WELCOME TO WINNIPEG DREAMS

WELCOME TO WINNIPEG DREAMS
Winnipeg Skyline

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Streetcars

Sunday Streetcars

Observance of the Sabbath Vs Leisure

By George Siamandas

Winnipeg streetcars were finally permitted to run on Sundays for the first time on July 8, 1906. Until then everyone walked or used a bicycle to get around on Sunday. Across Canada, excepting Quebec, there were few things one could do on Sundays. Churches that wanted to keep the Sabbath had always opposed Sunday operation of streetcars. They wanted to give the street railwaymen time to worship. After all they were already working 10 hours a day, six days a week.

THE FIRST SUNDAY OPERATION
The first Sunday operation had been a one-time-only special occasion. It was the funeral of carman Patrick Mullan held on March 13, 1904. The cortege required 10 streetcars and thousands attended the passing of the cars through the downtown.

HOW SUNDAY OPERATION CAME INTO BEING
There had been several proposals to City Council and the legislature to permit Sunday operation of streetcars since the turn of the century. The issue was debated in letters to the editor of the Free Press. Some argued that with places to go that there would fewer drunks. Others argued that where this had been introduced, such as in Toronto, church attendance went up 20%. Sabbatarians argued that those cities that had done this were rapidly on their way to degeneration and ruin.

It was put to the public a number of times. In Dec 2, 1902 Sunday operation was narrowly defeated 2,370 to 2,166 in a civic vote.

SUNDAY OPERATION FINALLY APPROVED
Finally on June 28, 1906 it was put to another public vote. The Free Press was a staunch advocate and said that Sunday operation was a "humanitarian necessity in this city of magnificent distances." And that "people interested in vice do not need to go into the country to gratify their inclination towards wickedness."

The results were 2,890 for and 1,647 against Sunday operation. Winnipeggers were jubilant and took their first chance to head to the parks, completely jamming the cars assigned to that first day.

The cars operated from 7:00am to midnight and the fare was 8 tickets for 25 cents. Out of respect for Sunday the speed would be held to 6 miles an hour near churches and the gong would only be sounded in emergencies. Streetcars rolled down a double track running down the middle of Broadway Avenue with its young elm saplings lining the edges of the wide centre Boulevard.

Those that did not go to the parks delighted in joy riding around for hours, enjoying tours of the city.


WHERE DID PEOPLE GO ON SUNDAY?
It was just in time for newly opened Assiniboine Park. People enjoyed taking the open streetcars to other parks like River Park, and Elm Park.

They also went to Happyland Park, which opened in spring 1906. Happyland was located on the south side of Portage Ave between Sherburn and Garfield. It lasted 14 years and then became Dominion and Aubrey streets. The old bus turn around remains on Aubrey St.

In 1907, a special line ran into St Charles Golf Club. For many years the streetcar was the only way of getting there and to all the golf courses. And right into the 1940s, people would carry their clubs with them onto the streetcars.

INVESTIGATING THE LEGISLATIVE


INVESTIGATING THE LEGISLATIVE
BUILDING SCANDAL


By George Siamandas


ORIGIN OF THE SCANDAL
The Roblin Conservative govt had just been narrowly re-elected. But Manitoba was near economic paralysis. In 1914 because of the growing scandal over the cost overruns, Premier Roblin was considering abandoning the entire capital budget for the year. Roblin's govt tried to muddle through till the Lieut. Gov compelled him to either resign or agree to an enquiry. The Winnipeg Tribune promptly lauded Lieut. Gov Douglas Cameron for his backbone. Roblin chose not to resign from govt and instead decided to take his chances with the Royal Commission's report. The three judges appointed to investigate were Chief Justice Thomas Mather, Justice Donald Alexander Macdonald and Justice Hugh John Macdonald.

Missing Witnesses
Several crucial witnesses were not available to the Commission. Provincial Architect Victor Horwood went to the United States to be treated for a serious illness. William Salt who had kept records of construction had also disappeared.

The Salt story sees the man who had been responsible for documenting the foundation work disappearing just before the Enquiry being appointed. He flees to Minneapolis where he stayed at the Radisson Hotel. Over the next two months, Salt will move to Chicago, back to Minneapolis, then Denver. All at the behest of the govt which did not want him to return to testify.

Over the course of two months Salt would be offered $2,000 which became $10,000. His new name was William Malcolm and an agent was sent to deliver the hush money to him in Denver. Staying overnight in Omaha, the courier claimed he was robbed of the $10,000. New money was found for Salt and the entire affair cost the govt $24,030. In the end Salt gave his testimony to the Commission in Minneapolis.

VICTOR HORWOOD
Horwood the provincial architect of the day became embroiled in a series of efforts to hide facts, dissuade witnesses, much out of character for the respected architectural designer. Horwood offered to take the full blame and go to jail.

THE ROYAL COMMISSION DISCOVERED
1. The commission found that the bidding process was not followed. Contractor Thomas Kelly missed the tender due date. He saw the only bid for the Legislature Building construction contract presented by Contractor Peter Lyall in a meeting with Roblin. Kelly got a day's extension on the tender and resubmitted his original bid of $3.2M bid with one for $2.86M just undercutting Lyall's bid.

2. Dr Simpson who was the party's fundraiser had been siphoning funds for the 1914 election by asking Kelly to inflate costs of elements of the legislative building. The commission found overcharges amounting $822,963.84.

3. Victor Horwood's testimony was found to be truthful. The legislative building's construction was found to be sound.

THOMAS MATHERS
Mathers would later present a major paper to the law Society's 1920 meeting on what else: Ethics and the Law. Mathers was considered a solid man. Previously a journalist, Mathers studied law in Manitoba in 1884 and became a successful lawyer and served as an alderman in the 1890s. Hugh John Macdonald was a Tory but he was one known to be fair.

Winnipeg's Carnegie Libraries



Winnipeg's Carnegie Libraries

By George Siamandas


HOW WINNIPEG GOT ITS FIRST LIBRARIES
Selkirk Settlers and Hudson Bay men like Peter Fiddler were the first contributors to Winnipeg's libraries. Fidler donated 500 books upon his death in 1822. The Manitoba Scientific and Historical Society was the founder of what later became the Winnipeg Public Library. In 1881 2,500 books were borrowed in Winnipeg.


