Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Radio Edition for March 29, 2015



Join Kerri and me Sunday night at 7:00 pm on 101.5 UMFM for another edition of West End Dumplings - The Radio Edition.

David Landrum to tell us about the upcoming Architecture+Design Film Festival 2015 at Cinematheque, including the new ArchiShorts Film CompetitionGordon Goldsborough of the Manitoba Historical Society previews the next edition of  Manitoba History and tells us how we can meet the authors.

I will let you know about a few interesting historical events that will be commemorated in the coming week, including the death of James Ashdown, the death of Brandon's Joe Hall, and the Winnipeg Toilers plane crash.

Music by YKK Corporation, Barbra Streisand and Terry Jacks.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Sunday's Radio Edition: Winnipeg Streetcars !

Join Kerri and me this Sunday at 7:00 pm on 101.5 UMFM for West End Dumplings: The Radio Edition. This weekend's show is all about Winnipeg streetcars !

Our guests will be Brian Darragh who has just published The Streetcars of Winnipeg - Our Forgotten Heritage. Not only is he an historian, but also believed to be the last surviving City of Winnipeg streetcar operator. Also, Steven Stothers, the creator of the Winnipeg Streetcar.com website and part of the Winnipeg Streetcar 356 Restoration committee. We'll also ask him about what tours his Winnipeg Trolley Company will be offering for 2015.

Music by Choo Choo Bob, John Hartford and Stompin' Tom Connors. Also, be sure to check out this 1955 audio clip from CBC radio about the end of the line for Winnipeg's streetcars.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Time is up for Sargent Avenue's Hood Block

Hood Block - Craik Apartmnents

If you've driven past the intersection of Sargent and Langside in the past eight months, you've no doubt noticed the ca. 1904 Hood Block. It was nearing the completion of extensive renovations in the summer of 2014 when the sidewalk out front collapsed, taking part of the facade with it.

The building will be demolished early next week.

For more about the Hood Block check out my Winnipeg Downtown Places post and

For more about the Hood Block check out my Winnipeg Downtown Places post and my story in this Sunday's Winnipeg Free Press.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Radio Edition for March 15, 2015

Union Station, Winnipeg

Listen to the PODCAST here !

Join Kerri and me tonight at 7:00 pm for another edition of West End Dumplings - The Radio Edition on 101.5 UMFM. Check back here later for the podcast link  !

On tonight's show, we'll recap the winners of the 2014 Heritage Winnipeg Conservation Awards. You'll hear from Jordan Van Sewell and David McDowell of Heritage Winnipeg, Marcella Poirier about the renovations to Union Station and Rev. Cathy Campbell about the conversion of St. Matthews Church into the West End Commons.

In wartime news, the 100th anniversary of Winnipeg's first casualty of World War I and the tragic post-war death of Canada's most decorated military Veteran, Dauphin's Billy Barker.

Also, furniture King Nick Hill, Winnipeg's Casblanca Premiere and more !

Music By Daniel Lavoie, Dooley Wilson, Andrew Neville and The Poor Choices.

Upcoming Events:

April 11, 2015 - “Winnipeg’s Visual History in the Golden Age of Postcards”
April 16, 2015 - A history of some North End buildings
April 15 - 19, 2015 - Design and Architecture Film Festival
May 3 - 4, 2015 - Jane's Walk Winnipeg
May 30 - 31, 2015 - Doors Open Winnipeg

Monday, 9 March 2015

Behind the Photo - Winnipeg's first IOOF Grand Master

Often I will see an old photo or ad and spend some time digging into the back story. Sometimes I find a great story, sometimes not. Either way, I learn a few things about the city's history. Here's my latest attempt:

A fellow historic building buff came across this certificate in the former Odd Fellows Hall No. 1 at 72 Princess Street. It is a donation receipt for $20 made out to C. D. Anderson dated June 28, 1901. It turns out that Anderson was not just any member of the IOOF, he was the first Grand Master of the Manitoba Lodge.

First, though, a bit of Manitoba Odd Fellows history.

Manitoban and Northwest Herald, August 23, 1873 (Source)

The International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) was founded in 17th century Britain and by 1819 had establishment itself in the U.S. and 24 years later in Montreal. Its purpose, generally speaking, was to do good works and provide a sense of fraternity for its members, mainly middle class and small businessmen.

The Odd Fellows were active in this area as far back as 1871. A Manitoba Lodge was established in Winnipeg on August 18, 1873, though it was  actually a "branch" of North America's central Sovereign Grand Lodge located in the United States. It wasn't until October 24, 1883 that a separate Manitoba Grand Lodge was formed.

