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Pathways to Winnipeg history
PastForward: Winnipeg's digital history
History of Winnipeg

Winnipeg's History

Historical Sites

Winnipeg's rich and colourful past are marked by its many historic sites, places, landmarks and monuments.

Assiniboine River Bank

The Passage

From prehistoric times, a fording site was utilized on the Assiniboine River in present day Charleswood. Used by Natives, fur traders and settlers, this important transportation link is commemorated by a Manitoba Heritage Council plaque placed in a small city park on Berkley Street, on the banks of the Assiniboine River.

St Boniface

Gabrielle Roy House

One of Canada's most prominent authors, was born and raised at 375 rue Deschambault where a Manitoba Heritage Council plaque pays tribute to the effect on her writings of her Manitoba heritage. This house was built in 1905, by her father.

La Vérendrye Monument

On avenue Tache, opposite St. Boniface Hospital, this monument honours Pierre Gaultier de La Vérendrye. He and his sons were the first white men to travel west by the Great Lakes chain to reach the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. La Vérendrye is credited with having erected the first permanent structure - Fort Rouge - on the site of the future City of Winnipeg in 1738. From the Forks, La Vérendrye explored much of the country west, opening it up to the fur trade.

Louis Riel's Grave

The grave is in the St. Boniface Cathedral Church yard, 190, avenue de la Cathédrale. Riel was the leader of the Métis and President of the Provisional Government which negotiated Manitoba's entry into Confederation as a Province.

Red River Settlement

Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques commemorate the formal proclamation of the Red River Settlement by Miles Macdonell, first governor of the District of Assiniboia, on September 4th, 1812. With the reading of the patent and his commission, Macdonell took possession of the lands granted by the Hudson's Bay Company to the Earl of Selkirk. The plaques are located in LaVerendrye Park, avenue Tache and boulevard Dollard.

Sir Joseph Dubuc

Arriving in Manitoba in 1870 at the request of Louis Riel, Dubuc became a vocal leader of the Métis and French Canadians in the Province. Elected to the first Provincial Legislature, he later served as Speaker of the Assembly and was appointed Chief Justice of Manitoba in 1903. Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques are located on the former Dubuc property at rue Notre Dame and avenue Tache.

Sir Joseph Royal

An established lawyer and journalist in Quebec, Royal came to Manitoba in 1870 and founded Le Métis, the Province's first French Language newspaper. He served in various capacities in the Provincial Government during 1871-79 and was later M.P. for Provencher and Lieutenant Governor of the North West Territories. Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques are located at the corner of boulevard Provencher and avenue Tache in the Tache Promenade Park. The former Royal residence is located at 147 boulevard Provencher.

St. Boniface Settlement

Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques commemorate the beginnings of St. Boniface - the arrival of Jean-Baptiste Lagimodiere and Marie-Anne Gaboury to settle on Seine River lots in 1817, and the establishment of the first permanent school and mission in the West by Fathers Provencher and Dumoulin in 1818-19. The plaques are located on the grounds of the former St. Boniface City Hall, 219 boulevard Provencher.

St Norbert

Abbey of Our Lady of the Prairies

In 1892, five Cistercian monks from the Abbey of Bellefontaine, France, founded this monastery in St. Norbert. Our Lady of the Prairies, the only Trappist monastic house in Western Canada, prospered in St. Norbert until 1978, when the monks relocated near Holland, Manitoba. The Abbey was destroyed by fire in 1982, but the dramatic ruins are preserved as a provincial heritage site. The Guest House has been redeveloped into the St. Norbert Arts and Cultural Centre. Located 1km. / .6 miles west of Pembina Hwy. on rue de Monastère off rue des Trappistes.

La Barrière

In November, 1869, a party of Métis erected a barrier on the Pembina Trail to block representatives of Lieutenant Governor McDougall from reaching Fort Garry. This action signified the resistance of the Métis to the absorption of the Red River Settlement by Canada in 1869. Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques located in St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park at the junction of Turnbull Drive and Highway 75 commemorate this event.

St. Norbert

The St. Norbert area was settled as early as 1822 by former fur trade company employees and their Métis families. The parish of St. Norbert was established in 1857 and was a prominent centre of Métis opposition during the Red River Resistance of 1869-70. Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques are located in St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park at the junction of Highway 75 and Turnbull Drive.


Abraham Albert Heaps

A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque in the interior of the A. A. Heaps Building at 254 Portage Avenue commemorates the career of this leader of the 1919 General Strike, Alderman, and Member of Parliament.

Ambroise-Didyme Lepine

As Adjutant General to Louis Riel and member of Riel's Provisional Government, Lepine played a prominent role in the Red River Resistance of 1869-70. Lepine presided over the tribunal which condemned prisoner Thomas Scott to be executed on March 4th, 1870. Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques in Fort Garry Gate Park at Main Street and Broadway commemorate Lepine.