WINNIPEG'S FIRST LIBRARY
In 1905 the Carnegie Library was built at 380 William Ave at a cost of $100,000. It was opened by Earl Grey on Oct 11, 1905. Built of native Manitoba limestone, the William Ave library was designed by Samuel Hooper. The man that made this and two other branches possible was Andrew Carnegie, the noted philanthropist who donated $75,000 towards construction of the William Library.

Carnegie helped with another $39,00 for an addition, and in 1915 paid the total cost of the Cornish and St. John's Libraries. The new libraries were the result of the initiative of provincial Librarian J. P. Robertson who wrote to Carnegie pleading for the same kind of assistance that had made the Ottawa library possible.

ANDREW CARNEGIE
Carnegie was Scottish born and lived between 1835 and 1919. In a classic rags to riches story, he made his fortune in railroads and oil and steel enterprises. His philosophy was that the best kind of assistance one could offer was to help people help themselves. Of the $330 million that Carnegie donated, more than $56 million went to the establishment of 2,507 libraries around the world. One hundred and Twenty-five were built in Canada at a cost of $2,556,660. He also helped colleges, and supported cultural and research grants.

His designs were different from the private libraries in that they were open and accessible. The William Street Library proclaims above its doorway "Free to All." In Carnegie's libraries, children were encouraged to attend and you could look through the shelves and find your own books.


STAGNANT DECADES
There was a boom in demand in the 1920s and branch stations were being set up in grocery stores, drug stores and fire halls. Bookmobiles were started in 1953. But in the late fifties money by-laws for the establishment of branch libraries were defeated one after the other. The city instead decided to create four modest branches in the 1960s which cost under $75,000 each: the River Heights, Downtown, McPhillips and the West End. In 1972 the City built the new Central Library on Graham Ave at a cost of $10 million.

IMPORTANTANCE OF LIBRARIES
For both rich or poor libraries have always played an important community building role in Winnipeg. Libraries have served as neighbourhood information centres.

They help create an atmosphere for learning. They are places children can explore their interests, study and be exposed to a wealth of information. As a teenager I can remember many a winter day studying at the William Street Library while the steam heat radiators hissed and popped in the background.


TODAY'S LIBRARY
Today there are 21 branches which last year circulated 5.6 million materials from a collection of 1.6 million items. Three hundred thousand people hold library cards. And last year they answered 413,000 information questions.

But their role is changing rapidly with technology. Now the building is not important, nor is going to the building itself necessary. And the book of the future will become a CD Rom, a database or a computer network.

THE 1826 FLOOD


THE 1826 FLOOD

After the Deluge Some Settlers Left While Others Stayed

By George Siamandas

1825 A VERY GOOD YEAR
It had been a very good year at Red River. The community was growing and upgrading itself. Forty-two new homes were built in six months. The severe mouse infestation had been the only discouraging event.

HARSH WINTER
The problems had begun during the winter. There had been a giant snow during December 1825. The Metis and Indians wintering in Pembina were near starvation. Ross visited Pembina in February and saw it first hand. A relief effort by individuals and the HBC sent many dog teams south with food and supplies. But many perished, especially in the harsh winter that year. Those that were found alive had devoured their horses, dogs, raw hides, leather and their shoes. The winter continued to bring much snow and temperatures reaching -45. The ice was five feet seven inches thick.

THE WATER RISES
On May 2 the water rose 9 feet in 24 hours. On May 4 the river overflowed its banks. On the 5th all the settlers abandoned the colony seeking higher ground. The river would rise for 20 days and in places the settlement had a depth of water estimated at 16 feet.

What did they save? First came the cattle then the grain, furniture and utensils. The water reached so high people had to break through the roofs of their houses to salvage what they could. Meanwhile ice flows cut everything in their path.

ROSS'S ESCAPE
Ross had a boat ready behind his house on he Red River at Point Douglas. As they got into the ark their belongings were flushed out of the house, as he was unable to close the door. They made way to a barn that was above water and joined a group of 50 people trying to escape the sudden waters. They fled west along the Assiniboine to Sturgeon Creek. The water continued to rise till the 21st. It was not until June 15th that they could return. Only one life was lost. But the mosquitoes after were unbearable.

STAY OR GO?
On May 22 the men called a council to consider whether they should move. Opinion at Red River was divided. The differences between the De Meurons and Scottish settlers became quite marked. The De Meurons were mercenaries who had fought in the war of 1812 had been brought to Red River by Selkirk in 1816 to help keep the peace.

Ross talks critically of the De Meurons who stole their cattle and gathered their floating possessions selling them back to the settlers at high prices. On June 24, 1826, 243 Swiss De Meurons, or half the colony, left for the United States. The Swiss were encouraged on their way with free food. They would eventually settle on the Mississippi.

The Scots however vowed to stay. Not so easily chilled by disappointments, they would start again on bare ground. Having survived fire, famine, warfare, grasshoppers and now a devastating flood, they still saw their future here. And here they would build their futures, in defiance of all obstacles. By 1830 the community had been completely re-established with 204 new houses being built.

ROSS' ANALYSIS OF THE FLOOD
The previous fall had been wet; the winter saw lots of snow. There was a sudden melt, and fanned by strong south winds, the ice flow blocked the path to Lake Winnipeg. When the ice broke up at Lake Winnipeg, the flood eased at Red River.

Ross closes by saying what has happened once may happen again. Mr. Nolin who had come to the are in the 1770s says that in 1776 the flood was even higher. Other bad flood years according to the Indians included 1790, and 1809. Ross would also live through the almost as bad 1852 flood.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Winnipeg is Closing Community Centres


Winnipeg is Closing Community Centres
The City of Winnipeg is now closing small neighbourhood community recreation centres and replacing them with mega-centres that serve much larger areas expecting everyone can get to them by car. It does so when a building is in bad need of repair and when there are not enough community volunteers to keep it going. Both are unfortunate circumstances. This is a shame as it defeats the original premise of a community centre being very local and close enough for young kids to walk to. This mega-centre approach works in suburbs but does not serve the needs of older inner city communities. Winnipeg City Council and the Mayor should stop seeing the problems of other people and solutions with the limits of their own eyes.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Short Winnipeg History

Winnipeg History

(From various sources including City of Winnipeg website)

Winnipeg
Archeological evidence suggests that people first gathered there to trade over 6000 years ago. In 1738, Pierre de La Verendrye began the fur trading settlement at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. The settlement, known as the Red River Colony, became a hub of the fur trade until the 1880s when grain production became more important in Western Canada. This is our story about the beginnings of our city and the historic Exchange District.

