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Manitoba History No. 89
Manitoba
History

No. 89

AGM 2019
MHS
Annual
General
Meeting

Spring Field Trip 2019
MHS
Spring
Field Trip

Summer Field Trip 2019
MHS
Summer
Field Trip

Fall Field Trip 2019
MHS
Fall
Field Trip

War Memorials in Manitoba
War
Memorials
in Manitoba

This Old Elevator
This Old
Elevator

Abandoned Manitoba
Abandoned
Manitoba

Memorable Manitobans
Memorable
Manitobans

Historic Sites of Manitoba
Historic Sites
of Manitoba

Historical Tours in Manitoba: A Walking Tour of Armstrong’s Point

by Patricia Thomson
Winnipeg, Manitoba

NOTE: A version of the walking tour, designed to be printed on 8½” by 11” paper then folded in half to create an eight-page booklet, can be downloaded in PDF format here.

Armstrong’s Point is relatively unknown to many residents of Winnipeg. A large bend in the Assiniboine River creates this somewhat isolated residential district developed as a suburban haven for well-to-do families in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Prior to European contact, the area was a gathering spot for Aboriginal inhabitants. For a time, a Métis man named Joseph Peltier (Pelletier) established a camp here and, until the late 1840s, Armstrong’s Point was known to local residents as Point au Peltier.

In 1851, the land was granted by the Hudson’s Bay Company to Captain Joseph Hill. When he was ordered to England for the Crimean War in 1855, he left his batman, Private James Armstrong, in charge of his property. Armstrong died in 1874 but his son Elliot continued to live on the property and during their tenure, the area came to be known as Armstrong’s Point. In the early 1880s, Hill heard that land values were escalating in the Canadian West and he returned to Winnipeg, re-established title to his property, and sold it in April 1881 to land speculators J. McDonald and E. Rothwell for $24,000.

The first home that still remains was built on what is now 147 East Gate in 1882. Between that year and 1920 most of the large, stately homes that give the district its distinctive atmosphere were built. This guide will help you to learn something of Winnipeg’s early days as you stroll up and down the streets of a lovely part of Winnipeg.

Armstrong’s Point, circa 1905
Source: Archives of Manitoba

The first home that still remains was built on what is now 147 East Gate in 1882. Between that year and 1920 most of the large, stately homes that give the district its distinctive atmosphere were built. This guide will help you to learn something of Winnipeg’s early days as you stroll up and down the streets of a lovely part of Winnipeg.

The tour can begin at the Gates at Cornish and West Gate. These lighted Gates, and the ones at Middle Gate and East Gate, were erected in 1911 at the request of the residents and reinforced the Point’s separation from the rest of the city. Shortly after, streets were renamed to the current West Gate, Middle Gate and East Gate from the former Assiniboine and Central Avenues.

20
West Gate

This is the site of the Cornish Library, named after Winnipeg’s first Mayor, Francis Cornish. It opened in 1915 and is one of very few Carnegie libraries in Canada still in use as a Public Library. Its site and the surrounding parkland were once occupied by the Winnipeg Water Works Company which, in 1882, started drawing and distributing water from the Assiniboine River. The northbound span of the Maryland Bridge now covers the former site of a swimming pool called the Cornish Baths built at the same time as the library and demolished in 1931.

25 West Gate

This building was built in 1911 for McCrea P. Blair and his bride Muriel Wood, who both grew up on the Point, at 86 West Gate, and at 137 West Gate, owned by architect William Wallace Blair.

40 West Gate

This building was built in 1882 by merchant David Young. It was occupied at one time by W. F. Luxton, founder of the Free Press. It was bought in 1895 by Lendrum McMeans, who later became an MLA and a Senator. For a time in the 1970s and 1980s, the house was the French Consulate.

