Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 144 years

MHS Features: Winnipeg Time Line (1812-2000)

by J. M. Bumsted




First European settlers arrive at Point Douglas.


Lord Selkirk visits Red River.




Henry McKenney establishes the Royal Hotel.


McKenney builds store at the corner of Portage and Main.


Name “Winnipeg” is first used on the masthead of Nor’Wester newspaper.


Alexander Begg begins his journal; Louis Riel occupies Upper Fort Garry.


The Hudson’s Bay Company establishment becomes the seat of Manitoba government; also Dominion Lands Office in 1872. Winnipeg consists of thirty structures, many of them quite temporary. The Orange Lodge is formed. The Terror of 1870-71.


First minor real estate boom.


Fort Osborne barracks built.

January 1872

Alexander Begg establishes Manitoba Trade Review and editorializes for incorporation of Winnipeg.

February 1872

Mass meeting held which passes resolutions for incorporation, which was opposed by the Hudson’s Bay Company and several large property holders.

December 1872

Another meeting calls for incorporation. The Winnipeg General Hospital is established at the corner of McDermott and Albert.

February 1873

A meeting discusses draft incorporation bill calling for a council of mayor and eight aldermen, and four-ward system. The final bill cut the rate of taxation on improved property and on unimproved was 1/20 of one percent. The new town would be called Assiniboine. Robert Gerrie opens first furniture store in the West with American merchandise.

March 1873

Another meeting the residents protest the legislature’s intentions. Meanwhile, house speaker Curtis Bird, who had ruled the original draft bill out of order, was lured from his house and tarred and feathered.

8 November 1873

Royal assent given to Act of Incorporation. The Act (and government) were based on Ontario system. High property qualification for voting. Winnipeg has 900 buildings at the end of 1873, 400 of which are houses, 27 buildings are manufacturing establishments, over 100 are mercantile, the balance are offices, hotels, boarding houses, and saloons. The Manitoba Free Press in December 1873 declares the country needs “railroads and settlers.”


J. H. Ashdown extends large wholesale business.

January 1874

At a civic election, Francis Cornish is proclaimed first Mayor of Winnipeg.


The Manitoba Club is founded. The Hudson’s Bay Company plans a model community off Broadway, December 1874: Mackenzie government announces railroad will cross at Selkirk. This decision is vigorously fought by Winnipeg and the Board of Trade. A Citizens’ Railway Committee is formed but the Liberal government hangs tough. First brothels in Winnipeg are established by this time. Most of the brothel keepers and a majority of the prostitutes were Americans. This continued to be the case through the end of the century. The Americans established an operating network within the city.

19 February 1874

First meeting of city council.


Police chief J. S. Ingram is caught in the act in a Colony Creek brothel. He is fired.


The Ogilvie Milling Company is established.

March 1876

First city hall is completed.

September 1876

First philharmonic society.

October 1876

First shipment of Manitoba grain is shipped to Ontario by Higgins & Young, who sent 827 bushels to Steel & Company of Toronto for $2.50 a bushel.


The Manitoba Curling Club is founded.


The University of Manitoba is established, along with the Law Society of Manitoba and the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons. Nicholas Bawlf comes to Winnipeg.

Late 1878

The Pembina branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway is completed and direct rail service opened from St. Boniface to St. Vincent. Private entrepreuenrs open a branch to St. Paul. Macdonald promises to run rail line through the city, and Tory candidate Alexander Morris is an easy victor.

8 November 1878

A mass meeting is called for railroad and offers a $300,000 bonus for bridge over the Red River (proposed by James Ashdown); the Manitoba and South Western Railway Company is organized.


The Manitoba Historical Society is founded by George Bryce and others; the Winnipeg Board of Trade organized; Begg and Nursey publish The Years in Winnipeg.


Members of the Richardson family come to Winnipeg; St. Boniface is organized as a municipality; the government agrees to Winnipeg route west; Canadian administrative offices of the Hudson’s Bay Company moved to Winnipeg.


Jim Coolican begins auctioning land lots in Winnipeg; Armstrong’s Point is first developed; Jerry Robinson, Emerson merchant, moves to Winnpeg; William Austin organizes the Winnipeg Street Railway Company.

May 1881

Dr. J. Wilford Good is brought up on trial for attempting unlawfully to procure an abortion on one Marie Trottier. Marie was a Métis woman 6½ months pregnant, a former prostitute. Trottier testified on 31 May 1881 before a packed provincial court. She had drunk a mixture obtained from Dr. Good and became very sick. She said she had buried her baby outside in the lumber pile. The baby was not found and the medical witnesses testified that she had not given birth within the last month. The charges against Good were dropped. Marie was later back on the street. Trottier testified that she had earlier lived in a house owned by Dr. Schultz, and in a skating rink. She admitted to drinking every day but denied that she was ever drunk. Trottier’s character was soon the focus of the trial Charges vs. Good were dismissed, and Trottier was told to leave town. There were two areas of city known as the flats by 1881. One was at the forks, the other at the end of Notre Dame Street, west of the city limits. The Manitoba Free Press described the Notre Dame area as one where “there are a number of tents in which are harbored as hard a crowd of citizens as can be found anywhere. There are a score or so of half-breed prostitutes and squaws and these attract a number of people from the city, who with the aid of a liberal supply of whiskey manage to make the night hideous.”


Police records indicate 189 arrests made in cases of prostitution; 51 men are charged with entering and frequenting a house of ill fame, 36 charges are laid against 20 brothel keepers, and 95 women are charged with inhabiting such houses.


Winnipeg Street Railway Company opens with horse-drawn cars; Upper Fort Garry is torn down.

March 1882

1,500 tents are brought to town to accommodate the burgeoning population; construction of City Hall is completed.

May 1882

First serious flood threat to city.


