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Sunday, 25 September 2022

A history of Winnipeg's Carleton Club

 © 2022, Christian Cassidy


Winnipeg's Carleton Club existed for almost a century at two different addresses in the downtown. It wasn't as old, prestigious, or expensive to join, as the Manitoba Club and its history is not that well documented.

Here's a look back at the Carleton Club...


January 30, 1901, Winnipeg Tribune

Manitoba's Carleton Club was established as the Commercial Club in January 1901. "The object of the club is social and friendly" read its initial articles of incorporation. 

There were 25 initial investors who put up $1,000 each to form the club. They included: Mayor John Arbuthnot, the lumber merchant who was also Winnipeg’s mayor at the time; Elisha F. Hutchings, president of Great West Saddlery; Charles H. Cordingley, manager of George Velie Co. Ltd., a wholesale liquor business; Edward Nicholson, wholesale merchant Donald R. Dingwall, president of Dingwall Jewellers  H. William Hutchinson, president of Fairchild Co. Ltd. farm machinery; Frank G. Walsh, district superintendent of Bell Telephones; and Arthur Stewart, manager of the Central Canada Loan and Savings Company.

The club was similar, but not as exclusive or expensive to join, as the Manitoba Club which meant that it attracted another layer of businessmen such as senior managers, bank executives, architects, general managers, and medium-sized business owners. It was a space where they could gather, socialize, and cut business deals.


January 17, 1905, Winnipeg Free Press

The Commercial Club's original clubhouse was a red sandstone building located at 306-308 Main street. A former bank office that had recently been vacated by the CPR executive offices. Graeme George was the club manager. 

The main floor held offices and a reception room described in one paper as having, "rich curtains, beautiful paintings and artistic fresco work on the walls and ceiling." The second floor contained a dining hall and the third floor a billiard room, smoking room, and reading room. 

In June 1901, around 300 members and their wives attended the building's formal opening dinner. 

The club appears to have been a success. Aside from its day-to-day use, the club hosted numerous banquets featuring speakers such as government or railway officials, and played host to visiting delegations from business clubs from other cities who were in Winnipeg to tour its industries.


Carleton Club (centre) in June 1919

In late 1904, the Commercial Club began an extensive renovation of its club. Work was almost done in January 1905 when a major fire struck the building site. Insurance covered most of the damage and the renovations started over.

The clubhouse reopened in late April 1905 after what ended up being $70,000 in work.

The general layout of the building stayed the same. Additions included a ladies' reception room and ladies' dining room on the second floor and a new fourth floor consisting of a "summer apartment" that opened onto a roof garden. 

Another expansion came in December 1929 when the club bought out one of its neighbouring buildings, likely the one to the right in the above photo, for $30,000. It joined the upper floors to create expanded dining and recreational areas and continued to rent the main floor out to retail tenants.


January 12, 1911, Winnipeg Tribune

The shift from Commercial Club to Carleton Club began around 1909 but the application to formally change its corporate name did not come until January 1911. 

There was no explanation in the daily papers for the name change. It was likely to differentiate itself from the (North West) Commercial Travellers Club which began operation in 1907 and to give itself a more exclusive sounding name. (The Carlton Club - without an "e" - was, and is, one of London's most exclusive members-only clubs and even local papers at the time carried stories about meetings and events that happened there.)


August 1, 1974, Winnipeg Tribune

The Carleton Club carried on at this address until 1974 when this block of Main Street from Portage to Graham avenues was expropriated and demolished by the city to make way for the new Trizec / Winnipeg Square development.

Like several of the businesses along the block, the club formally objected to the expropriation at a city hearing. It argued that as a businessman's club its location near Portage and Main was vital to its operations and that a relocation could cause it to "suffer serious and possibly irredeemable damage".

The club lost its fight but it was reported at the time to have been offered around $1.3 million for its property. A newspaper article from 1976 noted that the final arrangements for the settlement had not yet been completed.