The Beginnings
In 1862 Mr. McKenny built his store where the corner of Portage and Main St. are today. In 1866 the name Winnipeg was first used for the area around Mr. McKenny's store. Winnipeg is the Cree name that means "Muddy Water". By 1872 Winnipeg had swallowed up Upper Fort Garry. People came to Winnipeg because it was close to the Hudson Bay Post. Lots of soliders came to guard the fort and many soldiers stayed to start farming. The stores began to supply settlers with seeds, tools, and glass
for houses. Farmers planted wheat and other grains. Winnipeg was the place where people bought and sold grain. People in Winnipeg bought and sold land to the settlers. By 1880 there were 57 different companies that bought and sold grain. In 1870 there were 30 buildings in Winnipeg. By 1873 there over 900 buildings in Winnipeg.

How people came to Winnipeg
The first people came by boat along the fur traders' routes from Churchill. People tried to build a wagon road from Fort William to Winnipeg but they only got 40 km. in 11 years. The Dawson Road finally was opened in 1871. Lots of people came on the railway after it opened. More buildings were built for all the people. Winnipeg became the most important city in Western Canada. Companies or banks made big buildings on Main Street. *We saw some of them on our tour of the Exchange District.

Immigration
Winnipeg needed a large, growing population. They needed to tell people in other places about Winnipeg. They put articles in newspapers and sent books about Western Canada to the libraries in Ontario. They sent a display to the Ontario Exhibition in 1882. They had a tour and lunch for Ontario reporters and train conductors so that they would tell people about Manitoba. The new city advertised in England and Europe with maps and pamphlets in 10 different languages and Exhibition vans travelled to many different countries. In 1888, the city hired immigration agents to meet the trains and encourge people to stay and farm near Winnipeg. By 1896, thousands of immigrants were coming to the west.

Growth of the city
Main St. was the most important street by 1873. Portage and Main were both very wide so the Red River carts could travel side by side and avoid the ruts. Notre Dame was supposed to be the second most important street. In 1875 Portage and Main had all of the businesses. In 1882 all of Lower Fort Garry except for one gate was torn down. In 1890 most banks were around City Hall. In 1906 a new Grain Exchange building was opened at Portage and Main. The banks moved closer to the corner too. In 1914 there were twenty-five buildings used for banking and grain business on Main just north of Portage. Many companies sold things to stores in other places. They needed warehouses with lots of space for loading and unloading so most built west of Main Street. There were also places that made clothes, cigars and stores that sold saddles (saddleries). There were more than 60 hotels between the CPR and CNR stations. In 1905, the Eaton's store was built and other stores were built on Portage
Avenue near it.

Around the early 1900 people started coming to Winnipeg for a better life. Many of the immigrants came from Europe. Some of the countries were Great Britan, Scotland, Poland, Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia.

Upon arriving to Winnipeg, immigrants had to endure many barriers and hardships. They lived in a shed for seven days with very un- pleasant conditions. Men, women, and children arrived without money, food, shelter, and most importantly without speaking a new language.

After leaving the immigration shed families were reunited with their own kind of people in other parts of the city. Beside the C.P.R. tracks in the North End. The Jewish, the Polish, Germans and Scandinavians started to make their homes. The British and the Scottish made their homes in the South End.

The immigrants needed to make a living. The men worked in heavy industry such as iron, bridge and steel factories. In 1911, 3500 men worked for the C.P.R. station. They worked very long hours at hard labour jobs for low wages. The women worked in clothing factories or sweat jobs in the Exchange District. While their children went to public school to learn English and to get an Canadian Education. The children would return home and find themselves alone until mom and dad returned from work. Many families spilt up during these hard times. But many families stayed together and continued to work hard for a better life in Winnipeg.

HENRY NORLANDE RUTTAN


HENRY NORLANDE RUTTAN

Winnipeg's First City Engineer

By George Siamandas


Henry Norlande Ruttan served as Winnipeg's city engineer from 1885-1914. He was born in Coburg Ontario in 1848. His father had developed heating and ventilation systems used in buildings and railway cars. Ruttan learned engineering on the job and did not attend a university. This was with the Grand Trunk Railway starting in 1868. He worked with Sanford Fleming who was building the TransContinental from Quebec to the Maritimes. Starting in 1874 Ruttan built the western leg of the railway.

In 1880 Ruttan began his own engineering business in Winnipeg working as a consultant on railways, and the needs of a rapidly growing municipality. In 1885 he was appointed city engineer. He was an honest man who resisted the corruption of the day. His greatest gifts to the city are the James Avenue Pumping Station and the Shoal Lake Aqueduct.

Ruttan was a staunch proponent of public ownership of utilities, including the city's own low rate power system, its own quarry, and asphalt paving plant. Winnipeg's sewage system also owes a lot to Ruttan. It helped reduce Winnipeg's atrocious death rate.

Ruttan designed Winnipeg's first artesian well system in 1900, which gave the first pure water for decades. But its volume was inadequate to serve the whole city (The north end did not have water at this time). And if a big fire broke out the pressure was inadequate.

By 1900 the Red was too polluted and in 1904 when a big fire broke out and river water was used it ended up polluting the water supply causing a typhoid outbreak. It would not be till 1919 that all Winnipeggers could have pure and abundant water.

Winnipeg was growing rapidly. Massive stone warehouses with wooden post and beam construction were springing up all over the warehouse district. The trade they did in supplying all of western Canada was so good they kept growing and new firms wanted to expand into Winnipeg. The major problem they were facing were Winnipeg's high fire insurance rates because of the reduced ability of the fire department to fight fires.

There simply wasn't enough water coming out of the fire hydrants to do the job. The answer a high pressure pumping station called the James Ave Pumping Station. When complete it became the pride of the City Waterworks and Fire Department and was partly responsible for the construction of additional warehouse capacity.

Most of the $1,000,000 cost in 1906 was raised from taxing downtown businesses. When finished it had the capacity to create pressures of 300 LB per square inch pushing 9,000 gal per minute and was the largest such plant in the world. Initially it drew water from the Red River and supplied water for drinking as well as fire fighting. But by the time the Shoal lake Aqueduct was completed it drew this fresh supply of water.

