Thursday, 29 September 2011

If 60 buildings drop off the city's historic buildings inventory does anybody care ?

Around Downtown

I've vented in the past that Manitoba's 'official' heritage groups simply aren't doing enough to make their information available to the public. While other jurisdictions have been busy digitizing collections and some even have archives that are open outside of bankers hours, most of our resources are stuck in the 1990's with little sign that they are going anywhere.

Here's a case of what little online content we do have moving in reverse. What's worse is nobody really cares all that much.

I came across the information while researching a house on Sargent Avenue. A Google search brought me to the
2010-2011 annual report of the Manitoba Heritage Association and the recap of the year's activities of the Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee. The HBC is a City of Winnipeg committee made up of: Councillor J. Gerbasi Council (member-at-large); Councillor P. Havixbeck (Property and Development Committee); Tim Worth (Manitoba Historical Society); David Kressock (Manitoba Association of Architects); Neil Einarson (Province of Manitoba - Culture, Heritage & Tourism); and Gregory Thomas (Government of Canada - Parks Canada).

The recap, written by Tim Worth of the Manitoba Historical Society, noted:

"In an ongoing review of the addresses included in the Inventory in 2010-11, the decision was made to remove 60 addresses and retain 288 of those that had been taken into consideration."

Sadly, this means that each of those 60 buildings' reports get removed from the city's online Historic Building Inventory database, thus disappearing from the internet.

Click the link above and you can check out some of these documents. "Overview" reports are usually just a page or two but contain valuable information about when the building was built, who built it, the original owners etc.. "Long" reports can be 5 - 10 pages long and contain a detailed description of the building, past owners, the architects and background information on the neighbourhood they are in and / or the industry that the building was built for.

I was already disappointed to know that when buildings are de-listed or demolished the reports disappear from the web rather than be placed in some 'past buildings' section. Until I read this, I didn't even realize that there was a regular 'cull' of the list.

Former Carnegie Library

Was anyone concerned about this removal ?

The MHS report notes no opposition to the removal. I emailed Heritage Winnipeg but got no response from their office. Jenny Gerbasi, the council rep on this board, just forwarded my email to the senior planner in charge of the inventory without comment or opinion.

To her credit, I did get a reply from the senior planner in charge of the building list. Yes, deleted buildings do get removed from their website (though the committee does publish an annual "Year in Review" but it's content is not searchable online so you have to know in advance that the building appears in one of the 30 or so editions of the publication.) When the city gets a new website, they'll consider a 'buildings of the past section'. Not exactly a ray of hope that these building reports will see the light of day again, still, it was the closest thing I could find to concern that these building reports are not available to the public anymore.

So continues the sad state of Manitoba's online heritage resources.


Here are the addresses of the buildings that are removed. If any of them are of interest you .. tough luck as their reports are not available online anymore:

566 Alexander Avenue – duplex
317 Alfred Avenue – R. Worobec House
476 Bannatyne Avenue – G. Stevens House
573 Broadway – M. Wright House
738 Broadway – Knowles School for Boys
127 Burrows Avenue – House
129 Burrows Avenue – Alfred Clarke House
153 Burrows Avenue – House
161 Burrows Avenue – House
169 Burrows Avenue – J. Westman House
471 College Avenue – C. Runge Grocery & Hardware Store
99 Furby Street – J. Saul House
407 Furby Street – D. MacDonald House
432 Furby Street – Dawson Court Apartments
441 Furby Street – S. H. Smith House
633 Furby Street – G. Garrow House
663 Furby Street – W. Milne House
665 Furby Street – A. Houghton House
255 Gunnell Street – W. W. Wortman House
47 Harriet Street – E. Green House
471 Henry Avenue – H. Kleon House
191 Inkster Boulevard – Christie Grocery Store
68 Isabel Street – Rev. J. J. Roy House
38 Kate Street – Williamson Block
998 Main Street – Westmount Apartments
186 Manitoba Avenue – Walman Apartments
604 McDermot Avenue – J. E. Briggs Duplex
612 McDermot Avenue – J. M. Scott House
202 Notre Dame Street – Gilbert House
212 Notre Dame Street – House
287 Redwood Avenue – A. C. Smith House
290 River Avenue – J. O. Smith House
351 River Avenue – Rosemount Flats
436 Ross Avenue – J. E. Fisher Terrace
448 Ross Avenue – Colin Campbell House
450 Ross Avenue – House
484 Sargent Avenue – A. Bright House
524 Sargent Avenue – Miller Block
561 Sargent Avenue – Peterson Block
637 Sargent Avenue – Connaught Block
130 Sherbrook Street – F. W. Henry House
370 Sherbrook Street – A. Mauer House
378 Sherbrook Street – House
382 Sherbrook Street – House
646 Sherbrook Street – E. B. Fink House
651 Sherbrook Street – J. Petke House
727 Sherbrook Street – B. L. Baldwinson House
379 William Avenue – Rannard Duplex
593 William Avenue – C. A. Hill House
421 Langside Street – E. J. Clarey House
452 Langside Street – Mrs. H. Stodgell House
356 Lindsay Street – H. Tait House
783 Main Street – City Machinery
813 Main Street – R. Bell Block
860 Main Street – Yale (Ontario) Hotel
597 William Avenue – W. K. Blair House
254 Young Street – J. R. Hitchings House
256 Young Street – House
263 Young Street – C. Harris House
285 Young Street – N. Boyd House

