Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Historic Floods


St Boniface 1950



Emerson Manitoba 1893

Floods are nothing new to Manitoba.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WELCOME TO GEORGE SIAMANDAS' WINNIPEG TIME MACHINE


WELCOME TO
THE WINNIPEG TIME MACHINE

This site features a collection of historical articles on Winnipeg and Manitoba History. Stories about people, places, events and institutions that have shaped Winnipeg's and Manitoba's history.  

Many of these stories were presented on CBC Information Radio 1995-2000. Private individuals may use any of the written material on this site but must credit George Siamandas as the original author and source of the material. Others must obtain written permission.


Copyright Notice
Please note that all photos marked with a copyright may not be used in whole or in part without the express permission of George Siamandas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Aerial Photos of Winnipeg -Then and Now

Birds eye views of Winnipeg were all the rage between the 1880s and well into the 19th century.  Click on any picture to see it larger.


Location of Winnipeg buildings in 1872



The view below shows the position of Old Upper Fort Garry drawn in 1948



Winnipeg View in 1881

Birds Eye View of Winnipeg


Saturday, November 27, 2010

"In Winnipeg at Christmas" Poem by Rose Fyleman


In a winter city like Winnipeg, it is important to find ways to enjoy our winters.  There is no better time than Christmas to enjoy traditional images of Christmas.  Whether it's memories of the decorated Christmas window at Eatons, or Toyland, or buying and decorating a real tree, or anticipating the gifts as a child, nothing brings the nostalgia of Christmases past than Rose Fyleman's evocative poem:
"In Winnipeg at Christmas"...
In Winnipeg at Christmas there's lots and lots of snow,
Very clean, and crisp and hard
And glittering like a Christmas card
Everywhere you go;
Snow upon the housetops, snow along the street,
And Queen Victoria in her chair
Has snow upon her snowy hair
And snow upon her feet.
In Winnipeg at Christmas they line the streets with trees-
Christmas trees lit up at night
With little balls of coloured light
As pretty as you please.
The people hurry past you in furry boots and wraps;
The sleighs are like a picture book,
And all the policemen look
Like Teddy Bears in caps.
And oh! The smiling ladies and jolly girls and boys;
And oh! The parties and the fun
With lovely things for everyone-
Books and sweets and toys.
So, if someday at Christmas you don't know where to go,
Just pack your bags I beg,
And start at once for Winnipeg;
You'll like it there I know.

 - Rose Fyleman











Thursday, November 4, 2010

Old Aerials and Overviews of Winnipeg



I marvel at how the city looked a hundred years ago or even 50 years. Here is a sampling of old aerial and overview images of Winnipeg going back as early as 1875. 

To see a collection of 1000 contemporary aerial photos of Winnipeg click here:  Winnipeg Aerial photos


St Boniface 1880

Winnipeg Central Buisness District c1968
CN East Yards Now The Forks


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ST. JOHN'S CATHEDRAL AND WINNIPEG'S OTHER OLDEST CHURCHES


ST. JOHN'S CATHEDRAL AND

WINNIPEG'S OTHER OLDEST CHURCHES

by George Siamandas

The 1834 cathedral replaced an earlier log church built in 1822 by John West. Construction for St. John's Cathedral started in 1833. The limestone came from Stonewall and was quarried and hauled to the site during the preceding winter, by oxen pulling sleds. Much of this hard work was done by volunteers from the native and Red River settlement. Total cost was 900 pounds and the new cathedral could hold 500 people.

The site had been selected and put aside years earlier by Lord Selkirk himself. They were proud of their new church and Thomas Simpson called it "better than 90% of the Scotch country churches." But their pride was premature. The new building deteriorated after just two years and for decades needed constant buttressing.

In 1862 it was replaced by a third church. But once again structural problems plagued the church. By the 1880s they desperately needed a new church. But it was a very long wait for the congregation. It was not until 1926 that the church was replaced by the present St. John's Cathedral on Anderson Avenue. Andersen was named in honour of Anglican Bishop Anderson who came to red River in 1849.

The first church in Red River was built in St. Boniface in 1818 on the present site of St. Boniface Cathedral. This site has seen a succession of six churches: three were demolished to make way for larger churches, while two were lost in fires. Once again it was Lord Selkirk that had granted the land on the east side of the Red for the French community.

The oldest church is St. Andrew's on the Red; it was consecrated in 1849. It is the oldest church in the west that has remained in continuous service. It has seen a major restoration of the stonework in the last few years. Its a testament to masonry techniques that old limestone buildings like St. Andrews have survived and can be restored. And all before pilings were commonly used.

One of the oldest churches is St. James Church. It's located across Polo Park on Portage Ave and it was built in 1852. The oldest downtown church is Holy Trinity church just opposite Eatons which was built in 1882. It is the oldest building surviving on Graham Avenue.

Another interesting old church is St Peter's on the east side of the Red in Selkirk. It is known as Peguis' church because Salteaux Chief Peguis and his people helped build it in 1852. Peguis worshipped at St Peter's till he died in 1864 and Peguis is buried in the church yard.

Nassau in Fort Rouge is a very ecumenical street with at least 7 churches. Starting on the north there is the Christian Science, then St. Luke's Anglican, Crescent Fort Rouge United, Trinity Baptist, Evangelical Mennonite Conference and ST Francis De Sales Catholic Church for the Deaf.

The first synagogue was Sharrey Zedek originally located at the corner of Henry and King St. Virtually the entire Jewish community turned out on a September day in 1889 to witness the laying of the corner stone. That cornerstone is now incorporated in the Wellington crescent Sharrey Zedek which was completed in 1949.

MANITOBA BANS THE BOTTLE


MANITOBA BANS THE BOTTLE

For a Short Time Only

by George Siamandas

LIQUOR IN MANITOBA
After a long campaign for temperance, Manitoba voters took a hard line against the social costs of liquor and voted to introduce prohibition 83 years ago on March 13, 1916. In the days of the Hudson Bay Co, liquor had been imported from Britain for residents of the Hudson Bay posts. The first provincial Liquor Commission was established in 1878 and it allowed one bar for every 300 people. With a population of 7,000, 23 licenses were allowed.

THE IMPACT OF PROHIBITION
In 1916 there were 196 hotels in the province, with 76 of them in Winnipeg. There were 40 liquor wholesale liquor stores and 7 breweries. Put out of work were 1,975 bartenders. Most were expected to move to wet areas in the US or in Canada. For enforcement officials the job became one of dealing with people who went underground with bootlegging. Prohibition lasted for 7 years till Manitobans had second thoughts. In 1923 by a vote of 107,609 to 67,092 Manitobans reversed themselves and decided to allow liquor sales once again. This time a provincially run corporation the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission would regulate the sale of liquor to Manitobans.

