Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Arlington Bridge Walking Tour - July 29th, 2015

Arlington Bridge
Join me for a walking tour of the historic Arlington Bridge on July 29, 2015 at 7:00 pm. 

I will talk about the city's early attempts at crossing the CPR yards, the history of the Arlington Bridge and give my opinion on the “River Nile” urban legend. 

The tour starts at the north foot of the bridge, Arlington Street and Dufferin Avenue. For more information check out the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation's event page.

To read more about the history of the bridge see my four part series from 2011 !

Monday, 27 July 2015

Ming Court Renovation Underway

 Ming Court Restaurant at 236 Edmonton Street is undergoing renovations and will be closed until early August.

The exterior renovations gave us a glimpse of one of its past incarnations - Bonnycastle Travel. It turns out that the original house dates back to 1888. 

For a look back at the history of the building check out my latest Winnipeg Downtown Places post !

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Winnipeg's housing crisis - in 1936

Winnipeg Tribune, April 24, 1936

In April 1936 Reverend James W. Clarke of Knox Church addressed the Local Council of Women about the deplorable housing conditions many Winnipeggers are forced to live in. 

His church recently conducted a housing survey of two districts. In “District 2”, Notre Dame Avenue north to the CPR tracks, they found an average of 3.3 families living in each house and 96 families occupying attics. He said:

Then it came to me, seeing these deplorable conditions, that as a community we are guilty of a major crime….a crime against children … against families ….

The other district was "Sherbrook Street south to the Assiniboine River", certainly a more middle class area. There, the overcrowding was worse, with an average of 4.1 families living in each house. Of those, 731 families lived and cooked in the same room.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Radio Edition - July 12, 2015

Cottage Summer

Tune in tonight at 7 pm on 101.5 UMFM for West End Dumplings - The Radio Edition.

It's a lazy summer show! Summer songs, a Stephen Leacock short story, commentary by Roger Currie and I'll preview some of the people and events that will be commemorated in the week ahead in Manitoba History.

Some upcoming heritage events to note:

July 18 -19, 2015 - Doors Open Brandon
July 29, 2015 - Arlington Bridge Walking Tour

I'll be mentioning the St. Regis Hotel, the opening of the St. Andrews Lock and Dam and Maison McDougall in St. Norbert.

Music by Uncle Smoky, Billie Holiday, Victor Davies with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Prairie Oyster.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Manitoba's WWI Fallen: Lance Corporal William Harvey 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.

Wm Harvey Set Photo 1: William Harvey in Uniform

This is a "refresh" of a blog post I originally wrote at This Was Manitoba in 2008 after having been contacted by a member of Harvey's family seeking information. He was a missing piece of their family tree, having left for Canada at age 20 never to return home.

I was able to piece together some of his background and found that he was a "forgotten" Winnipeg solder. Here for such a short time before returning to Europe to die, his Winnipeg connection was not picked up by the papers.

I've lost touch with Harvey's family due to switching internet providers a few years back. If you are related or can add more information to any part of this write-up please let me know!

Guthrie Street & Scouringburn
Urquhart Street from Watson Street, ca. 1880s (source)

William Harvey was born February 17, 1881 to Robert and Frances "Fanny" Harvey of no. 4 Walton Street (at Urquhart Street) in Dundee, Scotland. He worked as a crane operator, or "craneman", in Dundee and served with the Gordon Highlanders for more than three years, seeing action in South Africa. 

Soon after his return, he decided to seek out new adventures and immigrated to Canada in 1911, likely aboard the Allen Steamship Line's Sicilian which departed Glasgow in mid-April 1911. Harvey arrived at his destination of Montreal where the above portrait was taken and sent back home to his family.

Around that time, Winnipeg was in the midst of unprecedented growth, on its way to becoming what many believed would be "the Chicago of the North". Harvey, like many young immigrants at the time, found himself drawn west.

Top: Rear of CPR Depot ca. 1909 (source)
Bottom: Modern aerial shot of Weston Shops (Aerial Winnipeg)

He immediately found work with the expanding Canadian Pacific Railway, first as a craneman, then a ‘turntableman’. 

As a CPR crane operator there were a number of places that he could have worked. Perhaps at the cargo area behind the CPR station on Higgins Avenue or at the CPR's Weston Shops, which underwent an expansion in 1911. As a turntableman, he very likely worked in the service sheds or roundhouses at the CPR Weston Shops.

The Henderson Directory lists no address for Harvey for the couple of years he was in Winnipeg. This is odd as even if someone was living in a temporary situation, such as renting a bedroom or in a CPR bunkhouse, that would normally be indicated next to their name. For whatever reason, he appears not to have settled into a permanent home, apartment or rooming house.

1915 Winnipeg Scottish Football Team (source)

Hopefully during his time here he found a sense of belonging within the city's Scottish community.
The Winnipeg Robbie Burns Society, the oldest chapter outside of the UK, was created in 1907 by a number of Scottish workers in the very CPR shops where he likely worked. He certainly would have heard about the society, if he wasn’t an active participant.