54 West Gate

This building was built for Rev. Charles Gordon, the minister of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church and well-known author. Using the pen name Ralph Connor, he wrote popular novels such as The Man from Glengarry. The house has been preserved by the University Women’s Club and, in 2009, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

86 West Gate

(Demolished, 1989) This building was built in 1901 for W. Rockley Kaye from a design by architect Walter Chesterton. When Kaye became ill in 1904 and died the next year, the home was sold to George Wood, owner of a hardware company. He named the house “Helenlea” after his wife and daughter. This copy of an English country house was described in a 1989 report of the City’s Historical Buildings Committee as having been “one of the area’s and the city’s most beautiful homes.” It became a girls’ school in 1951, was taken over by Westgate Mennonite Collegiate in 1964, and was demolished when Westgate made a second major expansion in 1989.

112 West Gate

This building was built in 1906 by William Harvey, a trust company executive. It was one of several houses in the area designed by architect J. H. G. Russell and is a fine example of Georgian Revival style. Harvey named the home Dunedin which is carved in stone above the front door. It was owned in the 1950s by Rupert Whitehead, well known for his accomplishments as a figure skater with the Winnipeg Ice Skating Club.

115 West Gate

This building was built by Col. H. W. A. Chambre in 1912. The Elizabethan Revival house was designed by architects Woodman and Carey.

119 West Gate

This building was built in 1909 by Sidney T. Smith of grain merchants Smith and Murphy. It is another home designed by architect J. H. G. Russell.

131 West Gate

Designed by architect D. W. Bellhouse, this building was built in the Tudor Revival style in 1912 by grain inspector David Horn. It featured a billiard room on the third floor. The porches on the south side were originally open verandahs.

134 West Gate

A. R. James Bannatyne (son of prominent merchant A. G. B. Bannatyne) erected the first house here in 1882 but it burned in 1894. The current home was built on the foundation of the first house using some of its structural elements. J. B. Monk, manager of the Bank of Ottawa, bought the home in 1895 and named it Beechmount. It was the Japanese Consulate during the 1970s. The current owner undertook extensive restoration of the home and received a City of Winnipeg historical designation.

158 West Gate

(Demolished, 1950) The gates forming the entrance to this site mark the entrance and northern lot line for the former “Bannatyne’s Castle.” A. G. B. Bannatyne, the prominent early Winnipeg merchant, politician and philanthropist built a large home here in 1883-1885. It originally cost over $38,000, had 30 rooms, and was constructed of local limestone trimmed with red sandstone imported from Duluth. It was meant to resemble Rothesay Castle in Scotland where his parents had been married. J. Stewart Tupper, son of Sir Charles Tupper, bought it in 1899 and gave it the name “Ravenscourt.” It was used by Capt. Norman Young for a boys’ school starting in 1929. In 1935, Ravenscourt School moved to Wildwood and the “Castle” was rented to the Sacred Heart Sisters for a girls’ school. It was taken over by the City for back taxes in 1949 and demolished in 1950.

186 West Gate

This building at the southwest corner of West Gate and Middle Gate was built in 1920 for R. T. Riley, head of the Northern Trusts Company. It was designed by A. A. Stoughton in the Tudor Revival style. It was owned in the 1950s by C. S. Riley, R. T.’s son.

153 East Gate

This building, the home of W. J. Tupper, Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba from 1934 to 1940, was built in 1896. Walter Chesterton was the architect. The Tupper family lived there until Tupper’s death in 1947. The new owner sold off much of the extensive property and converted the house to a duplex.

147 East Gate

This building is the oldest remaining home in Armstrong’s Point. It was built in 1881-1882 for Arthur F. Eden, a partner of Stobart Wholesale Merchants and later, a land commissioner for the Manitoba and Northern Railway. The front door faces the Assiniboine River as the original drive circled to that side of the house. Eden called his home “The Pagoda” and it became one of Winnipeg’s early centres of society. The large grounds included a tennis court used by The Bird Cage Tennis Club. The fireplace in the living room is faced with blue Minton tiles telling the story of the Knights of the Round Table and the sword Excalibur. In 1891, the house was purchased by William Fisher of Happyland Amusement Park. Fisher changed the name of the house to “Elmsley” and continued the tradition of hosting social gatherings there. He died in 1920 and the property was taken over by The Royal Trust Company which owned it as a rental property until 1938. It was made into a duplex in 1951 but was returned to a single family home by the current owner in 1977.

