Category: Winnipeg History

WELCOME TO GEORGE SIAMANDAS’ WINNIPEG TIME MACHINE


WELCOME TO
THE WINNIPEG TIME MACHINE

This site features a collection of historical articles on Winnipeg and Manitoba History. Stories about people, places, events and institutions that have shaped Winnipeg’s and Manitoba’s history.

Many of these stories were presented on CBC Information Radio 1995-2000. Private individuals may use any of the written material on this site but must credit George Siamandas as the original author and source of the material. Others must obtain written permission.

Copyright Notice
Please note that all photos marked with a ©George Siamandas copyright may not be used in whole or in part without the express permission of George Siamandas.

THE WINNIPEG FOUNDATION

THE WINNIPEG FOUNDATION

BUILDING THE CITY’S SOCIAL HEART

by George Siamandas

William Alloway came to Red River in 1870 at age 18. Winnipeg was not yet a city with about 12,000 people. Alloway worked his way up starting as a tobacconist, veterinarian and shipper. Within 9 years he founded Alloway and Champion which became one of the west’s largest private banks. Alloway’s fortunes grew with Winnipeg and he wanted to give something back. He felt he owed everything to Winnipeg and in 1921 he wrote a $100,000 cheque establishing the Winnipeg Foundation. Later, in 1930, Mrs. Elizabeth Alloway left an additional $2.5 million.

Kathleen Lightcap who was a founding member of the Junior League and a volunteer driver for the Meals on Wheels left $6.5 million in 1986-7. In the 1970s the James and Muriel Richardson Fund gave $1M and the George Hammill McKeag fund gave $1.2M. About 20 people have left more than $500,000. But much of the money is given by people from all walks of life who also want to give something back to their community. For example Joe McCann Transit Supervisor donated $200,000. Others like Janet Boucher who worked in the Holt Renfrew hat department gave $10,000.

In 1922 the first recipients were the Margaret Scott Nursing home set up by Miss Scott who was interested in providing the poor, the Knowles School for Boys, the VON, the Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Aid Society. They shared $6,000.

The Winnipeg Foundation helps a good idea get started and are willing to front end projects. In the Great Depression they helped out the Community Chest predecessor to the United Way. In 1935 they gave a grant to help set up the School for Social Work at the U of M. In 1953 they helped fight polio. In 1955 they helped establish the Age and Opportunity centre.

In 1958 they paid for the first computer that was installed at the Winnipeg General Hospital. In 1964 they helped Meals on Wheels and the VON’s Home Help program. In 1974 as part of centennial year they gave $100,00 for the Museum’s Urban Gallery. In 1976 they helped set up the Manitoba League for the With Disabilities. And in 1977 their annual grants exceeded $1,000,000.

Since then they have helped with Lion’s Manor senior’s housing, Fort Whyte Nature centre, and the Manitoba Childrens’ Museum. In 1994 they gave the largest grant ever, $750,000 to the Health Sciences and Children’s Research Centre.

It has about $92 million invested and has given $62 million to date. It gave out $4.25 Million in 1995. Last year they took in another 2.8 million in new donations. The principal is never touched.

People die leaving part or all of their estate to the Winnipeg Foundation.
Some of it is planned in advance and about half, the time people’s donation to the Winnipeg Foundation is a complete surprise. At least half the donors have no families to leave their estates to.

There is no set budget and the Foundation is able to react to issues and projects as they arise: it can be health, education, and family depending on the time. At times it has been proactive inner city and arts issues. They helped create Winnipeg Harvest. They like to help with projects or capital works.

There are about 60 across Canada, 14 in Manitoba. Some are general, while others are private one donor funds. For example the Thomas Sill Foundation was established by a Winnipeg accountant who was a partner in the firm Sill Streuber Fiske, a firm which exists today. He gave the largest single donation to charity ever in Manitoba leaving $19.2 million when he died in 1986.

Fort Garry’s Park-Like Wildewood Subdivision

Fort Garry’s Wildewood Subdivision

by George Siamandas

The Fort Garry area which was incorporated as a municipality on April 16, 1912 and the Wildewood area is one of its distinctive residential areas. Fort Garry was initially part of St. Vital and was settled by Metis and Quebecois farmers. These early settlers were Metis boatmen who build their homes close to the river’s edge as it was their best choice in transportation. One of the most famous landowners in the area that later became Wildewood was Ambroise Lepine. But after the Riel incident, many French people left the area and were replaced by Anglophones. Over the years it has completely lost its French origins. Only in the south end at St. Norbert will you see what the early Fort Garry was like.