THE 1924 LIQUOR ACT
The act was fairly restrictive. The price had to be the same everywhere. Stores were located in Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage La Prairie, The Pas and Dauphin. Advertising was very closely regulated and had to be approved by the Commission. Billboard ads were banned. There were quotas on sales. One could not buy more than 24 quarts a week or 72 quarts of beer per month. Liquor had to be consumed at home only. There was to be no barter of liquor and no transportation of liquor in Manitoba. Liability for a drunken person's death was established by the act to whomever had supplied it to the individual. Ten ratepayers could stop the establishment of a licensed premise or a beer vendor. And in fact the Mennonite Bible belt was free of liquor for many years. Today Steinbach remains as dry as it ever was. People, could be banned from buying liquor on the authority of the police magistrate or two justices of the peace. They were termed interdicted persons.

RELIANCE ON LIQUOR REVENUE
As with lotteries today, the question of govt reliance on liquor sales and taxes for revenue has always been a dilemma. Government has walked the tightrope of valuing the revenue from liquor while at the same time trying to balance the social cost of drinking in society.

When the Liquor act was passed in 1924 the average Manitobans spent $20 a year on liquor. By 1930 it was $31 per year. During the depression it fell to $14 rising sharply to $62 in 1946 after the troops had returned home. In 1924 liquor revenues were $1.4 annually, declining to less than a million in 1934. But by 1947 revenues were $6 million comprising 27% of govt revenues that year.

THE BRACKEN COMMISSION
In 1954 a commission to study the Liquor Control Act was lead by ex Premier John Bracken. It conducted an exhaustive 750 page study that has the depth of social research you would expect if done today. In 1954 Manitobans had spent $43 million on liquor. At this time a good bottle of whisky cost $4-$5 and a 24 of beer were $3.27.

The research showed alcohol reduced inhibitions helped contribute to poverty and dependency. It struck a tone for scientific and objective reasons for temperance and not moralistic reasons. It surveyed liquor practises throughout the world and reported a s follows. China has a serious problem with opium. Columbia was suffering serious problems with beer made from corn. Mexico had the same problem with home brewed beer. Iceland had lived with prohibition for 40 years and seemed happy with this.

Russia was endemic with alcoholism. There was a liquor store for every 86 inhabitants: 8 times the norm. It was easier to buy liquor in Russia than to find a newspaper. Germany had once had a problem, but by this time it had gotten it under control. Holland was recognised as having the best policies for treatment of alcoholism, funded by the state but provided privately.

A new liquor act was passed in 1956, which is still in effect. It brought the consumption of liquor into the 20th century allowing a liquor vending system to be established. No liquor advertising was instituted. And it voted not to allow the sale of beer in grocery stores.

THE WINNIPEG FOUNDATION


THE WINNIPEG FOUNDATION

BUILDING THE CITY'S SOCIAL HEART

by George Siamandas


William Alloway came to Red River in 1870 at age 18. Winnipeg was not yet a city with about 12,000 people. Alloway worked his way up starting as a tobacconist, veterinarian and shipper. Within 9 years he founded Alloway and Champion which became one of the west's largest private banks. Alloway's fortunes grew with Winnipeg and he wanted to give something back. He felt he owed everything to Winnipeg and in 1921 he wrote a $100,000 cheque establishing the Winnipeg Foundation. Later, in 1930, Mrs. Elizabeth Alloway left an additional $2.5 million.

Kathleen Lightcap who was a founding member of the Junior League and a volunteer driver for the Meals on Wheels left $6.5 million in 1986-7. In the 1970s the James and Muriel Richardson Fund gave $1M and the George Hammill McKeag fund gave $1.2M. About 20 people have left more than $500,000. But much of the money is given by people from all walks of life who also want to give something back to their community. For example Joe McCann Transit Supervisor donated $200,000. Others like Janet Boucher who worked in the Holt Renfrew hat department gave $10,000.

In 1922 the first recipients were the Margaret Scott Nursing home set up by Miss Scott who was interested in providing the poor, the Knowles School for Boys, the VON, the Children's Hospital and the Children's Aid Society. They shared $6,000.

The Winnipeg Foundation helps a good idea get started and are willing to front end projects. In the Great Depression they helped out the Community Chest predecessor to the United Way. In 1935 they gave a grant to help set up the School for Social Work at the U of M. In 1953 they helped fight polio. In 1955 they helped establish the Age and Opportunity centre.

In 1958 they paid for the first computer that was installed at the Winnipeg General Hospital. In 1964 they helped Meals on Wheels and the VON's Home Help program. In 1974 as part of centennial year they gave $100,00 for the Museum's Urban Gallery. In 1976 they helped set up the Manitoba League for the With Disabilities. And in 1977 their annual grants exceeded $1,000,000.

Since then they have helped with Lion's Manor senior's housing, Fort Whyte Nature centre, and the Manitoba Childrens' Museum. In 1994 they gave the largest grant ever, $750,000 to the Health Sciences and Children's Research Centre.

It has about $92 million invested and has given $62 million to date. It gave out $4.25 Million in 1995. Last year they took in another 2.8 million in new donations. The principal is never touched.

People die leaving part or all of their estate to the Winnipeg Foundation.
Some of it is planned in advance and about half, the time people's donation to the Winnipeg Foundation is a complete surprise. At least half the donors have no families to leave their estates to.

There is no set budget and the Foundation is able to react to issues and projects as they arise: it can be health, education, and family depending on the time. At times it has been proactive inner city and arts issues. They helped create Winnipeg Harvest. They like to help with projects or capital works.

There are about 60 across Canada, 14 in Manitoba. Some are general, while others are private one donor funds. For example the Thomas Sill Foundation was established by a Winnipeg accountant who was a partner in the firm Sill Streuber Fiske, a firm which exists today. He gave the largest single donation to charity ever in Manitoba leaving $19.2 million when he died in 1986.

FLIN FLON HISTORY

FLIN FLON HISTORY

Excerpted By George Siamandas

Flin Flon is the gateway to a nature-lover's paradise. Located at the meeting point of three Canadian geological regions, the EDGE gives you access to an astounding variety of landscapes. The untouched, rock surfaces of the Canadian Shield to the north, polished smooth by the last glaciations, provide a dizzying array of lakes, swamps and muskegs. To the south, one can see the Precambrian-Paleozoic contact, an escarpment rising up to thirty metres above the southern country that boasts the even shored lakes of the Manitoba Lowlands. And, to the west, the Great Plains of Saskatchewan offer a breath-taking agrarian vastness that must experienced to be believed.

Besides taking in the beautiful sights, activities available in the include golf, swimming, fishing in both summer and winter, camping, and even scuba-diving.

The history of Flin Flon and the surrounding region is steeped in romantic adventure, as the entire area was settled by men and women in search of their fortunes in gold. In 1910, a group of prospectors found gold in quartz veins on the West Side of Amisk Lake. Members of this group were Jack and Dan Mosher, Thomas Creighton, and Leon and Isidor Dion - names that appear repeatedly in the history of the region. This deposit led to the development of the Prince Albert Mine that operated in 1937 and again from 1940 to 1942.

