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Showing posts from August, 2019

Majesty on Main Street - The McLaren Hotel

The McLaren Hotel opened to great acclaim in 1911, said to be one of the finest hotels in Canada. An unmistakable red brick building in the downtown, the hotel has long outlived many of its contemporaries, still standing over 100 years later at the intersection of Main Street and Rupert Street. It was the final and greatest achievement of the three McLaren brothers, pioneers in Winnipeg's hospitality industry, and all that remains of their empire. Although much has changed inside the hotel over the century, from ornate accomidations to low income housing, the exterior is still a direct connection to early 20th century Winnipeg. Now nominated for a municipal heritage designation, the importance of the building is being recognized and will hopefully allow it to shelter those in need for many years to come.

When the Canadian Pacific Railway reached Winnipeg in 1883, it ushered in an era of prosperity and growth that saw the city flourish until the start of the First World War. Whole…

The Masonic Temple: From Secrets to Success

The Masonic Temple in downtown Winnipeg is a little piece of the 19th century, still standing proudly at the corner of Donald Street and Ellice Avenue. It is a beautiful reminder of early Winnipeg life, when no expense was spared to construct buildings that would stand the test of time. Many Winnipeggers may remember it as the popular Mother Tucker's Food Experience, or have heard stories about ghosts that used to give staff the chills. But long before it was a restaurant, it was a magnificent Masonic Temple, their first permanent home in western Canada and the only building in Canada built by the Masons, for the Masons.

Freemasonry is thought to have it roots in the stonemasons' guilds of the Middle Ages, with the most agreed upon date for the founding of the Masonic Order being 1390. The Masons primarily originated in Europe, but some claim to trace their history back to ancient Egypt. Freemasonry grew in popularity during the 19th century, providing a social safety net th…

The Challenge of Change: The Reliable Service Station

Change is a challenging but inevitable fact of life. In a rapidly transforming world, adapting is the only means of remaining relevant. For heritage buildings, that means walking a fine line between conserving the past while constantly reinventing themselves to remain functional and vibrant. The building known to many Winnipeggers as the former Reliable Service Station at 98 Albert Street, is no stranger to this kind of evolution. Once a small, oddly shaped commercial building, over 100 years later it had become Bodegoes, a hip restaurant and patio in the lively Exchange District National Historic Site. In 2019 the building is undergoing a rather dramatic change, being demolished and replaced with a much larger modern structure. It is a change that has sparked a passionate debate as to how built heritage should be sensitively conserved and redeveloped.

Winnipeg in the late 19th century was a city flush with prosperity due to the arrival of the transcontinental railway. The Exchange Di…

The Making of a Memorable Millennium: The Canadian Bank of Commerce

Grandiose is the word that best describes the Canadian Bank of Commerce, now known as the Millennium Center. Although it rises only six storeys above the sidewalk, a person standing in front of the building cannot help but feel its dominating presence. An early 20th century bank reborn as a 21st century event space, it is a monument to the power of the people who refused to let their heritage be demolished. Having been a bank for nearly six decades before a tumultuous transition into an event space, those entrusted with its care are looking to build on what started as a millennium project, rejuvenating the heritage building through adaptive reuse to ensure its viability of the next 100 years.

By 1883, only a decade after Winnipeg was incorporated as a city, "Bankers' Row" had been firmly established on the east side of Main Street, just north of Portage Avenue. It has been suggested that the east side of Main Street was preferable as it was the same side as the post offi…