number of children was pushing them to capacity.  When WWII broke out, the Winnipeg Light Infantry went on active service, and McGregor Armouries housed new recruits as well as the 17th and 19th Batteries of the Royal Canadian Artillery. McGregor Armoury has an extensive lawn - which was quickly filled with standard issue military tents as recruits showed up and signed up for duty.

Trooper J.L. Dumouchelle and Corporal W.L. Corn cleaning a Sherman tank
of the Fort Garry Horse used as a monument in the Netherlands (22 Nov 1945)
Source: Library and Archives Canada
 After the end of WWII, McGregor Armoury was the home of the Winnipeg Light Infantry for only the next ten years - in 1955 they had merged with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles (based in nearby Minto Armoury). Then, in 1965 they were replaced in the armoury by the Fort Garry Horse. Throughout the post WWII period, the armoury was opened for socials, dances, and bingo nights for the North End community.

Harry Colebourn with Winnipeg the bear in 1914

The "Garrys", as they were known, had gone through some restructuring themselves. Originating as a cavalry regiment in Winnipeg in 1912, they had been converted to an armoured regiment in 1939 like many others before moving into McGregor Armoury.

If the Fort Garry Horse doesn't sound immediately familiar, one of their more notable recruits was the British expat veterinarian Harry Colebourn - famously known as the man who purchased a little black bear on his way from Winnipeg to Hughes' camp at Valcartier, and named it after his adopted city. Lesser known is that after the war Colebourn returned to Winnipeg (sans bear, which lived out the rest of her life at the London Zoo, inspiring A.A. Milne through his son Christopher) and opened up an animal hospital at 600 Corydon Ave.

As of 1978, the McGregor Street Armoury houses the Fort Garry Horse Museum and Archives, which showcases artifacts from the Garrys' long history as a military unit. Visiting the armoury is like taking a step back in time - many features are unchanged and the oaken doors and trim lend a stately feel to this proud armoury. Over the years some things have changed - the walls are painted the blue and gold of Fort Garry Horse, while certain areas are painted with the colours of 31 Engineer Squadron, 38 Combat Engineer Regiment, formed in 2004. In addition to these, McGregor Street Armoury is also home to Air Cadet squadrons No. 6 and 573, and the 1226 Fort Garry Horse Army Cadets.

Due to all this immense history, McGregor Street Armoury was formally recognized as a federally designated historic site on October 17th, 1994.

Don't forget to check out the Doors Open Winnipeg website for more information about the event! 

New for this year, Heritage Winnipeg is also hosting a social media contest where you can win a Downtown Prize Pack! To enter, submit a selfie at one of your favourite venues and tell us why you love Doors Open Winnipeg - entries can be submitted over any of Heritage Winnipeg's social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Tag us and use #doorsopenwinnipeg so we can see your photos!


Gordon Crossley, Fort Garry Horse Museum and Archives

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Uptown Theatre - A Remnant of Film's Golden Age

Written by Natassja Brien for Heritage Winnipeg

Uptown Theatre

Many Winnipeggers will remember having birthday parties as a child at Academy Lanes Bowling - making funny nicknames on the machine, bowling the occasional strikes (more rolling into the gutter), and finally upstairs for pizza at dinnertime. Academy Lanes has been a staple of Central Winnipeg for many many years - but the building that houses it has been around for much longer. 

1931 photo showing the newly-built Uptown Theatre
Source: Heritage Winnipeg Resource Centre

The Uptown Theatre was built in 1931 as the latest in a series of theatres designed by Russian-born Winnipeg architect Max Zev Blankstein, and owned by another Russian Winnipegger, Jacob "Jack" Miles. Both these men, along with many other families, had fled Russia to escape religious persecution (both are buried in Shaarey Zedek cemetery, a historic site in its own right). Max Blankstein was among the very first Jewish architects to register and practice in Manitoba. 

By all accounts, Uptown Theatre was a sight to see in its heyday of the Golden Age of Film. Mixing Spanish, Islamic, and Art Deco influences, the grand theatre seemed right out of the tales of Scherezade - particularly to Depression-era Winnipeggers, who could probably use a little wonder and escapism.