November 14, 1975, Winnipeg Tribune

The Carleton Club found another piece of land on Fort Street right across from the Winnipeg Square development and the club took up temporary quarters above the ANAVETS hall on Garry Street.

It turned to Smith Carter Architects to design a new clubhouse that would be nothing like its previous Victorian-era home.

The 37,000 square foot building, (about 7,000 square feet larger than the old one), contained four levels connected by a free-standing circular staircase and elevators.

The basement was set aside for athletics with a gym, health centre, four regulation-sized squash courts, a sauna, and steam rooms. The main floor contained administrative offices, the upper portion of the squash courts and a lounge. The second floor was mainly food service with the kitchen, main dining room, a bar, and banquet room. The top floor contained a games room with billiards tables and private function rooms that were furnished with items from the old building.

At the time construction began on November 13, 1975, the estimated cost of the new building was $2.6 million. Trident Construction was the contractor.

The new Carleton Club opened its doors on March 18, 1977.

Clifford Lecuyer, a senior partner in the accounting firm Price Waterhouse, was the club's president from the time it closed the old facility and reopened din the new one. In April 1977, a new president was elected to start the club's new era. George LaFrance was general manager of the Lafarge Cement subsidiary called McCurdy.

It was during this time that one of the few mentions of the club's membership and dues made the papers.

There were 550 members at the old club and at the new one the number would likely be capped at 750. It was felt that the health centre and racquet courts would drive the increase. (According to a 1978 newspaper article, the membership was nearly 800.)

The club required a buy-in of around $600 plus annual dues. The old dues were $350 which were set to rise to $420 in 1977. (By contrast, a 1979 newspaper article stated that the Manitoba Club required a $500 entry fee with a $675 annual fee.)

The club also became a banquet facility for hire and hosted numerous lunches and business presentations open to non-members. This included the Icelandic Festival's banquet to honour the president of Iceland in 1979 and an Eaton's fashion show featuring its Calvin Klein collection in October 1980.


May 11, 1987, Winnipeg Free Press

 Membership would quickly become a problem on two fronts for the Carleton Club.

One was that it did not allow women to join, though women could come in if escorted by a member.

Despite an early 1980s Manitoba Human Rights Commission ruling about gender discrimination at establishments, clubs and beverage rooms that were men's only had this clause grandfathered into their liquor permits. The issue came up from time to time, such as when a number of city councillors boycotted the welcome to Winnipeg dinner for new chief commissioner Richard Frost held at the Carleton Club in 1989.

Eventually, the tide shifted and in October 1991 the club's membership voted in favour of allowing women as members.

The first woman to join the Carleton Club was Sherri Walsh, a 30-year-old litigation lawyer whose office was located across the street. She said her membership wasn't to make a point about equality, it was just that the club was a convenient place to take clients for lunch or dinner.

The building had washrooms for men and women on the upper floors but there were no women's washrooms or change room in the athletic club in the basement.

The Manitoba Club voted around the same time to do the same and welcomed its first four female members in January 1992.


November 14, 1993, Winnipeg Free Press

Another hit to the membership was the economy.

In the early 1980s a recession began that caused many companies, including banks and law firms, to cut back drastically on the perqs they offered to employees. (One bank had twelve memberships for senior executives which it cut down to four.)

For those who held personal memberships, a federal tax change that decade meant that dues were no longer tax deductible.

The membership crisis impacted many clubs, especially those with an athletic theme like the Carleton Club, Winnipeg Squash Club, and the Winter Club. Some had to turn to hiring membership directors or renting out their facilities to the public for banquets or other special events to bring in additional revenue.

In the case of the Carleton Club, as the recession receded its membership did not rebound. Newspaper stories from various years indicated that it went from a high of over 750 members in 1978 to around 500 in 1991 (when annual dues were $1,215), down to about 350 in 1995.

