Skip to main content


Showing posts from October, 2019

History Among the Headstones: Elmwood Cemetery

The opening of Elmwood Cemetery in 1902 was more controversial than many of Winnipeg’s other cemeteries. It is a privately owned, non-denominational cemetery built on 37 acres of land in the municipality of Kildonan – and was the first cemetery of its kind in Winnipeg.

Plans for the cemetery were meant to maintain as many of the surrounding trees as possible. It was these old hardwood trees, including ash, maple, and elm that led to the cemeteries name of Elmwood. To add new greenery, such as shrubs and flowerbeds, a nursery with a greenhouse was added to the lot. In the early years of the cemetery, it was possible to purchase flowers and shrubs as well as a burial plot.

Issues arose, however, because the cemetery was being built in the Municipality of Kildonan and not in the City of Winnipeg proper. The municipality had not been consulted, and local property owners were worried about their property values decreasing if the cemetery were too open. There were protests and letters of c…

The Watcher Among The Graves: St John's Cemetery

Passing by St. John’s Cemetery today, you would be hard pressed to find anything out of the ordinary. It is a small, well-treed cemetery, next to St. John’s Anglican Church (158 Anderson Avenue)– an assortment of headstones, large, small and everything in between cover the grounds.

What you cannot tell from simply passing by, is that inside the cemetery you can find the final resting places of some of early Winnipeg’s most prominent citizens.

St. John’s in the oldest Anglican Parish in western Canada, founded in 1820 by Reverend John West, when he arrived to serve as Chaplain to the Hudson’s Bay Company. Their first church was erected on the lot in 1822, the first of four churches to be constructed for the Anglican Church.

The cemetery is, in fact, older than the church itself – predating the parish by about 8 years. It was established by the Selkirk Settlers, sometime after their arrival to the area in 1812. Few records remain about these early burials, however, the first known bu…

Fire Fuels Uncertainty: the Keewaydin Building

Real estate was a hot commodity in Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century. Companies new and old were coming through the city, looking to take advantage of a booming economy and quickly growing population. Larger, wealthier companies could get away with constructing their own office buildings while many others utilized the wealth of rental space available in Winnipeg.

The Notre Dame Investment Company capitalized on the need for space, and in 1909 invested in a modern 7-storey office building near Portage and Main. Construction of Keewaydin Block cost $70,00 with James McDiarmid acting as both the architect and contractor. McDiarmid had been working in Winnipeg for well over two decades by this point, starting out as a contractor and moving into designing buildings by the early 1890s. McDiarmid worked on a number of notable projects in downtown Winnipeg, including the Pantages Playhouse Theatre and the Manitoba Legislature (after the original contractor, Thomas Kelly, had been fire…

A Million Dollar Mystery: The Manitoba Legislature

When the Manitoba Legislature officially opened in July of 1920, the relief must have been palpable. A series of delays had pushed the construction back significantly; construction had begun in 1912, and now after eight years of being plagued by scandal and war, it was finally open.

This would be Manitoba’s third legislative building. When the Manitoba Legislative Assembly met for the first time, on March 15th 1871, their meeting was inauspicious by modern-day standards. Manitoba was new to confederation, and still relatively small, which meant there were no grand meeting halls and no building specifically constructed for the Manitoba Government. With few options, they would meet on the upper floor of A.G.B Bannatyne’s residence. Bannatyne, alongside his father-in-law, Andrew McDermot, owned a significant amount of land in Winnipeg and was easily one of the town’s wealthiest men. For the time, then, his home would be a fitting place for the Manitoba Government.

By the turn of the 20…