Grain Exchange building; Canadian Pacific Railway begins its North End yards, creating an area inhabited by workers and immigrants with few municipal services called the North End; Paulin-Chambers Limited, makers of chocolate puffs, is founded.

8 April 1883

A Colony Street brothel keeper (female) is interviewed by a Daily Times reporter, who told the reporter that “I have long ceased to have any respect for men, and the cruel manner in which some have condemned unfortunate women of my class only increases my dislike.”The brothels are moved west of the city limits in the summer of 1883. Reverend Silcox forms Ministerial Association and campaigns against the brothels. City council recognizes red light district (Queen Street west around Colony Street) but later moves houses of ill repute onto the open prairie, a zone beyond the pale where normal rules were suspended. Part of the reason for moving from Colony Street is the proximity of Manitoba College. The Winnipeg Times saw the proximity of the college and the whores as a problem.


Winnipeg establishes its own regiment, led by William Nassau Kennedy; St. Boniface begins to boom; over 100 business failures in Winnipeg.

13 June 1883

A meeting at office of George Maulson in the McArthur Block on Main Street, 17 local businessmen resolve to set up the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange. Daniel McMillan is elected president and Kenneth McKenzie is vice-president. Other members included William Hastings and Nicholas Bawlf. 29 members are soon signed up. On 4 July Bawlf advises the council on the need for a charter similar to that of Toronto Corn Exchange. But the organization is never completed. Levine says Winnipeg merchants did not control enough of the trade in 1883. Most was in the hands of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Ogilvie Milling Company, who was the dominant elevator user in the province. If grain were to be traded in Winnipeg, Winnipeg merchants would have to enter the elevator business.

16 June 1883

City Hall architectural competition. See George Brooks, Plain Facts about the New City Hall.


Winnipeg General Hospital gets permanent site. A number of Christian women’s groups spearheaded by Marion Bryce formed the Women’s Christian Union (WCU) to help single working class women find shelter. They held the first meeting on 21 February 1883 in the lecture room of the Historical and Scientific Society. They plan to open a House for Women, which “shall embrace a place of evening-resort for those working during the day-time, a boarding house and a day-nursery for the infants of working mothers.” The women debate whether their focus should be domestic servants or destitute married women. In any case, they open the WCU home for women, “particularly for the unmarried and unprotected,” where they found that those they sheltered were different than they had supposed. The WCU buys a house on Bannatyne and opens its doors. It finds that most of its potential clients are not young innocents but young unmarried women looking for safe shelter for themselves and unborn children., and has to use the facility as a maternity or lying-in hospital. The WCU is not entirely happy with this change in programme, partly because it was not publicly popular since what is was doing was held “but to encourage the sin; and make it easy for the sinner.” The WCU attempted to maintain that its clients were not abandoned or dissolute, but merely the “weak, the erring and the unfortunate.” Most of these young women, claimed Miss C. Caitlin in the home’s annual report for 1885, were drawn to Winnipeg to work in hotels and restaurants. Here they met a life of temptation and often succumbed. But these girls were not prostitutes, she insisted. But what of the casual prostitute? The Home never quite decided. But after 1890 each woman seeking shelter had to have enough money for up to 9 months of room and board. The “inmates” were closely monitored; their mail was read by a committee of WCU members, who on one occasion screened out a proposal of marriage from the father of the young woman’s child on the grounds that he was unsuitable (he was the son of a former employer).


Winnipeggers participates in Sudan business as boatmen. 1884 elections see a Citizens’ Ticket. Manitoba government passes Exemption Act to protect land speculators.


C. J. Brydges of the Hudson’s Bay Company Land Company seeks to get the flats evacuated. Hudson’s Bay flats was an area of land owned by HBC at joining of Assiniboine and Red Rivers, extending down Main Street to Portage Avenue, has already become the refuge of unemployed First Nations and Métis people, as it had earlier been the home of the poor Pensioner families in the 1840s. “There are a number of houses on streets on flats. Some of these shanties are occupied by objectionable persons ... and I shall be glad if the city will take the necessary steps to clear away the shanties.”


The first public awareness of the North End appears in the press in the case of Feigi Getzel, a 16 year old Jewish girl. By 1884 an eastern immigrant population was growing around the Canadian Pacific Railway depot, occupying a place known as “New Jerusalem” of the “Foreign Quarter.” Feigi answered a newspaper ad for a domestic in Austria, and was taken by Isaac Braunstein to Winnipeg, where she was locked in a room and raped by two men. Braunstein’s wife stood by and took the money. After two weeks Getzel escaped and told her story to the police. The Braunsteins were threatened with violence, and at one point he was taken by two men dressed as policemen to the open prairie, where a dozen men beat him senseless. Tar was then poured over his head and a handful of feathers added to the tar. The reporter who interviewed Braunstein reported that his miserable “New Jerusalem” hovel was full of hens, roosters, and underfed dogs.

January 1885

Two Métis girls known to escort men are taken in a sleigh to the farm of William Hallett’s father near Headingly, where one of the girls is raped and left in a barn overnight. The girl loses her feet to frostbite. Hallett is arrested and later tells the court that he had placed a drunken girl in a bed.


Little Black Devils fight Métis in Saskatchewan. Defeat of Riel and opening of railroad opens west to settlement. Winnipeg-Selkirk telephone exchange established.


William Van Horne induces federal government to introduce a new grading and inspection system for grain, including the introduction of No. 1 and No. 2 Manitoba Hard at the top, and Nos. 1, 2, and 3 Northern at the bottom.


W. T. Thompson and E. E. Boyer publish The City of Winnipeg. Board of Trade wins 15% discount on goods shipped west by city firms, and city’s dominance of western wholesale trade given a boost. City Hall completed, following an architectural competition. Winnipeg Art Society founded. John Dafoe joins Free Press.