By 1913, people were coming from all over Canada to make their fortunes. This was the first major discovery of gold west of the Ontario border since the Klondike gold rush. More than a thousand men, and even two women, came to stake claims. The 'town', which sprang up, was called Beaver City, and consisted of a row of tents and log cabins, as well as two cookhouses capable of feeding two hundred men at a time. Commercial fishing was also started on Amisk Lake in 1913. Freight was hauled by York Boat in the summer and by sleigh in the winter.

World War 1 and a subsequent outbreak of Spanish influenza contributed to the demise of Beaver City. When war broke out in 1914, one man was left as caretaker of Beaver City. After three years of looking after a deserted town, Angus McDonald was given the town as payment. Roderick McDermott is the last known surviving resident of the Beaver City settlement. Mr. and Mrs. McDermott still reside in Denare Beach.

Gold prospecting continued through 1914 and 1915. In 1915, Creighton, the Moshers and the Dions discovered the massive Flin Flon copper-zinc orebody and prospecting shifted from gold to base metals. The complex mineralogy of the deposit inhibited its development until the Mandy Mine was established along Flin Flon Lake in 1915. Eventually, the Mandy Mine became profitable and busy enough that no one returned to the gold claims. The community of Flin Flon came into existence as Beaver City disappeared.

Fort Garry's Park-Like Wildewood Subdivision


Fort Garry's

Park-Like Wildewood Subdivision

by George Siamandas

The Fort Garry area which was incorporated as a municipality on April 16, 1912 and the Wildewood area is one of its distinctive residential areas. Fort Garry was initially part of St. Vital and was settled by Metis and Quebecois farmers. These early settlers were Metis boatmen who build their homes close to the river's edge as it was their best choice in transportation. One of the most famous landowners in the area that later became Wildewood was Ambroise Lepine. But after the Riel incident, many French people left the area and were replaced by Anglophones. Over the years it has completely lost its French origins. Only in the south end at St. Norbert will you see what the early Fort Garry was like.

COLONEL THOMPSON'S PLAN FOR WILDEWOOD

But by 1900 virtually all traces of the Metis heritage of the area was gone. One developer after another tried to develop the land starting with Colonel RM Thompson who in 1908 first introduced the name Wildewood. Thompson's plan was for a very exclusive area just like was developing then on Wellington Cres. They built roads and Col Thompson had a huge Victorian mansion built at the point of the Red River. Col Thompson went to fight in WW1 and never returned. His house was not fully completed and was not occupied for 17 years and was to be demolished in 1933 after suffering years of vandalism. Finally in 1934, it was bought by Ravenscourt School and renovated to become a boy's school. But the land continued to bounce back and forth between the City of Winnipeg and the Fort Garry municipality. At one time during the 1930s the city was contemplating making it into a park just like Assiniboine Park. But lack of money saw the city give it back to Fort Garry.

HOW WILDEWOOD PARK CAME ABOUT

Enter Hubert Bird. Bird was the owner of Bird construction. Bird had built aerodromes during WW1 and after the war he started the Bird construction company and built Union Station in Regina, and the Swifts plant in Winnipeg during the 1930s. During WW2 he built half the airfields and barracks in western Canada. During WW2 while flying over Radburn New Jersey, Bird saw an example of a new garden suburb with cul de sacs all built around a central shared park. Bird had seen his model for Wildewood and purchased the land comprising Wildewood.

WW2 had given Bird experience in mass production techniques and he had seen the potential of applying these techniques to reduce housing costs in Wildewood. It had never been done before with housing.

The returning WW2 vets needed affordable housing and Bird gave them 5 house plans to choose from. Bird hired the firm GBR (Still active and building the Jewish Community campus) to design the project. They did market research to find preferences for house features like the preferred number of bedrooms. Almost half wanted storey and a half and most wanted forced air heating. Great West Life agreed to finance the project and scale model for the area was placed at Eatons, the hub of the city at the time.

MASS PRODUCTION OF HOUSING PIONEERED IN WILDEWOOD

Then construction began using assembly line techniques after materials had been procured en masse and brought to the site. Lumber had even been salvaged from grain bins. Panel forms were used for pouring basements, and the exterior walls were prefabed. Specialty crews worked on flooring, shingling, and insulation. A US newspaper featured a bungalow and a storey and a half built in just 58 minutes. The realty firm SS Stevensen handled the sales, and it took only 2 years to sell out. Mature trees were spared preserving the area's main amenity: its heavily wooded quality. The neighbourhood had to do their own snow removal buy hiring a man and buying a horse drawn plough. Cost per resident was $.50 annually. They also bought their own mosquito fogger.

The area had one of the highest birth rates in the country and some dubbed it Childwood and Fertile Valley. Doug Henning the magician is one.

THE TALE OF THE WOLSELEY ELM


THE TALE OF THE WOLSELEY ELM

Just Elected Mayor Juba Does the Right Thing

by George Siamandas

In 1957, a giant triple-trunked elm stood in the centre of Wolseley Avenue and Greenwood St in Winnipeg. It had been planted by a woman resident a hundred years earlier, and as early as the turn of the century, it was considered a traffic hazard. The area's residents had fought many battles to preserve it even though traffic planners had long wanted to cut it down. In the summer of 1957 the traffic department decided that the Wolseley Elm finally had to go. It was a traffic hazard. The residents thought that on the contrary it was a safety feature as it required traffic to slow down to go around it.

THE BATTLE TO SAVE THE ELM

The issue immediately became contentious. The Free Press wrote in an editorial titled "Lay That Buzz Saw Down," that the "aldermen are asking for trouble, when they chop down city trees, and they invite a torrent of criticism when they eye the one that grows on Wolseley. They really should know better. They say it is a nuisance. The truth is the tree bothers some strange civic clique which abhors individuality and has a passion for unrelenting conformity." Alderman Crawford retorted "Lets grow a big fat tree right in the middle of Portage and Main." In response Wolseley residents Mrs Wolfram and Mrs McCord began a fight to save the tree.

Mayor Juba who had just been elected mayor responded to the people's wishes. On September 19, 1957 the Free Press front page headline read "Wild Women Win-Juba Breaks Law to Save Tree" At nine that morning a convoy of civic vehicles arrived to cut it down. A group of women gathered around the tree with their arms folded in defiance. They are going to have to chop us down too if they want to chop our tree said the women. As the city employee approached the tree with his buzz saw, an old grandmother with an axe shouted out "We don't think you should do this." A crowd of three hundred had gathered to support the 12 women that were now guarding the tree. Juba then emerged from the crowd and was convinced by the women to find a way out of it. On the premise of public safety, Juba put an end to that day. Mrs Borrowman kissed the mayor on the cheek and invited him to her place for tea.

The issue immediately captured national TV coverage and McLeans magazine did a big feature on the Wolseley Elm and Mayor Juba. But a few days later vandals poured gasoline on the tree and set it ablaze. Grafts were performed by a University tree expert and the tree revived the following spring. But in June 1958 three university students attacked the tree with saws and a crowbar. They were caught and fined $150 each.