Dr. Amelia Yeomans

One of Winnipeg's first women's medical practitioners, Amelia Yeomans was an early leader of the temperance and women's suffrage movements in the 1880's and 1890's. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque commemorating her is located at the intersection of Hargrave Street and Broadway.

The "Anson Northrup"

The first steam-powered vessel to reach Fort Garry was the American sternwheeler S.S. "Anson Northrup" which completed its journey up the Red River from Fort Abercrombie, Minnesota, on June 10th, 1859. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque is located in Kildonan Park.

Canadian Pacific Railway Station

The CPR Station was built in 1904 to replace a previous structure which burned down in 1894. The station played a critical role in Winnipeg's development, providing both economic and population growth. Designated a National Historic Site, the CPR Station stands as a reminder of days gone by, holding many memories for Winnipeggers and Western Canadians. Today, as the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg Inc., the former station, located at 181 Higgins Avenue, stands not only as a reminder of Winnipeg's rich history but as an icon to the deep commitment to the community felt by the Aboriginal people in Winnipeg.

E. Cora Hind

A renowned agricultural editor of the Free Press from 1901-1935, E. Cora Hind was also active in the promotion of women's rights. A provincial plaque at the Winnipeg Free Press Building, 1355 Mountain Avenue commemorates her contributions to Manitoba.

Edward Lancaster Drewry

From 1877 - 1940, Drewry operated a successful brewery, still located on the banks of the Red River at Redwood Avenue. A prominent politician, he was the first Chairman of the Winnipeg Public Parks Board, which gave Winnipeg its magnificent elm trees. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque honours Drewry in St. John's Park on Main Street.

Exchange District

Discover today's opportunities amid the atmosphere of yesterday in Winnipeg's thriving Exchange District. Located just north of Canada's celebrated corner of Portage and Main, the area has been preserved and nurtured as one of North America's most colorful and cosmopolitan neighbourhoods. Providing a unique backdrop for today's bustling business and arts community, the 30-block district is a showcase for what is perhaps the most extensive collection of turn-of-the-century architecture on the continent.

Stretching from the banks of the Red River at the foot of Bannatyne and McDermot Avenues, this urban village revels in its past as the birthplace of commerce and culture in Western Canada and sets the pace for the future as the heart of Winnipeg's business and cultural communities. Today's Exchange District provides a historic canopy for more than 800 businesses and organizations and embraces a vibrant cornucopia of culture.

Firefighters Museum of Winnipeg

Located at 56 Maple Street, the Museum offers an extensive collection of vintage fire apparatus, artifacts, pictures, and information about the history of fire fighting in the city of Winnipeg and it's suburbs.

The Forks National Historic Site

This site rests on a landscaped area along the west bank of the Red River, offering a scenic view across the water to historic St. Boniface. Interpretive programs, special group tours, festivals and heritage entertainment are offered from May until Labor Day, and also during Le Festival du Voyager in February. It also features an open air amphitheater, a heritage adventure playground, picnic area and dock. Grounds are open year-round.

Former Bank of Nova Scotia

Renamed the A.A. Heaps Building, this building is a monument to the skill of its architects and the importance of banking to Winnipeg's economy in the early 1900's. Constructed in 1908-10 to the architectural plans of the Toronto firm of Darling and Pearson, the elegant facade is terra cotta manufactured in England and hung on a steel frame. A 1930-31 addition by Winnipeg architects Jordan and Over matched perfectly the Baroque Revival detail and doubled the frontage on Portage Avenue. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque is mounted on the north facade of the building at 254 Portage Avenue.

The Former Central Normal School

A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque honours the former Central Normal School, 1905-06 Neo-Classical building. Designed by Winnipeg architect Samuel Hooper, the school served as the province's headquarters for teacher training for over forty years. Located at 442 William Avenue, the building is now a cooperative housing complex.

Former Garry Telephone Exchange

Constructed in 1907, this building was the first telephone exchange to be erected by the newly created Manitoba Government Telephones, the first provincially-owned telephone system in Canada. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque is located on the east facade of the building at 474 Hargrave Street, which is now a cooperative housing complex.

The Former Great West Life Building

Constructed between 1909 and 1911, this Neo-Classical building at 177 Lombard Avenue, was the Great West Life Assurance Company's first permanent headquarters. Incorporated in 1891, Great West Life was for many years the only Winnipeg based insurance company and was symbolic of Manitoba's growing importance in Canadian affairs. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque is located on the facade of this Neo-Classical style building.

Government House

A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque at 10 Kennedy Street describes the history of the official residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, a second Empire style building constructed in 1883.

Holy Ghost Polish Catholic Church

The first Polish Catholic parish in Manitoba was founded here in 1898, followed by a Polish School in 1902. A plaque in the church at 341 Selkirk Avenue interprets the history of the parish.