November 1887

Grain and Produce Exchange established. after meeting at Manitoba Club among N. Bawlf, Charles Bell, and Rodmond Roblin. The actual creation occurs on 24 November in the Board of Trade office at the City Hall, where 11 grain merchants meet. C. N. Bell, secretary of Board of Trade, is secretary of the Grain Exchange to 1916. Unlike the USA, where marketing occurs in same city as shipping, in Canada Winnipeg is separated from Fort William (and later Churchill) by hundreds of miles. President is Daniel McMillan. Daily reports by telegraph are arranged, and a trading room arranged in the basement of the City Hall. An 11-point constitution is agreed upon.

7 December 1887

Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange formally opens at City Hall.

February 1888

S. W. Farrell prepares a report for the Grain Exchange on Manitoba barley, which insists that “no barley grown on the continent can compete with Manitoba No. 1 grade.” The Exchange prints 2,000 copies of this report and distributes it widely.


Exchange establishes a call market. During each trading day, between 12 noon and 12:25 (later one p.m.), exchange members could big for grain as if a public auction.

March 1889

First curling bonspiel held.

May 1889

A western board of grain examiners appointed who would set the season’s grain standards. William Van Horne insisted that the standards should be fixed by those who sold the grain rather than those who bought it, as in the United States, where Chicago fixed the grades.


Board of Arbitration established to hear disputes regarding the grain trade. By this time 80 wholesale firms are doing business worth $15 million from Winnipeg. The North West Commercial Travellers’ Association had 220 members. Dick Burden opens Winnipeg’s first Turkish bath. Salvation Army Rescue Home opened by Commissioner and Mrs. T. H. Adams on 400 Ross Avenue. It was intended to “meet the needs of social evils involving disillusioned girls and pregnant unmarried girls, prostitutes, women and girls in trouble with the law, neglected children, etc.” WCU pleased that Sally Ann taking the bad girls off its hands, and WCU president Mrs. Bryce later complained that the Sally Anns were reluctant to deal with prostitutes who failed to demonstrate any willingness for redemption. Women were acceptable only if they embraced the Salvation Army, and there was room for only 12 at a time anyway.


Only 63 arrests for prostitution-related offenses.


Winnipeg Electric Company is formed and given 35-year franchise to operate trams; later adds right to supply power. Alderman George Carruthers pushes for Public Parks by-law. Manitoba Legislature passes Public Parks Act.


First meeting of Winnipeg Public Parks Board. E. L. Drewry chosen as chairman. The Board purchases three properties: the old Balfour Estate on south bank of Assiniboine River (later Assiniboine Park), ten acres next to St. John’s College bought from Anglican Church for $15,000 and the site of Central Park, purchased from Hudson’s Bay Company.

Summer 1893

Five grain firms join together to form Northern Elevator Company. Names include Bawlf, Roblin, Arthur Atkinson, Samuel Clark, Herbert Crowe and James Mitchell. It initially had authorized capital of $250,000 and by 1900 it operated 92 country elevators (21 percent of prairie total) with a total capacity of 2.4 million bushels.


Victoria Park bought by Parks Board. Expansion of city forces brothels to move further west, to Thomas Street.

Summer 1894

A group of British trade unionists set out to create a labour party, which was formed as the Independent Labour Party in 1895 and reorganized as the Winnipeg Labour Party in 1896.


Women suffrage on municipal level; women first allowed to vote in municipal elections.


C. Hislop, first labour alderman, is elected.


All Peoples Mission founded. The WCTU oppens its first Door of Hope in Winnipeg. These were refuges for the inebriated female criminal The Door of Hope closed every winter at the very time it was most needed, and seldom had many clients.

February 1899

Winnipeg’s Member of Parliament dies and Arthur Puttee calls for the nomination of a labourite candidate.


In the spring, a conference convened by the Liberal minister of Inland Revenue discusses a plan to make Winnipeg the final inspection point for Manitoba grain. During the 1890s about 40% of Manitoba’s grain was inspected at Winnipeg (7 million bushels of wheat per year). Over the objections of Ontario grain merchants, a bill was introduced into Parliament to this effect, thus making Fort William a less important grain centre. Bill receives royal assent in August of 1899, and 26.2 million bushels of wheat (87 percent of provincial export) receive final inspection in Winnipeg. This act cemented the role of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange. A federal Royal Commission on the shipment and transportation of grain in Manitoba and the NWT appointed.


The Voice newspaper organized by A. W. Puttee.

January 1900

Puttee runs for parliament in 1900 by-election on a reformist platform advocating direct legislation, a land tax, and public ownership of all natural utilities. His opponent E. D. Martin claimed that Puttee was a class candidate, and he was supported by the ILP. In the election, the vote is split. In the south Martin gets 69% of vote. In the north end, Puttee gets almost all. Only in centre city is there a contest. Puttee is first labour member elected to House of Commons.

October 1900

Puttee does better in general election, winning a majority of 1200 votes.


Royal Commission on grain reports. It said that consolidation limited competition on elevators. Ogilvie, Lake of Woods Milling, and the Northern, Dominion, and Winnipeg Elevator Companies operated 67 percent of the elevators. It admitted this produced exploitation but denied that there was extortion or a corrupt grain monopoly.


Only 98 arrests for prostitution. Why fewer than earlier? Prostitution better hidden, and the Anglo-Protestant female elite, may helped in preventing young women from falling. 64 prostitutes listed in 1901 census, with 19 listing Africa as descent and US. as place of birth. Five of the ten brother keepers were also of African descent. Most prostitutes are single women between the ages of 18 and 25. Frank Fowler sent by Exchange Council to investigate the futures trading of US exchanges.

3 September 1901

Winnipeg futures market opened on the exchange, but there were problems.


Tom Deacon and H. B. Lyall found Manitoba Bridge and Iron Works. L. B. Foote moves to Winnipeg. Frederick B. Duval elected chairman of Winnipeg ministerial association.