Club president Fred Florence had to hand over the keys to the club to its mortgage holder, Astra Credit Union, on July 28, 1995. The building's contents were auctioned off in March 1996.

Former Carleton Club building in 2017 (Google Street View)

Tidbits:

Hall-of-famer Charlie Ives was wooed away from the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club to be the pro at the Carleton Club's new squash courts.

Robert Shankland, Victoria Cross recipient and one of the Pine Street Boys, was manager of the club for a few years in the 1930-s. He had been the assistant manager at the St. Charles Country Club.

Other presidents included: Garnet Coulter (1929), John McEachern (1931), J. W. Speirs (1938), L. F. Borrowman (1940), Robert Glass (1947), Roy Haller (1948), C. H. Scott (1951), A. B. Pitcairn (1968), Harry Baxter (1970), Clifford S. Lecuyer (ca. 1974 -1977), J. Paul Marion (1979), , Murray Dickson (1991), Larry Watson (1992). Also: Fred O'Malley, Arthur W. Dowse, Thjomas Payntz, P. D. McKinnon, , , , Gilbert Alexander Muir,  Norman Hurley, Bob Swanlund,

Also see:
280 Fort Street - Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
280 Fort Street - Winnipeg Downtown Places

Monday, 12 September 2022

The Magnus Brown Homestead

 

My latest street names column in the Winnipeg Free Press looks at the old Magnus Brown estate and its subdivision in 1874 which gave us such streets as Magnus, Burrows, Salter and Alfred.

If you want the largest version of the map used in the article, click on the iamge above for the Manitoba Historical Maps Flickr page.

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Transit Tom turns 65!

© 2022, Christian Cassidy


The Greater Winnipeg Transit Commission's Transit Tom was introduced in 1957 to convince more Winnipeggers to take the bus and keep riders current on route and fleet information.

The caricature was likely created by
Ruben Herscovitch, a partner in a commercial art silkscreen ad company called JMR Sales Promotions, that did work for the commission.

GWTC bus bench, 1957 (City of Winnipeg Archives)

Transit Tom made his newspaper debut in a series of ads starting on September 7, 1957 though his usage declined in 1971 when the Transit Department of the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg became the city-owned Winnipeg Transit System.. Every decade or two, his face would make a brief comeback and you can sometimes see handwritten signs at Transit stops signed "T.T."

I wrote a column about the history of Transit Tom in a 2014 Winnipeg Free Press column. There was only so much artwork that I could include, so here are more glimpses of Transit Tom from over the years.

For more transit heritage related images, check out my Flickr album and the Manitoba Transit Heritage Association website.


The initial GWTC ad campaign featuring Tom:

Tom's first ad on September 7, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

 October 5, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

 October 14, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

October 19, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press


 October 21, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

November 16, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press

 December 28, 1957, Winnipeg Free Press


January 25, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press


March 29, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press


Later Transit Tom ads:
May 6, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press


 June 14, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press

July 10, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press

November 22, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press

February 1, 1960, Winnipeg Free Press


October 28, 1961, Winnipeg Free Press

December 24, 1962, Winnipeg Free Press

September 6, 1969, Winnipeg Free Press

Other Tom appearances:

Winnipeg's last trolley bus
MTHA Bus Museum Day
The late 1960s remake of Tom (also see)

2010 retro Tom !

Monday, 5 September 2022

140 years of roller skating in Winnipeg Part 5 - The people

© 2022, Christian Cassidy

In putting together this blog series, dozens of interesting characters presented themselves. Here are just a few:

 A Champion in the Making

The Popular Science Monthly, November 1895

Though most of the exhibition skaters that came through town were from other cities, there was one local skater who made a mark and would go on to be a celebrated athlete.

Jack McCulloch was a great all-around athlete who even in his early teens was making a name for himself in cycling, gymnastics, and speed skating. In the winter of 1883-84, age 15, he tried out for the provincial speed skating championship but was defeated.