COLONEL THOMPSON’S PLAN FOR WILDEWOOD

But by 1900 virtually all traces of the Metis heritage of the area was gone. One developer after another tried to develop the land starting with Colonel RM Thompson who in 1908 first introduced the name Wildewood. Thompson’s plan was for a very exclusive area just like was developing then on Wellington Cres. They built roads and Col Thompson had a huge Victorian mansion built at the point of the Red River. Col Thompson went to fight in WW1 and never returned. His house was not fully completed and was not occupied for 17 years and was to be demolished in 1933 after suffering years of vandalism. Finally in 1934, it was bought by Ravenscourt School and renovated to become a boy’s school. But the land continued to bounce back and forth between the City of Winnipeg and the Fort Garry municipality. At one time during the 1930s the city was contemplating making it into a park just like Assiniboine Park. But lack of money saw the city give it back to Fort Garry.

HOW WILDEWOOD PARK CAME ABOUT

Enter Hubert Bird. Bird was the owner of Bird construction. Bird had built aerodromes during WW1 and after the war he started the Bird construction company and built Union Station in Regina, and the Swifts plant in Winnipeg during the 1930s. During WW2 he built half the airfields and barracks in western Canada. During WW2 while flying over Radburn New Jersey, Bird saw an example of a new garden suburb with cul de sacs all built around a central shared park. Bird had seen his model for Wildewood and purchased the land comprising Wildewood.

WW2 had given Bird experience in mass production techniques and he had seen the potential of applying these techniques to reduce housing costs in Wildewood. It had never been done before with housing.

The returning WW2 vets needed affordable housing and Bird gave them 5 house plans to choose from. Bird hired the firm GBR (Still active and building the Jewish Community campus) to design the project. They did market research to find preferences for house features like the preferred number of bedrooms. Almost half wanted storey and a half and most wanted forced air heating. Great West Life agreed to finance the project and scale model for the area was placed at Eatons, the hub of the city at the time.

MASS PRODUCTION OF HOUSING PIONEERED IN WILDEWOOD

Then construction began using assembly line techniques after materials had been procured en masse and brought to the site. Lumber had even been salvaged from grain bins. Panel forms were used for pouring basements, and the exterior walls were prefabed. Specialty crews worked on flooring, shingling, and insulation. A US newspaper featured a bungalow and a storey and a half built in just 58 minutes. The realty firm SS Stevensen handled the sales, and it took only 2 years to sell out. Mature trees were spared preserving the area’s main amenity: its heavily wooded quality. The neighbourhood had to do their own snow removal buy hiring a man and buying a horse drawn plough. Cost per resident was $.50 annually. They also bought their own mosquito fogger.

The area had one of the highest birth rates in the country and some dubbed it Childwood and Fertile Valley. Doug Henning the magician is one.

THE TALE OF THE WOLSELEY ELM

THE TALE OF THE WOLSELEY ELM

Just Elected Mayor Juba Does the Right Thing

by George Siamandas

In 1957, a giant triple-trunked elm stood in the centre of Wolseley Avenue and Greenwood St in Winnipeg. It had been planted by a woman resident a hundred years earlier, and as early as the turn of the century, it was considered a traffic hazard. The area’s residents had fought many battles to preserve it even though traffic planners had long wanted to cut it down. In the summer of 1957 the traffic department decided that the Wolseley Elm finally had to go. It was a traffic hazard. The residents thought that on the contrary it was a safety feature as it required traffic to slow down to go around it.

THE BATTLE TO SAVE THE ELM

The issue immediately became contentious. The Free Press wrote in an editorial titled “Lay That Buzz Saw Down,” that the “aldermen are asking for trouble, when they chop down city trees, and they invite a torrent of criticism when they eye the one that grows on Wolseley. They really should know better. They say it is a nuisance. The truth is the tree bothers some strange civic clique which abhors individuality and has a passion for unrelenting conformity.” Alderman Crawford retorted “Lets grow a big fat tree right in the middle of Portage and Main.” In response Wolseley residents Mrs Wolfram and Mrs McCord began a fight to save the tree.