Manitoba Society of Artists founded in Winnipeg. New campaign versus Red Light district. City shuts down western brothels after an election campaign versus them. Rev. Bowles at Grace Church told his hearers, “The evil has threatened that if the laws are enforced things will be worse than ever, that it will encamp on the streets of the city, and burn it up. It is the threat of the modern Jezebel.” According to Rev. Silcox, “The Carlet Sin is rampant, allowed to thrive, to allure young men and old men and every home is in danger of the malaria of that foul and pestilent mass of moral rottenness.”Some clergy complained that the police would not deal with the johns, although lack of law enfrocement turned the city into “a reeking inferno, a cesspool of iniquity, a source of disease, death and damnation.” C. W. Gordon complained that the “men who practice this vice and who frequent houses of ill fame are received and admitted into the best society, where pure women and good men receive them on terms of equality.” On 15 November 1903 DuVal asks male members of his church to stay for special meetings on “the social evil.” He told his people that “segregated areas become nests of crime.” On 16 November the clergy hired the Winnipeg Theatre and denounce the vice in the city before 1,500 hearers. Mayor Arbuthnot claimed at a later meeting that nobody had ever complained before. One clergyman denied this claim, saying that there had been complaints and the mayor had replied that Armstrong’s Point might be a better location. Citizens elect Thomas Sharpe as mayor in December. Sharpe campaigned on one issue, closing the red light district. He remained in office for three terms and presided over the building boom of the early years of the decade.

9 January 1904

Brothels on Thomas Street raided and closed. No male customers arrested. A mob of 3,000 follows the prostitutes in hacks and buggies on their way to the courthouse. Closing the brothels, of course, did not end prostitution. Gray in Red Lights points out that the city was often full of young men, especially during the harvest season when the harvesters came back with cash in their pockets. The city later renamed Thomas Street after Lord Minto. The girls head for Portage & Main.


Arthur Puttee runs for re-election as the workingman’s candidate, finishes third and loses his deposit. He did badly in the north end, where an eastern european vote was manipulated by the mainline candidates.


Northern Trust Company organized. Typhoid epidemic. Assiniboine Park established and community of Tuxedo projected. Frederick Todd chosen to design Assiniboine Park. Grain Exchange re-established futures market.


Alloway and Champion establish private bank. Eaton’s constructs new downtown store. Assiniboine Park Zoo begun. The YWCA boarding house is described as admitting “only young women of good moral character.”


Great West Life operating nationally. Winnipeg Development and Industrial Bureau organized. Strike against Winnipeg Electric Company and one versus Vulcan Iron Works. Board of Control added to aldermanic council. Walker Theatre opened by C. P. Walker. Ed Partridge (who once described the Grain Exchange as “a combine with a gambling hell thrown in”) spearheads the creation of the Grain Grower’s Grain Company (GGGC) , the first producers’ company. The result is a stormy period in which the GGGC is suspended from the exchange for violations of bylaws governing commission fees. The fixed amount chargeable of $.01 per bushel was introduced in 1902. It was not popular with smaller dealers, and enforcement was hard. The GGGC proposed to divide up any profits, which the Council of the Grain Exchange regarded as a rebate. It suspended the GGGC from trading. Another Royal Commission on the Grain Trade appointed.

October 1906

Labour Party established in Winnipeg and Arthur Puttee named chairman. The party was “the British expression of the socialist aim of other countries.”

20 November 1906

Partridge appears before Royal Commission. The next day Charles Bell appears. The two men offer different views of the treatment of the GGGC. The Exchange wanted an end to the profit-sharing, Partridge refused to guarantee it, and the Exchange refused to readmit the GGGC.

13 December 1906

Preliminary hearing before T. M. Daly over formal charges laid by the MGGA (a farmers’ group) versus three members of the Exchange Council. Charges were unlawful conspiracy and combination to restrain or injure trade. The case was a sensation, pitting N. F. Hagel (for Exchange) against R. A. Bonnar. Daly recommended a trial, which could not occur until spring 1907. In the meantime, The Tribune mounted an editorial campaign versus the Exchange’s charter.

December 1906

In municipal election, ILP runs two candidates in the north end.

20 February 1907

Tribune article suggests that premier Roblin was a monopolist.

Early 1907

Grain exchange refuses to give in to political pressure from Roblin government.

Spring 1907

Kempton McKim, president of trades council, runs for Parliament in West Winnipeg, but is beaten by a Liberal reformer, Tom Johnson.

22 April 1907

Assize court hears grain conspiracy case. R. A. Bonnar was chastised by the court for bullying witnesses, and resigned from the case. He had to be brought back by the pleas of the MGGA. The judge found not guilty, and even praised the Exchange for promoting and systematizing trade. The issue was whether exchange’s activities were undue constraint of trade.

June 1907

Conference convened by Roblin passes resolution that no bylaw or reg. of exchange could be adopted without approval of the Manitoba Lieutenant-Governor.

Autumn 1907

Kier Hardie visits Winnipeg, calls for ILP to declare itself a socialist party.


Stock Exchange established. Credit tightens. George Champion appointed parks superintendent. J. S. Woodsworth begins mission in city. J. H. Ashdown elected Mayor. Moral and Social Reform League established by J. H. Duval. Ukrainian Socialist Labour Committee founded, to link a handful of socialist groups across the west.

December 1907

Myron Stechishin, the leading member of the Ukrainian Socialist Labour Committee, proposed to Socialist Party of Canada that his organization become an autonomous national unit within the party. The party was reluctant to create parallel structures, but worked out a system for chartering autonomous foreign language locals.

January 1908

Throne speech calls for changes to Exchange charter. Winnipeg business community protests. George Galt at Board of Trade meeting in January, insisted, “It will be most unfortunate if the farmers of this country, owing to their numerical strength can force through our Legislature laws that are detrimental to their own interests and consequently injurious to every businessman in the country.”