With roller skating all the rage, the following summer he took to the wheels. He competed in some of the races put on by the rinks and was sometimes pared up against visiting speed and trick skaters. In April 1885, he won the five-mile race at the Grand Roller Rink. he also beat both O'Rourke and Allison when they came to town in May 1885. In a September exhibition at the Grand he was put on a bike to do a three-mile race against two speedskaters.

The following decade, McCulloch would go on to become what many consider one of Winnipeg's greatest athletes. He won numerous provincial, national, and even American speed skating titles and was part of the Winnipeg Victorias hockey team. (For more about his athletic prowess, see his Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame entry.)

The above photos are from an article in the November 1895 edition of The Popular Science Monthly called "The Anatomy of Speed Skating". It studied in detail the bodies and movements of a trio of championship skaters in action.

Another of Winnipeg's greatest-ever athletes, possibly THE greatest, was Donald Bain. He was also a regular on the roller skating scene but in the 19-teens and 1920s.


Speed Champ


October 28, 1912, Winnipeg Tribune

Guy Varnes splashed onto the roller skating scene in 1911 - 1912. It culminated in him winning a 26-mile roller skating marathon at the Arena Rink in October 1912. He won in a time of one hour and 30 minutes and about a mile over his nearest competitor.

Though the Tribune predicted Varnes "no doubt will be heard from later in the roller skating world", he faded from the sports pages. He worked as an electrician for the CPR for ten years before running Varnes Electric Co. on Graham Street until his retirement.


Marathon Champ

Thor Sigurdson won a gruelling 3,000 mile roller marathon at River Park in 1941.

From Monday, August 21 to the following Saturday, entrants skated from 8 pm to midnight in 45-minute blocks with a 15-minute rest break in between. Their mileage was tracked and the winner that night received a cash prize. The cumulative winner got a silver cup courtesy of McKinney's Jewellers and a free trip to the New York Worlds' Fair from Greyhound bus lines.

There were 31 entrants to begin. That was whittled down to 12 by the half-way point due to lack of fitness or injuries. In the end, only eight completed the derby. The top three were Thor Sigurdson (3042.5 miles), Bill Lindop (3006.5), and Violet McBeth with 2725.

Violet McBeth was a long-time women's roller skating championship winning year-end races in 1934 and 1937.


Lost in War


November 2, 1944, Winnipeg Free Press

As might be expected, a number of young men associated with Winnipeg's roller skating scene were killed in the World Wars.

Flight Sargent Robert H. Armstrong, 21, as an instructor at the Civic Auditorium Roller Rink before he enlisted. He, along with six crew mates, were killed on October 23, 1944 when their Lancaster bomber crashed in the U.K..


International Reps


November 2, 1963, Winnipeg Free Press

Greta Goodman and Grant Wilson were a well-known local skating duo. They represented Canada at an international competition in 1963.


The Shaw Family


December 8, 1962, Winnipeg Free Press

Syd Shaw did so much to establish roller skating in the city through his management of the Winnipeg Roller Rink from the 1930s to 1960s. It was, however, a family affair.

Florence Eva Shaw, his wife, was an accomplished skater, instructor, and coach. Above she is seen with their daughter Jean who was eight years old at the time.

It seems no biographical article was ever written about Shaw who had varied interests.

In 1954, a lady wrote a letter to the editor thanking Shaw for his work on devising a brace for crippled children to make it easier for them to walk. She suggested he be named "man of the year".

An article in the Swan Lake paper in 1959 notes that he and Florence offered invaluable advice in the run-up to the reopening of the Rollerdrome there. The couple even donated 100 pairs of skates to the cause.


The Winnipeg Roller Skating Club


April 1, 1941, Winnipeg Free Press

Established around 1935, the Winnipeg Roller Skating club held a year-end carnival most years. In 1947, President George Shore told the Tribune that after 12 years the club boasted a membership of 9,500 which might have been the largest organization of its kind in North America.