Mayor Juba who had just been elected mayor responded to the people’s wishes. On September 19, 1957 the Free Press front page headline read “Wild Women Win-Juba Breaks Law to Save Tree” At nine that morning a convoy of civic vehicles arrived to cut it down. A group of women gathered around the tree with their arms folded in defiance. They are going to have to chop us down too if they want to chop our tree said the women. As the city employee approached the tree with his buzz saw, an old grandmother with an axe shouted out “We don’t think you should do this.” A crowd of three hundred had gathered to support the 12 women that were now guarding the tree. Juba then emerged from the crowd and was convinced by the women to find a way out of it. On the premise of public safety, Juba put an end to that day. Mrs Borrowman kissed the mayor on the cheek and invited him to her place for tea.

The issue immediately captured national TV coverage and McLeans magazine did a big feature on the Wolseley Elm and Mayor Juba. But a few days later vandals poured gasoline on the tree and set it ablaze. Grafts were performed by a University tree expert and the tree revived the following spring. But in June 1958 three university students attacked the tree with saws and a crowbar. They were caught and fined $150 each.

Finally on Halloween October 31, 1958 the Wolseley Elm has seen its last season. At three in the morning residents awakened to two loud explosions. It was like two canon blast said a resident. The street lights were blown out and the tree had been blown up. Police suspected dynamite, but despite an enquiry, the culprits were never found. It was thought to be a KKK like warning, because two months earlier the residents had found a rooster on the tree. A psychiatrist said that people who blow up trees a are not mad at trees but at society. By June of 1960 no signs of life were evident. A kind of death certificate was issued and even Mrs Borrowman agreed that the tree should now come down. She asked for a piece of the tree so that she could have an electric lamp made.

Mayor Juba had emerged a hero in the way he had handled his first controversial issue. He had gone with his instincts. It was the first of many public victories.

TUXEDO The Suburb Beautiful

TUXEDO

The Suburb Beautiful

by George Siamandas

DEVELOPER FREDERICK WILLIAM HEUBACH

In 1905 Heubach set up the Tuxedo Park Land Co. He found a collection of Minneapolis based investors who had built great wealth in the grain industry. Over the next year the Tuxedo Park Company bought 3,000 acres from Mary and Archibald Wright and other owners for $450,000. The first home in the area an old farmhouse still stands at the south-east corner of Academy and Wellington Cresc.

On January 24 1913 the town of Tuxedo was incorporated with FW Heubach its original developer becoming its first Mayor. But his plan did not immediately succeed due to competition from the Crescentwood development which was much closer to the city. The Minneapolis investors of the Tuxedo Park Co lost their money. Heubach died before any houses were built. Tuxedo was named after the famous New York suburb called Tuxedo. It had previously been the hunting grounds of the Algonquin Indians and was called Taugh Seeder or Duck Seeder which meant “Place of the Bear.”

MAYOR FINKELSTEIN

Heubach died the following year and was succeeded by FL Finkelstein as mayor. from 1911 Finkelstein with an accounting background became a partner with Heubach and Heubach’s son Claude. Finkelstein would serve as mayor and would go on to run the company successfully into the 1950s. The plan for the town had been designed by the famous Frederick Law Olmstead firm, and it became the city plan in 1911. It had combined residential areas, areas of work in the south including the Canada Cement Plant.

THE FIRST HOMES

The first house was built in 1915 by Raymond Carey on the north corner of Nanton and Park. The area was connected by a mud road that became Nanton Blvd. Carey was fairly isolated and had to get the plows out before he could traverse the mud road through the as yet undeveloped aspen wooded area east of his home. Carey married Heubach’s daughter Claire, Carey, a british architect, had come to Winnipeg in 1909 from Detroit and was well known for his Georgian style homes.

In 1923, Frederick Heubach’s son Claude, built a home at the south corner. Designed and built buy Northwood and Carey. Later Claude Heubach moved to Hosmer to one of the first homes south of Corydon Ave. In the 1920s a series of homes sprung up along the east side of Park Boulevard facing Assiniboine Park.

Many homes were owned by grain industry businessmen. In 1925 the first house was built on Lamont. The site originally reserved for the University became Tuxedo Golf Course. The four room Tuxedo Schoolhouse was built in 1926. Many area street names have changed since the original plan. Tuxedo Blvd was originally called Van Horne.

The plan reserved a strip of land just south of the Agricultural College. It eventually became the Youth centre, commercial and public housing and military land. By 1911 the new plan for Tuxedo was complete. It was anticipated that in time the University of Manitoba would be located at Tuxedo but after 1926 when it located in Fort Garry. There are many famous builders like Frank Lount and the Sparrow Brothers that built the area’s homes.