This particular architectural style for movie theatres was called "Atmospheric" for its aim to fully transport patrons from their city to a completely different time and place. Many atmospheric theatres were modelled on particular wondrous places from Europe, Africa, and the Near East. Popular inspirations were Versailles, Egypt, as well as the Moorish palace of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain:

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Interior of a courtyard in the Alhambra
Source: BBC

Interior of the Uptown Theatre
Source: Silver Screens on the Prairie: An Illustrated History of Motion Picture Theatres in Manitoba

Other beautiful examples of early-20th century atmospheric movie theatres modelled in the same style as the Uptown Theatre include the Paradise Theatre (built 1929), now the Paradise Centre for the Arts in Faribault, Minnesota - 

Image result for paradise centre for the arts minnesota
This atmospheric theatre was also modelled after a Spanish Mediterranean village, making it very similar to the original interior of the Uptown Theatre
Source: Paradise Centre for the Arts
- As well as the much more elaborate Tampa Theatre (1926), which was named one of America's 21 Wonders by Life Magazine in 2007 - 

Tampa Theatre Stage
Similar to the original interior of the Uptown Theatre. Perhaps with less embellishment, though.

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Image result for mata hari film 1931
It was as though the theatre itself reflected the far-away and exciting locales that were present in the films that audiences would go to see. These Golden Age films included the horrifying Frankenstein (1931), the exciting Mata Hari (1931), and the thrilling and fantastical Tarzan the Ape Man (1932).Image result for tarzan the ape man 1932

Audiences entered the theatre to find a dramatic ceiling painted to look like a starry night, with a projector displaying scudding clouds and the real-time motion of the moon across the night sky. Once they collected themselves enough to look around, they saw graceful arches, winding columns, and a grand screen framed by rich burnt orange and blue trimmed curtains. Feeling as though they were actually outside, patrons experienced Winnipeg's then-only "refrigerated" theatre in comfort and wonder as they watched early showings of new Hollywood movies on "Sneak Peek Thursdays". Of course, you'd have to shell out 35 cents for a ticket, or the pricey 50 cents if you wanted a prime sofa seat in the lounge area - but only 15 cents for children!
Interior of the Uptown Theatre, 1960
Source: Heritage Winnipeg Resource Centre

As technology became more and more complex and portable, Winnipeggers began to go to the "picture shows" less and less as they became accustomed to watching shows in their homes - with the help of the modern television set. The once-grand Uptown Theatre fell into disrepair, and the owner made the decision to gut the interior and turn this theatre into a bowling alley in the 1960s. Academy Uptown Lanes was very popular with youth, and thrived for a number of years. In fact, this particular bowling alley is credited with bringing "glow bowling" into Winnipeg and reviving the bowling scene. 

Sometime in the mid-1980s, the building's owner, David Miles, applied to the City of Winnipeg for a demolition permit, and that's where the story really begins. When two local River Heights residents heard that the demolition permit had been approved by the City, they attended a City Hall meeting where Heritage Winnipeg attended and encouraged them to talk to others in the neighbourhood and try and save the theatre with Heritage Winnipeg's support. Having collected over 270 signatures from surrounding homeowners in the area over a few days, Elizabeth Fleming and Patricia Gove took their petition to the City, to the Historical Buildings Committee, to whoever would listen to them and could do something about the demolition of the Uptown Theatre. In other words:
"We felt cheated and short-changed, and decided we were not going to let them get away with it" (From "The Battle to Save the Uptown Theatre", by Elizabeth Fleming and Patricia Gove)
Several members of the Winnipeg South Centre community felt the same about the Uptown Theatre as Elizabeth and Patricia did.  They had a series of meetings with the City, the owner, the community committees, and Heritage Winnipeg, and discussed all aspects of the historic building. Indeed, a then-recent assessment (October 1985) from the City of Winnipeg Historic Buildings Committee had recommended that it be designated as a Grade III historic building, and a Summary of Historic Research had ended with the evaluation that the Uptown Theatre:
"remains definitive to the Academy Road streetscape and a landmark in the neighbourhood"
 The ultimate result was that the owner was concerned about the economic viability of the building (and the estimates for renovations to the historic theatre were well around $1,000,000), so a compromise was made to allow an addition on the side of the building, and in return have the building officially designated as a Grade III historic building and make the owner responsible for repairing and maintaining the beautiful north facade of the building. In 1986, the Uptown Theatre was officially designated as a Grade III historic building, which covers the facade and exterior of the building. This success was due in no small part to the action of dedicated neighbourhood citizens and the heritage community, who wanted to see the building saved.

