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The Nuyttens of Belgian Town - A Post Script

by Raymonde Loudfoot

Manitoba Pageant, Autumn 1974, Volume 20, Number 1

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

Since the article, The Nuyttens of Belgian Town, appeared in the Spring 1974 issue of the Pageant, a few corrections have come to my attention and new information has come to light.

Preceding the Nuyttens to Canada by several years, the three Bossuyt brothers, Charles, Peter and Constant arrived in 1879. Other members of the Bossuyt family arrived in 1888.

The house Edmund Nuytten built on lot 268 Dugald Road was moved when the CNR overpass was built, but not to 1038 Blair St. as stated in the article. The present location of the house is unknown.

It was not Edmund, but his son Theo who took the children of the district to school in his large sleigh. Theo is still remembered for his generous assistance to others in the Belgian community. His home was a popular meeting place, especially at three o'clock every afternoon when his wife Antoinette served coffee and raisin bread. Transients who rode the rods in the 1930s often got off the train at Transcona and wandered up Dugald Road to get a free meal at Theo's. Theo is also remembered for his interesting hobby - raising Flemish canaries.

The Winnipeg Free Press on August 22, 1974 reports that Nuytten St. between Holden Ave. and Lagimodiere Boulevard is to be renamed Theo Nuytten St.

The term Belgian Town was first used in the St. Boniface Police Court during the Prohibition Era by non-Belgians who were accused of buying illicit beer. The accusers were the much disliked informers who frequently worked with a special police force not connected with the St. Boniface Police. If the informers stated that the accused purchased beer in Belgian Town the defending lawyers would ask, "Where is Belgian Town?" The answer would be any house in St. Boniface where a Belgian lived. Belgians, French and others in St. Boniface did not use the term.

Mr. Joseph Vermander, former postmaster and the unofficial interpreter for the Flemish people during that era still remembers those days.

Page revised: 20 July 2009

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