Sunday, 14 December 2008

Portage and Memorial in for a change - Part 2

An interesting feature of the intersection, even more so than the building, is the metal structure that once held a billboard a number of storeys above the roofline. It’s one of the one of the oddest landmarks in Winnipeg and will, presumably (!), be coming down as well.

I can remember it from when I was a kid but can’t find any pictures of it. It was a large sign and within it was a smaller sign made up of a number of long, three sided blocks that would rotate to reveal a different ad: Grubee's, Champs Chicken, what have you. I can’t remember when it went out of service but my guess would be the late 70’s.

A billboard at the site has been a constant, so it seems:

From 1930 you can see a little billboard there (top left):

During WW II, the Victory Bond billboard, indicating the money collected to date, was stationed at Portage and Memorial:

In 1949 yet another sign !

The scaffolding that some find interesting, but most consider an eyesore, has caught the attention of the city at times. A scan of past meetings shows that in September 1999 the Property and Development standing committee instructed the department to “...submit a status report on the abandoned roof mounted sign structure atop the United Army Surplus Building at 460 Portage, including therein an outline of the signage/zoning regulations in other municipal jurisdictions applicable to a structure of this type”.

Proving that City Hall gathers much moss, the issue does not crop up again until March 4, 2003 when the 1999 motion returns as an "outstanding item" on the agenda. I couldn't find if a report, indeed, had been submitted. The item was dealt with in 2003 by sending the owners of the offending structure off to work with the Downtown Biz to find a resolution.


cancelbot said...

The billboard was around until the mid-1980s, as I recall. When I was a kid I used to ride in the back of the station wagon to visit my grandmother at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital (now Riverview Health Centre), and one of the memorable sights was the billboard with changing images. It was the only one like it around, and I guess it made quite an impression on me when I was a youngster!

Portage Avenue must have had some really gaudy signs in the 60s and 70s... there was the big Sony neon spectacular, the Winnipeg Tribune billboard, the Champs sign, etc.

By the 1980s they started disappearing, and the only real standouts left are the Rogers billboard by Lions Place, and the Advance Electronics sign. The rest are all garden-variety billboards now!

mrchristian said...

Yes, there were some gaudy ones but considering that they were mechanical would now be considered kind of interesting. Nothing worse that those tv screens businesses are hanging off the sides of their buildings now !

bemiller1 said...

I just viewed your great documentary photo collection of the 460 Portage site on Flickr. I'm working on a project related to the site and would really like to know the date and time of final demo of sign structure and of the building itself. Your March 21 images show about 3/4 demolition of sign. Do you know if the demo was actually completed on that day?? Would be a great help to know.

mrchristian said...

I can't recall exactly when. I think I went back the next day to get a 'final' shot but the work wasn't completed as it was raining or something like that. I'd say it probably took at least a three days more after my photo was taken

bemiller1 said...

THX for help zeroing in on the date. Wonder if Imrie kept track of the work and would know the date?