Thursday, 1 October 2015

What is up with the Bathgate Block on Princess Street?

242 princess Street over the decades

Built for businessman William Bathgate in 1882 - 83, the Bathgate Block at 242 Princess Street is one of the city's oldest commercial buildings. It is also one of the few remaining examples the work of prolific architects Barber and Barber, best known for their "gingerbread" Winnipeg city hall.

The Chinatown area has not felt the love that the rest of the Exchange District has received during the 2000s and this is reflected in the fate of buildings such as the Confederation Block (Shanghai Restaurant), the former Salvation Army Citadel and the Bathgate Block.

Bathgate's last noticeable tenant, a discount retailer called Warehouse 242, closed around 2001. In 2005 it was purchased by Nexus Loft Development Corporation.

242 Princess Street
January 20, 2007, Winnipeg Free Press

Nexus' plan was to renovate the building into condominium shells on the upper floors and retail on the main floor. That did not happen and the building was put up for sale in 2007. It is still owned by Nexus and still for sale as three separate buildings.

Back in 2012 I included it in my list of Winnipeg's most endangered heritage buildings and in recent weeks, things seem to be taking a turn for the worst. Open or missing windows in upper floors and a smashed window on the main floor can only mean additional damage to the building's interior over the fall and winter.

This is despite the fact that the City of Winnipeg Vacant Buildings By-law, introduced in 2010, was supposed to "target vacant buildings that are dilapidated, dangerous, improperly secured, subject to public complaints, and that have been vacant for extended periods of time." It gives the city the a last resort power to seize a building and either resell it to someone with a renovation plan, or to demolish it if it is deemed too much of a hazard.

In 2011 the owner was cited over a number of concerns about the building, including part of the facade near the front door "which appears that it could fall onto the sidewalk." The owner appealed and got an extension for the amount of time he had to comply. Presumably the work was completed.

ca. 1903, M. Peterson Collection, (source)

This isn't just your run of the mill vacant building. In 2004, after a formal request from the owner, it was evaluated for its heritage and architectural merit and granted a Grade II status*:

Grade II buildings represent the majority of Winnipeg’s most important heritage stock. Sympathetic alterations and additions to the exterior and listed interior elements of these buildings may be allowed in order to maintain economic viability. In certain instances, the adaptive reuse of listed interior elements may be permitted.

The recent window issues have been a point of discussion on the Protect Winnipeg's Heritage Buildings from Demolition by Neglect Facebook Page as has contacting the city to finally get this building secured and properly maintained.

242 Princess Street, Winnipeg

If you are interested in the condition, security and / or fate of the Bathgate Block building, send an email to 311@winnipeg.ca and it will be forwarded to the Director of Planning for follow up. For good measure you might also want to cc the following to let them know it is an issue important to you: MPagtakhan@winnipeg.ca, who is the area councillor; JGerbasi@winnipeg.ca, the chair of the city's Historic Buildings and Resource Committee; and info@heritagewinnipeg, Heritage Winnipeg, the city's heritage advocacy group.

* In 2014 the city changed the way these buildings are inventoried and is currently in the process of moving buildings from the old system to the new one. The Bathgate has not been transferred yet.

1905 Free Press ad. For more ads.

For more about the Bathgate Block:
Bathgate Block Manitoba Historical Society
242 Princess Street City of Wpg Historic Building Report (pdf)
My photo album of the Bathgate Block
242 Princess Street Winnipeg Building Index

For more about architect Charles A. Barber:
Memorable Manitobans entry
Dictionary of Canadian Biography entry
Dictionary of Architects in Canada entry
Barber and Barber, Architects Extraordinaire Architects in Canada (pdf, page 9)

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A new era for Winnipeg's Medical Arts Building

Proposed MLLC headquarters (source)

On September 29, 2015, Crown corporation Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries announced that it had purchased Winnipeg's Medical Arts Building from Huntingdon REIT for $74 million as their new headquarters.

