March 22nd, 2020:

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in Colour Photos Book 1 – My Top 8 Picks

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in Colour Photos Book 1

‘The Gateway to the West’ and ‘The Chicago of the North’ were two of the phrases used to describe Winnipeg’s future in the heady days of the late nineteenth century. Especially important in Winnipeg’s phenomenal growth was its role as middleman between eastern Canadian manufacturers and their new markets in what would become Alberta and Saskatchewan. As waves of homesteaders from central Canada and many European countries poured into Canada’s prairies, dry goods, hardware and groceries all became increasingly important for the consumers, the manufacturers and Winnipeg’s warehouse men and wholesalers, and it became increasingly important for Winnipeg’s wholesalers to have railway connections both to receive raw materials and stock and to ship goods to western markets.

Branch railway lines or spur lines, built to service the wholesalers were first constructed on the west side of Main Street near City Hall in the 1870s and 1880s. The warehouse district area grew rapidly, and Winnipeg hardware merchant J.H. Ashdown negotiated a spur line of the Winnipeg Transfer Railway in 1895 through the area immediately east of City Hall and Main Street. This line ran up the middle of the land between Bannatyne and Market Avenues and it was here that Ashdown built his large warehouse (157-179 Bannatyne Avenue) in 1896.

The Exchange District is a well-established and vibrant neighborhood in Winnipeg. It features a large and well-preserved collection of heritage buildings which include huge stone and brick warehouses, elegant terracotta-clad buildings, narrow angled streets and cobblestone paths. The Exchange District is an arts and cultural hub which features a thriving film, arts and music scene with many studios, art spaces, festivals and events.

The Exchange District is in downtown Winnipeg just north of Portage and Main. It derives its name from the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, the center of the grain exchange in Canada. The Exchange District is the historic center of commerce in Western Canada. The District developed from the banks of the Red River at the foot of Bannatyne and Dermot Avenues. Most commercial traffic came along the Red River from St. Paul, Minnesota where the nearest rail line passed. Goods were shipped to Winnipeg by steamer during high water in spring.

The Canadian Pacific Railway built its transcontinental line through Winnipeg which arrived in 1881. Thousands of settlers came west from Europe and Eastern Canada to farm the land. Winnipeg business developed quickly to meet the needs of the growing western population. The Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange was founded in 1887 and within a few years Winnipeg was one of the world’s fastest-growing grain centers. Winnipeg was also one of the largest rail centers in North America with twelve lines passing through the city by 1890 and there were over eighty wholesale businesses located in the District. Wholesale goods were shipped in from Lake Superior ports in the spring and grain was shipped out from Winnipeg to the Lakehead in the fall. The Exchange represented Canada throughout the world and it largely financed Winnipeg’s growth. Together with a strong world economy supported by an increase in gold reserves, the Exchange attracted many British and Eastern Canadian banks, trust, insurance and mortgage companies to the District to do business.

Through the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, the city was linked to other major financial centers of London, Liverpool, New York and Chicago. Most Canadian financial institutions established their Western Canadian headquarters in Winnipeg and by 1910 there were almost twenty banking halls and offices on Main Street between City Hall and Portage Avenue. Many Winnipeg-based financial companies were also established.

Most Victorian buildings in Winnipeg were later replaced by larger structures that would serve its expanding businesses. The Victorian grouping on Princess Street is one of the best examples of such buildings in Winnipeg while others can be found on Main Street north of the District. Many Victorian buildings are Italianate in style and are constructed of heavy wood post and beam (some including fireproof iron columns) with heavily detailed masonry load-bearing walls, variously arched windows and metal or corbelled brick cornices.

Some of the finest warehouses in North America based on an American Romanesque style can be found in Winnipeg. The Romanesque warehouses are typically of heavy wood post and beam construction with foundations of large rough-faced stone blocks set with deep, recessed joints (called rustication) and brick walls with piers and stone spandrels to support heavy loads. The Romanesque or round-head arch is used in the tunnels through the buildings which provided for protected loading and unloading of goods within, and in the large windows which provided natural light to the interior before electric light was affordable.