Thursday, 1 September 2022

140 years of roller skating in Winnipeg Part 4 - A 1970s explosion

July 28, 1956, Winnipeg Tribune

Part 4: A 1970s explosion

From the late 1950s to the late 1970s there was only one roller rink in town but that doesn't mean that roller skating was not growing in popularity during this time.

Thanks to new to technology and materials, skate wheels were better than ever and in the late 1950s through the 1960s outdoor roller skating took off.  This includes Jan Lord and "Timber" Kilborn, members of the Winnipeg Roller Skating Club, who did a Winnipeg to Emerson marathon in July 1956 (see above). A trio of university students did a U of M to Lockport trip the following spring.

Also in the 1960s you could outdoor roller skate at Wasagaming in Riding Mountain Park and indoors at Winnipeg Beach's old dance hall. Later in the decade community clubs experimented with new coatings that would allow roller skating and not ruin the finish of their gym floors.

Roller skating also began to get North American television attention. In the mid and late 1960s, it was occasionally included in the lineup of the American show "Wide World of Sports" which was simulcast in the Winnipeg market.

Roller Derby also took off in the late 1960s and early 1970s and drew big crowds in person and on television. People like Gwen "Skinny Minnie" Miller of the L.A. Thunderbirds and the Canadian All-Stars became a household name.
February 16, 1979, Winnipeg Free Press

Disco was also part of the resurgence of the popularity of roller skating in the 1970s which combined dance moves and skating.

Eaton's helped usher in the era to Winnipeg by hosting a series of demonstrations by Valerie Wiggins and David Gair of the Saints Roller Rink in Fort Garry in February 1979. They used it as a tie-in to fashion and music departments.

Bart Shwartz, manager of Saints, said regular roller disco dance nights might not become a regular thing as "you've got to be a darn good skater to do it" and there just weren't that many who could pull it off in the city. he did note that more and more of the music requested at his rink was from the genre. (A poll of the Winnipeg Roller rink by the Tribune found that 70 to 80 percent of the music played at regular skates in the Winnipeg roller rink was disco.)

Roller skating in the 1960s and 1970s firmly established itself as a recreation, sport and part of popular culture. Here are the venues that came and went in the 1970s to present day.


Winnipeg Roller Rink (September 1934 - June 2007)

The Manitoba, October, 17, 1968

The Winnipeg Roller Rink continued on after the departure of Syd Shaw in the mid-1960s. It offered skating six nights a week to keep up with demand.

Shaw's marketing strategy of targeting children and university students continued to pay off long after his tenure. In the late 1960s, special events at the rink were often mentioned in the Tribune's YouthBeat column as places to be seen.

By the late 1970s, the rink was owned by Bob Beach, (likely the same Bob Beach who owned Skinner's in Lockport from 1973 to 1979). He took over just as the sport's popularity peaked again in Winnipeg.

Despite competition from new suburban rinks, the Winnipeg Roller Rink initially fared well thanks to its appeal to university students and those from its golden era who continued to visit. In 1986, Beach and Peter Gamble established the Senior Roller Skating League whose Sunday morning skate featuring old-time music became a long-term fixture at the venue.

The fortunes of the rink waned along with the popularity of roller skating through the 1980s. Beach told a Free Press reporter in 1987 that due to sinking attendance, rising property taxes, and the cost of repairs, the rink had not had a break-even year since 1980. He felt that new forms of entertainment, from VCRs to computer games, kept kids on the couch rather than at the rink.

Andre Atkinson, who had working at the rink since 1974, bought the venue from Beach in 1990. Its name was changed to DJ's Roller City from 1991 to 1996, then to Galaxy Skateland.

The sound system was updated as was the decor. Some of the original seating areas around the rink were walled in to aid in heat retention. (Atkinson said that in the winter heating bills cold be as much as $5,000.)