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Construction / Reno Updates from September

Some photos from September 2011 of renos and new developments ....

Marina Style Safeway
Former Safeway
Safeway, Allice and Wall

I've been
chronicling the demise of the Winnipeg's first (circa 1964) "Marina Style" Safeway at Ellice and Wall. This week will be the last for the distinctive curved roof line.

Youth For Christ

Youth for Christ
Youth for Christ

Youth for Christ's new building is really coming along. I hadn't realized just how big it was going to be. It is set to open in October.

Braunstein Block
Braunstein Block, Be Canadian First Building !
Braunstein Block

Just up the road, one of Winnipeg's more unique neighbourhood buildings, the Braunstein Block, renovation is continuing. I will have a post on the history of the block in the days ahead.

The Maryland Hotel

Maryland Hotel Sign
Maryland Hotel

The nearly $2m in renovations to the Maryland Hotel are coming to an end. With the VLT, lounge and vendor already moved to a building at the other end of the parking lot, the final phase of its conversion into an Econolodge is underway. It is set to reopen in November.

PHAC Laboratory

Logan Lab
April 2011
September 2011

This is a $64 m project that has flown under the radar: the former JC Wilt Lab on Logan Avenue.

The Public Health Agency of Canada bought it a few years back with an eye to moving other Ottawa-based labs here. That idea faltered but the place will be used as an extension of the
Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health (a.k.a. The Virology Lab) on Arlington, which has been tight on space for some time. (The CSCHAH itself is also undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion.)

Lombard Parkade

Lombard Parkade
Lombard Parkade

The structure of the parkade that sits where the Grain Exchange Annex was, is complete. They're working on the cladding.

Other Honourable Mentions from the summer:

Union Bank Tower addition
Union Bank Tower / Red River College
Former Scott Block
Scott Block, Main Street
New WRHA Building
WRHA, Hargrave Street

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Russ Gourluck is at it again. This time it's our theatres !

Author and historian Russ Gourluck, (
Picturing Manitoba: Legacies of the Winnipeg Tribune, A Store Like No Other: Eaton's of Winnipeg), is back at it and this time he's looking at Manitoba's movie theatres !

The new book will be titled Silver Screens on the Prairie: An Illustrated History of Motion Picture Theatres in Manitoba and available this fall from Great Plains Publications.

Rex Theatre, Winnipeg  (1912 - 2008)

Much of the research is done but Gourluck is still seeking photos of these old palaces. If you have any that you would like to share please contact the author at russgourluck -at- shaw.ca.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Rare exhibit at Shilo: Canada's Book of Remembrance

Wm Harvey Set Photo 28: Page 18 of the First World War Book of Remembrance

On September 29th a rare piece of Canadian history and remembrance will be on display at the Shilo's Royal Canadian Artillery Museum.

“In the Service of Canada” is the seventh Book of Remembrance. In it are hand-written the names of 1700 members of the Canadian Forces that have died serving their country from 1947 to present (except Korea). Normally, the books are in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. Every morning a new page is turned so that each fallen soldier's name is on display one day of the year.

They normally leave the Peace Tower but this one will and is coming to Shilo's RCA Museum. The museum is located at CFB Shilo, about 20 minutes east of Brandon. It is the second largest war museum in the country and for things like vehicles and arms it has the largest collection of any museum. It also has the original Punch Magazine printing plates for the first publication of In Flanders' Fields.

The book is on display Thursday Sept 29th from 10 am - 5 pm (one day only). Admission for the museum has been waived for the showing.
For more details about the showing.

For more on the Books of Remembrance (which can be viewed online).

Friday, 23 September 2011

West End History: School Safety Patrols

© 2011, Christian Cassidy

Once the rural fringe of the city, the West End west of Arlington Street developed into a cozy middle class neighbourhood between 1908 and 1915.

In 1909, Greenway School opened on St. Matthews Avenue at Burnell Street and in 1919 was expanded to become the largest elementary school in the city.

Burnell Street was a little different from its neighbours. Rather than being predominantly residential, the west side of the street became home to a number of industrial, high traffic sites. They included the Canada Bread bakery
Bryce’s Bakery, the Grey Goose bus garage and Crescent Creamery ice cream plant. Further to the west on St. Matthews Avenue was the Minto Armouries.