Sketch of the proposed addition to Uptown Theatre, 1985
Source: Heritage Winnipeg Resource Centre
Another, less obvious outcome from this case was the changes in municipal bylaws for economic viability assessment and the funding available for owners to encourage preservation of historic buildings. Previously, the City of Winnipeg made a judgement of economic viability based on information from the owner of a building. However, during the debate about the fate of the Uptown Theatre, one councillor writes:
"...we have not given the Committee the resources with which to make any independent assessment of the arguments put to it...indeed the fate of the building in question could well turn precisely on whether or not some alternative to the owner's analysis and proposal proved to be possible" (Letter to Councillor Chris Lorenc from Councillor William Neville, March 13, 1985)
Later, the city would be given the power to make its own independent assessment of the economic viability of a building. This change helped open up more creative solutions to preserving heritage buildings while simultaneously making provincial grants available for owners of heritage buildings, making renovations more viable, in turn extending the future use of buildings.

The Uptown Theatre as it appears today

Source: Parks Canada - Canada's Historic Places

More recently, in April 2018 Academy Lanes closed its doors at 394 Academy Rd., citing increased rental costs and an inability to come to a new agreement with the building's owner. While the new tenant of the historic theatre is uncertain, we know that due to the part efforts of dedicated citizens and the heritage community, the beautiful facade of Uptown Theatre is part of the city's protected built heritage and will continue to be part of the River Heights landscape.

Do you remember going to the Uptown Theatre? Maybe you were one of the first people to attend the new bowling alley, or remember the petitions in the 1980s? Tell us YOUR story in the comments!


Manitoba Historical Society

Gourluck, Russ. Silver Screens on the Prairie: An Illustrated History of Motion Picture Theatres in Manitoba. Winnipeg: Great Plains Publishers, 2012.

Heritage Winnipeg Resource Centre

CBC News

Historic Places Canada

Free Press Article by Christian Cassidy

Global News with statement from Heritage Winnipeg 

Paradise Centre for the Arts 

Lido Theatre, The Pas

Tampa Theatre


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Doors Open Winnipeg 2018

Written by Natassja Brien for Heritage Winnipeg

It's that time of year again! Time to have Winnipeg's heritage buildings and historic tours open their doors to the public for free and celebrate our city's shared heritage. This is a landmark year for Heritage Winnipeg's Doors Open Winnipeg event, since it's the 15th anniversary of the event. Even more exciting, it's the 40th anniversary of Heritage Winnipeg, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the conservation of Winnipeg's built history.

If you haven't heard of Doors Open Winnipeg before, here's a quick run-down of the event:

WHAT: Operated since 2004 by Heritage Winnipeg, Doors Open Winnipeg is a heritage celebration focused on getting people out to discover the amazing heritage buildings and historic tours we have in Winnipeg, all for FREE - with thanks to our over 500 volunteers! Both building and walking tours are available, plus (new for this year!) we have a cycling tour by Bike Winnipeg! Go out and see some amazing heritage buildings, learn about Winnipeg heritage, culture and history, then go online and vote for your favourite site or tour!

WHEN: Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th. Buildings and tours usually are open between 11 - 5 pm, but check the Doors Open website for specific times for each location and tour!

WHERE: At various locations around Winnipeg. There are so many great heritage buildings in our city, and discover how they contribute to our urban landscape! See the home of Hugh John MacDonald, son of our first prime minister, at Dalnavert House; or take a stroll through the Costume Museum's display! Last year 91 different buildings were included in Doors Open Winnipeg - this year there are 93 buildings and events. Go to for a full list of all the participants in the Doors Open event.

NEW THIS YEAR: Here's a quick run-down of new buildings and tours included in this years' Doors Open Winnipeg:


17 Wing Military Community Chapel
Home of the Canadian Air Forces in Winnipeg, 17 Wing Base supports over 100 units covering Central Canada from Saskatchewan to Ontario and to the High Arctic. The chapel, originally built in 1956 and the only remaining building of six, contains beautiful stained-glass windows and a storied history.

For more 17 Wing history, check out this site.

archevêché de saint-boniface

Archbishop's Residence  - St. Boniface Archdiocese
This pre-Confederation building (1864) was built for none other than Archbishop Tache, who gave his name to Tache Ave and the RM of Tache, Manitoba. The Archbishop's residence now houses a number of retired priests and meeting rooms as well as the current Archbishop of St. Boniface.