The rink kept on going with a mix of new and old patrons attending regular skate sessions and special events like All Night Skates which stretched from 7 p.m to 7 a.m.. There would, however, be no mass resurgence of roller skating in the nineties or noughties to fill the coffers.

In 2006, Atkinson was ordered by city inspectors to make repairs to the building's sagging structure. He declined as the funds were not there to do it and put the building up for sale. The last skate was on Sunday, June 3, 2007.

The building was purchased by the University of Winnipeg and the site became part of the Richardson College for the Environment.

The venue was commemorated by a mural on the neighbouring North West Investment Building, which burned down in 2022, and some of the rink's vast maple floor was carefully removed and used as panelling at the college.

There's an excellent oral history project covering much of the Galaxy Skateland era at the U of W's Oral History Centre and a Winnipeg Roller Rink Facebook page where you can find out more about its history.


Saints Roller Rink (December 1977 - May 1999)

Saints on Regent. November 21, 1978, Winnipeg Tribune

Saints Roller Rink was a chain created by Minnesota ad executive Peter Boo in the mid-1970s. His children loved to roller skate but he found that most U.S. rinks they visited were old, shabby, "tough hangouts" located in downtown areas. He wanted to change that image and bring bright, newly-built venues that suburban parents would feel safe sending their children to.

Boo built six rinks in Minneapolis and one in Duluth before moving into Canada. In partnership with Canadian owners, Saints ended up in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, and Fort Frances before entering the Winnipeg market. (At the time, new rinks were also underway at Brandon - which opened in March 1979 - St. Catherine's, and Edmonton.


November 10, 1979, Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg's first Saints opened in December 1977 at 171 Hamelin Street at Clarence Avenue in Fort Garry. It was followed by 1540 Regent Avenue W. in Transcona in November 1978. and 2401 McPhillips Street at Templeton Avenue in December 1978. The McPhillips Street location closed in 1981 and was replaced by 3584 Portage Avenue at Bedson Street in 1982.

A new-built Saints rink cost about $750,000 and included an 18,000 square foot skating floor, a deejay booth, and a concession stand. The decor was colourful and bright with bold graphics, ("the sort of decor a 14-year-old likes" Boo told the Tribune).

Admission to Saints was $3.50 per person  - 25 cents more than at the Winnipeg Roller Rink - and they had special ladies' nights and student hours with discounted fees.

As Saints was appealing to children and families, skating lessons were a big part of their programming as most patrons had never roller skated before. There were also daytime exercise classes for mothers where babysitting services were offered.

One by one, the Saints rinks disappeared until there was only one left.

Fern and Wayne Meyer bought the original Saints on Hamelin Street in 1981. When their lease came up for renewal in early 1999, it was not renewed. A final skate was held on Saturday, May 1, 1999, and an open house for visitors took place the following day.

Wheelies Family Roller Centre (September 1981 - June 2007)  (December 2007 - April 2018) (June 2019 - present)

September 10, 1981 Free Press

A few months after the closure of the McPhillips Avenue Saints, Wheelies Family Roller Centre came to fill the space. (They would also take over the Saints location in Brandon.)

Wheelies appears to have been a Canadian chain with several locations in Ontario and was expanding into Western Canada. Its formula was similar to Saints with a focus on family entertainment, though more emphasis seems to have been placed on skate sales and their in-house skate repair shop.

In April 2007, Gordon Gunn, who bought the business in 1997, announced that the building's owner had found a new tenant willing to pay much more for the space and the rink would have to close. He said the business was profitable and he was searching for a new home but it was difficult to find a building with around 20,000 square feet of pillar-free space.

The last skate at Wheelies on McPhillips was Sunday, June 10, 2007 - just a week after the last skate at the Winnipeg Roller Rink. Winnipeg was without a roller skating venue for the first time since 1934.

Wheelies on Logan, 2014, Google Street View

By the time 2007 ended, Gunn found his new location, though not completely pillar free, at 1010 Logan Avenue. Saints was advertising events at its new facility in late December 2007.

