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Showing posts from January, 2020

The Granite Curling Club: History Between The Sheets

The Granite Curling Clubhouse and Rink at 1 Granite Way is a picturesque building on a shaded lot just off of Osborne Street and has been a mainstay of the Winnipeg curling scene since its opening in 1912. The Granite Curling Club itself, though, is much older. It was founded in 1880, a time before indoor rinks, in Winnipeg and when most curling matches were played on the frozen Red or Assiniboine Rivers.

Curling had been introduced to Manitoba by Scottish settlers sometime around the 1860s, and the game was often played with whatever materials were readily available. At the time, this could mean wood, or stones, but jam-pail curling is a more modern example. For Winnipeg in the 1860s, the material of choice for curling rocks was iron. Foundries surrounding Winnipeg made the manufacturing of iron rocks significantly cheaper than ordering granite rocks, which were produced in Scotland and shipped to Canada.

For a time, bell-shaped iron rocks were the defacto curling equipment in Mani…

The "Cool Factor" of Cold Storage: The Johnston Terminal

The Johnston Terminal was not built to be pretty, but functional.

In fact, a 1986 structural study of the Johnston Terminal described the building as “simple and utilitarian with no outstanding architectural features”.

Now, outstanding architectural features were not a requirement at the time of construction . When it was built in 1928, it was intended to be used as a cold storage warehouse for National Cartage and Storage Ltd - a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railroad. At the time, The Forks was a bustling site known as the CNR East Yards - brimming with train tracks and industrial crews. The Johnston Terminal was hidden away on the outskirts of the site and was far away from the public eye so an aesthetically stunning facade was likely the last thing on the company’s mind. They couldn’t have realized that one day their cold-storage warehouse would become one of the center-pieces of a massive tourist destination in Winnipeg.

Unknown employees of the CNR’s architectural depar…

California Calling: The Buena Vista Apartments

On a dark and cold winter day in Winnipeg, one only needs to travel to the Norwood neighbourhood to find a little bit of California sunshine. The Buena Vista Apartments are an unexpected splash of Spanish flare, standing out as one of the scarce examples of Mission Revival architecture in the city. At first glance the complex might be easy to dismiss, as the extensive white stucco walls appear rather plain and the flat roofs out of place when compared to other homes in the neighbourhood. But it is actually a hidden gem, with architectural grandeur that can only truly be appreciated when one takes the time to see its thoughtful details. It is a rarity in both style and functionality that should be conserved, celebrated and learned from in an effort to built a more sustainable, inclusive future.

Mission Revival architecture was inspired by historic Spanish colonial mission buildings found in the southwestern United States. Starting in the early 17th century, missions were built to reflec…

The Old Lady of Carlton Street: The Winnipeg Free Press Building

The Manitoba Health Offices building at 300 Carlton Street does not try to hide what it once was. Along the roof, in boxy letters, are the words “FREE PRESS”.

It is a not-so-subtle reminder of the building’s publishing past. For 79 years, 300 Carlton Street was the home of the Winnipeg Free Press, Manitoba’s oldest newspaper. Today, the building is a quieter office space tucked away behind the new development of Portage Place Mall.

Decades ago, though, 300 Carlton would have been buzzing with excitement. The machinery of the printing press would hum, staff pounding away furiously at their typewriters, surrounded by the frenetic energy of a newsroom in one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. When the Winnipeg Free Press moved into their Carlton Street building in 1905, there was hardly a shortage of news to report; hopes were high in Winnipeg and bigger and better developments were happening on the daily. Carlton Street may have been the sixth home of the Winnipeg Free Press, but was…