Holy Trinity Anglican Church

The church was built in neo-Gothic style in 1884 and features magnificent stained glass and woodwork. Holy Trinity was designed by Charles Wheeler, architect of Dalnavert House and is designated a National Architectural Significance site.  Located at the corner of Donald Street and Graham Avenue.

Isbister School

Located at 310 Vaughan Street, the oldest surviving public school was constructed during 1898-99. Designed by Samuel Hooper, Provincial Architect from 1904-11, it became a model for a number of Winnipeg schools built after 1900. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque on the west facade of the school commemorates the building, which incorporates Romanique and Queen Anne Revival architectural elements into the building style.

Israel Isaac Kahanovitch

A Manitoba Heritage Council Plaque at the YMHA - Jewish Community Centre, 370 Hargrave Street, honours the work of the outstanding religious leader from 1906-1945 in the Winnipeg Jewish community.

James McKay

The Honourable James McKay was a prominent member of early Red River society and a leading politician in the early life of the Province. Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques commemorate McKay on the grounds of the Deer Lodge Centre, 2109 Portage Avenue, the former site of McKay's elegant home, "Deer Lodge."

Jewish Community in Winnipeg

370 Hargrave Street. The arrival of the first Jewish immigrants from Russia in 1882 is commemorated by a Manitoba Heritage Council plaque located in the YMHA.

Kildonan Presbyterian Church

This is the first Presbyterian Church in Western Canada, constructed in 1854. It was erected under the direction of the Reverend John Black, the first resident Presbyterian minister who came to Kildonan in 1851, nearly 40 years after the arrival of the first Presbyterian settlers. Duncan McRae, an important Red River Settlement stone mason, supervised the work. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque is located on the church grounds at Main Street and John Black Avenue.

Knox United Church

This church, on Edmonton Street at Qu'Appelle Avenue in downtown Winnipeg, is one of the City's oldest churches, yet retains a modern look. Construction of the edifice, of native Manitoba stone, was begun in 1914. Because of World War I, the building was not completed - no work was done for a full year - and was not opened until 1917. The church, in 1968, celebrated the installation of a new Casavant 3 manual pipe organ. Its two towers, one containing a carillon, have become dwarfed by the tall modern structures in the area. Knox welcomes visitors to its Sunday services.

Lillian Beynon Thomas

A journalist, social reformer, and first president of the Political Equality League, Thomas is commemorated by a Manitoba Heritage Council plaque located at Laura Secord School, 960 Wolseley Avenue.

Longest Canoe Trip

This plaque was erected in Seniors Park at Bronx Avenue and Kildonan Drive in recognition of two East Kildonan residents, Dan Starkell and son Dana who launched their canoe at the park in June, 1980 and paddled over 12,000 miles to Belem, Brazil. This has been recognized as a world record for the longest journey undertaken by canoe.

Louis Riel Statue

The statue created by sculptor Miguel Joyal and commissioned by the Manitoba Metis Federation, is located on the south grounds of the Legislative Building facing the Assiniboine River. The statue and plaque commemorate Riel's contribution to the development of Canadian Confederation and his role, and that of the Metis, as founders of Manitoba.

Manitoba Legislative Building

Formally opened on July 15th, 1920, the 50th anniversary of Manitoba's entry into Confederation, the Manitoba Legislative Building was designed by the English architectural firm of Frank W. Simon and Henry Boddington III. A paramount example of Beaux Arts Classical architecture in Manitoba, the structure is sheathed in Manitoba Tyndall limestone and is adorned with many allegorical works of art. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque and the original plaque dedicated at the Building's opening are located in the foyer. Plaques dedicated to prominent Canadian historical figures - Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de la Vérendrye, Major General James Wolfe, the Fifth Earl of Selkirk, and Lord Dufferin, are located just outside the east and west entrances.

Marc-Amable Girard

Two Manitoba Heritage Council plaques located in Memorial Park at Memorial Boulevard and Broadway commemorate Girard, the first Premier of Manitoba.

The Nor'Wester

The first newspaper published on the Canadian prairies was issued at Red River in 1859. A Provincial plaque on the Federal Building, Main Street and Water Avenue, marks the location of the original office of the Nor'Wester.

St. Boniface Cathedral

This is the oldest cathedral in Western Canada, located on avenue Tache in the French speaking community of St. Boniface. It is located on the site of the first mission church constructed by Father Provencher in 1818. The current Cathedral was opened in 1972, within the stone walls of the St. Boniface Basilica which was destroyed by fire in 1968. The Basilica, opened in 1908, had replaced a single spired cathedral, which in turn had replaced the famous stone church begun by Bishop Provencher in 1832 and destroyed by fire in 1860 and immortalized by the poet John Greenleaf Whittier in his poem "The Red River Voyageur," which told of the bells of "the turrets twain."