138 East Gate

This 1911 building was designed by architect D. W. F. Nichols and was the fourth house in the area built with a gambrel roof in the Dutch Colonial style. It was written up in a 1914 article in Construction magazine, a Canadian architectural journal which commented on its interior features said to be typical of a late Edwardian house.

89 East Gate

This building at the corner of Blanchard Avenue was built for George Crowe, a Winnipeg alderman in 1911. It replaced a home called The Nook built on this site during 1881-1882 by dry goods magnate Frederick W. Stobart which was demolished in 1910. The John S. Richardson family owned the new #89 from 1945 to 1956. The home has ten fireplaces, nine bathrooms, a ballroom in the basement and a vault under the front entrance hall. It was owned by the Oblate Fathers (Les Reverends Peres Oblats) from 1956 to 1984. The property was bought in 1997 by a religious group called the Twelve Tribes who also own 90 East Gate.

90 East Gate

This building was built in 1909 by R. T. Riley. The stone structure was designed by architect C. S. Bridgman with walls that are 18 inches thick. One mantel has scenes from the Lord’s Prayer. A former wood frame stable at the back of the home, also designed by Bridgman, was moved to its present location in 1925 and stuccoed. Riley lived in this home until 1920 when he built his home at 186 West Gate. The home was subsequently owned by other Riley family members until 1959.

69 East Gate

This building was built in 1896 by J. R. Waghorn, the publisher of the popular Waghorn’s Pocket Guide. He was also secretary of the Birdcage Tennis Club in Armstrong’s Point and co-founder of the St. Charles Country Club. His Tudor style home was designed by architect Walter Chesterton and featured a two-storey verandah on the river side overlooking a tennis court. He called his home Ecclestone and with its extensive grounds which were known as Maple Grove, it became a social centre. The dining room seated fifty people in comfort. In 1905 the touring Shakespearean Company, the Ben Greet Players, performed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on the grassy knoll in this yard. Dame Sybil Thorndike was a cast member, on her first tour of North America. The second owner, Dan Bain, was a noted sportsman. Team Captain of the Winnipeg Victorias hockey team that twice won the Stanley Cup, he also placed second in the 1930 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in the waltz contest at the age of 56. His books and papers were donated to the University of Winnipeg.

40 East Gate

This building was built in 1912 for MLA and later, Senator, Aime Benard. Architect George Northwood designed the Beaux-Arts style mansion.

6 East Gate

This building was built in 1913 for Dr. Jasper Halpenny. Its architect was James Lethbridge.

5 East Gate

This building was built in 1906 by Thomas Ryan, of Ryan’s Boots and Shoes who was Mayor of Winnipeg while still in his thirties. The handsome red brick mansion was designed by area resident W. W. Blair.

2 Middle Gate

This building was built in 1904 at 61 Furby Street. It was moved onto a new foundation at its present site in 1928 for D. C. Valentine and, in 1959, was the home for the Field Secretary of the Board of the Anglican Church Women’s Auxiliary. The current owners have done extensive work to beautifully restore the home.

6 Middle Gate

This building was designed by architect Henry Linnell in the Elizabethan style. The home was constructed during 1912-1913 for John T. Speirs, President of Speirs Parnell Baking Company, now a part of Weston’s.

9 Middle Gate

This building was built in 1884-1885 by wholesale grocer Edmund Powis. It was significantly altered and enlarged to its present size by its next owner, hardware merchant, W. G. McMahon. During the 1930s, the next owner, Joseph Wolinsky put concrete piles under the structure and changed it to a triplex. Today, the owners live in one of the suites and rent out the other two.

22 Middle Gate

This building was built in 1909 for clothier and MLA Horace Chevrier. Architect D. W. Bellhouse designed the Edwardian style home with its corner tower.

