Manitoba Historical Society
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Winnipeg’s Market Square

by Randy R. Rostecki

Manitoba Pageant, Autumn 1972, Volume 18, Number 1

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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This very early photograph of the north side of Market Avenue, looking west from Main Street, was provided by Miss Muriel MacArthur, daughter of one of the four illustrious MacArthur brothers who arrived in Winnipeg before it was a city. The picture was taken in the summer of 1881, perhaps a month or so after the arrival of the first westbound CPR train from the east.

Beginning at the Main Street end (at the right-hand side of the photo) the old "Wild West" town of Winnipeg is here represented by the firm of Hurtley and Seach, Groceries and Provisions, which was located in the side wing of the Windsor Hotel.

Next is Norfolk House, which became the Arlington Hotel, an example of the "new" Winnipeg. This three-storey brick hotel was opened in the fall of 1879 and had sleeping accommodations for about 50 guests. Its neighbour, the Metropolitan Hotel, later the Sherman House, could accommodate about 100 people.

Then, walking west towards Princess Street, the pedestrian of 1881 would pass the farm machinery establishment of Wesbrook and Fairchild, Joe Benson's livery stable, and next door the premises of John Fraser, the licence commissioner. On the other side was Burling's Harness Shop; then a large frame building — Feed & Sale Stables — with Chouchette's Veterinary Surgery beside it. J. H. Weldon's grocery store had a vacant lot between it and David Maxwell's farm implement store, at the far end of the block.

The photo indicates that Winnipeg's streets were lighted better than they were paved. However, the two street lights shown were merely wick-type lamps, which had to be lit by hand every evening, unless it was seven days before or seven days after a full moon.

Between these buildings and the old City Hall to the south was the city market (Market Square) and until the development of Portage Avenue as Winnipeg's chief business thoroughfare, Market Avenue was the place to do business.


The north side of Market Avenue again, looking east towards Main Street from Princess. The Seymour Hotel now occupies the frontage which in 1881 included the Feed & Sale Stables, the veterinary and Weldon's grocery store. The Royal Oak Hotel has replaced David Maxwell's farm implement store. The street lighting has changed for the better, and so has the paving.


This section of Market Avenue disappeared with the second City Hall, the area now being part of the modern Civic Centre.

Page revised: 20 July 2009

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