Finally on Halloween October 31, 1958 the Wolseley Elm has seen its last season. At three in the morning residents awakened to two loud explosions. It was like two canon blast said a resident. The street lights were blown out and the tree had been blown up. Police suspected dynamite, but despite an enquiry, the culprits were never found. It was thought to be a KKK like warning, because two months earlier the residents had found a rooster on the tree. A psychiatrist said that people who blow up trees a are not mad at trees but at society. By June of 1960 no signs of life were evident. A kind of death certificate was issued and even Mrs Borrowman agreed that the tree should now come down. She asked for a piece of the tree so that she could have an electric lamp made.

Mayor Juba had emerged a hero in the way he had handled his first controversial issue. He had gone with his instincts. It was the first of many public victories.

TUXEDO The Suburb Beautiful


TUXEDO

The Suburb Beautiful

by George Siamandas

DEVELOPER FREDERICK WILLIAM HEUBACH

In 1905 Heubach set up the Tuxedo Park Land Co. He found a collection of Minneapolis based investors who had built great wealth in the grain industry. Over the next year the Tuxedo Park Company bought 3,000 acres from Mary and Archibald Wright and other owners for $450,000. The first home in the area an old farmhouse still stands at the south-east corner of Academy and Wellington Cresc.

On January 24 1913 the town of Tuxedo was incorporated with FW Heubach its original developer becoming its first Mayor. But his plan did not immediately succeed due to competition from the Crescentwood development which was much closer to the city. The Minneapolis investors of the Tuxedo Park Co lost their money. Heubach died before any houses were built. Tuxedo was named after the famous New York suburb called Tuxedo. It had previously been the hunting grounds of the Algonquin Indians and was called Taugh Seeder or Duck Seeder which meant "Place of the Bear."

MAYOR FINKELSTEIN

Heubach died the following year and was succeeded by FL Finkelstein as mayor. from 1911 Finkelstein with an accounting background became a partner with Heubach and Heubach's son Claude. Finkelstein would serve as mayor and would go on to run the company successfully into the 1950s. The plan for the town had been designed by the famous Frederick Law Olmstead firm, and it became the city plan in 1911. It had combined residential areas, areas of work in the south including the Canada Cement Plant.

THE FIRST HOMES

The first house was built in 1915 by Raymond Carey on the north corner of Nanton and Park. The area was connected by a mud road that became Nanton Blvd. Carey was fairly isolated and had to get the plows out before he could traverse the mud road through the as yet undeveloped aspen wooded area east of his home. Carey married Heubach's daughter Claire, Carey, a british architect, had come to Winnipeg in 1909 from Detroit and was well known for his Georgian style homes.

In 1923, Frederick Heubach's son Claude, built a home at the south corner. Designed and built buy Northwood and Carey. Later Claude Heubach moved to Hosmer to one of the first homes south of Corydon Ave. In the 1920s a series of homes sprung up along the east side of Park Boulevard facing Assiniboine Park.

Many homes were owned by grain industry businessmen. In 1925 the first house was built on Lamont. The site originally reserved for the University became Tuxedo Golf Course. The four room Tuxedo Schoolhouse was built in 1926. Many area street names have changed since the original plan. Tuxedo Blvd was originally called Van Horne.

The plan reserved a strip of land just south of the Agricultural College. It eventually became the Youth centre, commercial and public housing and military land. By 1911 the new plan for Tuxedo was complete. It was anticipated that in time the University of Manitoba would be located at Tuxedo but after 1926 when it located in Fort Garry. There are many famous builders like Frank Lount and the Sparrow Brothers that built the area's homes.

Winnipeg Planning Commission Announces New Plan for 1912


Winnipeg Planning Commission

Announces New Plan for 1912

by George Siamandas

Winnipeg's Planning Commission had big plans for Winnipeg in 1912. The report of the planning commission recommended moving city hall to Broadway and creating a Mall along Osborne St. Winnipeg was the third largest city. And its leading citizens thought it would still become the biggest in the country.

There was concern that Winnipeg grow in the proper way and provide health, convenience and beauty for its citizens. Winnipeg saw itself as one of the leading cities in North America and wanted to do the right things with its future growth. The committee had some of the city's leading citizens including distinguished architect John Atchison, the heads of civic departments representatives from the real estate industry, the builders, unions, and academics.

WINNIPEG'S PROBLEMS IN 1912

There was a lot of overcrowding. Very high cases of typhoid. Their 1912 studies showed it was twice as high in Winnipeg's poor areas. There were not enough parks. Houses were being built on 25 foot lots. And what were once nice apartments were degenerating into tenements rapidly. There was concern that congestion near Portage and Notre Dame would get worse and that the system of roads, bridges and subways had to be improved. They also saw this as the last chance to acquire some riverbank land for public drives before it was all privatized. There was also concern that the health and building inspection department could not do their jobs because they were understaffed.

THE GRAND PROPOSAL OF RELOCATING CITY HALL TO MEMORIAL BOULEVARD AND CREATING A GRAND MALL

The new Manitoba legislature was about to be started on Broadway and would form the south end of a new mall. City hall was to go near Portage Ave. And between them was to be a new mall featuring a town square providing a place for a future art gallery, public library, post office, auditorium, exposition (convention centre) and other such structures such as a new Hudson Bay store. Running through the middle would be a roadway 160 feet across becoming a new north south highway.

NEW BUILDING CODES

To overcome slums they introduced new building standards. Houses were required to have one bedroom with at least 800 cubic feet of space and a window. No more 25 foot lots. At least one room would have to be 150 sq ft. They wanted to see the establishment of a Child Welfare Bureau and education about domestic hygiene and proper child care.

The legislature was built as planned but everything else had to wait for many decades. Of course city hall was not moved or rebuilt for another fifty years. The Bay built their store in 1926. During the depression they did build the auditorium as a relief project, and in the mid 1960s they built the art gallery. By 1962 city planners felt that city hall should stay put to help prevent further deterioration in the Main St. area.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THESE WELL LAID PLANS?

The voters turned a funding by-law for a new city hall shortly after 1912. The economy just did not support the grand vision that the planners had at the time. World War 1, then the doldrums of the 1920s when Winnipeg's gateway role was supplanted by the new Panama Canal, then the doldrums of the 1930s and then WW2.

The problems of slums, and housing conditions and more recently of the erosion of the commercial base. But what seems to have changed dramatically is the level of optimism. In 1912 Winnipeg was coming off decades of unprecedented growth and progress. They dreamt big with full confidence their plans would be realized. Today we see continuing challenges to the future viability of downtown both in economic and social terms. The original vision of a health, convenience and beauty seems even more elusive in 1997 than it did 85 years ago.