Architectural Photos, Winnipeg, Manitoba
181 Higgins Avenue – The Canadian Pacific Railway Station was erected in 1904-05 and it continued in use as a rail passenger terminus until 1978. Its monumental Beaux Arts facade, elaborate Tyndall stone decoration and extensive facilities reflected both the aspirations of the railway and Winnipeg’s place as the center of transportation and commerce in early twentieth century Western Canada.
Architectural Photos, Winnipeg, Manitoba
678 Main Street – The Dominion Bank Building is one of the first branches established by a chartered bank outside Winnipeg’s primary financial district, in this case to capitalize on commercial development near the Canadian Pacific Railway Station. It is an excellent example of Beaux-Arts Classical architecture applied on a reduced scale but still conveying an image of corporate tradition and solidity. An enriched facade made extraordinary by fluted Ionic columns and dark-hued terracotta, along with an ornate banking hall, express the building’s functional and symbolic importance and its aesthetic kinship with the monumental bank headquarters built in the same period further south on Main Street. It was occupied by the Dominion (later Toronto-Dominion) Bank until the early 1980s.
Architectural Photos, Winnipeg, Manitoba
456 Main Street –The Bank of Toronto is a three-story steel, concrete and brick structure erected in 1905-06 in Winnipeg’s financial district. It is an arresting Neo-Classical structure with a rare two-part facade of marble and cast iron. Key elements of the style include the basic rectangular form of steel, concrete and brick construction, three stories high with a stepped roof line reflecting the presence of a penthouse. The elegant front (east) colonnade is composed of four white marble Corinthian columns, the outer two square and smooth, the inner two round and fluted resting on shoulder-high bases and extending to a large decorative entablature with a modillioned cornice and a high segmented balustrade. The recessed cast-iron facade features elaborate main-floor screens encasing the entrance and windows, with the two upper levels separated by ornamental friezes and cornices and holding rectilinear Sullivanesque openings with top and side lights. The intricate detailing throughout includes cast-iron geometric designs, banding, panels, frets, floral elements, and marble egg-and-dart molding and beading.
Architectural Photos, Winnipeg, Manitoba
441 Main Street at Bannatyne Avenue – The richly appointed Imperial Bank of Canada, a three-story steel, brick and stone banking hall and office building erected in 1906, occupies an important corner site in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District. The Imperial Bank is an exceptional version of the Classical Revival style, designed by noted Toronto-based architects Darling and Pearson. Key external elements that define the building’s rich Classical Revival style include its rectangular plan, three-story box-like form around a steel frame and flat roof embellished by a complete entablature with modillioned cornice and plain parapet. Grey Bedford, Indiana, ashlar limestone is used on the two primary elevations (south and west). The primary facade (west) is symmetrical and features a two-story recessed entrance bay framed by two massive fluted Ionic columns; there is a simple arrangement of windows on the third-floor level with small rectangular windows and side bays dominated by large mezzanine-level openings with elaborate pseudo-balconies (complete with balustrades, brackets, and pediments).
Architectural Photos, Winnipeg, Manitoba
436 Main Street – The Bank of British North America, constructed in 1903-04, is a three-story steel frame, brick and sandstone structure with a one-story 1914 addition. To outshine the bank’s nearby competitors, architect A.T. Taylor of Montreal gave the building a grand Neo-Palladian sandstone front, complete with an Ionic colonnade and, for Winnipeg, a rare vermiculated (wavy lines or markings resembling the tracks of a worm) base. The impressive, highly visible edifice, long occupied by the Royal Trust Company, then by lawyers Newman, MacLean and Associates, retains considerable exterior design integrity while continuing in contemporary commercial use. Key elements that define the bank’s fine Neo-Palladian architecture include the elongated three- and one-story rectangular massing, with the main (east) facade of vermiculated and ashlar sandstone, the other elevations of solid brick and a flat roof, all around a structural steel frame.
Architectural Photos, Winnipeg, Manitoba
180 Market Avenue East at Main – The Winnipeg Pantages Playhouse Theatre is among the best of the vaudeville houses built in Canada between 1913 and 1920 and the first large concrete theater in North America. It was built in 1913. Key exterior elements that define the theater’s specialized Classical Revival (Greek Pantages) style include the rectangular box-shaped form, two stories high at the front and rising in stages toward the rear, constructed of brick and reinforced concrete and enclosed by mostly flat roofs. The front is symmetrically composed of a shallow central pavilion with small wings, and divided into two horizontal bands, with the second story clad in cream-colored terracotta and light buff brick and the street level clad with the same brick and smooth-cut limestone for the foundation. The metal marquee stretching across the front includes a central arch and keystone over the main doors. The second story’s five large windows are set in terracotta surrounds and panels, including three middle openings framed by engaged columns. The complete entablature includes a modillioned metal cornice, with terracotta panels that display the name ‘PANTAGES’ between the words ‘UNEQUALLED’ and ‘VAUDEVILLE’. The double entrance doors have transom windows. Ticket prices were 10¢ and 35¢ with 3 shows a day, 7 days a week. Usually there were six new acts a week and a typical day included a juggler, a song and dance team, an animal act, a comedy skit, a novelty of some sort, and a short film.
Architectural Photos, Winnipeg, Manitoba
223 James Avenue – Winnipeg Police Court – Built in 1883 at the corner of James Avenue and King Street, this two-story brick building contained eighteen jail cells adjacent to a large courtroom on the main floor, with offices for court officials on the second floor, and a full attic used as a dormitory for police officers. In 1908, when a new police station opened on Rupert Street, this building was renovated into municipal offices.
Architectural Photos, Winnipeg, Manitoba
115 Bannatyne Avenue – The Donald H. Bain Building – 1899 – is composed of two Romanesque Revival style buildings joined by a common wall – a five- and three-story brick structure. Features include solid brick-bearing walls with high rusticated stone bases and flat roof lines with parapets. The symmetrical front facade is divided into five bays by brick detailing and the placement of round-arched and lintelled windows, most of which have rusticated stone heads and sills. Details include the buff-colored brick finishes, fanciful straw basket and corbelled brickwork, thin spandrel panels, and brick drip molding. The round-arched openings have stone voussoirs and keystones on the front main and top floors. Brick pilasters, stone pilaster caps, and a heavily ornamented brick parapet with the date ‘1899’ carved into a stone panel are other heritage features.