28 Middle Gate

This building was built in 1909 for Halfdon R. Soot, owner of the North Star Grain Company and the Norwegian Consul at Winnipeg. Soot later bought 40 East Gate. The current owners of #28 plan to restore the original front screened porch.

34 Middle Gate

This building was the family home of Dr. Frank W. Glasgow from 1911 until 1939. He was founder of the New Method Dental Parlours. The Craftsman-style design was adapted by architect Cyril W.U. Chivers, from plans which Dr. Glasgow brought from California. The home is one of few in the neighbourhood to retain its original large stone verandah, likely because the house is supported by steel I-beams which continue under the floor of the front porch.

43 Middle Gate

This building was built in 1909 by Theodore A. Hunt, the City Solicitor. The Tudor- Revival style home was designed by architect, D. W. Bellhouse.

58 Middle Gate

This building is another of the Armstrong’s Point homes designed by architect J. H. G. Russell. It was built in 1911 for wholesale grocer William J. Campbell.

64 Middle Gate

This building was built in 1913 in the American Colonial Revival style for widow Katherine McKittrick, who moved in with her seven children. The architect was William Fingland. It was a duplex from 1948 to 1983 but the current owners converted it back to a single-family home.

67 Middle Gate

This is another of the area’s homes designed by architect D. W. Bellhouse. It was constructed in 1908 for Benjamin S. Jenkins who was Superintendent of the CPR’s Western Telegraph Lines. Although it is purported to have been used as a Seniors’ Residence and hippie drop-in centre during the 1960s and 70s, it is today a beautifully restored single-family home.

94 Middle Gate

This building was built in 1904 for Charles H. Beckett. This was the first home in Armstrong’s Point designed by architect J. H. G. Russell. Mrs. Beckett was the sister of W. Rockley Kaye who built 86 West Gate. The present owners have lived here since 1969.

99 Middle Gate

This building was the home of James Ryan Jr., built in 1910. The architect Victor Horwood designed the home in the Prairie style popular at that time. James Ryan Jr. was a nephew of Thomas Ryan of 6 East Gate and son of James Ryan Sr. who built a home next door at 93 Middle Gate which was destroyed by fire in 1973.

111 Middle Gate

This building was built in 1913 by Margaret McKay Long and her husband Alfred, an accountant. The architect was Frank R. Evans.

115 Middle Gate

This building, and the one at 123 Middle Gate, were originally built in 1882 as nearly identical dwellings with opposite floor plans. Built as speculative houses by William Ramsay, they were rented for several years after Ramsay ran into financial difficulty. #115 was bought in 1900 by Arbuckle Jardine and was enlarged and extensively remodelled by him in 1906. In 1894, #123 was bought by Dr. Daniel McIntyre, Superintendent of Winnipeg Schools from 1885 to 1928. In 1897, he added plumbing and expanded the home with a wing on its south side designed by J. H. G. Russell. In 1994, then owners Don and Martha Epstein added the screened porch which looks as if it has always been there.

This brings us to the end of the walking tour. Armstrong’s Point was a special place where families grew up and where the children frequently married “the boy next door” and then moved down the street. The Woods, the Blairs, the Bannatynes, the Kayes, the Becketts, the Rileys, the Crowes, the Tuppers, the Ryans, the Chambres all had relatives as neighbours.

Many of the early residents of this protected point of land helped to shape our city’s direction and development. Our tour has been able to focus on only a few of their interesting homes. There are many more. We hope the tour has been able to capture some of the special atmosphere which is still evident here, and that you will return again to further enjoy the special place that is Armstrong’s Point.

Sources:

This walking tour was compiled by Patricia Thomson in 2011. Extensive use was made of the following resources:

Randy R. Rostecki, Armstrong’s Point - A History, The Heritage Winnipeg Corporation 2009. Used with permission.

Rosemary Malaher and Pamela LeBoldus, A Walking Tour of Armstrong’s Point. Prepared for the Junior League of Winnipeg in 1983 and published by the Manitoba Historical Society in Manitoba History, Number 5, Spring 1983.

Page revised: 21 April 2019

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