WINNIPEG'S GARMENT INDUSTRY


WINNIPEG'S GARMENT INDUSTRY

Rag Trade Boomed Despite the Depression

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

Winnipeg's garment trade was taking off in 1930 when a garment worker's strike brought production to a halt on Feb 25 1931. Winnipeg's Rag Trade boomed, while warehousing declined in Winnipeg's 1930s. Starting as small family enterprises run by Jewish tailors, by 1970 the garment trade had become Manitoba's second largest industry.

THE GARMENT WORKERS' UNIONS

In 1935 Sam Herbst succeeded in establishing smoother labour relations in the trade. For the next 25 years there would not be a single strike in the trade. Before the union, ladies could be fired for talking or for taking too long in the bathroom. Wages were poor at 18 cents per hour. One worker recalled receiving one penny for every 12 buttons she sewed to each army shirt. Some had to work 60 hours a week for part the year and were laid off for several months. Wages went up to 25 cents per hour after the WW2. Today most of it is on piecework, and the going rate is 12 cents per minute reflecting about $7 per hour.

THE GARMENT INDUSTRY ESTABLISHES 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 during the 1880s, 20 new businesses would thrive. They made what prairie people needed, by hand, in small operations. 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.

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 sitting vacant in Winnipeg's warehouse district. 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. 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.

In 1918 Benjamin Jacob and John Crowley were the first to move away from work clothes to producing ladies clothing. And to promote their rapid success, Winnipeg garment manufacturers got together in 1925 to put on Manitoba's first fashion show. By the 1930s 3,000 people had work in trade. Between 1941 and 1951 the industry grew 213%. In the peak year 1946, 14 new firms were established.

INTERNATIONAL BRANDS

Today the rag trade 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. All made in Winnipeg.

Monday, April 20, 2009

THE WADDEL FOUNTAIN


THE WADDEL FOUNTAIN

By George Siamandas

You will find the Waddell Fountain in the north east corner of Central Park. It is a Gothic style fountain that has drawn Winnipeg visitors for 82 hot Winnipeg summers.

Murray Peterson's book on Winnipeg Landmarks describes it as an example of "high Victorian architecture" .... a "collection of flying buttresses and pinnacles" with water flowing out of lion's heads. It's based on a design of a monument to Sir Walter Scott located in Edinburgh.

The Waddells had come to Winnipeg in the 1880s. Mr. Waddell was a local leader of the Temperance movement. The Waddells were married for 25 years but had no children. They lived around the corner from Central Park at 457 Sargent and would go for frequent walks into the new Central Park. It was a very fashionable neighbourhood then. The Park was ringed with fine homes, and it had tennis courts and a bandstand as well as winding paths and gardens. Mrs. Waddell's gift would complete the park which had once been undesirable low lying land that had required thousands of truckloads of fill.

MRS WADDELL'S DEATH RESULTS IN THIS FOUNTAIN

Eighty-eight years ago on January 23, 1908, Mrs. Emily Margaret Waddell passed away. Her will contained an unusual provision. Should her husband remarry, $10,000 from her $56,000 estate was to be used to build a public fountain in Central Park. The will was dated 1904. It is not even clear Thomas knew of the provision.

It does not look like Mr WAddell complied right away. Maybe he was just a procrastinator. Her will did not come to light till 1911. The will compelled the city to follow up on the provision of a fountain. By this time husband Thomas Waddell was engaged to be married. He just could not perform. He claimed he was desperately in debt due to some real estate investments that went belly up.

It took two years for Waddell to find the money, and finally the Parks Board approved a design by Winnipeg architect John Manuel. It was completed in 1914 and cost $9,722. Ten thousand dollars was a huge amount of money then. It would have built one of the finest houses in Crescentwood. A reporter is noted to have said "A truly remarkable fountain could be erected for this sum." In fact the Conservatory at Assiniboine Park was built around the same time for $15,000.

A WIFE'S REVENGE OR A TRIBUTE TO THEIR LOVE

Mrs Waddell loved the park. But building the fountain was required only if her husband remarried. Assuming she suspected her "beloved husband" would remarry as most husbands did, it suggests a wish to see a monument to their life together in the place she seemed to love. I guess it depends on how you see human nature. It might be interesting to invite your listeners to answer the question. I wonder if any of your listeners know more.

Parks seem to hold appeal for gifts even today. For example Leo Mol donated 200 sculptures in 1991 for the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. (June 1991) The other major gift is probably Kathleen Richardson's donation of the old Richardson property which is now passive park along Wellington crescent. (Jan 19th 1977)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

THE SALVATION ARMY'S WORK IN WINNIPEG


THE SALVATION ARMY'S

WORK IN WINNIPEG


By George Siamandas

The Salvation Army was started in London England in 1865 by William Booth who wanted to do something to improve the lives of poor people. "General" Booth as he is described in the literature literally created an army to attack poverty and to bring religion to the needy. The Salvation Army still remains very much a religious organization.

They first came to Winnipeg in early 1883. The Frank Vinall family came from Brighton England. They had already been active in a Salvation Army corps in Sussex. The Vinalls were able to persuade Canadian Salvation Army headquarters to establish an office in Winnipeg. And the first Winnipeg corps comprising a 3 man, 3 woman unit arrived in Winnipeg on December 10, 1886 and began to work from a building on Princess Ave.

There was a lot of work to be done in Winnipeg. Red River seemed ripe for salvation and was described by some as a very wicked place. Winnipeg was still a pioneer community. There had been the economic collapse in 1883 after the 1881-1882 land boom. Winnipeg was still very much a place of tents. There were many bush workers, railway men and other tramps as they were called then.

The Vinall's initial efforts of songs and prayer in front of the post office were not well received. The May 1883 paper noted that "if the morals of the community need correction it will have to be done through some other means." But the public soon came to appreciate what the Salvation Army did for man's daily needs. And by 1888, the Salvation Army was also set up in Brandon, Neepawa, Morden, Minnedossa, and Carberry.

The Salvation Army along with other private groups and churches seemed to be working well ahead of government by innovating most social services.
They pioneered outreach work visiting people in their own homes.

In 1890 they founded the Children's Shelter on Ross Avenue to house destitute mothers and homeless children. In 1906 they established Grace Hospital which became their first incorporated hospital in Canada. It was the idea of Evangeline Booth the founder Booth's daughter. In 1906 they started the first used clothing depot at Logan and King St.

The SA led the way with by helping house hundreds of returning soldiers from WW1 in two hotels they bought for the purpose. And later during the depression, in a 3 month period in 1931, they gave out 18,000 parcels of clothing, 8,500 meals, and beds to thousands of needy migrant men.

In 1918 Grace hospital's finances became very strained. Grace refused no one and ran into serious debt. To deal with the financial shortfall they made their first Red Shield Appeal. It raised $60,000 that spring of which $25,000 helped save the hospital.

As well as their good works, the SA has also left us some architecture like the Citadel located at 221 Rupert Ave. This three story brick structure was built in 1900 by J. Wilson Gray who also designed the much more ornate Confederation Life Building.