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Aschenti Cocoa 
Canada's first farm-to-bar chocolate maker is participating in Doors Open Winnipeg for the first time! Located on Corydon Ave in the heart of Little Italy, this lovely little store grows beans on a Cameroonian farm and then ships them to Manitoba to do all the processing locally. Take a tour of this amazing journey from bean to chocolate at Aschenti Cocoa! 

C2 Centre for Craft
This centre, which houses the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library as well as the Manitoba Craft Council, is offering (for Doors Open Winnipeg only!) hourly behind-the-scenes tours of museum storage, craft demonstrators, and hands-on activities for all ages. On exhibit currently at the museum are Pixels: Exploring Geometric Motifs in Craft, and Our Manitoba: Provincial Symbolism in Craft.

Clifton Studios Co-op
Clifton Studios, located in a historic Minto Neighbourood warehouse, is having its bi-annual open studio and spring sale during Doors Open Winnipeg! Artists specializing in painting, jewelry, textiles and ceramics will be there demonstrating their craft and selling finished pieces.

*Please note that there are no ATM services on-site and not all artists will have digital payment options available.

Fleet Galleries
Fleet Galleries has been located on Albert St. for 35 years and counting, and run by a sixth-generation framer - go and enjoy a personal tour of the gallery, including background on the pieces of beautiful artwork on display!

Gibraltar House -  The North-West Company
This isn't your high school Canadian History course - come out and see one of the buildings that played an integral role in the North-West Company and the fur trade! Built in 1912 as a warehouse, it now houses work areas, paintings, artifacts, and an Inuit Art collection, and is still the hub for the North-West Company's Canadian retail operations.

HSM Temple and Cultural Centre
The Hindu Society of Manitoba makes its home in the former Liberty Church, built in 1947. As the first Hindu community place of worship in Manitoba, it is an important part of our heritage - come out and discover the beautiful temple and learn about Hindu culture!

Kinsmen Sherbrook Pool 
Built in 1931, the Sherbrook Pool has gone through extensive renovation and has been newly reopened in 2017! Go explore the role of Sherbrook Pool in the history and community of the West End. On site will also be Free Press columnist and history enthusiast Christian Cassidy!


6000 Years in 60 Minutes
Let a Parks Canada interpreter take you on a journey through time and learn about one of the most important historic sites in Winnipeg! Many of us have walked through the Forks, but have you ever thought about the history that lies just under your feet?

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Bike Winnipeg
Heritage Winnipeg is happy to have Bike Winnipeg collaborate with Doors Open Winnipeg to bring you our first cycling tour! Visit multiple Doors Open Winnipeg buildings and sites on this fun and  active tour.

Downtown Winnipeg Flashback Tour
Have you ever wondered what Downtown Winnipeg looked like 30 years ago? Maybe 50 years ago? What about 70 years ago? If yes, this tour is for you. Compare what Winnipeg looked like then with what it looks like now with the help of a Viewmaster and be amazed at the changes and the continuity of our downtown centre.

Exchange District BIZ Greatest Hits Tour
Discover the Exchange District, one of Winnipeg's main attractions. This tour winds through an area with over 100 different heritage buildings, and the tour guides have stories for all of them.

Lord Selkirk School/Elmwood-East Kildonan Active Living Centre Walking Tour
Built in 1908, Lord Selkirk School is a beautiful example of turn-of-the-century architecture. On this tour, learn about the school's history, as well as the history of 180 Poplar, while taking in laminated maps, easel displays, as well as some light refreshments!

Public Art with the Winnipeg Arts Council 
If you've lived in or visited Winnipeg, chances are you've seen one of the many pieces of public artwork on display in our city. On this tour, learn the stories of these fantastic pieces of art, including why pieces are located in certain places, and what they mean! Great for giving your friends and family fun facts when they come to visit.  