Top May 28, 1949. S & A store said to be on left (Winnipeg Free Press)
Bottom: August 18, 1987, Winnipeg Free Press

For the first few years, the IOOF held their meetings and events in a hall located over a grocery store called Snyder and Anderson located at 170 Main Street near St. Mary Avenue.

The store's roots go back at least two years earlier as a general store in Breckenridge, Minnesota, one of the town's first businesses. They imported groceries and other supplies by river to the Red River settlement by barge and, when Winnipeg incorporated in 1873, decided to set up a permanent store here.

(Source: Peel's)

The "Anderson" in the store name and on the certificate was Charles Davis Anderson. Born in Sweden in 1831, he came to North America at the age of 20, first settling in Chicago. He eventually made his way west and to Breckenridge where he partnered with Snyder and became a boatmaster  delivering those groceries and other supplies.

 (Source: Peel's)

Anderson was active in the Odd Fellows and in 1883, when Manitoba became its own Lodge, was made Grand Master. it was under his tenure that the Odd Fellows built the IOOF Hall at 72 Princess Street. The organization used only the top floor, the bottom floors were rented out to businesses to create a steady revenue stream.

Anderson served just one year as Grand Master but remained active in the organization for the rest of his life.

July 27, 1914, Winnipeg Tribune

I can find no mention of having a wife or children. He died at his home, 258 Hugo Street, on  July 27, 1914. Two days later his body lay in state in the hall from 11 am to 3 pm then, after a brief service, was removed to Elmwood Cemetery for burial.

As for the hall, in April 1910 a new IOOF headquarters was built on Kennedy street and the old building continued to act as Manitoba Lodge No. 1. It appears that they vacated the building in the 1950s.

Top: The Standard, December 26, 1874
Bottom: Manitoba Free Press, August 10, 1876

"(In September 1873) Snyder and Anderson's fine stores were in course of construction. This firm, when they first came to Winnipeg, were engaged as flat-boatmen, and made money. They, however, took a fancy to remain in Winnipeg, and immediately went to work to build the necessary stores for their business. Their block is to this day an ornament to the city, and Messrs. Snyder and Anderson are universally respected, and looked upon as one of the most straightforward and go-ahead firms in the city."

Ten Years in Winnipeg by Alexander Begg (p. 89)

IOOF History - Canada IOOF.org
Souvenir programme: Sovereign Grand Lodge, I.O.O.F., Winnipeg (1912)
72 Princess Street Historic Buildings Committee
Kennedy Street Historic Buildings Committee

Friday, 6 March 2015

The Manitou Opera House is crowdfunding for renovations !

The Manitou Opera House needs your help !  

The Opera House Management Committee wants to build a 2,175 square foot addition that will allow wheelchair access to the main floor and a new foyer area that will include men's and women's accessible washrooms, two accessible meeting rooms and a cloakroom.

The total price tag is $725,000, of which over $600,000 has already been raised, and they have created a crowdfunding campaign to raise a further $25,000.

Built in 1930, it is is not only an historic landmark but an important cultural institution for the region. Between September 2012 to August 2013 it was booked for 213 days for a wide range of events.

It has a great past and YOU can be part of its future ! 

Main Street, Manitou, ca. 1920s (Peel's)

The current opera house came to be after Manitou's original town hall was razed by fire on January 6, 1930. Sadly, volunteer firefighter Robert A. J. (Bob) Brown, 55, was killed fighting the blaze. He left behind wife Annie and three surviving adult children. (One of his children, Thelma Bessie Forbes, became a teacher and politician, becoming the first female speaker of the Manitoba legislature in 1963.)

The timing could not be worse for the community. It came just weeks after the stock market crash and at the start of what would be a miserable summer of heat waves and drought conditions across the prairies. Despite all this, the village rallied to rebuild and they did it in style.

June 7, 1930, Winnipeg Free Press

They hired Winnipeg-based architect Charles Saunders Bridgman to design the new structure. He was already well known for projects such as the West St. Paul Town Hall, The River Osborne Block in Osborne Village and St. Luke's Church on Nassau Street in Winnipeg.

Brigman's design was influenced by the Arts-and-Crafts style. The basement contained the municipal offices, council chambers, jail and a court room, while the main floor was home to the village's 385-seat assembly hall, or opera house. (For more about its architectural features.)

The tender for the $15,000 structure was let in June 1930 and won by Blackburn Construction.

