Category: Manitoba story

EXCERPTS FROM A SETTLERS DIARY

EXCERPTS FROM A SETTLERS DIARY

 

Sept. 12

Frost hard enough to kill potato vines. We have moved into our new house.

The crops this year are fine, wheat 40 bushels to the acre. They protect the wheat crop from blackbirds.   Farmers have to ride on horseback or go on foot or both,around and around and around their wheat fields from day-light till dark, yelling, pounding tin pans and shouting to keep off birds that come in hundreds from the sloughs near Portage and Lake Manitoba to feed on the wheat.

Our food here is mostly pemmican and potatoes,bread and black tea. Curry powder is used on the pemmican.

Bread is made by the natives (old settlers) from whole wheat flour ground by windmill, rolled out thin and baked on top of smooth box stoves. This bread is hard,and will keep for months.

Pemmican is made of dried Buffalo meat pound up fine, over which is poured hot grease,  supposed to be buffalo grease, but sometimes wolf – thoroughly mixed and put into bags made from buffalo hides,keep for years. No salt used. Sometimes wild berries are added; this commands a better price.  Note – We helped bind and shock wheat for McKay, of Poplar Point, and Bell, of High Bluff.

One day we were binding with gloves and over-coats on, snowflakes falling. The Hon. Mr. Howe visited Fort Garry and vicinity this fall. He did not come to Portage-la-Prairie. He said it was so windy it took two men to hold one man’s hat on.

 

ST. JOHN’S CATHEDRAL AND WINNIPEG’S OTHER OLDEST CHURCHES

ST. JOHN’S CATHEDRAL AND

WINNIPEG’S OTHER OLDEST CHURCHES

by George Siamandas

 

The 1834 cathedral replaced an earlier log church built in 1822 by John West. Construction for St. John’s Cathedral started in 1833. The limestone came from Stonewall and was quarried and hauled to the site during the preceding winter, by oxen pulling sleds. Much of this hard work was done by volunteers from the native and Red River settlement. Total cost was 900 pounds and the new cathedral could hold 500 people.

 

The site had been selected and put aside years earlier by Lord Selkirk himself. They were proud of their new church and Thomas Simpson called it “better than 90% of the Scotch country churches.” But their pride was premature. The new building deteriorated after just two years and for decades needed constant buttressing.

In 1862 it was replaced by a third church. But once again structural problems plagued the church. By the 1880s they desperately needed a new church. But it was a very long wait for the congregation. It was not until 1926 that the church was replaced by the present St. John’s Cathedral on Anderson Avenue. Andersen was named in honour of Anglican Bishop Anderson who came to red River in 1849.

The first church in Red River was built in St. Boniface in 1818 on the present site of St. Boniface Cathedral. This site has seen a succession of six churches: three were demolished to make way for larger churches, while two were lost in fires. Once again it was Lord Selkirk that had granted the land on the east side of the Red for the French community.

The oldest church is St. Andrew’s on the Red; it was consecrated in 1849. It is the oldest church in the west that has remained in continuous service. It has seen a major restoration of the stonework in the last few years. Its a testament to masonry techniques that old limestone buildings like St. Andrews have survived and can be restored. And all before pilings were commonly used.

One of the oldest churches is St. James Church. It’s located across Polo Park on Portage Ave and it was built in 1852. The oldest downtown church is Holy Trinity church just opposite Eatons which was built in 1882. It is the oldest building surviving on Graham Avenue.

Another interesting old church is St Peter’s on the east side of the Red in Selkirk. It is known as Peguis’ church because Salteaux Chief Peguis and his people helped build it in 1852. Peguis worshipped at St Peter’s till he died in 1864 and Peguis is buried in the church yard.

Nassau in Fort Rouge is a very ecumenical street with at least 7 churches. Starting on the north there is the Christian Science, then St. Luke’s Anglican, Crescent Fort Rouge United, Trinity Baptist, Evangelical Mennonite Conference and ST Francis De Sales Catholic Church for the Deaf.

The first synagogue was Sharrey Zedek originally located at the corner of Henry and King St. Virtually the entire Jewish community turned out on a September day in 1889 to witness the laying of the corner stone. That cornerstone is now incorporated in the Wellington crescent Sharrey Zedek which was completed in 1949.