2017 AWARD WINNERS - Tried and true favourites! These buildings and tours were voted the best of the best. Here are some of the winners from last years' Doors Open Winnipeg Event:

Best Restoration - Dalnavert Museum and Visitor's Centre  (61 Carlton St)

Best Guided Tour or Programming - Vaughan Street Jail  (444 York Ave)

Best Architecture - Canadian Museum for Human Rights (85 Israel Asper Way)

Hidden Gem - McBeth House  (31 McBeth St)

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Feel free to contact Heritage Winnipeg at 204-942-2663 or email us at 

Do you want to help us make Doors Open Winnipeg a great experience?  Are you passionate about local history? Check out our volunteer page here! Simply fill out the form and let us know where you'd like to help out! Or, if you take some great photos, send them to us to post after the event!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Manitoba Club - An Historic Landmark in Winnipeg

Blog by Cheryl Mann, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg

On July 16, 1874, just one year after Winnipeg had been incorporated as a city, ten men met at the St. James Restaurant. Andrew Graham Ballenden Bannatyne was a successful merchant who unreservedly engaged in public life. Joseph-Alfred-Norbert Provencher was a former journalist who was appointed commissioner for the federal Department of Indian Affairs in Manitoba. Gilbert McMicken was a government employee and police commissioner who had played an integral role in the incorporation of Winnipeg. William Osborne Smith was a solider that commanded Fort Osborne in Winnipeg. W. Gouin was the collector on Inland Revenue in Winnipeg. Charles William Radiger was another solider and also one of the owners of Winnipeg’s first liquor store. Joseph Royal was a journalist, lawyer and politician, elected to the first Legislature of Manitoba in 1870. Henry Thomson Champion was a solider and banker. W. B. Taylor and Major Taschereau seem to have been lost in history. Together these ten men, several who would become outstanding leaders of in the community, formed the Manitoba Club.

The Manitoba Club was a private social club for gentlemen, the first of it kind in western Canada. Smith was elected as president while various other prominent citizens were selected for a total of 25 members. The club rented the Red River Hall in the McDermot Block to serve as their clubhouse, located on the corner of Main Street and Lombard Avenue. The space was furnished with a rented billiard table, sofas, chairs, desks, glassware and crockery, ready for gentlemen to socialize and entertain.

William Osborne Smith, the first president of the Manitoba Club, circa 1887.
Source: Manitoba Historical Society and the Manitoba Legislative Library
Unfortunately, the Club’s first location was short lived. On January 11, 1875, a fire started at the McDermot Block. An historic building, the wood was extremely dry and prime for combustion. Although the city had a newly acquired steam fire engine, the fire fighters arrived too late and the entire building was lost. The Club lost $1000.00 worth of furniture in the fire and had no insurance to cover their losses. Undeterred, the Club relocated to a rented house on the east side of Main Street less than three weeks later. New furniture was purchased, a new billiard table rented and this time, insurance coverage was acquired.

Red River Hall, located inside the McDermot Block at the corner of
Main Street and Lombard Avenue, was the first location of the Manitoba Club.
The building burned down on January 11, 1875.
Source: The Manitoba Club: 100 Years 1874-1974
As the years passed, the city grew and the Club flourished. The membership was growing and the rented house was quickly becoming too small. Foreseeing the need for a larger clubhouse in the near future, the Club purchased land on the west side of Garry Street, about half way between Portage Avenue and Graham Avenue, in 1879. Plans were drawn up and $12,000 was allocated for the construction of a new clubhouse. After spending about 50% more than anticipated due to unexpected cost overruns, the new clubhouse opened in the fall of 1881, welcoming 150 members.

The Garry Street location of the Manitoba Club, circa 1900.
Source: University of Manitoba
The real estate boom in Winnipeg, fueled by the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881, drew investors from around the world, with fortunes being made overnight. This was much to the benefit of the Manitoba Club, with the new found riches of enterprising men funding its success. This moment of glory was short lived for both the city and the Club, with the boom going bust by the summer of 1882. At the Manitoba Club, dues went uncollected, bills were unpaid, the clubhouse was allowed to fall into disrepair and by 1887 members were seriously considering closing the Club.

It was 15 years of hard times for the Manitoba Club, taking on more debt and getting by with just the bare necessities. By the start of the 20th century, it would seem that things were looking up for the Club, once again mirroring the fate of the city. The Club membership overflowed with leaders of the Winnipeg business community so much so that by 1902 more space was desperately needed. After some debate, it was decided that instead of expanding the current clubhouse, a new clubhouse would be built. Three lots on Broadway, 306, 307 and 308, between Fort Street and Main Street, were purchased for $8,000 from the Hudson’s Bay Company. Broadway was a broad, tree lined street that ran through the heart of the Hudson’s Bay Reserve, and exclusive enclave were many of Winnipeg’s elite had built their lavish homes in the 1880s.