This building is still standing a block north of city hall in the middle of Winnipeg's Chinatown, and badly in need of renewal. It once contained a 1200 seat hall and became focus of their spiritual and administrative work in Winnipeg.

Monday, April 13, 2009


1919 Winnipeg Police Strike

The tale of two Winnipeg Police Chiefs

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

It has only happened once in Winnipeg's history, a Police Strike, and when it happened 81 years ago June 9, during the six week 1919 general strike, it resulted in the firing of all but 23 members of the police and major changes in the careers of two police chiefs. Despite warnings by the Police Commission in 1917, Winnipeg policemen had formed their own union in July 1918. At a meeting of the trades and labour Council the newly formed union voted in support of the general Strike. Yet they stayed on the job at the request of the strike committee. In effect it replaced the city as their control.

It is thought the policemen having just returned from WW1, where they fought side by side with workers were sympathetic to the aims of the workers. On May 19 Mayor Charles Gray, asked the policemen to sign an agreement not to participate in a sympathy strike. Two hundred and twenty-eight refused and on June 9 all but the 23 who signed loyalty oaths were dismissed from the force. To keep order, a special police force was set up under Major Lyall with members of the Army and the North West Mounted Police. Three thousand "specials' were hired.

FIRING OF CHIEF MACPHERSON

On June 11, Chief McPherson took the fall for the policemen's actions and was dismissed. McPherson had been chief from 1911 and a cop since 1903. McPherson had a good record and had been prominent in the successful firebug investigations of 1913. Deputy Chief Chris Newton who had been one of the 23 to sign the loyalty oath replaced the disgraced Chief MacPherson who was never given a satisfactory answer for his dismissal.

Hugh John Macdonald a member of the Police Commission fought against MacPherson's dismissal. A year later MacPherson was still fighting for compensation and finally received $5,000, a year's salary and a letter of recommendation. On June 21 the strike got ugly as two strikers were killed by Mounted Specials. By June 26 the strike was over and on June 27 the original policemen began to return to their jobs. Newton noted that 39 men several of whom had been active in the union should not be allowed to return to the force. Those that had stayed on during the strike received bonuses.

CHIEF NEWTON

Chief Newton helped build morale within the dept. He helped organize the Winnipeg City Police Athletic Assoc and later the Police Pipe Band. Twenty five years later, at age 63 after a distinguished 33 year career, Newton would face his own crisis of confidence.

It started with a fight after a traffic incident at the corner of Broadway and Balmoral St.

In June 27 1934 300 pound Winnipeg Police Chief Christopher H Neuton was charged with beating up 145 pound Joe Erlicky closing his eyes shut. The Free Press showed the diminutive Erlicky with his eye closed shut. Neuton had the class to resign. After a circus of a trial Neuton was found guilty of common assault and had to pay a $20 fine.

WINNIPEG'S FIRST POLICE CHIEF


WINNIPEG'S FIRST POLICE CHIEF

The Canadian West's Itinerant Chief of Police

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

JC INGRAM

Winnipeg's first chief of police JC Ingram was hired onFebruary 19, 1874. Ingram had come to Manitoba before 1870 and had worked for the provincial police. He was well known as the man that had arrested Ambroise Lepine (Riel's adjutant general) after the Riel Rebellion. Ingram was 23 years old and was known to be "a good man with his fists."

He had been one of four applicants. Perhaps the most deciding factor was that Ingram was a good friend of Mayor Francis Cornish. On Feb 24, 1874 a fourth by-law of the city established the Winnipeg Police Dept. Ingram would receive a salary of $750 per year, and a staff of two constables earning $500 per year. By summer the police force had shirts, whistles, batons, and police badges. But curiously, their engraver got the badge insignia all wrong. Instead of a beaver he had drawn a gopher. (For go for people)

But it soon became apparent that moral was not good. Ingram did not get along with his men. In particular they did not like his habit of associating with the ladies of the night. Despite this and conflicts with several aldermen, with Cornish's support he kept his job. Ingram's association with prostitutes continued as Winnipeg's stock of saloons, hotels and red light districts grew. Winnipeg and Barrie Ontario were known as the two wickedest places in Canada.

On June 7, Ingram's constables conducted a raid on a Sherbrook St brothel. They were barred entry to a second floor room. When they pushed past and gained entry, they found an unclothed Chief Ingram in the company of harlot Ella Lewis. Cornish had lost the 1875 mayoralty and in his place now was William Kennedy. The next day Ingram appeared before Mayor and Magistrate William Kennedy and was fined $8 and suspended. On the 14th Ingram tendered his resignation.

WHAT HAPPENED TO INGRAM

Ingram travelled the west and eventually moved to Calgary where he opened up a hotel and bar. When Calgary set up a police Force in 1885, Ingram became Calgary's first Chief of Police. But he continued to battle with local authorities and in 1888, left for Rossland BC where once again, he became their first chief of police. After a short stint there, he left to work in a mine were he was blown up in a dynamite explosion in 1905.

2ND CHIEF DAVID MURRAY

On July 1, 1875, David Murray became Winnipeg's next chief. Murray was a schoolteacher from Nova Scotia. He was a popular handsome man, known for his fine singing voice, which was in high demand at local concerts. Murray now had 5 constables. They worked 11-hour shifts 7 days a week. By November Murray had purchased the famous buffalo coats for $17 a piece, and more equipment including four "wrist snappers," 3 pistols as well as uniforms for the men.

CRIME REVIEW 1880

Murray would report 749 cases in 1880: 303 were for drunk and disorderly conduct, 212 were for inhabiting, frequenting, or maintaining a house of ill fame, 13 were charged with theft, 14 with assault, and 1 for gambling. In the 212 cases, 177 women listed their occupation as prostitute. While Murray was not accused of associating with prostitutes, future police chief McRae would face the same difficulties as Ingram. Vice was a problem and in 1910 Ingram faced a Royal Commission investigating police toleration of prostitution.

WINNIPEG'S FIRST FIRE DEPT


WINNIPEG'S FIRST FIRE DEPT

The trials and tribulations of the fire dept

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

Winnipeg dedicated its first fire hall Feb 7, 1875. But for the next 7 years till a permanent professional fire dept was organised, volunteers did the job. There was a time when the new city of Winnipeg had no fire protection. When fire broke out, a chemical pumper would be borrowed from the Hudson Bay Co. In 1875, a by-law establishing a fire dept was passed, with a volunteer brigade providing the labour. Prominent early citizens became members of the volunteer dept: James Ashdown, Thomas Ryan, Stewart Mulvey and Daniel McMillan.

Six fire tanks were built and sunk into the ground along Main St. Water came from an artesian well at the corner of Logan and Main. Labour for digging the trenches was supplied involuntarily by drunks reporting to magistrate's court. Alderman Archibald Wright telegraphed an order to Silsby Manufacturing Co for Winnipeg's first Steam Pumper. He was quoted 6 months delivery. But the next day Silsby offered a much better model for another $500 with delivery within 10 days. The engine arrived promptly by the Steamer Dakota but federal customs charges and doubled shipping costs saw the engine under wraps till the extra costs were resolved. The pool of 40 volunteer firemen received $1 per fire and 50 cents for false alarms. If they failed to report at the call of the Grace St Church bell they were each fined $1.