Construction began on the $4 million structure in 1972 and it opened as a state of the art medical centre housing 150 medical professionals on June 17, 1974. In 2006 it was purchased by Huntingdon REIT and is currently at about 50 per cent occupancy.

For a look back at the history of the Medical Arts Building(s), check out my updated Winnipeg Downtown Places post !

The purchase price was $7.9 million. Another $66 million will be spent to renovate the existing building and parkade as well as to build a five storey, 80,000 square foot addition in what is now the surface parking lot area.

Once completed, the top ten storeys will continue to be rented out to tenants, while the bottom five floors and new addition will house MLLC's 400 or so employees.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2017.

The Medical Arts Building through the Decades:
Original 1923 - 1971 building (source)
Proposed New Medical Arts Building (source)
Medical Arts Building in 2012 (source)
Proposed MLLC headquarters (source)

A new downtown head office Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (news release)
A new downtown head office Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (video)
Medical Arts Building Winnipeg Downtown Places

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Radio Edition for Sunday, September 20, 2015.

Saturday marked the 60th anniversary of the last day of service for Winnipeg Streetcars. This Sunday's West End Dumplings: The Radio Edition, 7:00 pm on 101.5 UMFM, is a replay of the March 2015 streetcar special !

Kerri and i are joined by Brian K Darragh, one of the last surviving Winnipeg streetcar operators, who just published The Streetcars of Winnipeg - Our Forgotten Heritage. Also, Steven Stothers, the creator of the Winnipeg Streetcar.com website and part of the Winnipeg Streetcar 356 Restoration committee.

Here are some more Winnipeg streetcar links:

Brian Derragh's website, which includes upcoming talks: http://www.streetcarsofwinnipegbook.com

CBC News archives: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Manitoba/ID/2675822862/   

There IS a Winnipeg streetcar in town. Number 356 at the Rail Museum awaits restoration.  http://heritagewinnipeg.blogspot.ca/2014/10/streetcar-356-winnipegs-last-remaining.html   

A great collection of old Winnipeg streetcar photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/streetcar356/sets/72157622087907554

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Back to school over the years

It's back to school time. Though the fashions and prices may have changed over the century, most of the basics haven't. Here's a look back !

Eaton's Back to School
The Blue Store

Before school starts, parents have to get their kids dressed and supplied. Here are a couple of Back to School sales from Eaton's in 1906 and The Blue Store in 1905.

Back to School

We're just one day into the 2015 Back to School season and already a child has been seriously injured in a car crash. Back in the 30s and 40s, when being a pedestrian was much more dangerous, safety was a big concern. This ad is from 1939.

Back to School

Most kids don't rejoice when it comes time to hit the classroom after a long, lazy summer. Here are some students returning to Alexander School in 1931.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

A short-lived strike from 100 years ago


My column in today's Winnipeg Free Press is about the short-lived Cooks, Waiters and Waitresses' Union and their strike of September 1915.

March 20, 1914, The Voice (Winnipeg)

The union was formed as a result of the recession of 1913 that saw thousands of people around the province put out of work. Many gravitated toward Winnipeg's restaurants to make ends meet and the industry was awash with cheap, desperate labour. the average workweek for many was seven days a week, up to twelve hours a day.

January 29, 1927, Winnipeg Tribune

There's also a side bar story about the leader of the union. He perilously returned to England when the strike ended. After his death donated a major collection to the Winnipeg Art Gallery !

Monday, 31 August 2015

40 years of CKND!

Clancy, Candy, Nip and Dandy, ca. 1982 (watch)

At 8:30 pm on August 31, 1975, the Pembina, North Dakota-based television station KCND signed off the air for the last time. Thirty minutes later, it was replaced by a new feed, that of Winnipeg’s own CKND, (now Global Winnipeg).

Liba and Brinton. June 28, 1975, Winnipeg Free Press.