There was also a very active sports scene that he would have enjoyed. For instance, in 1915 the Winnipeg Scottish Football Team won the city and provincial championships before taking the Connaught Cup as national champions.

Troops leave from CPR Station, 1915 (source)

Given his military background, it isn't surprising that William soon signed up with the 79th Cameron Highlanders militia. On October 10, 1914 he enlisted with the 27th City of Winnipeg Battalion as a private.

William left Halifax for England on January 20th 1915 and on February 23rd 1915 was on to France. He was transferred in the field to 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian light Infantry and rose in rank to Lance Corporal. Within weeks, 2PPCLI was involved in the Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge, Belgium. The regimental war diary describes the battle of May 4, 1915 this way:

“Heavy shelling continued through out the day. trenches in many places where blown in Nos 1and 2 coys (*companies) in the fire line trenches lost heavily. 26 men killed 96 men wounded two of which died two days later.”

William Harvey was one of the men killed that day. His circumstances of death record simply states "killed in action".

Top: Winnipeg Free Press (wire), May 15, 1915
Bottom: Winnipeg Tribune, May 20 1915

Back in Canada, his name was mentioned in the Winnipeg Tribune and Manitoba Free Press. They were just “wire service” notices of Commonwealth or Canadian soldiers killed. His name was not amongst the “local boys” section. With no other family in Canada and no permanent address, it appears that his his Winnipeg connection went unnoticed.

His death was also noted in the Peoples' Journal of Dundee, Scotland.

Harvey's body was never recovered. His name apprears on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium. Inscribed in the monument are the names of the 55,000 soldiers killed in the area, 6,940 of them Canadian. This is an excerpt of the text over one of the gates:

“To the armies of the British Empire who stood here from 1914 to 1918 and to those of their dead who have no known grave. Here are recorded names of officers and men who fell in Ypres Salient but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”

Each day at sunset the dead are remembered as traffic through the gateway is halted and two buglers sound the Last Post. The trumpets used were a gift by an officer of the Royal Canadian Artillery who fought there in 1915.

Wm Harvey Set Photo 24: CPR Winged Angel Monument (2)

The Canadian Pacific Railway erected a monument in Winnipeg dedicated to CPR men who fell in World War I, though it contains no names. In the 90’s it was moved from CPR property to the front lawn of Deer Lodge Centre and rededicated to CPR men who fell in all wars.

 Harvey's name appears on the Soldiers' Relatives Memorial on the legislature grounds. The 1,600 names on it were compiled in the early 1920s.

Top: May 4, 2008, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: September 14, 2008, Winnipeg Free Press

Due to his brief time in Winnipeg and apparent transient situation, William Harvey was a man without a home town. An immigrant who came to make a new life, helped build the west, worked in the poor conditions offered by the railway repair shops and gave his life without an obituary or other recognition that he was a Winnipegger.

On the 93rd anniversary of his death I ran the above obituary in the Winnipeg Free Press and left flowers at the base of the CPR monument.

Attestation Papers
Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry
Circumstances of Death record

Sunday, 5 July 2015

The Radio Edition for July 5, 2015

The podcast for this episode is now available here !


My guest will be Gerald Huhtala of the Manitoba Association of Automobile Clubs. We'll talk about some of the car shows and related events that are coming up around the province this summer, including the big Collector Car Appreciation Day in Winnipeg on July 12th. Also, more about those yellow "Collector" plates you see on classic cars and maybe even get his opinion on Portage Avenue "cruise nights."


I'll highlight a few other events coming up in the days ahead, including the premiere of Stuck in the Middle - the documentary on July 7th, Winnipeg Architecture Foundation's July walking tours, Minnedosa's Heritage Day and the 61st annual Thresherman's Reunion in Austin.

Also, we'll look ahead to some events that will be commemorated this in Manitoba History. This includes the deaths of West Ender Bill Norrie and hockey great Billy Mosienko*, the huge "Get Together '70" Festival in downtown Winnipeg and Gordon Pinsent's Winnipeg years. (*Check out a video of Mosienko's record-breaking hat trick here.)

Music by The Platters, Mike Post and The Kubasonics. A commentary by Roger Currie and some classic comedy from Bob Newhart.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Sunday: Elmwood Cemetery "Sitting Tour"

Elmwood Cemetery, Winnipeg

The North East Winnipeg Historical Society will be holding a FREE talk in Elmwood Cemetery on Sunday June 28 at 1:30 pm about some of the important people and families  buried in Section 6A of Elmwood Cemetery. 

This will be a "sitting tour" so please bring your lawn chairs, hats, water and whatever else you might think you'll need.

The meeting place is Section 6A at 1:30 pm, rain or shine. (The cemetery is flat, so you will see the tour folks standing there when you arrive!) 

If you want to find out more about North East Winnipeg history, you can also check out the podcast for the latest edition of West End Dumplings - The Radio Edition. My guest was NEWHS President Jim Smith !