WINNIPEG’S GARMENT INDUSTRY

WINNIPEG’S GARMENT INDUSTRY

Rag Trade Boomed Despite the Depression

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

Winnipeg’s garment trade was taking off in 1930 when a garment worker’s strike brought production to a halt on Feb 25 1931. Winnipeg’s Rag Trade boomed, while warehousing declined in Winnipeg’s 1930s. Starting as small family enterprises run by Jewish tailors, by 1970 the garment trade had become Manitoba’s second largest industry.

THE GARMENT WORKERS’ UNIONS

In 1935 Sam Herbst succeeded in establishing smoother labour relations in the trade. For the next 25 years there would not be a single strike in the trade. Before the union, ladies could be fired for talking or for taking too long in the bathroom. Wages were poor at 18 cents per hour. One worker recalled receiving one penny for every 12 buttons she sewed to each army shirt. Some had to work 60 hours a week for part the year and were laid off for several months. Wages went up to 25 cents per hour after the WW2. Today most of it is on piecework, and the going rate is 12 cents per minute reflecting about $7 per hour.

THE GARMENT INDUSTRY ESTABLISHES IN WINNIPEG

How did Winnipeg, originally an agricultural area, grow such an industry? By 1874, a year after incorporation as a city, Winnipeg had two men’s tailors and one woman’s dressmaker. But during the 1880s, 20 new businesses would thrive. They made what prairie people needed, by hand, in small operations. In 1899, Moses Haid, established the first mass production apparel manufacturer “Winnipeg Shirt and Overall Company.” By 1906, 19 firms had been founded by families like Berkowitz, Crowley, Freed, Kennedy, Jacob, Neiman, Nitikman, Shore, Stall, Steinberg, and Waldman.

In the early 20th century, Jewish people fleeing European persecution began to arrive in Winnipeg. The tailoring skills that had been passed down from generation to generation were activated in the cheap warehouse space sitting vacant in Winnipeg’s warehouse district. The building of the Panama Canal in 1914 sharply cut into Winnipeg’s growth. Now it became cheaper to ship goods west by the canal instead of through Winnipeg, leaving many warehouses empty and abandoned in the 1920s. For the needle trade this setback for Winnipeg marked its opportunity. Apparel manufacturers now had prime space available at bargain prices. And grow they did.

In 1918 Benjamin Jacob and John Crowley were the first to move away from work clothes to producing ladies clothing. And to promote their rapid success, Winnipeg garment manufacturers got together in 1925 to put on Manitoba’s first fashion show. By the 1930s 3,000 people had work in trade. Between 1941 and 1951 the industry grew 213%. In the peak year 1946, 14 new firms were established.

INTERNATIONAL BRANDS

Today the rag trade employs 8,000 people in over 115 factories. And it supplies many famous brands. Names like Calvin Klein jeans, Gap, Northern Reflections, OshKosh B’Gosh, Eddie Bauer outerwear, London Fog, are all manufactured in Winnipeg’s garment industry, and help it gross $700 million in annual sales. Uniforms for everyone in the Canadian Armed forces, specialised sportswear for curling, warm durable outerwear tested in Canada’s north or “Tundra” sweaters for Ronald Reagan. All made in Winnipeg.

The 1919 Winnipeg Police Strike

1919 Winnipeg Police Strike

The tale of two Winnipeg Police Chiefs

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

It has only happened once in Winnipeg’s history, a Police Strike, and when it happened 81 years ago June 9, during the six week 1919 general strike, it resulted in the firing of all but 23 members of the police and major changes in the careers of two police chiefs. Despite warnings by the Police Commission in 1917, Winnipeg policemen had formed their own union in July 1918. At a meeting of the trades and labour Council the newly formed union voted in support of the general Strike. Yet they stayed on the job at the request of the strike committee. In effect it replaced the city as their control.

It is thought the policemen having just returned from WW1, where they fought side by side with workers were sympathetic to the aims of the workers. On May 19 Mayor Charles Gray, asked the policemen to sign an agreement not to participate in a sympathy strike. Two hundred and twenty-eight refused and on June 9 all but the 23 who signed loyalty oaths were dismissed from the force. To keep order, a special police force was set up under Major Lyall with members of the Army and the North West Mounted Police. Three thousand “specials’ were hired.

FIRING OF CHIEF MACPHERSON

On June 11, Chief McPherson took the fall for the policemen’s actions and was dismissed. McPherson had been chief from 1911 and a cop since 1903. McPherson had a good record and had been prominent in the successful firebug investigations of 1913. Deputy Chief Chris Newton who had been one of the 23 to sign the loyalty oath replaced the disgraced Chief MacPherson who was never given a satisfactory answer for his dismissal.