26 February 1908

Amendment to Exchange’s charter receives royal assent. The price of an Exchange membership dropped from $2650 to $1000 if a buyer could be found. The Exchange closed and turned to curb trading. while it reorganized.

1 May 1908

An observer of Winnipeg’s May Day celebration comments: “it certainly was not Canadian in character, the great bulk of the feeling and sentiment exhibited there had not been born in, nor was it the outcome of, Canadian life and conditions.”

September 1908

Exchange reopens as a voluntary association called the “Winnipeg Grain Exchange.” Exchange moves into grand new quarters on corner of Rorie and Lombard, built at cost of over half a million. Building a fine example of Italian Renaissance palazzo style.


SPC appoints Herman Sliptchenko as Ukrainian organizer in Manitoba.


W. S. Evans elected mayor. Official opening of Assinboine Park on Victoria Day. Annie Bond founds Winnipeg Children’s Hospital on Beaconsfield St. Construction begun on Union Station. Grain Exchange is largest cash wheat market in North America.. Over 188 million bushels of wheat marketed on exchange floor, compared to 81 million bushels in Minneapolis, 56 million bushels in Duluth, and 26.9 million bushels in Chicago. Only the continuing controversy with the farmers a problem for the Exchange. Charles Bell would tell the Canadian government in 1915, “The members of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange have admittedly built up at their own cost, unsubsidized by the Government, the most efficient and well organized commercial institution in the Dominion of Canada; indeed it is today the largest cash wheat market on the continent of America.”

20 April 1909

Police magistrate T. Mayne Daly writes letter to the Winnipeg Police Commission published in newspapers. It points out that closure of western brothels in 1904 had led to an increase in immorality. Daly wants authorities to have discretion over the whores. Police Commission on 21 April responds by agreeing to put prostitutes in the Point Douglas area. Negotiations occur between Chief McRae and Minnie Woods, the “Queen of the Whores.” for a location on Rachel St. Tipped off by McRae, real estate investor John Beaman buys up the homes on the street and sells them to brothel keepers at high prices. The keepers agree to notify the police when a whore leaves the district, to pay a regular fine for serving liquor without a license, and to hire detectives to keep order. Whether the girls were held against their will was an interesting question. The Salvation Army periodically invaded Rachel Street to try to get girls to leave, but they never did. There was clearly a prostitute subculture, only partly dependent on coercion. Rachel Street was renamed Annabella Street. This red light district became the center of curiosity seekers on a Sunday afternoon. They came to gawk and buy bootleg liquor. National Moral Reform Council’s secretary John G Shearer, after tour of the vice districts of the nation, declares that Winnipeg “has the rottenest condition of things in regard to the question of social vice to be found anywhere in Canada.” Shearer pointed out there were fifty brothels, 250 inmates, and hundreds of male customers, all of whom were breaking the law every day. Shearer denied blackening the fair name of Winnipeg, insisting that others had already done it by permitting these conditions to exist. “The real vilifiers of the good name of Winnipeg are those that are responsible for the permission, if not the careful protection, of this moral cesspool, the stench of which is making itself felt to the discredit of Winnipeg throughout the Dominion and elsewhere.”

July 1909

Exchange Council agrees to suspend commission rules for a year. Farmers orgs regard this as an attack on the GGGC, which lives on the one cent commission, unlike the elevator companies, who made money from handling and storing grain.

Late 1909

Reps of Ukrainian locals of SPC meet in Winnipeg and decide to establish an autonomous language federation with complete independence “in matters of organization, propaganda, and publications.” It wanted the SPC constitution amended to accommodate this plan on the grounds that 95 percent of Ukrainian members spoke no English.


Woodsworth helps found People’s Forum, which meets on Sunday afternoon. Laborites form Manitoba Labour Party in early May as a broad-based reform party of moderate socialists, trade unionists, and middle class reformers. The left-wing opposition called it “the Manitoba Labour, Liberal, Single Tax, any old crank party” The party ran in Centre Winnipeg with Fred Dixon its candidate. Dixon was endorsed by the Liberals, which resulted in his defeat. when the SPC ran a spoiling candidate. Puttee charged the spoiler was financed by the Conservatives.

Kildonan Park begun on land acquired in 1909 and 1910. Big campaign versus vice in Winnipeg. Winnipeg Telegram lists 19 millionaires in Winnipeg. B. B. Steadwell of American Purity Federation tells congregation at Broadway Methodist Church that it is men who keep houses of vice going. Rev. DuVal writes The Problem of Social Vice in Winnipeg, directed chiefly at young males.

Royal Commission on Social Vice in Winnipeg is appointed. The police insist that some unnamed people were preventing the police from arresting men along with prostitutes. They added that they could not arrest someone leaving a bawdy house, they had to prove he had purchased services. And there were assaults versus policemen. Residents of Point Douglas testified to the violence of the neighbourhood. The police saw the presence of single young men in the city as part of the trouble. But there is no move against the brothels despite the royal commission.

Social Democratic Party publishes its platform, drafted by Dick Rigg, Jacob Penner, and Herman Saltzman. Document is Marxist but practical. Party had its strength in Winnipeg’s north end, in the various language locals.

February 1910

Myron Stechishin and others found the Ukrainian Social Democratic Federation, with Robochy Narod as its official newspaper.


Alloway and Champion sell out to CIBC. WDIB begins immigration programme for British Workmen, the Imperial Home Reunion Movement. By this time, 24 railroad lines radiated out from Winnipeg, but favourable discrimination in freight rates for city merchants are ended. Manitoba Association of Architects and Arts Club established. Winnipeg School of Art projected, led by Mary Ewart, president of the Western Art Association.