It’s a living museum of how the city's equipment and operations functioned 90 years ago. There is nothing else quite like it in North America. In 1962 the engines were converted to natural gas.

Col Ruttan also had a distinguished military career, which resumed during WW1. He had fought against the Fenians in 1866, was Captain of the Little Black Devils in 1883, and served in the 1885 Saskatchewan Rebellion. Ruttan died in 1925 at his home at 180 Westgate.

Ruttan served as head of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineers and was one of the best known engineers in Canada. At his retirement dinner held at the Fort Garry in 1914, Ruttan was declared "the supervising genius of Winnipeg's expansion."

According to Dr Norman Ball of the National Museum of Science and technology: "In his daily work he stood as symbol of strength, staying power and confidence."

"Ruttan left Winnipeg a much better place than he found it. And gave it a yardstick by which to measure all other city engineers."

SIAMANDAS.COM COMMERCIAL STOCK PHOTOS OF WINNIPEG


Siamandas.com

Siamandas.com is a commercial stock photo service featuring pictures of Winnipeg people places, buildings, streets, festivals and events, business, health, education, parks, history and more. It features more than 2,000 pictures by Winnipeg photographer George Siamandas.

Also included are pictures and the scripts from 5 television documentaries produced for Prairie Public television.

Visit: Siamandas.com

THE WINNIPEG TIME MACHINE

WELCOME TO THE WINNIPEG TIME MACHINE
Travel back in time with pictures and stories about Winnipeg and Manitoba. People, places and events. More than 250 stories and hundreds of pictures. Early Manitoba, Winnipeg stories, stories about organizations and institutions. And stories about distinguished Manitobans who contributed to the building of this province.

Visit: Winnipeg Time Machine

MANITOBAALIVE.COM - COMMERCIAL STOCK PHOTOGRAPHS OF MANITOBA


ManitobaAlive.com
Featuring the photographs of George Siamandas, ManitobaAlive a commercial stock photo service featuring over 4,000 pictures of Manitoba places, people, landscapes, festivals and events.

Visit: ManitobaAlive

Saturday, January 20, 2007

JOHN QUEEN - WINNIPEG'S FORGOTTEN MAYOR

JOHN QUEEN
Winnipeg's Forgotten Mayor

by George Siamandas

John Queen was born February 11, 1882 in Dumferline, Scotland. He grew up under his father's oppressive hand. Queen remembered his father as being interested only in religion and money, definitely not a socialist. At age 12, John Queen he was apprenticed to a coopermaker.

On a train travelling west, he arrived in Winnipeg on a hot day in 1906, stepped off the train to see the sights and decided to stay. He was 24 years old and not yet a socialist. He immediately found work as a cooper for the Prairie City Oil Co. and he became involved in the Independent Labour Party and Winnipeg's socialist circles. But Queen was different type of socialist. Queen liked John Stuart Mill's ideas on liberty. Unlike most Brits of the time, he thought of everyone as his equal, and got along equally well with Jewish socialist and communists like Jacob Penner.

Over his life he drove a bread truck, sold insurance for Metropolitan Life and advertising for the Western Labour News. And he always lived in the heart of Winnipeg's working class at 1452 Ross Ave. In the fall of 1915 he was elected as the to city council and in the next year, 1916, 6 socialist councillors were elected to city council.

He pursued bread and butter issues like better wages for civic employees and paychecks every two weeks instead of at the end of every month. He voted to acknowledge the creation of the Winnipeg police Union in Oct 1918. He came to the defense of the Bolsheviks. Later he said he had probably gotten carried away by his own rhetoric. During the 1919 strike, Queen was identified as one of the strike leaders, and while Queen's wife and kids were at their Gimli cottage, Queen was arrested along with A A Heaps. He was tried, found guilty of sedition and sentenced to a year in jail. Near the end of his trial, Queen had to defend himself as his lawyer withdrew after calling the presiding judge, Judge Metcalf unjust.

Queen was a member of both the Manitoba legislature and city council for many years and was elected to the legislature while in jail. While he worked to represent the interests of the working man,he was often at odds with his more doctrinaire socialist friends. Queen fought his colleague Fred Dixon on the issue of allowing Sunday trains to take the working man to the lake on Sunday. Queen was for it.

Queen found John Bracken, the stand pat, do nothing but control the deficit premier, a big disappointment. Labour had already lost five seats in the 1922 election. One of them was Fred Dixon and now Queen became party leader. He fought for better housing, restoration of wages after pay cuts, more and better schools, and aid to municipalities. He saw investment in education as the way to pull people up from the slums.

There were other incidents where he was found wavering from his socialist principles. He found himself in trouble because he owned shares in the private hydro company that wanted to open at Seven Sisters, while at the same time arguing for public ownership. Socialists saw this as a moral offence.

He had already run and lost in 1927. In the 1932 election Queen had to do battle with his old communist friend Jacob Penner and lost due to splitting the leftist vote. In 1934 Queen battled 8 term mayor Col Webb whose heart sounded like it was made of stone. Webb warned Winnipeggers not to allow themselves to be run by socialists. In 1934 Queen became the first socialist mayor in Winnipeg's history winning by 224 votes. The next day the Free Press wondered whether Queen was a big bad wolf or a fine fellow.

His deeds would show him to be a fine fellow for the working man. During the depression about half of Winnipeg's families were estimated to have been on relief at one time or another. Queen's first act upon being elected was to increase relief payments by 10%.

Queen was described as able to charm the birds out of trees with his rich Scottish voice and his magnetic personality. Queen's pragmatism was always under attack by the left who called him a capitalist lackey. He had to work hard to earn a living and while an MLA, he switched from selling insurance to selling cars for Breen Motors. Each evening when he would come home from the legislature, he made a bowl of porridge which he shared with his Scottish terrier Heather before going to bed.

Queen lost the 1942 mayoralty election. There were no big jobs, no directorships awaiting him. To continue to earn a living, he took on a job as a modest a union agent. He died in 1946 at age 64 of a heart attack. He died alone leaving an estate of $10,000.

