Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2019

A Blazing Success - The Bright and Johnston Building

The north east corner of Bannatyne Avenue and Rorie Street in the East Exchange District was once dominated by three buildings, all of a coordinating design. First built was 137 Bannatyne Avenue, in 1882-1883. It was a narrow three storey building with a buff brick facade, design by the Winnipeg architecture firm of Willmot and Stewart. It seems to have been built as a speculative project by the firm Turner, McKeand and Company, a grocery wholesaler that never occupied the building. In March in 1883, the same grocery wholesaler moved 60 feet west to the corner lot and started construction on an identical building designed by the same architect, only this time it was finished in red brick. The red brick building then became the home of Turner, McKeand and Company.

In 1894, a spur line of the Winnipeg Transfer Railway was built between Bannatyne Avenue and Market Avenue. This development was very useful for warehouses in the area and greatly increased the property values. The grocery wh…

Music Meets Modernist - The Centennial Concert Hall

Winnipeg’s Modernist Quarter is a small section in the northern part of the Exchange District, a living example of the architectural boom that took place in Winnipeg from the 1960s to early 1970s. The roots of modernism can be traced back to the late 19th century, when advances in technology allowed increased architectural innovation. Winnipeg’s modernist buildings more draw inspiration from Brutalism and the International styles, which were developed throughout the 1930s and 40s.

Many of Winnipeg’s mid-century modern buildings are located on Broadway, which underwent extensive alterations throughout the 1940s and onwards. A smaller collection exists in the Exchange, limited to a stretch of around four blocks between Princess and Rorie Street. Most prominent are the ones along main street, namely City Hall and the Centennial Center. The Centennial is home to the Manitoba Museum and the Centennial Concert Hall, both designed as part of a project to celebrate Manitoba and Canada’s cente…

From Housewares to Home - The Porter Building

Well over 100 years ago, when Winnipeg was in its infancy, there stood a blacksmith's shop at the north west corner of McDermot Avenue and Rorie Street. Owned by John W. Aikins in the 19th century, it was sold to William Camerson around 1900, who subsequently sold it to James Porter and Company. James Porter and Company would replace the blacksmith's shop with the Porter Building in 1906, a six story warehouse that still stands proudly in Winnipeg's historic Exchange District over 110 years later. In 1985 it was added to the City of Winnipeg's List of Historic Resources, recognizing its significance and protecting it from demolition. Today it is an outstanding example of adaptive reuse, taking an historic building and breathing new life into it with a new function while maintaining its historic integrity.

James Porter had arrived in Winnipeg from Ontario in 1881 as a 29 year old. Taking advantage of Winnipeg's booming economy, central geographic location and excelle…

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike: Walker Theatre Meeting Sets the Stage

As 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, Heritage Winnipeg is commemorating the year by looking back at the events during this tumultuous period of history that helped shape our city. The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike was the largest general strike in Canadian history, with nearly the entire working population of Winnipeg, about 30,000 people, taking to the streets in protest. Starting May 15th, 1919 and lasting until June 25th, 1919, the Strike crippled the city as people from all walks of life joined forces. Frustrated by unemployment, inflation, poor working conditions and regional disparities after the First World War, workers from across the country soon joined in with their own solidarity strikes.

Although the Strikers were mainly peaceful and orderly, the reaction of the employers, city council and the government was aggressive. This aggression led to the Royal North-West Mounted Police attacking gathering Strikers on Saturday, June 21st, 1919 at M…

A Point of Pride - The Assiniboine Park Pavilion

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, Winnipeg embraced the idea of public parks, green spaces influenced by the City Beautiful movement, where one could escape the ills of the congested city. The Winnipeg Public Parks Board was therefore established in January of 1893, tasked with the creation of parks in the city center. Although it did not quite fit their mandate, the Parks Board created Assiniboine Park (originally City Park) in 1904, 283 acres of rural woodland, west of the city and along the southern banks of the Assiniboine River. A striking feature of the new park was the Pavilion at 55 Pavilion Crescent, a two storey building with a tower standing tall above the trees. Opened in 1908, it quickly became the center of activity at the park. Over 110 years later the Pavilion remains a landmark that beckons to visitors, inviting them to come and enjoy its picturesque surrounding.

When Assiniboine Park first came into use, it was far outside the bounds of the city and transpor…