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Showing posts from 2018

First Scandinavian Mission Church - The Heart of Winnipeg's Scandinavian Community

First Scandinavian Mission Church was built in the late 19th century as one of the first churches for the non-British immigrant community in Winnipeg, and stands at 268 Ellen Street. It is a municipally (October 26, 1987) and provincially (March 1, 1993) designated heritage building. 

Canada, as a largely immigrant nation, has a very diverse population. The earliest immigrants to Canada were Norwegian (at L'Anse aux Meadows), French, and British. Later, Ireland and Scotland were common origins for immigrants. In the late 19th century, after the purchase of Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company, the still-new Canadian government was trying to encourage immigrants, especially farmers, to move to the Prairies and settle there. People arrived in Manitoba from all parts of Europe, including from far north in the Scandinavian countries: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark.

Although the majority of Scandinavian immigrants were from Iceland, Winnipeg was also home …

Blair's Labyrinth - The Roslyn Court Apartments

The Roslyn Court Apartments at 40 Osborne Street are a premier example of the Queen Anne Revival style, which was rarely used for apartment building. It is a neighbourhood landmark, with an eccentric facade dominating the corner of Osborne Street and Roslyn Road. Frozen in time with a nearly original 1909 interior, the luxury suites were once home to Winnipeg's elite. Today the building's bizarre, maze like design perplexes visitors and adds to a feeling of unease, further heighten by tales of shadowy figures that roam the halls. It is a beautiful and mysterious place, which brave Winnipegger's still call home today.

In 1882 land speculators built the Osborne Street Bridge across the Assiniboine River, connecting the downtown with the less developed area then known as St. Boniface West (now the River-Osborne neighbourhood). The quaint, rural setting of St. Boniface West was conveniently located near the city, making it attractive to Winnipeg's elite, who started buildi…

Petite Perfection: The Inglis Building

The Inglis building, originally built in 1908, stands at 291 Garry Street just south of Portage Avenue. It is an excellent, well preserved example of the Chicago School of Architecture. The building was given municipal heritage designation on June 27, 2002. 

The Chicago School of Architecture was named for pioneering architects from the Windy City, who in the 1880's and 1890's created a new form of architectural design, soaring up lighter and brighter that the previous Gothic and Neoclassical Revival styles that had previously been popular. As always, the aesthetic differences were made possible by the technological advances of construction, such as concrete reinforcing and frames made of steel. There are several examples of Chicago School architecture in Winnipeg, notably the Paris Building on Portage Avenue, the Electric Railway Chambers Building on Notre Dame Avenue, and the Confederation Life Building on Main Street.

All these buildings are located in highly prominent loca…

The Old Kildonan Church and Cemetery - "Where the Selkirk Settlers Sleep"

Have you been to Old Kildonan;
Seen the Red, with gentle sweep,
Guard the little, rude God's acre
Where the Selkirk settlers sleep? From "Old Kildonan", by John Mackay, D. D.

The Selkirk settlers, the very first wave of immigrants coming to settle purposely on the banks of the Red River, came from Ireland and Scotland, seeking stability, prosperity, and safety, escaping the  Highland Clearances of the early 19th century. Of course, the legendary volatility of the Red River made that a little harder than what was originally advertised by Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk. First the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816 caused the Selkirk Settlers to flee upriver, then the flood of 1826 turned the eventual site of Winnipeg into a small lake, the echo of great Agassiz - stability wasn't exactly the right word to describe the experience.
Nevertheless, they persisted. More settlers had arrived in 1814, from Sutherlandshire in the Highlands - specifically, from the parish of Kildonan…

The Mysterious Independent Order Of Odd Fellows Hall

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall is located at 72 Princess Street in the West Exchange District. This historic building was built in the late 19th century for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal order founded in 1819. The Odd Fellows Hall was given municipal heritage designation on September 8th, 1986. 

Winnipeg, as a growing city in the 1880's, had just received the distinction - and boost - of being the through-point for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the province of Manitoba. More and more people came to settle in Winnipeg, following jobs, family, or adventure, and began to form groups, as people tend to do. Groups ranged from religious, ethnic to fraternal. One such groups was the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, with an admittedly interesting name, they had been established in the United States in 1819 as an import from Great Britain. The Odd Fellows had a reputation for being quite different that posh country clubs, considering that many if not most …

The Massey Building: Prairie Prosperity

The Massey Building at 294 William Avenue in the West Exchange District is part of a cadre of buildings in Winnipeg's early commercial sector. The Massey building was given municipal heritage designation on September 12, 1983, and is currently owned by Red River College. 

The Massey building, built for father-son duo Daniel and Hart Massey, was constructed in 1885 on a design by architect George Creeland Browne. Daniel Massey was a farmer who had gotten into farm equipment sales in the 1830s, and his son Hart, an inspired salesman who saw the company grow into the largest exporter and producer of agricultural equipment in Canada. Although another plan had been drawn up a few years earlier by Barber and Barber, the boom of 1881/82 gave way to a depression in spring 1882, and plans were put off. By 1885, economic recovery was well underway. Browne created a stately building in the Market district in Italianate style. The resulting block was done primarily in brick, with the ever-pre…

Barber House: Over 150 Years in North Point Douglas

Barber House is located at 99 Euclid Avenue in North Point Douglas, and was built in 1862. Notable for its connections to Winnipeg's earliest families, it is a municipally (1990) and provincially (1987) designated heritage building. 

A small, brightly-painted house sits on Euclid Avenue in Point Douglas, with a little diamond window on the second floor attic. Although newly restored, the house is over 150 years old, and has seen more of Winnipeg's history than almost any other building still standing. Barber House is named for Winnipeg's own Edmund Lorenzo Barber, a humorously unsuccessful merchant that immigrated to what was then the Red River Settlement in 1860. Barber, an American, moved to Canada to head up a store that his cousin had brought from dry-goods wholesaler W.G. Fonseca.

Soon after moving to the Red River Settlement, Barber made one of the most, if not the most, business-savvy moves of his career and married Barbara Logan, the Countryborn (Anglo-Metis) daugh…