St. James Anglican Church

This church is located on Portage Avenue, opposite the Polo Park Shopping Centre. St. James Church, built in 1853, is the oldest log church in Western Canada and the oldest standing church building in Winnipeg. Church services are held during the summer months. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque is located on the church grounds at Portage Avenue and Tylehurst Street.

St. John's Cathedral

Located at 135 Anderson Avenue, the present cathedral is the fourth edifice on this site. Reverend John West, first Anglican missionary at Red River, built a schoolhouse on this site in 1820. Two years later, a combined school-church building was erected. The present cathedral, built in 1926, incorporates stones from two churches built in 1853 and 1862. Many important citizens to the history of the Province are buried in the churchyard.

St. Paul's Middlechurch

In 1825, to accommodate the growing population of the Red River Settlement, a second Anglican church was built at Image Plain. It became known as Middlechurch because of its location between St. John's and St. Andrew's churches. St. Paul's is commemorated by a Manitoba Heritage Council plaque located on Balderstone Road, one kilometer east of Main Street.

The Salvation Army

A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque at Grace General Hospital, 300 Booth Drive, commemorates the formation of the Salvation Army in Manitoba in 1886 and the establishment of Grace Hospital by the Army in 1904.

Scots Monument

The 18 foot high monument is dedicated to Thomas Douglas, the fifth Earl of Selkirk and marks the historical origins of Manitoba as a European settled territory. It also honours people of Scottish origin and their descendants who settled in the provinces, territories and districts of Canada. Located on the west bank of the Red River, north of Alexander Docks off Alexander Avenue.

Seven Oaks House

This is one of the oldest habitable homes in Manitoba. Built by John Inkster in 1851, it contains original Inkster family furnishings. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque is located at Seven Oaks House Museum, Rupertsland Avenue and Jones Street.

Seven Oaks Memorial

This memorial marks the site of the Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816, in which Governor Semple and 20 Selkirk settlers fell. Here at Frog Plain on June 19, 1816, Robert Semple, Governor of the Red River Settlement and about 26 men confronted a North West Company Brigade from the Assiniboine River led by the young Metis Clerk Cuthbert Grant. The Metis saw the settlement as a threat to their way of life. Semple, brave but obstinate was prepared to insist on his authority of Governor. Tempers flared, a shot was fired and Semple and twenty of his men were cut down. Regardless of what Grant’s plan had originally been. He was now committed to action and went on to capture Fort Douglas, headquarters of the settlement. Location: southeast corner of Main Street and Rupertsland Avenue.

Silver Heights

A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque on Mount Royal Road at Trail Avenue marks the original site of Silver Heights, a well known early stopping place on the Portage Trail and once home of Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona.

Stopping of the Survey

In 1869, a group of Métis, led by Louis Riel, forced Canadian surveyors to halt their work in the southern parishes until negotiations had taken place between the inhabitants of Red River Settlement and the Canadian Government. These negotiations led to the creation of the Province of Manitoba. A provincial plaque in Don Smith Park, Whyte Ridge, interprets these events.

Westminster United Church

A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque honours Westminster United Church, constructed in 1903-04 at the northwest corner of Westminster Avenue and Maryland Street by the renowned Winnipeg architect, J.H.G. Russell. The architect's design was based upon the English expression of the Gothic architectural style and emphasized pinnacled towers, slender vertical supports and larger openings, in this case featuring a beautiful rose window.

Winnipeg Aqueduct

Constructed in 1913 - 1919 to span more than 150 kilometres between Shoal Lake and Winnipeg, this aqueduct channels up to 385 million litres of water per day for consumption within the City. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque in Stephen Juba Park, at the east end of Bannatyne Avenue, recognizes this feat of engineering.

Winnipeg's First Children's Hospital

The first children's hospital was opened in a house on Beaconsfield Street in 1908. A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque commemorating the development of child health care in Winnipeg is located in the present Children's Hospital at 840 Sherbrook Street.

Woodsworth House

A Manitoba Heritage Council plaque at Woodsworth House, 60 Maryland Street, honours J. S. Woodsworth, first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and M.P. for Winnipeg North-Centre, 1921-1942.

Upper Fort Garry Gate

The northern gateway of Upper Fort Garry, all that remains of the Hudson's Bay Company trading post that stood on this site, is preserved in a park on Main Street opposite the VIA Station. For almost half a century, this fort was the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company in Western Canada. A Federal plaque on the gateway outlines the history of several forts that stood in the vicinity. Upper Fort Garry, built between 1834 and 1837 at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, was the fur trading centre for the Red River settlement, which doubled in size by 1853-54. It also served as the seat of government for the District of Assiniboia and the Red River settlement. Today, the only remnant of the fort is the stone gate. Wooden walls which surrounded the northern half of Upper Fort Garry and the gate have been restored.

Last update: November 3, 2014

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