Hugh John Macdonald a member of the Police Commission fought against MacPherson’s dismissal. A year later MacPherson was still fighting for compensation and finally received $5,000, a year’s salary and a letter of recommendation. On June 21 the strike got ugly as two strikers were killed by Mounted Specials. By June 26 the strike was over and on June 27 the original policemen began to return to their jobs. Newton noted that 39 men several of whom had been active in the union should not be allowed to return to the force. Those that had stayed on during the strike received bonuses.

CHIEF NEWTON

Chief Newton helped build morale within the dept. He helped organize the Winnipeg City Police Athletic Assoc and later the Police Pipe Band. Twenty five years later, at age 63 after a distinguished 33 year career, Newton would face his own crisis of confidence.

It started with a fight after a traffic incident at the corner of Broadway and Balmoral St.

In June 27 1934 300 pound Winnipeg Police Chief Christopher H Neuton was charged with beating up 145 pound Joe Erlicky closing his eyes shut. The Free Press showed the diminutive Erlicky with his eye closed shut. Neuton had the class to resign. After a circus of a trial Neuton was found guilty of common assault and had to pay a $20 fine.

WINNIPEG’S FIRST POLICE CHIEF

WINNIPEG’S FIRST POLICE CHIEF

The Canadian West’s Itinerant Chief of Police

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

JC INGRAM

Winnipeg’s first chief of police JC Ingram was hired onFebruary 19, 1874. Ingram had come to Manitoba before 1870 and had worked for the provincial police. He was well known as the man that had arrested Ambroise Lepine (Riel’s adjutant general) after the Riel Rebellion. Ingram was 23 years old and was known to be “a good man with his fists.”

He had been one of four applicants. Perhaps the most deciding factor was that Ingram was a good friend of Mayor Francis Cornish. On Feb 24, 1874 a fourth by-law of the city established the Winnipeg Police Dept. Ingram would receive a salary of $750 per year, and a staff of two constables earning $500 per year. By summer the police force had shirts, whistles, batons, and police badges. But curiously, their engraver got the badge insignia all wrong. Instead of a beaver he had drawn a gopher. (For go for people)

But it soon became apparent that moral was not good. Ingram did not get along with his men. In particular they did not like his habit of associating with the ladies of the night. Despite this and conflicts with several aldermen, with Cornish’s support he kept his job. Ingram’s association with prostitutes continued as Winnipeg’s stock of saloons, hotels and red light districts grew. Winnipeg and Barrie Ontario were known as the two wickedest places in Canada.

On June 7, Ingram’s constables conducted a raid on a Sherbrook St brothel. They were barred entry to a second floor room. When they pushed past and gained entry, they found an unclothed Chief Ingram in the company of harlot Ella Lewis. Cornish had lost the 1875 mayoralty and in his place now was William Kennedy. The next day Ingram appeared before Mayor and Magistrate William Kennedy and was fined $8 and suspended. On the 14th Ingram tendered his resignation.

WHAT HAPPENED TO INGRAM

Ingram travelled the west and eventually moved to Calgary where he opened up a hotel and bar. When Calgary set up a police Force in 1885, Ingram became Calgary’s first Chief of Police. But he continued to battle with local authorities and in 1888, left for Rossland BC where once again, he became their first chief of police. After a short stint there, he left to work in a mine were he was blown up in a dynamite explosion in 1905.

2ND CHIEF DAVID MURRAY

On July 1, 1875, David Murray became Winnipeg’s next chief. Murray was a schoolteacher from Nova Scotia. He was a popular handsome man, known for his fine singing voice, which was in high demand at local concerts. Murray now had 5 constables. They worked 11-hour shifts 7 days a week. By November Murray had purchased the famous buffalo coats for $17 a piece, and more equipment including four “wrist snappers,” 3 pistols as well as uniforms for the men.

CRIME REVIEW 1880

Murray would report 749 cases in 1880: 303 were for drunk and disorderly conduct, 212 were for inhabiting, frequenting, or maintaining a house of ill fame, 13 were charged with theft, 14 with assault, and 1 for gambling. In the 212 cases, 177 women listed their occupation as prostitute. While Murray was not accused of associating with prostitutes, future police chief McRae would face the same difficulties as Ingram. Vice was a problem and in 1910 Ingram faced a Royal Commission investigating police toleration of prostitution.