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Showing posts from June, 2019

Culture Not Condos: The Fortune and Macdonald Blocks

In the not so distant past, the glorious Fortune and Macdonald Blocks were in a sad state, under threat of demolition. After years of neglect, the buildings were in disrepair and the owner wanted to level them and build a hotel in their place. Unwilling to let Winnipeg's priceless heritage be destroyed, Heritage Winnipeg advocated for the designation of the buildings to protect them from demolition. And after being purchased by a new owner that truly understood their value and potential, the beautifully conserved Fortune and Macdonald Blocks made their public debut in Doors Open Winnipeg 2019.


Originally built in 1882 in the High Victorian Italianate style, both the Fortune and Macdonald Blocks, which are virtually indistinguishable from each other, have stood at 226-234 Main Street for over 130 years. An article in the newspaper marveling at the changes to Main Street at the time described it as:
...a massive 4-storey brick building for business purposes, erected by Mark Fortune,…

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike: Bloody Saturday

The June 17th raids and arrests provoked criticism across Canada. Protest marches against the government and police action were organized in the major cities of the west. The Strike had become a national protest as it dovetailed with labour unrest in the rest of Canada. On Saturday, June 21st, a peaceful protest organized by the veterans led to a violent confrontation known as Bloody Saturday at the corner of Main Street and Market Avenue. Estimates of 5,000 to 8,000 veterans, striking workers and curious citizens stood along Main Street near City Hall and Market Avenue. Mayor Gray requested emergency assistance from the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP) and the military to control the crowd. They arrived at the corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street, armed, on horseback or in military vehicles, ready for confrontation.


A streetcar traveling along Main Street was stopped, knocked off the tracks and damaged by the protestors. Soon after and without warning, the RNWMP rode int…

Gems of Fort Rouge: The Panama Court & Pasadena Apartments

The Panama Court Apartments and Pasadena Apartments are two iconic Winnipeg apartment buildings located on quiet, tree-lined streets just beyond the bounds of the hustle and bustle of a busy downtown. Built in the early 20th century, the apartments have stood the test of time and are still home to many Winnipeggers today. Now located in the Fort Rouge neighbourhood, the area was originally known as St. Boniface West, a prestigious and aristocratic residential district where many of Winnipeg's professionals put down roots and raised their families.

With Winnipeg's population rapidly growing in the 1890s, the city began to develop amenities like those of other major urban centres. Health services were implemented, roads built and communications cables laid. One of the biggest areas of improvement was housing. The downtown had become more and more congested, with the solution being developments that pushed into new areas beyond the crush of the city, providing much needed housing…

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike: Raids and Arrests

Shortly after midnight on the morning of Thursday June 17th, the Royal North-West Mounted Police (RNWMP) and a few hundred Specials raided the Jewish Liberty Temple, the Labour Temple and the Ukrainian Labour Temple (ULT). Documents were seized. At the ULT men working on the printing presses were arrested and the presses were damaged. The Labour Temple on James Street was broken into, windows and doors were smashed and the offices were trashed as the police gathered documents. Dmytro Stechyshyn, administrator of the ULT and a member of the General Strike Committee described what happened that morning:
They broke into the building like bandits, through the back door, broke down five doors, smashed drawers in the buffet, stole postage stamps and small change, tobacco, cigarettes and chocolates. They also broke into the safe and took important documents. This savage horde also ran riot in the print shop. They loaded books on trucks, destroyed the furniture and scattered type on the floo…

Lost Winnipeg: The Thomson and Pope Building

Long before Portage Place Shopping Centre dominated the north side of downtown Portage Avenue with its unwelcoming wall of advertising, a far more charming collection of early 20th century buildings stood there. The Thomson and Pope Building was one of these structures, formerly located at 379 - 381 Portage Avenue. It was a commercial building that housed a number of occupants during its lifetime, including the Winnipeg Engineering Company, an electrical contracting firm, Seven Sutherland Sisters, a company that sold hair products to women, and Thomson and Pope, "the man's shop", the building's namesake. Demolished in 1983 to allegedly make way for a park; today in its place stands the main entrance to the shopping centre.


Standing at the south end of Edmonton Street, you cannot help but see a bright triangular structure glinting in the sunlight many blocks away at the seemingly northern terminus of the street. As you travel down Edmonton Street, this structure domin…

The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike: Specials and Strikers Riot

In response to the Strike, business people and professionals formed the Citizens’ Committee of One Thousand (CC1000), though who was involved and how many was never publicly released. Their declared purpose was to maintain the services the Strike had stopped. They arranged for trucks to deliver products or helped get owners, managers and their families to take on business duties. The CC1000 published the Winnipeg Citizen and worked behind the scenes to break the Strike. Key members of the Committee colluded with government officials to actually prolong the Strike and make it more than a labour dispute.


Virtually the entire city police force was dismissed on June 9th for refusing to sign an undertaking to limit their ability to unionize and to strike, and therefore to empathize with the strikers. The CC1000 had already started to recruit ‘Special Police’ to replace the police department. About 250 Specials were hired who were either rabid anti-strike, anti-union or who merely needed w…

A Renaissance on Main Street: The Woodbine Hotel

The Woodbine Hotel is an enduring icon of the Main Street landscape, continually reinventing itself for over 140 years. The tradition continues to this day, as the Woodbine is being transformed once again, all while still retaining its historic charm and welcoming atmosphere. The owners, Sam and Nigel, along with the manager Alexis have spent the past year updating the hotel and bar, bringing it up to date with its hip neighbors on this vibrant part of Main Street.


The Woodbine at 466 Main Street was built in 1878, originally a two storey wood framed building named Dufferin Hall. At that time, it functioned exclusively as a bar and the building did not extend to Albert Street as it does today. Over the years various owners have made changes and additions to create the current building. Always reinventing itself to keep up with the trends, the heart of the building has remained the same while the exterior kept pace with a thriving young city in the early 20th century.
In its first deca…