Historic Sites of Manitoba: Fort Osborne Hall / Lipsett Hall (505 Kenaston Boulevard, Winnipeg)
The Canadian Army’s new physical training and recreation building in Winnipeg was commissioned by the Prairie Command (Department of National Defence) in 1956. Early plans called for a single-storey (plus basement) building to feature a pool, bowling alley, gym, kitchen, and changing rooms, along with a large array of outdoor sport venues. The construction contract was awarded to the Swanson Construction Company and set to begin around May 1956, with an estimated opening 12 months later. Completion would take twice that time, during which the scale of the project was expanded to include a second storey.
When finished, the building measured over 300 feet long by 150 feet wide. It boasted a six-lane bowling alley, a 150-person capacity pool (82.5 feet by 45 feet; depth range of 3 to 9 feet) with two diving platforms, a large gym (100 feet by 135 feet) with space for multiple court sport configurations, and two viewing galleries each with seating for 200 spectators. Space was also provided for change rooms, a kitchen, lounge, and offices. Dedicated outdoor space measured 1200 feet by 800 feet, with four baseball diamonds, three soccer pitches, two tennis courts, a football field, and a quarter-mile track. Total costs of the complex tallied $932,325. The Fort Osborne Hall was officially opened by Major-General W. J. Megill, General Officer Commanding Prairie Command on Army Day, 24 May 1958. Access was initially limited to uniformed military personnel and civilian staff working on base. Commemorative naming for the structure followed later that year, with the honour posthumously bestowed on 4 October 1958 to Major-General Louis James Lipsett (1874-1918).
Born in Ireland on 15 June 1874, Lipsett joined the Royal Irish Regiment and became a British Army officer, serving in India and South Africa. He attained the position of a general staff officer, and as a Major in 1911, he was posted to Canada in an advisory and instructional role. The onset of the First World War saw him in British Columbia. He came to Winnipeg in August 1914 as Commanding Officer of the 90th Winnipeg Rifles (known as the “Little Black Devils”, [later Royal Winnipeg Rifles, RWR]) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was involved in their training both locally and at Valcartier, Quebec, where the RWR was merged into 8th Battalion, of which Lipsett was named Commanding Officer (1914-1915). They shipped out to Europe, where he led his troops in the trenches of the Western Front. At Ypres, he was attributed with the instruction to use urine-soaked hankerchiefs as a makeshift counter to early German gas attacks. Soon after, he was promoted to command the Second Brigade of the 1st Canadian Division, and in June 1916, he was made General Commanding the 3rd Canadian Division. As part of his leadership, physical training and fitness was emphasized. On 14 October 1918, he was killed by enemy sniper fire along the front lines in France, less than one month from the Armistice of 11 November 1918.
Timing of the honours coincided with the RWRs 75th anniversary, and a portrait of Lipsett was unveiled at the event by retired RWR Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel Locky R. Fulton. The facility was a part of the surrounding military complex, known as Fort Osborne Barracks until 1968, when it was renamed Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg [South] (1968-1973), and lastly as Kapyong Barracks (1973-2004). In later years, the building also housed the Lipsett Hall Nursery School. Closed in 2004, the structure was demolished in 2018-2019.
Photos & Coordinates
“Col. Steele on way to Valcartier,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 August 1914, page 16.
“Major Lipsett to lead 90th Rifles,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 August 1914, page 12.
“Winnipers who are officers in Eighth Battalion,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 October 1914, page 1.
“Four new branches taken over by C.N.R. [The new towns on the St. Brieux branch ... Lipsett],” Manitoba Free Press, 14 June 1915, page 3.
“How Lieut. Passmore came to his death,” Manitoba Free Press, 3 July 1915, page 9.
“Promotion for Winnipeg officer,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 August 1915, page 2.
“Gen. Lipsett is given promotion,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 7 June 1916, page 12.
“Lipsett succeeds Mercer,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 June 1916, page 1.
“In action,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 March 1917, page 1.
“Winnipeg officer may command all Canadian Forces,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 23 November 1917, page 2.
“Maj.-Gen. Lipsett killed by sniper,” Manitoba Free Press, 21 October 1918, page 1.
“German sniper kills Major-Gen. Louis J. Lipsett,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 October 1918, page 9.
“War veterans regret Gen. Lipsett's death,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 21 October 1918, page 12.
“Proves Gen. Lipsett died with Canadians,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 25 October 1918, page 12.
“Says Get. Lipsett was with Imperials,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 November 1918, page 5.
“Soldiers get new facilities for sports,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 May 1956, page 35.
“Two-mile parade down Portage,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 May 1958, page 19.
“Here is Army Day program,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 May 1958, page 3.
“Army boys open new recreation building,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 May 1958, page 39.
“Fort Osborne Hall honors Lipsett,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 October 1958, page 25.
“Building named for former Rifles Chief,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 October 1958, page 6.
“Birthday of a famous Regiment,” by Al Murray, Winnipeg Free Press, 4 October 1958, page 15.
“Unveils portrait,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 October 1958, page 24.
“YWCA gals rule champioship gala,” Winnipeg Free Press, 17 November 1959, page 20.
“Pats to parade,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 May 1973, page 101.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 31 January 2021