Historic Sites of Manitoba: Mixed Garbage and Refuse Destructor / Winnipeg Incinerator / Maude Street Incinerator (Henry Avenue, Winnipeg)
By 1944, the City of Winnipeg’s Saskatchewan Avenue Dump and Elmwood Dump were becoming inadequate to the needs of a growing city, capable of receiving only 90 tons of garbage per ten-hour period. In November 1944, taxpayers approved a $550,000 project to build a large incinerator, designed to burn garbage rather than dump it. The Chicago-based engineering firm of Greeley and Hansen was hired and a site on Henry Avenue was selected for the incinerator.
On 9 May 1946, a sod-turning ceremony for what was to be called the City of Winnipeg Mixed Garbage and Refuse Destructor (but commonly referred to as the Winnipeg Incinerator) was attended by Police Chief George Smith, Mayor Garnet Coulter, Alderman Hilda Hesson, Assistant City Engineer A. J. Taunton (representing City Engineer W. D. Hurst), Alderman and Health Committee Chair James Black, City Health Officer Morley Lougheed, and Alderman James Simpkin. A 180-foot chimney was finished by September 1946 with construction of the plant ongoing through 1947.
By February 1948, the facility was completed and operational testing commenced. A 350-ton receiving pit had sufficient capacity for four garbage trucks to unload simultaneously. From there, cranes transfered the garbage into hoppers which emptied into three large furnaces where it was burned at a temperature of about 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. (When the facility was fully operational, the furnace temperature was 1400 degrees.) Each furnace had a capacity of 100 tons per 24 hour period, allowing for the incineration of 300 tons of garbage each day. Though there was some smell from the burning garbage, the chimney emitted no smoke. Metal that survived the incineration was sold to a US-based company while ash and unburned waste was dumped in West St. Paul.
The facility was staffed by 22 people transferred here from the Saskatchewan and Elmwood sites, consisting of a shift foreman, three crane operators, six firemen, three charging floormen, three ashmen, a tipping floor worker, and a weigh master, all overseen by a Site Superintendent. There were three shifts in the 24-hour work day.
When the facility was opened officially on 10 March 1948, a bronze commemorative plaque was unveiled at the northeast corner of the building, at Warnock and Henry. It bore the names of the engineering firm, City Engineer, City Health Officer, and the following inscription:
The ceremony was attended by members of the City Council, prominent local citizens, and interested residents, including Vancouver City Engineer Charles Battershill, Frances Haskin of Montreal (whose firm supplied equipment), J. B. Striowski (City Engineer, design) and City Architect Anton Breivik. Mayor Coulter, assisted by municipal officials Hurst, Black, and Lougheed, ceremonially lit the furnaces by tossing torches into them.
In the fall of 1959, tenders were issued for expansion of the facility. Through 1960, construction on the western side doubled its size with the addition of a second, brick-lined reinforced concrete chimney of similar size to the original one and a new 200-ton incinerator containing five furnaces. The expansion allowed the average incineration cost to be reduced from $2.27 to $2.11 per ton. Waste incineration agreements were made with the Town of Tuxedo and, by 1962, also with the City of West Kildonan. Following the Unicity municipal mergers of 1972, the name was changed to the Maude Street Incinerator to differentiate it from other facilities in the newly enlarged City of Winnipeg.
By the latter half of the 1970s, the facility was handling some 100,000 tons of garbage of the city’s annual production of 460,000 tons, and sending about 25,000 tons of burned waste to city landfills. Faced with a $7 million bill to upgrade the facility to modern air pollution standards, the city’s Civic Works and Operations Committee recommended closure and, following a 15:8 council vote on 21 February 1979, the facility was closed on 30 April 1979. Henceforth, unburned garbage was sent directly to local landfills. The building was later converted into a recycling centre.
The 1948 commemorative plaque was gone at the time of a 2015 site visit.
Photos & Coordinates
“Reports given on incinerators,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 October 1944, page 13.
“Trade Board aids incinerator plan,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 November 1944, page 16.
“Incinerator bylaw goes over with bang,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 December 1944, page 3.
“Incinerator bylaw gets third reading,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 December 1944, page 3.
“Lowest tenders for incinerators total $700,000,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 July 1945, page 13.
“City may postpone building incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 July 1945, page 9.
“New date for incinerator bids discussed,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 July 1945, page 11.
“Financing arranged for new incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 November 1945, page 11.
“New incinerator awaits approval of extra costs,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 March 1946, page 3.
“Building soon on incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 March 1946, page 1.
“Mayor turns sod for incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 May 1946, page 15.
“New incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 August 1946, page 5.
“New incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 August 1946, page 5.
“Tall story [Photo caption, new chimney at Winnipeg Incinerator],” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 September 1946, page 1.
“Incinerator control still not decided,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 August 1947, page 3.
“New incinerator ready in January,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 November 1947, page 11.
“Amalgamation plan submitted,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 December 1947, page 3.
“New incinerator ready by Feb. 15,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 December 1947, page 5.
“City building near $1,000,000 mark,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 January 1948, page 9.
“Machines handle garbage at new city incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 February 1948, page 17.
“Mayor lights fire in new incinerator,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 March 1948, page 23.
“Incinerator Superintendent leaving for Flin Flon job,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 March 1948, page 23.
“Mayor Coulter opens new city incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 March 1948, page 5.
“City housewives can opener champs,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 March 1948, page 17.
[Photo caption, “Health Guardian”], Winnipeg Tribune, 11 March 1948, page 17.
“St. James seeks use of Winnipeg Incinerator,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 September 1951, page 3.
“Incinerator plan,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 December 1956, page 2.
“City of Winnipeg Tenders for installation of incinerator furnace,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 August 1959, page 41.
“City of Winnipeg Tenders for construction of reinforced concrete chimney,” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 August 1959, page 41.
“A lot of rubbish,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 July 1962, page 3.
“The City of Winnipeg in the matter of the City of Winnipeg Incinerator By-Law - By-Law No. 1979/78,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 October 1978, page 51.
“City grapples with problem of hazardous wastes,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 November 1978, page 3.
“City incinerator closing favored by committee,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 February 1979, page 5.
“Maude Street incinerator closing approved by council,” Winnipeg Free Press, 22 February 1979, page 7.
“Toxic waste issue called time bomb,” Winnipeg Free Press, 19 June 1980, page 9.
“Springfield annuls order for disposal of solvents,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 October 1980, page 3.
We thank Gordon Goldsborough for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 11 April 2021