Louise Staples
September 17,1955,
Winnipeg Free Press

Given the amount of commercial traffic that passed the school every day, officials worried about the safety of pupils walking to and from school.

In 1935, Greenway School teacher Louise Staples was tasked with finding a solution. She would alter recount: "I had to do something, kids were just running wild across the streets and I couldn't do everything myself. Someone was going to get killed." (June 21, 1986, Winnipeg Free Press.)

Top: May 6, 1967, Winnipeg Tribune
Bottom: Manitoba Calling, 1937

Staples organized a group of the older boys, with Doug McGhee as captain, stand guard at the surrounding intersections before and after school and at lunchtime. They were issued white Sam Browne belts so that children and motorists would recognize them as "patrols".

The idea immediately generated interest among other inner-city schools. The following year, a school safety patrol pilot project that included 50 boys and five schools: Greenway, Gladstone, Isbister, Somerset and Mulvey began.

Constable Andrew Dunn of Winnipeg Police Department's motorcycle division was appointed the first supervisor of the patrol program. His job was to standardize the techniques used by the patrols and to provide road safety training. 

To generate publicity for this new safety campaign, media were invited to an event on the front steps of Greenway School on May 1, 1936. Patrols demonstrated their safety techniques and Mayor John Queen formally presented them with their white belts.

Beausejour's first school safety patrols
April 22, 1939, Winnipeg Tribune

The program continued to expand in scope.

In 1937, 29 schools participated and it began to spread throughout the province. By 1954, the number of Manitoba schools participating numbered 84.

The police department, which supervised the program until the 1950s when it was given over to the Manitoba Motor League (now CAA Manitoba), received requests for information about the program from schools across the country.

Today, across Canada
there are over 100,000 schoolchildren that act as school safety patrols each year. (Source: CAA)

Top: Staples with McGhee in 1964 (source)
Bottom: Plaque at Greenway School (source)

The Minnedosa-born Staples left Greenway in the late 1940s to teach at Hugh John MacDonald School. Also during the 1940s she served as the president of the Winnipeg Professional and Business Women's Club.

Staples eventually became the principal of Mulvey School, retiring in 1964.
She died at Misericordia Hospital on March 23, 1988.


Staples is commemorated by the Louise Staples Shield, which is awarded annually to the most efficient school patrol captains in the province. 

In September 2011 a mural called "School Patrols: Carrying the Vision" was unveiled at 719 St. Matthews honouring the woman and the program she created 75 years earlier.

"Would it be too much to say that the sight of these young patrollers doing their work conscientiously and wholeheartedly at busy intersections has been an example and inspiration to the adult community ? We do not think so”
Winnipeg Tribune Editorial, March 23, 1943

2011 Canadian School Patrol Handbook CAA
School Patrol program Winnipeg School Division No. 1

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Toronto remembers Manitoba's Billy Barker, VC

Globe and Mail, Sept 21, 2011
(Click here for more Globe and Mail images)

Today in Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery a monument will be unveiled to honour World War I veteran and fighting ace Lt. Col. William "Billy " Barker. It will, no doubt, be a fitting tribute to a man that Canada, including his home province of Manitoba, forgot.

Barker was born in Dauphin, Manitoba on November 3, 1894, his father a farmer and woodsman. The Barkers spent a few years living on a farm near Russell, (he is on the roll of Russell's very first boy scout troupe !) but in his early teens the family returned to Dauphin.

Circa 1918 (Source: Library and Archives Canada)

When he was 18 Barker signed up with the 32nd Light Horse militia, based in Roblin, Manitoba and in June 1915 was off to war with the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles. It wasn't until he was in Europe that Barker decided to be a 'fly boy' and in April 1917 he was assigned to the 4th division of the Royal Flying Corps.

In his flying career he was credited with the take down of 52 German planes and 10 balloons.

On October 27, 1918, he fought the battle that would earn him the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth's highest medal for bravery. Returning from a mission, Barker's plane was attacked. Wounded and nearly unconscious due to the pain and loss of blood, a formation of German planes surrounded him. he shot down four which allowed him enough time to cross back over the British lines where his plane crash landed. He was 24 years old. (To read Barker's full Victoria Cross citation.)

By the end of the war he had earned the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Bar, the Military Cross, Croix de Guerre (France), Silver Medal of Military Valour (Italy).
He returned as Canada's most decorated war veteran.

Thanks to media stories from around the Commonwealth Barker enjoyed time in the limelight upon his return. He wasn't able to transform that success and admiration into a steady post-war career, though. As with many returned soldiers he fought depression, immobilization and turned to alcohol to help numb the constant physical pain from his wartime injuries.