Exposition Building constructed. Construction begun on Shoal Lake pipeline. Plans for a World’s Fair to mark Selkirk Centennial fizzle when feds refuse to buy in. Provincial Government begins Law Courts buildings. Minto Armoury built across the street from the whorehouses on Thomas St. vacated in 1904. One health official reported of the North End : “one family ... sleeping in a stable and cooking their meals in the cellars of an unfinished house ... [and] another family ... living in a shed intended for a garage.” Less than half of North End’s houses were connected to the city’s water system. One out of every five babies died in Winnipeg within a year. Bellan sees this year as peak of Winnipeg’s economic power.

11 June 1912

King Edward Memorial Hospital opened and cornerstone laid for King George Isolation Hospital.

16 June 1912

Children’s hospital opened.

September 1912

Provincial government accepts plans for legislative building.

December 1912

Art Gallery opened.

Late 1912

Labour Representation Committee organized by labourites. It works with SDP in 1913 municipal campaign to elect Rigg to an aldermanic seat in the west end.


Recession. Interest rates up, construction down. National Transcontinental Rail Shops opened in Transcona. Grain Exchange building enlarged again. HBC department store construction set to begin (but doesn’t). Many construction projects deferred in 1913 for want of construction capacity (and beginning of war) never get built. Boyd Building built. Dick Rigg elected to city council from north end, the first labour representative on city council.

September 1913

Winnipeg School of Art opens. Fort Garry Hotel opens.


First conservatory at Assiniboine Park constructed. Jewish Radical School (renamed I. L. Peretz School in 1915) founded.

August 1914

War begins, counters Winnipeg’s decline, which Artibise says is caused by overinvestment, the strike, the rise of other western cities, the loss of key freight rate advantages, and the growth of new marketing methods. Bellan says west had reached the limits of its agricultural capacity, blames Panama Canal.

Autumn 1914

Newly opened Marlborough Hotel closes in summer 1915.

December 1914

MGGA appeals to govt. to regulate the commission on grain. The request is opposed by the Grain Exchange. Charles Bell wrote to the minister “If carried to its logical conclusion in other lines of business, [this] would require that the government of Canada ... fix the rate of wages ...for all workmen professional or commercial classes.”

January 1915

Telegram discontinues its morning edition. CPR and Grand Trunk Pacific Shops get orders for 30 million shell casings.

March 1915

Further orders for shrapnel shells.


10 to 15,000 Winnipeggers join the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Robert Magill replaces Bell as secretary of Grain Exchange.

Summer 1915

War orders from hinterland rebound.

Autumn 1915

Government commandeered existing wheat stocks.

29 November 1915

Grain Exchange withdraws all facilities for floor trading in Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Northern wheat. Exchange President W. E. Milner in a later speech boasted that every member had recognized “that this was an act of necessity on the part of our Government and we were all willing and ready to sacrifice monetary interests for the benefit of the Empire and our Allies.

April 1916

First major flood in city. 10,000 residents flee their homes. River Avenue worst hit.

December 1916

Winnipeg Trades Council declares itself opposed to registration for the draft. Council and SDP establish an Anti-Registration League. On 24 December league holds a rally attended by 4,000. Crowd hostile to Manitoba director of National Service, while Fred Dixon is cheered when he says, “National Service is the first step toward compulsion ... If there are justice and liberty at home, there will be no need of conscription. Compulsory military service has been defeated in Australia, and it will be in Canada if it is put to a vote.” Labour leaders opposed conscription because they felt it was intended to destroy collective bargaining. They felt a conspiracy existed between govt. and capitalists to kill the trade union movement.


Anti-conscription league formed in Winnipeg and launched a campaign. Meetings were broken up by veterans, and city police refused to allow league permission to hold public meetings. Puttee in the Voice complained that free speech, “the basic stone of democracy” was “imperilled and condemned by those who say that they are fighting to preserve democracy from the attack of an overwhelming autocracy.”

“Red Scare” exacerbates hostility to aliens in city. City attempts to get head offices of Canadian Northern Railway from Toronto, but feds do not agree. Work suspended on Hudson Bay Railway by wartime shortages.

December 1917

Labourites run R. S. Ward and Dick Rigg in Winnipeg. They are endorsed by Laurier’s Liberals. This is a matter of convenience. Labour’s campaign focuses on conscription and inflation. They are badly defeated by the Unionists.

11 June 1917

Five members of Grain Exchange appointed to Board of Grain Supervisors.

May 1918

General Strike of 1918. Helen Armstrong elected President of Hotel and Household Workers Union in Winnipeg.

22 December 1918

Mass meeting at Walker Theatre.

January 1919

Anti-alien riots led by returned war veterans.

15 May 1919

Winnipeg General strike begins.

17 June 1919

Strike leaders arrested.

21 June 1919

Mass rally and police charge results in “Bloody Saturday”.

21 July 1919

Grain Exchange reopens wheat trading—for one week.

August 1919

Canadian Wheat Board begins operations.


Legislature Building and aqueduct to Shoal Lake completed.

April 1920

D. H. McLean advocates flood protection measures.


Ward boundaries revised. Manitoba Legislature Building opened.

April 1921

Hyndman Commission appointed “to investigate the handling and marketing of grain.” This commission was extremely anxious to probe into everything, and Winnipeg grain men prepared to resist. They argued that the Canada Grain Act was unconstitutional and that the Public Inquires Act did not give a royal commission the right to enquire into matters under provincial jurisdiction. Justice Curran in the Manitoba court of King’s bench ruled on 11 July that “private affairs of merchants are not matters affecting the good government of Canada.” This decision was overturned on appeal in November of 1921. Collapse in world wheat prices and farmer suspicion of grain merchants leads farmers to support a government-regulated wheat board.


Winnipeg Electric Company wants to extend its charter from 1927 to 1937. Debate over municipal ownership in city elections. S. J. Farmer and labour wins on strength of anti-WEC campaign. New school for the deaf.

April 1922

Grain Exchange witnesses heard before a new Parliamentary committee on grain regulation. James Richardson told the committee that a board could not control the world price. “To accomplish this,” said Richardson, “economic laws would have to be suspended.” The committee nevertheless recommended a wheat board.