THE FIRST FIRE

The new pumper's first job was to fill the tanks with water. By early Dec 1874 the brigade was spoiling for its first challenge. It came a month later on Jan 11 1875: fire broke out in the McDermot Block. It was -31 F as the Grace Church bells called the volunteers from their beds. Within 12 minutes water was flowing and within 21 minutes of the alarm the fire was all under control. Surrounding buildings were saved, but the McDermot Block housing the St James Restaurant formerly Red River Hall burned to the ground.

The firemen had to pull the pumper by hand, as horses were not available nearby. Council soon remedied this by having horses stabled nearby. Lombard Ave was the site for the first fire station that stored the steam pumper, 2,000 feet of hose and four hand hose reels. On Christmas Day 1875, the fire hall burned to the ground destroying all the new equipment the dept had proudly assembled over its first year. By February, a new fire engine had been delivered. Local insurers had agreed not to cancel policies. In 1878 a new fire hall opened. At a cost of $7,000 this one was built to be fireproof.

A PROFESSIONAL FIRE DEPT

In 1882 the volunteers decided to disband and to form a full time fire dept. Winnipeg was booming with hundreds of new buildings. And the population was now 30,000. The newly created jobs were highly coveted. One hundred and fifty people applied to be firemen. The first chief was WO McRobbie who served from 1882 to 1889. McRobbie with 25 years experience in the Montreal fire brigade agreed to be chief for $1,800 per year. On start-up the dept hired 36 full time men and bought 17 horses. The force would spend $150,000 over the next 20 years. But it was not until Winnipeg built the high-pressure station on James Ave in 1907 that fire insurance rates dropped.

THE BUREAU OF CHILD HEALTH


THE BUREAU OF CHILD HEALTH

Early Efforts to Help Winnipeg Children

By George Siamandas

On Mar 1, 1916, the City of Winnipeg established the Bureau of Child Health. It marked a big step forward. For years councillors and the general public had avoided grappling with the reality of Winnipeg's alarmingly high child mortality rates. In the early 1900s it was typhoid that ran rampant revealing Winnipeg as the sickest city in North America or Europe: 23 deaths per thousand in 1904, 138 deaths in 1905. An investigation revealed most deaths in the areas without sewers: the north end around the CPR tracks. Winnipeg medical health Officer Dr Douglas likened conditions in Winnipeg's north end to those of a medieval European city. He noted the squalor in the north end was beyond the powers of description. Also in 1904, untreated water had been pulled into the water supply system to fight a rash of fires.

WHAT MADE PEOPLE SICK?

A combination of ignorance and poverty was making people and especially children sick leading to the highest mortality rates in North America and Europe. Far too many people were living in slum housing conditions. Parents were ignorant of hygienic practices. Children were malnourished. The water was neither safe nor abundant. The 1912-year saw infant death rates soar again: 126 per thousand in 1912 and 199 per thousand in 1914. Clearly it was time for action.

DR AJ DOUGLAS

Leading the effort was Dr AJ Douglas, Chief Medical Officer from 1900 to 1940. Douglas would face numerous epidemics including typhus, smallpox and influenza. Winnipeg was lucky to have an advocate at the job. Year after year his reports to council recommended action to hire more inspectors, ensure all houses were connected to sewers, and to reduce overcrowding. Douglas was particularly forceful in 1914 recommending that if necessary the city should get into the housing business. He urged that the city do more about the health of less fortunate Winnipeggers and in particular to put a special focus on child health. He got results. In 1913 working out of a house at 31 Martha St, Health Officer Tustin began to report on Child Hygiene.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Three years later the new Bureau of Child Health began to operate from a modern building at the corner of Main and Aberdeen. Nurses provided infant examinations and two doctors were available mornings 6 days a week. Volunteering their time to help the sick were Drs RF Rorke and E Richardson.

One major service was the dispensing of baby's milk feedings. Over 350,000 bottles were delivered in 1916. The bulk of it given free. That year Douglas requested an automobile to help deliver the milk before it spoiled on hot days. They made 119,730 nurse visits in 1916. Each nurse cared for over 400 infants. They encountered many young unwed mothers who knew nothing about childcare. Child health improved as more and more information was dispensed. The health dept issued Monthly bulletins: simple things about hygiene, yet things mothers did not know.

Working with other agencies like the Margaret Scott Nursing Mission and the All People's Mission, help arrived for Winnipeg's immigrant poor. Finally a tradition for social justice was emerging in Winnipeg's early days.

Margaret Laurence


Margaret Laurence

Drawing From a Dreadful Childhood in Neepawa

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

Jean Margaret Laurence, Manitoba's distinguished author of "The Stone Angel" and "The Diviners," was born Jean Margaret Weymiss, on July 18, 1926. Her mother was Verna Simpson, 6th daughter of John Simpson. Margaret's father was Bob Weymiss, a lawyer who had really wanted to become a carpenter. Her dreadful early life in Neepawa became the source of her writings.

DEATH WAS HER EARLY COMPANION

Death was Margaret's companion in childhood. Margaret lost her mother Verna at age four. Her aunt Margaret returned from Calgary to help care for young Margaret and slept in a back room. After a year of town gossip, her aunt became her next mother. From then on she would call her new mother mum. At age 9 Margaret lost her father. As a little girl she was made to go see her parents' graves, surrounded by peonies. From then on she hated that flower.

GRANDFATHER SIMPSON

The other major figure in Laurence's life was her maternal grandfather John Simpson, a successful businessman in Neepawa. He had come from Milton Ontario as a pioneer and had literally walked the 50 miles to Portage La prairie where he got his start. Simpson was a mean, avaricious man who was respected but hated by nearly everyone. He refused to let his wife go shopping with any money, and he later regretted sending Margaret's mother to Agricultural College as he did not like the idea of paying tuition for her to "learn how to cook."

After her father died the family had to sell their house and move in with Grandfather Simpson. Margaret later remarked how the house felt like a cage and her grandfather was a tyrant. She was encouraged in everything she did. She felt different from the other children, an outsider. She became an observer of the lives of others. The war took away every boy in her class by grade 12. As a result, all of Margaret's memories were of Neepawa as a place of death.

ESCAPE TO WINNIPEG

At age 17 she won a scholarship to United College and found an opportunity to meet other budding writers. At age 18 she bought a Remington typewriter for $14 and remarked that her typing course taken at age 14 was the best thing she ever did. She stayed at Sparling Hall and ate at a Salisbury House as well as Tony's. She had coined the name Minewaka in a short story competition run by the Winnipeg Free, Press.