After a relatively quiet eleven years at this location, the rink was again forced to find a new home when the adjacent business took over the space. Yet another Wheelies last skate was held on April 30, 2018.


Source: www.wheeliesrollerrink.com

Not long before Wheelies 2.0 closed, the West Kildonan Curling Club at 210 Enniskillen in West Kildonan had shut its doors in September 2017 due to declining membership. It merged with the Elmwood Curling Club and put the building up for sale.

Gunn looked at the building and found that the space was even more suitable for roller skating due to its pillar-free ice area than the Logan Avenue facility. In April 2019, he announced that renovations were underway to have Wheelies 3.0 open by June 1.

Wheelies Roller Rink closed during the COVID pandemic but has since reopened and is Winnipeg's only roller skating venue.



CONCLUSION

The past 50 years have been the best and worst of times for roller skating in Winnipeg.

There was a single roller rink at the beginning of the 1970s and by the end there were five in operation at the same time. That's one more than in previous high points in early 1885 or the mid-1930s. The low point, of course, was June 2007 when the city's last two roller rinks closed within a week of each other and left the city without one for the first time in nearly 75 years.

Will roller skating rebound again? Some aspects of the sport have been making a comeback.

Roller Derby leagues have been popping up in various North American cities throughout the 2000s, including here in Winnipeg. There is still a hope by groups such as Team USA Roller Sports to have some disciplines become part of the Olympic Games, though they have never made it passed the "proposed new sports" stage.

The thought that these grassroots efforts will one day give roller skating the type of media and cultural prominence that it enjoyed in the 1970s is hard to imagine, (though skateboarding managed to make it happen.)

In markets like Winnipeg, roller skating's popularity in the 1970s and early 1980s had to do with thousands of kids taking up the activity. Could that happen again in today's age?

There has certainly been a move away from "free range" children's recreation in recent decades, such as allowing them to go off on a bike unsupervised for a couple of hours to play at a park. It seems that parents have been opting for more structured, heavily supervised activities where they can watch their kid throughout.

Would parents who now drive their kids to soccer games or swimming practice to watch them from the stands be willing to trade that in for sitting in the concession area of a roller rink to watch them go round and round for a couple of hours? It's hard to say.

Of course, the only way to know whether roller skating will ever rebound again is to make sure that the city's last roller rink stays afloat. if you get the chance, be sure to support them!


The nineteen indoor roller skating venues in Winnipeg from 1883 to 2022.
(***There is no evidence that this announced venue ever opened, so I am not including it.) 

- The Tabernacle - Notre Dame Avenue (ca. 1881? - 1882?)***
- Roller Skating Rink - Graham Avenue (May 1883 - December 1883)
- The Pavilion Roller Rink - Lombard Avenue (October 1884 - January 1885)
- Royal Roller Rink I - Market Avenue East (January 1885 - November 1885)
- Royal Roller Rink II - Main Street (November 1885 - ? 1887)
- Gold Seal Roller Rink (March 1885 - April 1885)
- Grand Roller Rink - Princess Street (March 1885 - December? 1886)
- River Park Roller Rink I – River Park (May 1895 - September 1895)
- Arlington Rink – Arlington at Portage (October 1906 - October 1908)
- Auditorium Rink (May 1907 - September 1907)
- Arena Rink – Bannatyne Avenue (June 1908 - August 1925 - seasonal)
- River Park Roller Rink II – River Park (June 1930 - September 1939)
- Winnipeg Roller Rink / DJ’s Roller City / Galaxy Skateland – Langside Street (September 1934 – June 2007)
- Civic Auditorium Roller Rink  - St. Mary Avenue (1938 - ?1952)
- Saints Roller Rink x 3 venues (December 1977 - May 1999)
- Wheelies Family Roller Centre x 3 locations (September 1981 - June 2007)  (December 2007 - April 2018) (June 2019 - present)