THE CLOSURE OF THE WINNIPEG TRIBUNE


THE CLOSURE OF THE WINNIPEG TRIBUNE

The End of Winnipeg's Other Newspaper

By George Siamandas


FOUNDING THE TRIBUNE
It was founded in 1890 by L.R. Richardson and D.L. McIntyre who scraped together $7000 to take over the press and premises of the old Winnipeg Sun. The Free Press had just bought the Winnipeg Sun. Its first issue of 2,500 papers came out on Jan 28 1890.

It took guts to start such a venture. By 1889 no fewer than 30 papers had started up and failed. Struggling under the restraints of outdated equipment and no telegraph service, the new paper managed to survive. Spurred by Winnipeg's growing population and an economic boom the Winnipeg Tribune became a viable alternative to the rival Winnipeg Free Press.

While primarily regarded as an independent liberal paper covering local events and personalities, the Tribune also reported on national and international news. It became known for its crusades on various issues such as poor roads and lanes as in its spring 1893 campaign. Publisher RL Richardson was also a politician who was elected to Parliament three times. He remained independent and once offered a reward to anyone who could demonstrate the difference between a Liberal and a Conservative.

In 1912 feeling the economic boom of the city, Richardson decided to create a new building fitting of the Tribune and constructed an elegant terra cotta faced office at Smith and Graham. In 1920 Richardson sold out to Southam and he died in 1921.

In those days good people had a job for life. Editor John Moncrief who started in 1890 would keep his job till 1937. He died in 1939. In 1965 the Tribune celebrated its 75 anniversary by printing that April 6, 1965 issue in exactly the same format, typestyle and layout as its original 1890 issue.

COPORATE DOWNSIZING
But on Aug 27 1980, out of the blue and without any warning, 375 people were out of work. Gene Telpner joked that he had just gotten new drapes and furniture. Val Werier who was with the Trib for 35 years said it was a shocking moment. But people in the pressroom knew something was coming because management had stopped the presses that morning, something they did rarely, and only for major events.

What killed the Tribune? Corporate downsizing killed the Tribune in which the Thompsons, the owners of the Winnipeg Free Press, agreed with Southam, the owners of the Tribune, that they would each close down a paper in Winnipeg and Ottawa. It is hard to know why that wasn't considered collusion.

NOTED FOR LOCAL NEWS
When the paper closed, Winnipeg lost many of its favourite columnists: well-known writers like gossip and entertainment columnist Gene Telpner. There was also "Uncle" Vince Leah, who for 45 years wrote Winnipeg nostalgia and famous stories like the Time Building fire of 1954. Another favourite was Lillian Gibbons who wrote about local history, and wrote a column called, "Stories Houses Tell. Others who moved on included sports writers like Jack Matheson and Vic Grant. Jim Shilliday later worked for the Real Estate news. Another was Val Werier whose human-interest features soon found a spot at the Free Press.

WHAT WAS LOST?
We lost that intense competition between two equal players fighting to get the story. And much of the Tribune staff scattered across Canada. Just as the Tribune had risen in place of the Winnipeg Sun 90 years earlier, some out of work Tribune employees started a new paper and called it the Winnipeg Sun.

WINNIPEG IN 1903



WINNIPEG'S FABULOUS DECADE

WINNIPEG'S PERIOD OF UNSHAKEABLE OPTIMISM

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

INTRODUCTION
As we look forward to the next century, we pause to look back a century to when a new era was unfolding for Winnipeg. What was it Winnipeg had then? What can we learn from that fabulous period? And what can we use in Winnipeg's next century?


WINNIPEG IN 1903
At the beginning of the century Winnipeg reached forward, and it looked proudly at what it already had become in barley 30 years as a city. From a "desert of snow" to becoming the third largest Canadian City. Winnipeg had survived and prospered after the 1881-1882-land boom and bust. And while in the early 1880s Winnipeg had a population of 25,000, several thousand still lived tents.

By 1900 our population was 42,000 in the inner city alone. More than a third had been foreign born and half was from Britain.

RAILWAYS, WAREHOUSES, GRAIN & BANKS
Winnipeg had railways and warehouses. In the first nine months of 1903 108,000 settlers came through town on their way west.

There was the Grain Exchange and burgeoning agricultural industry. And a booming financial district. Business was so good the banks of the early 1900s were all replaced by the beginning of WW1. Even larger and more opulent and faced in terra cotta, granite and local limestone, they were now as good as those in New York or London.

Banks, real estate companies, merchants, and shops formed a continuous ribbon of commerce equally on both sides of Main St from the St Boniface bridge to the CPR tracks.

A MODERN CITY
Winnipeg boasted a water supply, three fire stations, and a fine new Carnegie Library. There were 125 miles of paved roads and 179 miles of plank sidewalks. Seventy miles of sewers and 80 miles of water mains served from artesian wells.

Winnipeg boasted of its wide main streets set at 133 feet across. Three beautiful parks with plans to buy an old dairy farm and turn it into Assiniboine Park. There were 18 public schools and several more private ones. And the faithful had 60 churches and a dozen faiths. And they were churchgoers then. Crime was virtually none existent.

THE FUTURE IN 1900
Winnipeg's first skyscraper, the Royal Tower was about to be built. And there was talk of a giant new store to be built by Eaton's on Portage Ave.

So much of the future was being planned on Portage. Banks and the Post Office were buying land and planing their moves to a Portage Ave address.

A THRIVING CITY
In the decade between 1905 and 1915 Winnipeg's population tripled in size. In this ten-year period banks, financial firms, insurance companies, and private investors built some of the finest architecture in North America.

We would plan a water supply system that would last for centuries to supply more than a million people. Our telephone system would become a public monopoly and so would the future electrical needs for a bustling metropolis. Everything was planned to be first class.

SELLING THE BOOM TOWN
It was a period of unshakeable optimism. And of aggressive and competitive promotion of Winnipeg.

Winnipeg's Industrial Development Bureau fielded 57,000 enquiries between 1907-1910, sending out 2 million pieces of literature, 2,000 photos, 1,000,000 lines of copy on Winnipeg themes to national and international publications.


By 1913
Winnipeg was a metropolis. Its growth and prosperity was unrivalled in Canada. What is remarkable is that so many of these buildings survive today.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Winnipeg's Fabulous Decade


WINNIPEG'S PERIOD OF UNSHAKEABLE OPTIMISM

By George Siamandas

INTRODUCTION
As we look forward in this new century, we pause to look back a century to when a new era was unfolding for
Winnipeg. What was it Winnipeg had then? What can we learn from that fabulous period? And what can we use in Winnipeg's next century?