In 1973 the CanWest Broadcasting Company beat out two other bidders for the right to create a third television station in Winnipeg. To get a jump start, CanWest purchased Pembina's KCND, which already broadcast into Winnipeg on cable channel 12, and moved much of its equipment north.

it took CanWest about a year and $3 million dollars to launch the station. They purchased a former Safeway store at the intersection of St. Marys and St. Annes Road for studios and offices, built a transmission tower and hired about 60 staff.

CKND’s first local broadcast took place on August 31, 1975 lasted 30 minutes. It consisted of welcoming remarks by Paul Morton, president of CanWest Broadcasting, and D. C. Brinton, general manager of the station. Recorded greetings from Lt. Gov. W. J. Mckeag, premier Ed Schreyer, Senator Gil Molgat, mayor Stephen Juba and John Shanski, the Manitoba commissioner of the CRTC, were played.  Then, there was a 20-minute show introducing the station, outlining the work that went into putting it together and its plans for the future.

At 9:30 pm CKND joined the live feed of the 20 hour long Jerry Lewis Labour Day Telethon, the first time it was broadcast into Canada. The station’s parking lot was set up with cameras and a giant donation bowl for the local portions of the telethon broadcast.

August 30, 1975, Winnipeg Free Press

The majority of CKND's broadcast day would be American imports, though the independent station signed an agreement with the Global Television Network for a few Canadian shows and the rights to broadcast their national news program at suppertime. CKND's local fare was focused on local news and current affairs.

Initially, there was no suppertime local news, instead there was a series of short "newscaps" broadcast throughout the evening. Their local news began at 10:30 pm, a half hour earlier than their competitors. The first news anchor was Gus Nanton with Peter Farrel handling the current events portion of the show.

High School Report, June 1976 (source)

The following year, the fledgling station's local programming included This Week Today, a current events program hosted by station executive Peter Liba, High School Report, a news and sports roundup from high schools around the city, and the broadcast rights to the WHA's Winnipeg Jets. (The Jets broadcasts were soon cancelled when team management found that it was severely cutting into ticket sales, though CKND would beat out CKY for a five-year broadcast deal in 1979.)

CKND's nightly news program, called First News, was moved to 10 pm, leaving more time afterwards for longer form documentaries like a three part series on Indian and Metis culture in contemporary society and a two hour feature about Assiniboia Downs.

When CKND's first licence renewal hearing came up in 1977, there were sharp criticisms from the CRTC, the ACTRA union and rival CKY, the latter two suggesting that the renewal not be granted. Their biggest grievance was the station's lack of local, non-news, television programming. Some referred to is as just a rebroadcaster of the national Global Teelvision's feed.

The renewal was granted, likely due to the strength and depth of their news and current affairs programming, something their private competitor couldn't match.

Manitoba Tonight's debut on September 17, 1979

On September 17, 1979, CKND revamped its nightly news program. It was rebranded Manitoba Tonight, a 90-minute package that began at 10:30 pm. The First News segment was  presented by Andy Arnott, Marjorie Salki and Brian Swain. It was followed by Eye on Manitoba which took on feature length stories and the entertainment beat. The Salki Report, a weekly current affairs program, had already debuted in September 1978. 

Global Winnipeg Celebrates 40 Years in the Community Global Winnipeg
CKND Timeline Canadian Communications Foundation
KCND Revisited St. Vincent Memories

August 30, 1975, Winnipeg Free Press

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Radio Edition - August 30, 2015


Join me tonight at 7 pm on 1010.5 UMFM for West End Dumplings - The Radio Edition, the show about Manitoba history.

Joining me in studio is Penni Mitchell. She's the long-time managing editor of herizons, the national magazine of women’s news and feminist views, published right here in in Winnipeg. Their summer edition is a special history issue profiling 50 women who changed Canada. We'll talk about some of these women.

Mitchell also has a new book, About Canada: Women's Rights that profiles many women who changed Canada through their efforts to end discrimination and to promote social justice from the 1600s to the turn of the last century.

Later, I will tell you about some events that will be commemorated in the week ahead in Manitoba history and let you know about some upcoming tours !

Music by Rita MacNeil, Tanya Tagak and Buffy Sainte-Marie.