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Showing posts from 2018

The Streetcar and the Strike: A Reflection on the 100th Anniversary

The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 has been forever immortalized by L.B. Foote's photo of strikers tipping a streetcar in front of City Hall. As a result, the streetcar has become a symbol of the strike itself, workers uniting to fight for a better life. Streetcars have a history of being involved in labour reform, and where both operated by and used by the many of the people who went on strike in 1919. The streetcar would even became the center of a violent conflict between strikers and officials in 1919 that ultimately brought the Strike to an end.



The first electric streetcar took to the tracks of the Park Line in Winnipeg on January 27, 1891, with free rides for all on opening day. Owned by the Winnipeg Street Railway, the introduction of the electric streetcar in Winnipeg was result of young Albert W. Austin's dogged efforts. Winnipeg became the fifth city in Canada with electric streetcars, ahead of Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and even New York. Doubtful city councillors …

Historic Houses in Winnipeg - From Settlement to Spectacular

Winnipeg as we know it is the "smallest big city around" - home to over 700,000 people and yet most everyone knows someone you know. With new developments expanding the city limits (looking at you, Bridgewater Forest), it's difficult to imagine what Winnipeg was like over 150 years ago, before it was even officially a city. Let's rewind a few dozen years and look at what kinds of houses people were living in when they came to Winnipeg.

1851 - Seven Oaks House Originally home to John Inkster, previously site of the Battle of Seven Oaks, and currently home to the Seven Oaks Museum at 50 Mac Street, this house was built from 1851 - 1853 and is one of the earliest surviving examples of its kind. Inkster seems to have spared no expense and splashed out on imported glass windows for his new home. Coming from the barren Orkney Islands in Scotland, Inkster represents one of the earliest waves of immigrants to Manitoba. The house itself is a simplified Georgian style, with larg…

Rising to the Challenge - The James Avenue Pumping Station

The James Avenue Pumping Station is located at 109 James Avenue, just north of the East Exchange District. It received municipal heritage designation on November 15, 1982, and it is currently being redeveloped into a mixed use building. 

The stately grandeur of the James Avenue Pumping Station at 109 James Avenue is immediately apparent when approaching the building - set back from Waterfront Drive, the ghost of the former rail lines lies in the extra space between the pumping station and the road. When it was built, the James Avenue Pumping Station was the largest and most impressive building of its kind in North America, and was built to last. The architects, engineers, and construction workers who built this high pressure pumping station subscribed to a different kind of motto - solid, massive structures that would last not just one lifetime, but several.

The James Avenue Pumping Station was opened in 1907, designed by Henry Norlande Ruttan, who was the first City of Winnipeg Engin…

A Community Cornerstone - The Ambassador Apartments

The Ambassador Apartments, also known as the Breadalbane Block, are located at 379 Hargrave Street in the Central Park area of downtown. A historic apartment block, the 8th oldest in the city, the Ambassador Apartments have the distinctive "flatiron" shape and Neoclassical design elements of the early 20th century. This building received municipal heritage designation on May 5th, 1986. 

Imagine - you are a single young man newly arrived in Winnipeg in the year 1912. Perhaps you've immigrated from another part of the country, or another country altogether. Hearing about the prosperous City of Winnipeg (right in the middle of the Wheat Boom), you decided to head West and make your fortune, as an architect or in construction. When you arrive in Winnipeg, you've already arranged your accomodations - you'll be living with other fairly well-off young men in an apartment building. Apartments have grown in popularity in the past few decades, and are now far more sophisti…

Welcome to Albert Street! A Tour of Heritage Winnipeg's Home

Usually, our blog posts feature one particular building, providing its history and social significance while also informing readers on current state and use of that building. This week, our blog will feature something a little different. We'd like to take you on a brief tour of Albert Street, where the Heritage Winnipeg office is located, as a way of showcasing the density of historic buildings in the west Exchange District. If you'd like to, picture yourself on the corner of Albert Street and McDermot Street - you're about to turn south and walk down Albert Street. One of the very first buildings you can see is the Telegram Building, standing at 70 Albert Street and dominating the street corner.


The Telegram building was constructed in 1882 during one of the first building booms in Winnipeg, in anticipation of the railway's arrival. Originally a dry-goods warehouse for Irish wholesaler Robert James Whitla, the building became the home of the Telegram Publishing Compa…

Adaptive Art Deco - The Women's Tribute Memorial Lodge

The year was 1931. The world had just entered the Great Depression, following the collapse of Wall Street and other stock markets around the globe. The Lost Generation, who lived through the horrors of the Great War, were still recovering from its effects. Many of the veterans who returned from the war were profoundly scarred from their experiences. It was in this climate that the Women's Tribute Memorial Lodge was opened in St. James, at the corner of Portage Avenue and Woodlawn Street.

The building of the lodge at 200 Woodlawn Street was the result of over a decade's worth of fundraising. Shortly before the end of the Great War, in 1917, C.P. Walker's wife Harriet (of the Walker/Burton Cummings Theatre at 364 Smith Street) organized a group of women into the Women's Tribute Association. Their first meeting was at the Central Congregational Church (demolished in 1936) where they determined their mandate - to construct and open a "perpetual monument to Manitoba&#…