A view of Broadway in 1900, showing J. H. Ashdown's luxurious home, which was built in 1897.
Source: Virtual Heritage Winnipeg and the Archives of Manitoba
S. Frank Peters, an architect with a civil engineering degree from Toronto University, was hired to design the new clubhouse. An advocate for a distinctive Canadian style, Peters envisioned a three and a half story dark brick building on a stone foundation in the Neo-Classical style. The building cost $90,000.00 to build. The front façade, facing north, featured a symmetrical design with fluted stone columns supporting an entablature and deck, creating a grand portico entrance, rectangular windows highlighted with stone keystone and sills, dentil cornicing, carved stone panels and hipped gable dormers. The decorative elements continue around the other three facades of the building with the main deviation seem on the west façade, where the hipped gable dormers were replaced with eyebrow formers.

A postcard of the Manitoba Club from 1910.
Source: Manitoba Historical Society and Gordon Goldsborough
A view of Broadway shortly after the construction of the Manitoba Club, which is visible on the left.
Source: City of Winnipeg and Peel's Prairie Provinces
Construction of the new clubhouse started in 1904, with the building at 194 Broadway officially opening on October 11, 1905. The interior featured a basement for food storage, refrigeration, the furnace, washrooms and staff work space. The first floor had smoking rooms, dining rooms, private parlors and a writing room. The second floor had a large dining room and the library. At the top of the building of the third floor, there were bedrooms and facilities for the servants. Upon entering the building through the front doors, one was greeted by the Grand Staircase, designed specifically by the architect to showcase the Jubilee Window. The window, commissioned by the Club in 1897, celebrated Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and was originally installed in the Garry Street clubhouse. The design included maple leafs, roses, thistles, shamrocks and fleur-de-lis as symbols of the members homelands and a Club crest with a bison head, sketched by member F. Phillips.

The Grand Staircase in the lobby of the Broadway Manitoba Club
features the Jubilee Window, as seen here in 2007.
Source: Environmental Space Planning
In 1910, a sunroom also designed by Peters, was added to the west side of the building. Architect John D. Atchison stepped in in 1913, designing an addition on the east side of the building making use of the same style and materials as Peters. It included a billiards room on the first floor, card rooms on the second floor and on the third floor, additional bedrooms and a manager’s suite. In 1930 an addition was added the back of the building, with a further addition of a staircase added beside the 1930 addition in 2007. The interior of the building has undergone extensive renovations throughout its history, modernizing the facilities while maintaining high quality finishes and historic character. Aside from the additions, the exterior of the building has remained relatively untouched throughout its 114 year history.

The main lobby of the Manitoba Club featured a custom made wool carpet from Donegal Mills in Ireland, with the Club crest in the center. Installed in 1959, the carpet has long since been replaced but the crest from the center was saved.
Source: The Manitoba Club: 100 Years 1874-1974

In February of 2018, the City of Winnipeg heritage planners recommended placing the Manitoba Club at 194 Broadway on the List of Historical Resources. This designation is to specifically protect all of the buildings facades along with any original features still in the interior. It would also protect the building from demolition. Unfortunately, the Manitoba Club has asked that the building not become designated, as it is not owned by the public. Winnipeg’s built heritage is a repository of history, culture gems and architectural marvels that create a sense of place and opportunities for future development. To leave all privately owned built heritage unprotected is selfish and irresponsible, risking irreplaceable artifacts for petty and shortsighted reasons. Heritage Winnipeg strongly supports the designation of this significant building, as heritage is a community asset for all.

The Green Room in the Broadway Manitoba Club, as seen in 1974.
Source: The Manitoba Club: 100 Years 1874-1974
The Billiards Lounge, seen here in 1974, features six regulation size snooker tables,
oak paneling and portraits of all of the Club's past presidents.
As of 2017, the room has remained relatively unchanged since it was built in 1913.
Source: The Manitoba Club: 100 Years 1874-1974
The Oak Room, seen here in 2017, has remained unchanged in its lifetime,
featuring quarter-sawn oak paneling and views of the historic Upper Fort Garry Gate.
Source: Manitoba Club


120 Years at the Manitoba Club: 1874-1994 by the Manitoba Club

CBC News Manitoba

City of Winnipeg

Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Environmental Space Planning

Henderson’s Directory of the City of Winnipeg and Incorporated Town of Manitoba, 1880

Historica Canada

Manitoba Club

Manitoba Historical Society

The Manitoba Club: 100 Years 1874-1974 by Mary Lile Benham

Virtual Heritage Winnipeg

Winnipeg Real Estate News