WINNIPEG IN 1903
At the beginning of the century Winnipeg reached forward, and it looked proudly at what it already had become in barley 30 years as a city. From a "desert of snow" to becoming the third largest Canadian City.

Winnipeg had survived and prospered after the 1881-1882-land boom and bust. And while in the early 1880s Winnipeg had a population of 25,000, several thousand still lived tents.

By 1900 our population was 42,000 in the inner city alone. More than a third had been foreign born and half was from Britain.

RAILWAYS, WAREHOUSES, GRAIN & BANKS
Winnipeg
had railways and warehouses. In the first nine months of 1903 108,000 settlers came through town on their way west.

There was the Grain Exchange and burgeoning agricultural industry. And a booming financial district. Business was so good the banks of the early 1900s were all replaced by the beginning of WW1. Even larger and more opulent and faced in terra cotta, granite and local limestone, they were now as good as those in New York or London.

Banks, real estate companies, merchants, and shops formed a continuous ribbon of commerce equally on both sides of Main St from the St Boniface bridge to the CPR tracks.

A MODERN CITY
Winnipeg boasted a water supply, three fire stations, and a fine new Carnegie Library. There were 125 miles of paved roads and 179 miles of plank sidewalks. Seventy miles of sewers and 80 miles of water mains served from artesian wells.

Winnipeg boasted of its wide main streets set at 133 feet across. Three beautiful parks with plans to buy an old dairy farm and turn it into Assiniboine Park. There were 18 public schools and several more private ones. And the faithful had 60 churches and a dozen faiths. And they were churchgoers then. Crime was virtually none existent.

THE FUTURE IN 1900
Winnipeg's first skyscraper, the Royal Tower was about to be built. And there was talk of a giant new store to be built by Eaton's on Portage Ave.

So much of the future was being planned on Portage. Banks and the Post Office were buying land and planing their moves to a Portage Ave address.

A THRIVING CITY
In the decade between 1905 and 1915 Winnipeg's population tripled in size. In this ten-year period banks, financial firms, insurance companies, and private investors built some of the finest architecture in North America.

We would plan a water supply system that would last for centuries to supply more than a million people. Our telephone system would become a public monopoly and so would the future electrical needs for a bustling metropolis. Everything was planned to be first class.

SELLING THE BOOM TOWN
It was a period of unshakeable optimism. And of aggressive and competitive promotion of Winnipeg.

Winnipeg's Industrial Development Bureau fielded 57,000 enquiries between 1907-1910, sending out 2 million pieces of literature, 2,000 photos, 1,000,000 lines of copy on Winnipeg themes to national and international publications.

By 1913 Winnipeg was a metropolis. Its growth and prosperity was unrivalled in Canada. What is remarkable is that so many of these buildings survive today.

TODAY
The question is what are we planning for this century that will be noteworthy when Winnipeggers look back?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

WINNIPEG'S VICTORIAN CITY HALL

WINNIPEG'S VICTORIAN CITY HALL

by George Siamandas

A PROUD DAY FOR WINNIPEG IN 1886
On Nov 22, 1886, Winnipeg city council held their first meeting in their just-completed Victorian City Hall. It was a proud day, and Winnipeg had come a long way by 1886. Just 15 years earlier there had been no city, no railway, no streets, no schools and no churches. Now there were massive mercantile blocks, railway connections in every direction, streetcars, fine homes and all the growing conveniences of a major city. They were happy to be in their new building after the fiasco of the first city hall which saw controversy over shoddy construction. And there was controversy over the new one which was two years late in completion.

EARLIER CITY HALL WAS POORLY BUILT
The first one built a few years earlier certainly had its problems. The brick work was done in cold weather and the building just literally fell apart in just few years requiring a new one to be rebuilt from scratch in 1886. It was also constructed over a creek called Brown's Creek and there were perpetual settling problems for the next one too. City Hall was a gem. It had towers at each corner with a central domed clock tower flying the Union Jack rising high above the city as the major landmark on Main Street. It was built of red brick with limestone detailing. Very ornate and often described as gingerbread style.

The old city hall demolished came down in 1962. But many consider that it had already been more than 50 years overdue. In 1913 a new city hall was being planned to go near the legislative building as part of a mall that would run from Portage Avenue to Broadway Ave. It was the result of a world wide design competition that saw 39 entries. That plan was scraped never proceeded with due to the 1913 recession followed by WW1 and then the doldrums of the 1920s and then of course the depression and WW2. The province tried to resurrect the Broadway location in the 1950s but it was not to be. The city decided to stick with Main St.

The old City Hall had been designed by Barber and Barber (Charles and Earl) two of Winnipeg's earliest architects. They had also built the earlier structure. There is very little that remains of the more than 90 buildings that Barber and Barber built. I believe that the Leland Hotel, the Exchange Bldg at 164-166 princess and the Bawlf Block at 148 Princess St. St. may be the only Barber buildings that are left in Winnipeg.

There was a lot of debate over its demolition at the time. Some people wanted to save it. But their conservationist message was about 10-15 years ahead of its time, and their arguments feel on deaf ears. There were more people that wanted to bring Winnipeg into the modern decade. There had been very little new construction and Winnipeg still looked like a city from the Victorian and Edwardian period which indeed it was architecturally. Building a new city hall was seen as coming out of the Dark Ages and a sign that Winnipeg would become a modern city too.

And Mayor Juba was an effective champion of the need for progress; and a great persuader. And he was able to graphically convince the media that it was not worth saving. There is a story of how he took a reporter up to one of the towers on a windy day to show him how it swayed in the wind and that it was not safe and therefore not worth saving. What the reporter didn't know is that Juba made it shake by pulling on the flagpole above the tower. Bernie Wolfe describes as more of a tilt of the imagination rather than a tilt in the building.

Today's City Hall is a rather understated building and most people shake their heads when they hear the story of the old building and see pictures of it. But that the city rebuilt it on the original site showed it believed in Main St. One wonders what would have happened on Main St. if it had been moved to another location and the whole area had been allowed to deteriorate even further.