December 16, 1930, Winnipeg Free Press

The building was officially opened on December 15, 1930 by acting mayor Thomas Nairne. Another speaker was former MLA, now judge, George T. Armstrong who asked those gathered to stand for a minute of silence to remember fireman Brown. After that, the Manitou Citizens' Band gave a two hour concert.

The Opera House Management Committee previously raised funds before for a bust of Nellie McClung, one of the town's most famous residents, which stands outside the opera house. (McClung mentions the Manitou Opera House in some of her writings, though she would have been referring to the previous building as the family moved to Alberta in 1915.) 

The Manitou Opera House was declared a Provincial Heritage Site in 1997.

Manitou Opera Hall Historicplaces.ca
Kaleidascope Kaleda Historical Society(pdf)
Manitou Heritage Advisory Group (pdf)

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Manitoba's WWI Fallen: Ralph Brown of Winnipeg

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, I am working on a series of blog posts and radio shows that will look at 100 Manitobans who died in action. For more about this project and links to other posts, follow this link.

Ralph Russell James Brown was born in Barrie, Ontario in 1875 and came to Winnipeg in 1877 with his mother to meet up with his father who came out the year before. His family were members of Grace Church and involved in education and music. The Winnipeg Tribune once wrote of his parents: "...(they) became the centre for 30 years of groups that gathered to advance the arts."

Brown graduated from Wesley College in 1896 with a B.A. in Education, winning the Governor General’s Medal for his grades. He taught for a time, likely outside of Winnipeg, before returning to become the principal of Wellington School by 1901.

Top: January 21, 1902, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: Somerset School from Past Forward

His work impressed his superiors, including members of the school board and superintendent Daniel McIntyre. In 1902 his name was put on the short list for the principalship of the soon to be completed Somerset School at Sherbrook and Notre Dame, (now demolished.) He won a tight-fought contest.

In his personal life, Brown was a well-known athlete, especially the sport of lacrosse, which he both played and officiated. In 1902 he was made secretary of the Western Canada Lacrosse Association and was on the committee that created the public school system's football and lacrosse leagues. In 1908 he donated the R. J. J. Brown cup, which was presented for a couple of decades to the winner of the school lacrosse championship.

Brown married Harriet Belle Brown, an art teacher supervisor for the Winnipeg School Division, in 1913. They had two daughters, Eleanor and Isabel, and lived for a time at 88 Robinson Street.

November 16, 1917, Winnipeg Free Press

Brown served as principal of Somerset School from 1902 to 1914, then went back to the University of Manitoba to obtain his law degree. When war was declared, Brown, who was a captain in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles militia, enlisted for the regular forces after his first year of school. He left Winnipeg on October 18, 1915. While overseas he fought at Mons, Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele.

Brown was wounded at Passchendaele on October 28th, 1917 and died three days later. He was 42 years old.

In the ‘History of the 44th Battalion’ the chaplain wrote: “Enemy air raids a nightly occurrence. The German planes came over in bunches. Major R.R.J. Brown of the 44the, Area Commander of the Fourth Division, with his characteristic contempt of personal danger, continued to live in a tent despite the fact that other Divisional officers sought the protection of re-inforced cellars. One night he was hit by the flying fragment of an aerial bomb. He died two days later. So passed a very gallant gentleman, whose work and influence, particularly in the early history of the 44th, have been of inestimable value to the Battalion.” (From Winnipeg School Division History of Schools - Norquay to Rockwood, p.128)

Tribune Sports columnist Tim Ching wrote: "He was one of the greatest workers for the development of athletics among youngster that the city ever had. His loss is indeed great to Winnipeg." (November 6, 1917, Winnipeg Tribune)

Brown wrote his law exams before he went overseas and if he survived would have received his law degree, so he does appear on the Honour Roll of the Manitoba Law Society.

Ralph Brown

In 1918 a temporary school building on Andrews Street was renamed Ralph Brown School. A second building was added to the site in the 1930s. In 1989 that school was replaced by a new structure that also has an adjoining community centre named for Brown.

As for Brown's children, Isabel graduated from the Fine Arts program at the Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in Brooklyn NY in 1940. Eleanor went into architecture, serving as a draughtsman in World War II and returned for her final year of studies in 1947.

Ralph Russell James Brown Virtual War Museum
Ralph Russell James Brown Attestation Papers
Ralph Russell James Brown Manitoba Historical Society
Ralph Russell James Brown Winnipeg School Division

Ralph Brown School Histories:
Ralph Brown School Winnipeg School Division
Ralph Brown School Manitoba Historical Society
Somerset School ReadReidRead