MARRIED LIFE

She married Laurence in 1962 at age 21 and they lived for a while at 515 William above Anne and Bill Ross. For a while Margaret worked at a communist newspaper without knowing it and later for the Winnipeg Citizen. Her husband and the Rosses did not get along as he disapproved of their causes. Her husband was interested in 3rd world development work and after a short stint in England he found work on improving the water supply in Somalia. She wrote first about Africa but later after returning to England in 1962, after her divorce. She had two children.

There she began to write about Manawaka (Neepawa). The Stone Angel came out in 1964. In 1974 she returned to Canada living in Lakefield Ontario. She became a heavy smoker and an alcoholic. In later life she did not enjoy the idea of returning to Neepawa even for short trips. On her rare visits, she refused to walk by the old brick house.

This secretive woman who had decided long earlier that "a life without hope is not worth living," planned the details of her own funeral, including the timing of her death in Jan 5, 1987, during a battle with cancer.

HONEST JOHN BRACKEN The Man Who Didn't Want to Be Premier


HONEST JOHN BRACKEN

The Man Who Didn't Want to Be Premier

By George Siamandas

Honest John Bracken, the man who did not want to be Premier, ran the province for 22 difficult years between 1922 and 1944. Bracken was born the son of a dairy farmer June 22, 1883 in Leeds Ont. He loved sports especially football and hockey. He was one who kept his feelings to himself. He went away to high school but failed his final exams returning home defeated. He took on the management of his father's dairy farm and made into a success. Up at 4:30 in the morning and in bed by 9, Bracken tended the farm 7 days a week. Like farmers everywhere, Bracken had been raised on values of hard work, and self-reliance.

Later he applied to the Ontario Agricultural College where he became one of 300 students. There he applied himself and did well. He would later find a clerical error had occurred. He had in fact passed. He graduated with top marks and took on his first job. He went west in 1905 to head up the Manitoba a section of the Federal Seed Bureau providing better seeds to western farmers. He was then wooed further west to work in Saskatoon by WR Motherwell. He became a specialist in dryland farming writing several seminal texts. In 1920 he returned to head up Manitoba's Agricultural College. He loved farmers and talking about farming. And he loved to work, taking time out only for his beloved curling.

MANITOBA'S PREMIER 1922-1942

After winning the 1922 election the United Farmers of Manitoba found themselves without a platform and without a leader. After approaching several agricultural leaders they decided on Bracken. Bracken who had no interest in politics and who felt as head of the Ag College he already had the best job in Manitoba, turned them down flat. He gave such a stirring speech why he wasn't the man that the United Farmers of Manitoba realized they wanted this co-operative non-partisan even more.

The next day they presented him a petition asking him once again to become leader. And once again he refused. On the third try they made sure that they saw him at home with his wife present. Once again he said no. But then Mrs Bracken said: "John you should help these men out." He agreed.

But first, Bracken who had never voted in his life before had to win a seat. He decided to run in The Pas. Bracken won his seat and won elections for 22 years including some with acclamation. Forty years later, Bracken would tell a reporter a familiar story. After the election, the part aboriginal mayor of The Pas had told Bracken that he had been offered $10,000 by the Conservatives to run against Bracken but the mayor decided not to run.

Bracken was at the helm for the most difficult times Manitoba faced. He introduced income tax and raised the gas tax. He reduced govt spending, fired civil servants, and cut back mother's allowances. Within three years he was running a surplus. He was seen as arrogant, unable to forget his schoolmaster background and treated MLA's as schoolboys.

FEDERAL POLITICS

After his long service in provincial politics, in 1942 Bracken was once again persuaded to serve another group's needs, this time as the leader of the federal Conservative Party. He convinced them to add the name progressive, but he was disappointed in the partisan bickering and his performance was judged lacklustre. He lasted two years. Some saw him once again, as the wrong man in the wrong party.

HIS LEGACY

Bracken gave Manitoba 22 years of unselfish govt. His influence lasted as Brackenism would become the philosophy of the Garson and Campbell govt that would follow for another 15 years. In 1954, Bracken the teetotaller headed a Royal Commission on Liquor. His report recommended the liberalisation of drinking laws. Years later he regretted the increasing rates of alcoholism. He retired to Manotick Ontario to breed horses and died Mar 16, 1969.

HENRY MALANIK The Last Man to Be Hung In Manitoba


HENRY MALANIK

The Last Man to Be Hung In Manitoba

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

During a crime of passion Henry Malanak killed a policeman and had to pay the ultimate price. Today we tell the story of Henry Malanik, the last man to be hung in Manitoba 48 years ago this week June 17, 1952. It was 1950 and the City of Winnipeg Police Department would lose another officer in the line of duty. Detective Sergeant Edwin "Ted" SIMS was shot to death at the scene of a domestic dispute at 19 Argyle Street. The murderer, Henry MALANIK, was convicted and was the last man executed in Manitoba.

Malanik had come to Canada as a child in 1912. He had a grade 4 education. He had been convicted of several break and enters at age 17 but had no further troubles with the law till 1950. Malanik began an affair with Olga the wife of Adolph Kafka his childhood friend and best man. It was a fight over Olga's affections that resulted in a gun battle at their house in Point Douglas. Malanik and Kafka were each fined $50. Tragically, several months later their guns were returned to them.

KILLING OF POLICEMAN TED SIMMS

In July 15, 1950 Malanik was thrown out of a wedding reception for being drunk and disorderly. He went to the Argyle St house to see Olga where he and Adolph got into a knife fight sending Adolph to hospital. The police were called and Detective Sargent Ted Simms along with Det Jack Peachell and Det William Anderson attended the house. Malanik had fled but returned with a double-barrelled shotgun. In a gun fight Malanik killed Simms with a shotgun blast to the abdomen. Detective Peachell emptied his gun discharging 5 shots at Malanik. Three found their target. As the gunfire continued another rookie policemen shot Detective Andersen in the neck by mistake. He would later be fired from the force.

THE TRIAL

In Oct 1950 Malanik went on trial, his lawyer pleading for a manslaughter charge. After 40 min the jury returned a guilty plea, and Malanik was sentenced to hanging. Judge Kelly had reservations believing Malanik may have been too drunk to form an intent to kill. This was enough for an appeal. Malanik was retried in May 1951 and once again found guilty. This time judge Williams had no doubt of Malanik's guilt. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court where it was denied.

THE LAST HANGING

At 2:00 am June 17, 1952, as 40 witnesses watched, Henry Malanik was led into the execution chamber. Executioner "Camille" wearing a black beret and a Hawaiian shirt pulled the lever. As Malanik hung from the rope, blood began to spurt. His jugular had been severed. Two minutes later he was pronounced dead. It was the last time a man was hung in Canada's most humane and modern prison, Manitoba's Headingley Jail. Hangings continued at other provinces till 1962.

From time to time the issue comes up. The Reform Party supports capital punishment, as do approximately 69% of Canadians. In the US capital punishment is available in 38 states, where homicide is ten time more prevalent than in England.