What remains of the old city hall? The bell is said to be part of a bell tower on Selkirk Ave, and elements from the clock are part of the clock at Portage Place, and apparently some of the brick was used on the front of a house in St Vital. Other stories say that much of it ended up in a wreckers yard as fill on the driveway.

The 21st Century Woman

Rhonda: The 21st Century Woman

By George Siamandas

She pulled down the collar of her yellow turtleneck revealing a scar that she said went halfway to her chest where an implant would stimulate her vagus nerve every few minutes to prevent a grand-mal seizure that may be her last. Around her waist she wears a powerful magnet that starts and stops the implant from giving each shock. Something like the pacemakers now routinely worn for heart trouble.

But Ronda, 37, is only one of two epileptics in Canada that have had this procedure. Her life for as long as she lives it will be is as a guinea pig. A scientific experiment in whether the procedure can help other serious epileptics.

Her doctor paid for the innovative operation. She is not permitted to share her experiences with the only other person going through the same thing, a young man in the east. She hands me a pamphlet laminated in plastic describing the operation of her implant with all the important stuff highlighted for quick action, should action be required.

Ronda hasn't given up despite life's draw. Once married and divorced, she is now in a two-year relationship with Ray, and helps look after his parents who live in a nursing home. It's a relationship on hold for now, probably forever.

And what side effects does she experience? A hoarseness of voice. And an irritability that just comes over her that can be from light to severe. Otherwise she just lives out her life. She can't work but she lives independently at 1010 Sinclair.

How hard is it to live that way? Her family is very uncomfortable with her condition and she doesn't hear from her friends as often. She's not sure why. As she talks, her piercing brown eyes remain riveted on me, searching for response. One can't help but be moved by her grit and her hope.

THE RAG TRADE

THE RAG TRADE

The History of Winnipeg's Garment Industry

By George Siamandas

INTRODUCTION
One of the most colourful industries that emerged in the diverse economic history of Winnipeg is the Rag Trade, also known as the needle trade or the garment manufacturing industry. Starting first as small family enterprises run by Jewish tailors, by 1970 it had become the second largest industry in Manitoba. Today it employs 8,000 people in over 115 factories. And it supplies many famous brands.

Names like Calvin Klein jeans, Gap, Northern Reflections, OshKosh B'Gosh, Eddie Bauer outerwear, London Fog, are all manufactured in Winnipeg's garment industry, and help it gross $700 million in annual sales. Uniforms for everyone in the Canadian Armed forces, specialised sportswear for curling, warm durable outerwear tested in Canada's north or "Tundra" sweaters for Ronald Reagan. They are all made in Winnipeg.

HOW THE GARMENT INDUSTRY BECAME ESTABLISHED IN WINNIPEG
How did Winnipeg, originally an agricultural area, grow such an industry? By 1874, a year after incorporation as a city, Winnipeg had two men's tailors and one woman's dressmaker. But in the next decade, during the 1880s, 20 new businesses would thrive. They made what prairie people needed by hand in small operations.

In the early 20th century, Jewish people fleeing European persecution began to arrive in Winnipeg. The tailoring skills that had been passed down from generation to generation were activated in the cheap warehouse space available in Winnipeg's warehouse district. In 1899, Moses Haid, established the first mass production apparel manufacturer "Winnipeg Shirt and Overall Company." By 1906, 19 firms had been founded by families like Berkowitz, Crowley, Freed, Kennedy, Jacob, Neiman, Nitikman, Shore, Stall, Steinberg, and Waldman.

The building of the Panama Canal in 1914 sharply cut into Winnipeg's growth. Now it became cheaper to ship goods west by the canal instead of through Winnipeg, leaving many warehouses empty and abandoned in the 1920s.

But for the needle trade this setback for Winnipeg marked its opportunity. Apparel manufacturers now had prime space available at bargain prices. And grow they did. Between 1941 and 1951 the industry grew 213%. In the peak year 1946, 14 new firms were established.

HOW THE INDUSTRY EVOLVED AND HOW IT COMPETES TODAY
From its beginnings as a provider of overalls and workwear for prairie farmers and railroad workers, the industry has become a provider of fashionable quality garments. The fashion industry is now woven into the fabric of Winnipeg's economy.

Because Winnipeg has always been far from markets it learned very early to think in global terms. Almost 90% of the clothing produced in Manitoba is exported. Today Canada is the second largest exporter of clothing to the US after Mexico. Today's factory can turn an order around in 48 hours.

And in Winnipeg these fierce competitors co-operate. If a manufacturer runs out of cloth, he can usually pick up some locally and get it within the half hour. To keep up to date, they tour one another's plants. They innovate with manpower training programs and have also directly imported trained sewing machine operators from Asian countries.

PROFILES OF TOP FIRMS AND COLOURFUL ENTREPRENEURS
There are many stories of the shmata trade and of the colourful fathers and grandfathers who built dozens of businesses by making something useful with nothing but rags. Today some of the top firms include Nygard International, Western Glove, Richlu Sportswear Standard Knitting and Peerless Garments.

Flamboyant figures like jet setting Peter Nygard started with $8,000 and wash and wear polyester in the 1960s. Today Nygard International is a $300 million empire with 1,500 employees in Winnipeg.

Brothers Michael and Bob Silver have transformed Western Glove into one of North America's leading denim jeans manufacturers. At the same time they have pioneered in employee support programs like on site day care.

Even in the last decade people like sportswear maker Carol Johnson continue to enter the industry often starting from their dining tables and turning their businesses into world class enterprises like Pace Setter. Just like their forefathers did, a century ago.

THE COUNTESS OF DUFFERIN


THE COUNTESS OF DUFFERIN

The Iron Horse Arrives in Manitoba

by George Siamandas

On Oct 9 1877, the Countess of Dufferin arrived in Winnipeg to inaugurate the era of rail service. It was considered such a milestone in the development of Manitoba, that the day was declared a public holiday in Winnipeg, and the Free Press published a special edition. The locomotive had been built in Philadelphia in 1872 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works and made its own way from Minneapolis to North Dakota. From there it was loaded into a barge and towed by the riverboat the "Selkirk" to Winnipeg.

It was a momentous journey down the Red River. Engineer in charge Joseph Whitehead kept up a head of steam and pulled on its whistle as it made the Red River's many lazy bends. Along with the locomotive came four flat cars and a caboose.