March 17, 1930, Winnipeg Free Press

Settling with his wife in Southern Ontario, Barker did some lecturing and co-founded a small charter airline with wartime colleague William "Billy" Bishop but it soon went bankrupt. He then did test flying for hire.

On a routine flight on March 12, 1930 his plane nose-dived into the ground at full speed, (some speculate that it may have been suicide).
Barker was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery where today's monument will be unveiled.

December 2, 1944. Winnipeg Tribune.

Barker was remembered during World War II and, ironically, used as an example for his fellow Canadians to sign up for the new war. His parents are seen above unveiling a portrait of the ace at the December 1944 graduation ceremony No. 7 Bomb and Gunnery school in Paulson, Manitoba.

Billy Barker Memorial

In 1999 Dauphin's airfield was renamed Lt. Col W.G. (Billy) Barker V.C. Airport. A commemorative plaque sits outside the front entrance.
In 2006 a statue was unveiled inside the terminal.

Barker and WW II Training Sites Dauphin Tourism
William George Barker, V.C. For Valour
The Flying Ace you've never heard of Toronto Star (includes pdf's from the Star's archives)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Need some history sleuthing done ?

HouseGarrick Hotel

Earlier in the summer Free Press carried the story
'Peg history at their doorsteps, about the growing interest people have in the houses that they live in.

House and building 'social' histories are something that I've spent a long time researching for my blogs and for individuals. You can see examples
here, here, here.

Now, I never know if I'm going to find a war hero, famous musician or prohibition 'speakeasy' at the location but, more often than not, at least a couple of interesting people or events pop out.

If you are interested in having your house or building history looked into I am 'for hire' ! Drop me a line at cassidy -at- mts.net and we can discuss.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The "Axworthy Effect" on Portage Avenue

Yes, I mean the Axworthy Effect, not the AXE Effect, as in the adolescent male body spray !

Churchill Manitoba

I've had a couple of opportunities to walk through the U of W 'district' with all of the buildings fully open and students in place. It has certainly created a very different feel to Portage Avenue west of Memorial. Aside from the drastic change in the physical appearance of the spaces,
(see below for a list of them), it's great to be caught up in a gaggle of students heading from one part of the campus to the other !

There are also some private developments taking root in the area.

Abandoned McDonald's
Former McDonalds

First is that Langside McDonald's that sat empty for a decade or so. National hamburger chain Harvey's has taken it over.

Former Cue Club
Former Cue Club

The next block up is the former Cue Club which has been a wall of empty storefronts for probably as long as the McDix has been gone. It is set to reopen next week as Pop Soda's Coffeehouse Gallery.

In the 'proposed' category, the owners of the National Typewriter Building want to demolish in favour of a nine storey mixed-use, residential building. Sal Infantino of X-Cues on Sargent is looking at converting some of the properties he owns in the area into student housing.

The university will obviously benefit from these developments. They regain a residence, something they haven't had since the late 1980s or so. An expanded Continuing Education and daycare help attract more of the non-traditional students that the U of W puts a lot of stock in. The science program leaves its 1960s surroundings behind for something state of the art.

Yes, they've been expensive but the University has been able to pull in over $60m in their capital campaign drive since it began in 2007. A series of escalating "biggest donations ever" helped out in the early stages, (
Douglas Leatherdale ($500k for $2m in total), CanWest ($2m), McFeetors ($1.67), Richardsons ($3.5m), Buhlers ($4m)).

Portage Avenue has certainly benefited. Many of these spaces were derelict buildings or grossly underused spaces that likely would have remained that way for many years to come. Filling them with students is a perfect fit for a downtown area which, as a whole, still struggles to get beyond a "9 to 5" vibe.

Now, signs that private, spin-off developments are entering the picture, just adds to the punch that the U of W under Lloyd Axworthy has brought to the area.

Here's a look back at some of the U of W's new (post 2007) spaces:

(*Exterior work began prior to Axworthy's arrival)
University of Winnipeg
University of Winnipeg
Convocation Hall
Convocation Hall

Spence Street / U of W Commons
University of Winnipeg, Grounds
University of Winnipeg, Grounds
University of Winnipeg

CanWest Centre for Theatre and Film
Former Salvation Army Citadel)
University of Winnipeg
U of W Manitoba Theatre Dep't Entrance

University of Winnipeg AnX
(former Bus Depot / Rice Building)
Still in progress
University of Winnipeg
University of Winnipeg

University of Winnipeg Buhler Centre
(Former United Army Surplus Site)

U of W Buhler Centre

McFeetors Hall
(U of W Residence)

UWSA Daycare and McFeetors Hall
University of Winnipeg

Richardson College
for the Environment and Science
Galaxy Skateland

U of W Portage and Langside
U of W Science Centre
University of Winnipeg
U of W Science Complex