January 1923

John Bracken announces his government will establish a wheat board.

May 1923

King appoints another royal commission on grain trade. This commission went after the grain elevators and tended to be favourable to the Grain Exchange.


Aaron Sapiro helps create Alberta Pool in 1923.


Organization of Industrial Development Board of Manitoba. Windsor Park Golf Course developed. Rise of the wheat pools.


Creation of Winnipeg Tourist and Convention Bureau. James Richardson opens Richardson Securities. Union Bank (owned locally) taken over by Royal Banki (headquarters in Montreal). Dominion Malting organized at Transcona.


HBC downtown store constructed. It had been announced in April 1911, but not begun at that time. Construction resumed on Hudson Bay Railway. Winnipeg becomes a major garment manufacturer. Canadian Ukrainian Athletic Club formed. Marshall Gauvin comes to Winnipeg.

December 1926

James Richardson organizes Western Canada Airways Limited.


Harris Abattoir taken over by Canada Packers. Metropolitan Stores open downtown store.

November 1927

Grain Exchange quotations broadcast by radio across the prairies.


Winnipeg ratepayers agree that city-owned City Hydro build a power plant at Slave Falls; construction started the next year. Winnipeg government begins Selkirk (Pembina) Highway to Emerson. Winnipeg Grain Exchange completes 11 story building. Kresge Company builds on downtown block it owns, to house retail store and western Canadian operation. Safeway announces it will open in Western Canada with headquarters at Winnipeg. English Garden created at Assiniboine Park. Wheat pools hold wheat off the market. Limited sale of liquor allowed. Richardson buys site for 17-storey building and excavates.

20 October 1929

Millions of bushels of wheat are dumped for sale ruining many traders only a week before stock market crash.

October 1929

Stock Market crash.


Part of University of Manitoba campus removed from downtown to Fort Garry. New pavilion at Assiniboine Park created. Winnipeg Football Club established.


Winnipeg Electric Company staves off bankruptcy with financial reorganization. Establishment of first Salisbury House restaurant. Another royal commission on grain. Stamp Commission begins hearings in the Colonial Ball Room of the Royal Alexandra Hotel on 13 April. The commission concluded that the grain exchange not only had to be fair but be seen to be fair in public. It argued that nothing was put in evidence, but everyone believed that the exchange was rigged. On the whole, the commission supported the market.


Machray defalcation announced. Depression at its height.

April 1933

Number of persons in Winnipeg on relief peaks at 43,886. First Winnipeg television transmission.


Industrial Development Bureau (earlier Board) reactivates. Left-wing theatre flourishes in North End. Voluntary wheat board established.


Winnipeg Football club is renamed Blue Bombers. (It appears in Grey Cups 1935, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1945) and won in 1935, 1939 and 1941; Team plays early games in Osborne Stadium.


Winnipeg Ballet Company established. City designated as home of newly-organized Trans-Canada Airlines.


DiCosimo’s Chicken Inn founded in 1942, one of city’s first fast food restaurants.


Metropolitan planning commission appointed and spends years working on plan for city.


Canadian Pacific Airlines moves its overhaul and repair base to Winnipeg. Winnipeg gets farm equipment plant in form of Canadian Cooperative Implements.


Another round of debate over downtown location of University of Manitoba.


CPA moves operational base to Winnipeg as well as repair facilities. Charles Barbour becomes City’s director of recreation, to 1970.


General Northern Airways (later Transair) located in Winnipeg. Wildewood Park developed.


Winnipeg Symphony established. Main offices of TCA moved to Montreal. Beginning of debate over hydroelectricity.


Legislature appoints a new Metropolitan Planning Commission.


Community club movement in full force. New plan for the zoo. 1950 Flood. University of Manitoba departs Broadway campus. Office Overload established in city, later expands across Canada. St Johns Ravenscourt amalgamated.


Winnipeg Electric Company to be expropriated, but Free Press defeats a public power monopoly in a referendum. But WEC purchases and amalgamated in Winnipeg Hydro Commission formed to study Manitoba’s municipal problems Royal tour visits Winnipeg. Versatile Company (farm implements) moves to city.


Rainbow Stage completed at Kildonan Park. The impetus for a new stage was the 1950 flood, which swept away the original bandstand at Kildonan Municipal Park. A group fronted by the Jaycees prepared a new design, and construction began in late 1951. It was named Rainbow Stage because one member of the planning committee thought if lights were strung across its top, it would look like a rainbow. The stage was set in a natural amphitheatre. The first concert was presented 22 September 1953 by Kitsilano Boys’ Band from Vancouver. Winnipeg Stadium opened.


Rainbow Stage opened 7 July 1954, with a benefit concert featuring Bill Walker, Len Andree, Eric Wilde, Maxine Ware, and Ethel Lowe. All proceeds from the concert went to a special fund for further construction. During 1954 there were 19 performances, given to a combined audience of 19,384. The terms of reference for the facility was “to make available facilities for the purpose of contributing to the dramatic, musical and artistic standards of Winnipeg and district, ... to provide further opportunities for the development and expansion of local talent ... [and] to provide an additional summer attraction of interest to visitors.” Winnipeg Baseball Stadium opened (subsequently demolished).

7 July 1954

Rainbow Stage opened.


Winnipeg Arena opened. Winnipeg Warriors play first season. Rainbow Stage presents variety entertainment, and a full-scale version of Brigadoon in late August. Because of the lateness of the season, the production was dubbed “Frigadoon,” and the audience carried blankets and thermos bottles. The legs of the performers was usually pink, and the audience loved changes to applaud because it warmed them up.

