Manitoba Communities: Brooklands (Unincorporated Town)
In the early 1900s Brooklands was a working-class enclave centred around Notre Dame Avenue and Keewatin Street, part of the Municipality of Rosser. Most of the residents were employed by the CPR’s Weston yards and shop. Between 1906 and 1911, Brooklands grew from 250 people to 800 and took on many of the trappings of an independent village. There was a constantly expanding school, it made up its own district on the Rosser municipal council and it had an active Ratepayers Association. Brooklands also fielded successful teams in various municipal and provincial sports leagues. In 1909 the district’s relationship with Rosser grew tense over the lack of basic services such as sewer and water hookup to its approximately 250 homes. The Ratepayers Association threatened to seek independence or amalgamate with neighbouring Winnipeg, but nothing came of it.
In the spring of 1921 the Brooklands Ratepayers Association and the Brooklands and District Labour Party led another campaign for independence. A formal request was made to the province and the first village election was held in July. George R. Brown became the first Mayor. During the 1920s and 1930s, offices for the municipality were located in Cressey School.
The area was hit hard during disease epidemics and economic downturns. In 1915 a relief camp operated in the Brooklands area for its 120 or so unemployed. During the Depression, 75% of its men were out of work. In 1932 the village went bankrupt and the province had to appoint a third party manager to run its affairs until 1944. Brooklands struggled to provide basic services like sewer and water and its council was regularly embroiled in political turmoil and infighting. The once-promising community ended up an underfunded, industrial enclave on the edge of two growing cities.
“Brooklands seeks union,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 December 1909, page 3.
“Town develops on western limit,” Manitoba Free Press, 12 November 1910, page 32.
“Brooklands relief camp,” Manitoba Free Press, 8 February 1915, page 14.
“Brooklands ratepayers to let labor party represent them,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 March 1921, page 3.
“Made first Mayor of Brooklands village,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 July 1921, page 20.
“Planned merger stirs St. James,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 April 1966, page 29.
“Mayor explains proposed merger of St. James and Brooklands,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 March 1966, page 13.
“St. James will grow by 4,000 January 1” by Steve Melnyk, Winnipeg Tribune, 19 December 1966, page 7.
“The end of the year is the end of Brooklands,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1966, page 7.
“Identity won’t be lost in St. James-Assiniboia,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1971, page 19.
Obituary [Harry Stiller], Winnipeg Free Press, 11 May 1987, page 39.
A Short History of Brooklands Elementary Schools including Woodsworth, Cressey, Krawchyk, Butterworth, St. James Assiniboia School Division.
We thank Nathan Kramer and Kenneth Normand for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 13 October 2021