Winnipeg Planning Commission Announces New Plan for 1912

The Winnipeg Planning Commission Announces New Plan for 1912

by George Siamandas

Winnipeg’s Planning Commission had big plans for Winnipeg in 1912. The report of the planning commission recommended moving city hall to Broadway and creating a Mall along Osborne St. Winnipeg was the third largest city. And its leading citizens thought it would still become the biggest in the country.

There was concern that Winnipeg grow in the proper way and provide health, convenience and beauty for its citizens. Winnipeg saw itself as one of the leading cities in North America and wanted to do the right things with its future growth. The committee had some of the city’s leading citizens including distinguished architect John Atchison, the heads of civic departments representatives from the real estate industry, the builders, unions, and academics.

WINNIPEG’S PROBLEMS IN 1912

There was a lot of overcrowding. Very high cases of typhoid. Their 1912 studies showed it was twice as high in Winnipeg’s poor areas. There were not enough parks. Houses were being built on 25 foot lots. And what were once nice apartments were degenerating into tenements rapidly. There was concern that congestion near Portage and Notre Dame would get worse and that the system of roads, bridges and subways had to be improved. They also saw this as the last chance to acquire some riverbank land for public drives before it was all privatized. There was also concern that the health and building inspection department could not do their jobs because they were understaffed.

THE GRAND PROPOSAL OF RELOCATING CITY HALL TO MEMORIAL BOULEVARD AND CREATING A GRAND MALL

The new Manitoba legislature was about to be started on Broadway and would form the south end of a new mall. City hall was to go near Portage Ave. And between them was to be a new mall featuring a town square providing a place for a future art gallery, public library, post office, auditorium, exposition (convention centre) and other such structures such as a new Hudson Bay store. Running through the middle would be a roadway 160 feet across becoming a new north south highway.

NEW BUILDING CODES

To overcome slums they introduced new building standards. Houses were required to have one bedroom with at least 800 cubic feet of space and a window. No more 25 foot lots. At least one room would have to be 150 sq ft. They wanted to see the establishment of a Child Welfare Bureau and education about domestic hygiene and proper child care.

The legislature was built as planned but everything else had to wait for many decades. Of course city hall was not moved or rebuilt for another fifty years. The Bay built their store in 1926. During the depression they did build the auditorium as a relief project, and in the mid 1960s they built the art gallery. By 1962 city planners felt that city hall should stay put to help prevent further deterioration in the Main St. area.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THESE WELL LAID PLANS?

The voters turned a funding by-law for a new city hall shortly after 1912. The economy just did not support the grand vision that the planners had at the time. World War 1, then the doldrums of the 1920s when Winnipeg’s gateway role was supplanted by the new Panama Canal, then the doldrums of the 1930s and then WW2.

The problems of slums, and housing conditions and more recently of the erosion of the commercial base. But what seems to have changed dramatically is the level of optimism. In 1912 Winnipeg was coming off decades of unprecedented growth and progress. They dreamt big with full confidence their plans would be realized. Today we see continuing challenges to the future viability of downtown both in economic and social terms. The original vision of a health, convenience and beauty seems even more elusive in 1997 than it did 85 years ago.

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 WADDEL FOUNTAIN

THE WADDEL FOUNTAIN

By George Siamandas

You will find the Waddell Fountain in the north east corner of Central Park. It is a Gothic style fountain that has drawn Winnipeg visitors for 82 hot Winnipeg summers.

Murray Peterson’s book on Winnipeg Landmarks describes it as an example of “high Victorian architecture” …. a “collection of flying buttresses and pinnacles” with water flowing out of lion’s heads. It’s based on a design of a monument to Sir Walter Scott located in Edinburgh. The Waddells had come to Winnipeg in the 1880s. Mr. Waddell was a local leader of the Temperance movement. The Waddells were married for 25 years but had no children. They lived around the corner from Central Park at 457 Sargent and would go for frequent walks into the new Central Park. It was a very fashionable neighbourhood then. The Park was ringed with fine homes, and it had tennis courts and a bandstand as well as winding paths and gardens. Mrs. Waddell’s gift would complete the park which had once been undesirable low lying land that had required thousands of truckloads of fill.