29 February 1956

Winnipeg Summer Theatre Association formed to present outdoor shows and musicals and given opportunities for local talent. First budget was $15,000 each for three musicals, which included Annie Get Your Gun, the Wizard of Oz, Our Town and Kiss Me Kate, plus pops concerts. James Duncan was first talent coordinator. Flood threat leads to appointment of royal commission on flood cost-benefit. Steve Juba elected Winnipeg mayor.


Nearly 80,000 people enjoyed theatre at Rainbow Stage. John Hirsch was at loose ends, and was invited to do the 1957 season, which included three musicals (Can Can, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Chu Chin Chow), a stage play (I Remember Mama), and a musical review featuring the Diamonds. Chu Chin Chow was an oriental extravaganza that encouraged more lavish productions. Weather was always a problem for the outdoor facility. Wind blew props away, and the sound of rain beating on the cover for the orchestra pit echoed throughout the Theatre. Cold also a problem. Bone-chilling wind off the river a constant hazard. People wouldn’t buy tickets in advance. Performances had to be cancelled by 6 p.m. to save the orchestra. Deciding to cancel was often left to the cast. Funding came mainly from the City of Winnipeg, later the Metropolitan Corporation of Greater Winnipeg, According to one fundraiser, “City Council resisted anything that smacked of culture—the theatre was really not O.K. It was an arty thing to do.” Although Rainbow Stage felt it was people’s theatre, it had to struggle. Despite large attendance (over 40,000 per season) and grants, the theatre usually ended the year with a deficit.


Harlequin Books founded by Ballantine. Bud Grant becomes coach of Blue Bombers. John Hirsch and Tom Hendry found Theatre 77. Arnold Spohr becomes interim director of RWB, director next year. Bridge Drive-In opens.


Royal commission reports, recommends floodway and other measures.


Polo Park opened as Winnipeg’s first shopping centre.


Manitoba government passes Bill 62, an act to establish the Metropolitan Commission of Greater Winnipeg, which becomes law in March 1960.


Winnipeg Warriors fold Bombers win Gray Cup in overtime. New sound system at Rainbow Stage. A six-channel stereo system, modelled on La Scala, had been installed by Phillips Electronic Industries. 24 retractable overhead mikes, 6 in the orchestra pit, and a speak system of 12 speaker columns crossed the 64 foot stage. Rainbow Stage boasted of its excellent sound reproduction, although the sound sounded canned.


Debates in assembly on flood protection measures. floodway begins. Bombers win the fog bowl Grey Cup.


Construction of public housing begins. Guess Who formed in Winnipeg. The flourishing of Winnipeg rock and roll. Rainbow Stage attracts provincial funding for first time—a pittance of $4,000. Rainbow Stage decides to have a name star in every show, and hired Michael McAloney from New York as producer. The Winnipeg Summer Theatre Association still lost money year after year. Under McAloney local talent was less visible in the productions, which were acknowledged to be less amateurish but more expensive.


By this time Rainbow Stage had an accumulated deficit of $85,018. Michael McAloney left Winnipeg, leaving unpaid bills around the city.


The creditors agree not to press for a declaration of bankruptcy for Rainbow Stage, which formed a new company called Rainbow Stage, Inc., under the presidency of Syd Spivak. Jack Shapira became managing director and producer. Last of year of Bud Grant as coach of Bombers.


Pan-Am Pool opened and Pan-Am games held in Winnipeg.


Terrible weather for Rainbow Stage again leads to new demands for a cover of some type.


Urban Manitoba comes to power with NDP.


MTC moves into new quarters. Centennial complex completed. Centennial library completed. Art Gallery moves. Guess Who hits top of American charts. Folklorama begins. Festival de Voyageur founded. Rainbow Stage gets a new heliocentric dome perched on steel girder supports.


Passage of Bill 36, which leads to Unicity.

1 January 1972

Unicity comes into existence. First opposition comes from CUPE.


Winnipeg Jets sign Bobby Hull and open first WHA season.


Winnipeg Centennial; Winnipeg Folk Festival organized by Mitch Podolak.


First Winnipeg Folk Festival held at Bird’s Hill Park. HBC Archives transferred to Winnipeg.

April 1975

Canada Council accepts Rainbow Stage as a client. Len Cariou, newly appointed director of MTC to star in My Fair Lady. Labour problems within the city’s trades ranks almost cancelled the season, but My Fair Lady was continued indoors in the Concert Hall.


Canadian Motorways (trucking) moves to Winnipeg.


New theatre for Rainbow Stage opened. Royal Canadian Mint, designed by Etienne-Joseph Gaboury, was opened in 1976.


Winnipeg Jets win final WHA championship. NHL merges with WHA and Winnipeg Jets allowed to field team. Duff’s ditch put to work for the first time. Unilingual parking ticket in St. Boniface is challenged in court by Georges Forest.

27 August 1980

Winnipeg Tribune closes its doors.


Winnipeg Jets play in NHL. Winnipeg ballet dancers win international honours.


Paul Clear ‘s murder exposes a gang at work in Winnipeg Police Dept. Debate over Sherbrooke-MacGregor overpass leads to abandonment of project.


Linden Woods developed.


Henry Morganthaler opens clinic on Corydon Avenue. Air Canada builds new computer centre.


Portage Place development.


WAG celebrates 75th anniversary.


RWB moves to new headquarters on Graham Avenue; Bramwell Tovey becomes musical director of Winnipeg Symphony.


Bombers beat Eskimos 50-11 in Grey Cup.


Winnipeg hosts Grey Cup before 50,000 spectators.


Susan Thompson becomes first female mayor in Winnipeg.


Goldeyes resume play under Sam Katz.


Arena controversy. University of Winnipeg’s women’s basketball team completes 88 consecutive game win streak.


Winnipeg Jets franchise moved to Arizona.


The Flood of the Century.


CanWest Global Park opens. Pan-American Games (again).


Winnipeg elects Glen Murray as first openly gay mayor in Canada. New arena controversy.

Page revised: 12 March 2023

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