Category: Winnipeg story

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

ST. JOHN’S CATHEDRAL AND

WINNIPEG’S OTHER OLDEST CHURCHES

by George Siamandas

St John's Cathedral

St John's Cathedral

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.

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 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.

Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence

Drawing From a Dreadful Childhood in Neepawa

By George Siamandas

© George Siamandas

Jean Margaret Laurence, Manitoba’s distinguished author of “The Stone Angel” and “The Diviners,” was born Jean Margaret Weymiss, on July 18, 1926. Her mother was Verna Simpson, 6th daughter of John Simpson. Margaret’s father was Bob Weymiss, a lawyer who had really wanted to become a carpenter. Her dreadful early life in Neepawa became the source of her writings.

DEATH WAS HER EARLY COMPANION

Death was Margaret’s companion in childhood. Margaret lost her mother Verna at age four. Her aunt Margaret returned from Calgary to help care for young Margaret and slept in a back room. After a year of town gossip, her aunt became her next mother. From then on she would call her new mother mum. At age 9 Margaret lost her father. As a little girl she was made to go see her parents’ graves, surrounded by peonies. From then on she hated that flower.

GRANDFATHER SIMPSON

The other major figure in Laurence’s life was her maternal grandfather John Simpson, a successful businessman in Neepawa. He had come from Milton Ontario as a pioneer and had literally walked the 50 miles to Portage La prairie where he got his start. Simpson was a mean, avaricious man who was respected but hated by nearly everyone. He refused to let his wife go shopping with any money, and he later regretted sending Margaret’s mother to Agricultural College as he did not like the idea of paying tuition for her to “learn how to cook.”

After her father died the family had to sell their house and move in with Grandfather Simpson. Margaret later remarked how the house felt like a cage and her grandfather was a tyrant. She was encouraged in everything she did. She felt different from the other children, an outsider. She became an observer of the lives of others. The war took away every boy in her class by grade 12. As a result, all of Margaret’s memories were of Neepawa as a place of death.

ESCAPE TO WINNIPEG

At age 17 she won a scholarship to United College and found an opportunity to meet other budding writers. At age 18 she bought a Remington typewriter for $14 and remarked that her typing course taken at age 14 was the best thing she ever did. She stayed at Sparling Hall and ate at a Salisbury House as well as Tony’s. She had coined the name Minewaka in a short story competition run by the Winnipeg Free, Press.

MARRIED LIFE

She married Laurence in 1962 at age 21 and they lived for a while at 515 William above Anne and Bill Ross. For a while Margaret worked at a communist newspaper without knowing it and later for the Winnipeg Citizen. Her husband and the Rosses did not get along as he disapproved of their causes. Her husband was interested in 3rd world development work and after a short stint in England he found work on improving the water supply in Somalia. She wrote first about Africa but later after returning to England in 1962, after her divorce. She had two children.

There she began to write about Manawaka (Neepawa). The Stone Angel came out in 1964. In 1974 she returned to Canada living in Lakefield Ontario. She became a heavy smoker and an alcoholic. In later life she did not enjoy the idea of returning to Neepawa even for short trips. On her rare visits, she refused to walk by the old brick house.

This secretive woman who had decided long earlier that “a life without hope is not worth living,” planned the details of her own funeral, including the timing of her death in Jan 5, 1987, during a battle with cancer.

Major Charles Arkoll Boulton

180px-charlesboulton1Major Charles Arkoll Boulton

The Man Who Resisted Riel

by George Siamandas

CHARLES ARKOLL BOULTON
He was born Sept 17, 1841 in Coburg Ontario. His father was a Lieut Col, and Charles followed his father’s footsteps into the military. He served at Malta, Gibraltar for the British. In 1869, at age 27, he came west as part of the Canadian Survey Party. The purpose of the Survey was to turn localities into townships for immediate settlement. Boulton’s association with Charles Schultz and the Survey Party put him in the immediate suspicion of the Metis who correctly feared the loss of their lands.

ARRIVING DURING TROUBLED TIMES
Boulton’s job became that of assembling and training a group of volunteers to help quell the resistance. He was working in the Portage District which had become the refuge of people trying to avoid the troubles at Red River. Boulton was there to help convince a Sioux Chief to remain loyal to the Queen.

A party of “liberators” decided to march to red River to earn the release of the prisoners being held by Riel. Boulton had tried to restrain “hot heads” like Thomas Scott and Charles Mair and had urged them not to go and in fact they discovered enroute that Riel planned to release them anyway. On Feb 17, 1870 Riel’s men captured the Portage Party and Riel decided to establish his authority by making an example of their leader Boulton by executing him the next day.

BOULTON AWAITS EXECUTION
Boulton was arrested and put in leg chains at Fort Garry. He was questioned by Riel and Riel agreed to Boulton’s request to see Archdeacon McLean. McLean convinced Riel to give a 12 hour postponement. Riel used Boulton as a bargaining card for concessions from Donald A Smith. Previous to this the federal govt had ignored Riel’s demands to be taken seriously. Smith agreed to Riel’s request to have the English elect 12 delegates to meet Riel’s delegates at a general convention.

Riel’s men became reluctant to guard Boulton. His first guard went mad, while the second died on the job. Boulton later told the story that Riel had awakened him in the night glaring a lantern into his face. Riel asked Boulton to join his govt and be the leader of the English. To this Boulton asked for the release of all the prisoners. Boulton heard no more about it. Clergy and English settlers appealed for mercy and Boulton’s sentence was delayed another week and by March he was released. Riel held onto Thomas Scott who he subsequently executed. Boulton returned to Ontario and went into the lumber industry, married and began a family. When the lumber venture failed he decided to return to Manitoba.

BOULTON RETURNS TO MANITOBA
In 1880 he returned as a settler in the Boulton Municipality and set up a log house. Boulton purchased land along the proposed railway route and moved closer to the settled area. The area became Russel and Boulton served as the area’s first reeve and operated a newspaper the Russel Chronicle. He also became active in many organizations and tried provincial and federal politics.

BOULTON’S SCOUTS AND THE 1885 REBELLION
With the 1885 Rebellion Boulton went west with a group of farmer volunteers from the Birtle Russel district which became known as Boulton’s Scouts. His Scouts were active in the Battles of Fish Creek and Batoche. In 1886 Boulton hired a typist from Winnipeg who took down his thoughts which became a book: “Reminiscences of the North West Rebellions.”

SENATOR BOULTON
Boulton had been a farmer, a military man, surveyor, businessman, politician, author and office holder. He began to seek federal patronage which was a long time coming. Finally in 1889 he was appointed a senator. Boulton was active in promoting railways, free trade and western settlement.

Historians suggest that Boulton lost his nerve when he was reluctant to go after Riel along with the Portage group. He was also disappointed at how little recognition he received for his efforts in Manitoba and from the federal govt. His financial achievements were also very modest and he struggled to maintain his large family of seven children. He died in 1899 after a brief cold at age 58.