MRS WADDELL’S DEATH RESULTS IN THIS FOUNTAIN Eighty-eight years ago on January 23, 1908, Mrs. Emily Margaret Waddell passed away. Her will contained an unusual provision. Should her husband remarry, $10,000 from her $56,000 estate was to be used to build a public fountain in Central Park. The will was dated 1904. It is not even clear Thomas knew of the provision. It does not look like Mr WAddell complied right away. Maybe he was just a procrastinator. Her will did not come to light till 1911. The will compelled the city to follow up on the provision of a fountain. By this time husband Thomas Waddell was engaged to be married. He just could not perform. He claimed he was desperately in debt due to some real estate investments that went belly up. It took two years for Waddell to find the money, and finally the Parks Board approved a design by Winnipeg architect John Manuel. It was completed in 1914 and cost $9,722. Ten thousand dollars was a huge amount of money then. It would have built one of the finest houses in Crescentwood. A reporter is noted to have said “A truly remarkable fountain could be erected for this sum.” In fact the Conservatory at Assiniboine Park was built around the same time for $15,000.

A WIFE’S REVENGE OR A TRIBUTE TO THEIR LOVE Mrs Waddell loved the park. But building the fountain was required only if her husband remarried. Assuming she suspected her “beloved husband” would remarry as most husbands did, it suggests a wish to see a monument to their life together in the place she seemed to love. I guess it depends on how you see human nature. It might be interesting to invite your listeners to answer the question. I wonder if any of your listeners know more. Parks seem to hold appeal for gifts even today. For example Leo Mol donated 200 sculptures in 1991 for the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. (June 1991) The other major gift is probably Kathleen Richardson’s donation of the old Richardson property which is now passive park along Wellington crescent. (Jan 19th 1977)

THE SALVATION ARMY’S WORK IN WINNIPEG

THE SALVATION ARMY’S

WORK IN WINNIPEG

By George Siamandas

The Salvation Army was started in London England in 1865 by William Booth who wanted to do something to improve the lives of poor people. “General” Booth as he is described in the literature literally created an army to attack poverty and to bring religion to the needy. The Salvation Army still remains very much a religious organization.

They first came to Winnipeg in early 1883. The Frank Vinall family came from Brighton England. They had already been active in a Salvation Army corps in Sussex. The Vinalls were able to persuade Canadian Salvation Army headquarters to establish an office in Winnipeg. And the first Winnipeg corps comprising a 3 man, 3 woman unit arrived in Winnipeg on December 10, 1886 and began to work from a building on Princess Ave.

There was a lot of work to be done in Winnipeg. Red River seemed ripe for salvation and was described by some as a very wicked place. Winnipeg was still a pioneer community. There had been the economic collapse in 1883 after the 1881-1882 land boom. Winnipeg was still very much a place of tents. There were many bush workers, railway men and other tramps as they were called then.

The Vinall’s initial efforts of songs and prayer in front of the post office were not well received. The May 1883 paper noted that “if the morals of the community need correction it will have to be done through some other means.” But the public soon came to appreciate what the Salvation Army did for man’s daily needs. And by 1888, the Salvation Army was also set up in Brandon, Neepawa, Morden, Minnedossa, and Carberry.

The Salvation Army along with other private groups and churches seemed to be working well ahead of government by innovating most social services.
They pioneered outreach work visiting people in their own homes.

In 1890 they founded the Children’s Shelter on Ross Avenue to house destitute mothers and homeless children. In 1906 they established Grace Hospital which became their first incorporated hospital in Canada. It was the idea of Evangeline Booth the founder Booth’s daughter. In 1906 they started the first used clothing depot at Logan and King St.

The SA led the way with by helping house hundreds of returning soldiers from WW1 in two hotels they bought for the purpose. And later during the depression, in a 3 month period in 1931, they gave out 18,000 parcels of clothing, 8,500 meals, and beds to thousands of needy migrant men.

In 1918 Grace hospital’s finances became very strained. Grace refused no one and ran into serious debt. To deal with the financial shortfall they made their first Red Shield Appeal. It raised $60,000 that spring of which $25,000 helped save the hospital.

As well as their good works, the SA has also left us some architecture like the Citadel located at 221 Rupert Ave. This three story brick structure was built in 1900 by J. Wilson Gray who also designed the much more ornate Confederation Life Building.

This building is still standing a block north of city hall in the middle of Winnipeg’s Chinatown, and badly in need of renewal. It once contained a 1200 seat hall and became focus of their spiritual and administrative work 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.