As the Countess arrived in Winnipeg that special morning a crescendo of whistles and horns sounded from the mills as Miss Racine at the rope of the Countess's whistles joined in a chorus proclaiming that the iron horse had arrived at last. For two hours people got on the barge to inspect the locomotive, a sight which few had ever seen before. Later that day, she floated downstream a couple of miles to Point Douglas where some track had been laid on the St Boniface side to allow it to be rolled onto the land. The economic benefits that started to flow were incredible. In January 1879 one Winnipeg grocer sold $20,000 of food supplies to the railway.

Gov Gen Lord Dufferin and Lady Dufferin were touring Manitoba at the time and inspected the locomotive. The Countess consented to her name being applied to the locomotive. She had also driven the first spike for the construction of the rails which ran south to the US. For the next year the Countess was used to move men and supplies for the construction of the rail link south: the "Pembina Branch." It ran on the est side of the Red into the US and connected Winnipeg to St. Paul and then to the rest of North America.

It was not until December 7, 1878 that the Countess began to operate and it was the route south to the US. Speeds averaged 10-30 miles per hour. Occasionally the train would have to stop to allow a herd of buffalo to pass. On one occasion as the train stopped to get wood a bear got aboard the caboose unnoticed. By the time he was discovered, the bear had found the food and scattered it all over the car. The Countess burned wood initially and later coal. They would stop wherever they needed to cut down fuel, and they could stop by a ditch or the river to pick up needed water.

The locomotive had no 1 painted on it but it was not really the CPR's first. In fact the locomotive was already 5 years old and had been purchased from the Northern Pacific Railway for $6,000. It was known as engine 56 and had operated Between Brainerd, Minnesota and Jamestown North Dakota. The following year, Whitehead brought in another locomotive and 25 flatcars. The locomotive was named in honour of Whitehead. Other locomotives that arrived were named after James McKay, a Winnipeg pioneer, and Sitting Bull a locomotive with a real "hoodoo" engine as they put it. Seven were purchased that year.

It ran until 1897 when she was sold to a BC lumber company for $1,000 and renamed the Betsy. Mayor Waugh visiting BC in 1909 saw that the Countess was ready for the scrapheap, wanted to repurchase it for Winnipeg. It wasn't necessary, the CPR donated it to Winnipeg in 1910. Over time the Countess of Dufferin has been in numerous locations including the front of the old CPR station. In 1910 it was placed at the corner of Higgins and Austin and initially enclosed in glass shed, but later sat in front of the CPR station. In 1970 James Richardsons and sons paid to have it restored at a cost of $20,000.

The Countess of Dufferin is currently located in the CN station. One day, when the money is found, it will anchor a Railway Museum for Manitoba.

JAMES ASHDOWN


JAMES ASHDOWN

Winnipeg's Merchant Prince

by George Siamandas

A CIVIC BOOSTER & MAYOR OF WINNIPEG 1907-1908
Hardware merchant. Mayor of Winnipeg. Philanthropist. James Ashdown remains one of Winnipeg's most distinguished citizens. Ashdown was born in London England in 1844 and came to Canada as a young boy of eight. His family settled in Weston Ontario and he later apprenticed at Hespeller, Ontario in the trade of tin smithing. For a while he lived in Kansas but came to Winnipeg in 1868. He spent 44 or 69 days (depending on the source) in a 12x16 foot jail with 21 other men during the Riel rebellion because he had served as one of Schultz's citizen guards. Ashdown had described Louis Riel as a "strutting peacock who fancies himself a little Napoleon."


Ashdown made his fortunes starting with Moser's Hardware a little shop he had purchased for $1,000 in 1869. He renamed it the Winnipeg Tin Shop. It was located at the corner of Bannatyne and Main St. Ashdown's hardware business would continue to function from the same location for the next 100 years. By 1881 Ashdown was doing business in Emerson and Portage La Prairie and was worth $150,000. He expanded to Calgary in 1889. His buildings and businesses grew and grew with the Ashdown warehouse located east of Main St. seeing four additions in 12 years. Ashdown Hardware served the entire west both wholesale and retail complete with a catalogue division.

In a novel 1900 publicity stunt, Ashdown sent a train of 40 freight cars across every town and village in the Canadian prairies selling straight to the public from the box cars. By 1910 he had become one of Winnipeg's famous nineteen millionaires. His first house located in Point Douglas was the toast of the town in 1878. His famous house had an indoor bathroom, a furnace and one of the first two phones in Winnipeg. And when industry intruded Ashdown built a new palatial home on Wellington Crescent. Now the Shriners' Temple.

In 1874 Ashdown was chair of the citizen's committee that fought for the incorporation of Winnipeg. He also helped organize the Board of Trade, and served as President in 1887. Ashdown invested in many civic minded projects including the street railway system that was being developed by Albert Austin. Ashdown served as mayor in 1907-1908. He was elected in 1907 and won by acclamation in 1908. Ashdown was a practical businessman. He was always careful not to saddle the city with burdens it might not be able to support. He journeyed to England to negotiate good borrowing rates for the city during a difficult time. As mayor, Ashdown was behind many forward looking ventures such as the establishment of evening education classes for adults and compulsory school education.

Ashdown was a director of the Bank of Montreal, Northern Crown Bank, Northern Trust, Canadian Fire Insurance, Great West Life, the City Hospitals Board, the YMCA, Children's Aid Society, and even the Winnipeg Water District during the time of the aqueduct. A Liberal and a Methodist, Ashdown was also a founder of Wesley College. In his 36 year long association with Wesley College he served as its head for 16 years and he gifted Wesley his favourite institution over $100,000.

JH was one of those that recognized the importance of volunteer community associations as a way of providing needed improvements. Ashdown was always concerned with fiscal matters did not want to rely on the government of the day to meet all civic and community needs. Ashdown was one of those men that was building a future for himself and for his family in Winnipeg. What was good for Ashdown was also good for the city. His personal ambitions and successes fuelled the city's growth. Ashdown was the "Richardson" of his day. When he died in 1924 he had left $380,000 of his $1.7 million estate to charity. Some included the Winnipeg General Hospital, the Children's Aid Society, the Salvation Army, the Winnipeg Boys Club and the Winnipeg Free Kindergarten.

MORE STORIES