Take a trip down memory lane with these bird’s-eye views of early Winnipeg.

Broadway looking west from Main Street, ca. 1916

Aerial9 Photo: Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries

The Fort Garry Hotel (the royal-looking building on the left) was built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroads in 1913. Charles Melville Hays, the president of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railroads, didn’t get to see the finished product because he died when the Titanic sunk in 1912. The Fort Garry is thought of as one of the most haunted hotels in the country — legend has it that a woman hanged herself in room 202.

Looking north along Main Street, date unknown

Aerial11 Photo: Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries

Part of the reason why the streets of downtown Winnipeg are so wide is because they were built to accommodate the streetcars and trolley buses which used to travel through the city. The Winnipeg Electric Company was one of the main transportation services in the city up until 1955 when the service ended and all the metal was sold for scrap.

Central Winnipeg, ca. 1947

Aerial5 Photo: City of Winnipeg

The early 20th Century proved to be a tough time for early Canadian immigrants, but they weren’t the only ones suffering through long, cold winters. Icelandic people had endured volcanic eruptions and brutally cold weather for far too long, and Manitoba was in need of new immigrants, so an ideal opportunity for a new life arose. By 1940, a good portion of Icelandic people were living in the prairies and Winnipeg had become their second largest settlement.

Looking east on Portage Avenue towards Main Street, ca. 1935

Aerial Photo: City of Winnipeg

Before European settlers arrived, Winnipeg was a major trading centre for aboriginals. The word Winnipeg is a combination of the Cree words “win,” meaning muddy, and “nipee,” meaning water.

Looking north along Main Street from Broadway, ca. 1924

Aerial3 Photo: City of Winnipeg

In 1924, Winnipeg celebrated its 50th year as a city with a Jubilee Parade. Over 300 floats took part in the three-mile-long procession.

Looking south on Memorial Boulevard toward the Legislative Building, ca. 1935

Aerial4 Photo: City of Winnipeg

Before construction of the Legislative Building began, the Manitoba government held a contest to find the most majestic, imposing design out there. Architects from all over the British Empire were chosen to participate and the architect with the winning design, one Frank Worthington Simon, was awarded $10,000, which is equivalent to about $250,000 today.

Riverview District with Norwood across the river protected by Lyndale Dike, ca. 1950

Aerial6 Photo: City of Winnipeg

Some of the areas affected by the Red River flood of 1950 can be spotted in this photo. The flood proved to be a devastating catastrophe for the citizens of Winnipeg as eight dikes gave away, four bridges were destroyed and around 70,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes. Damages totaled about $600 million.

Winnipeg Skyline, ca. 1920

Skyline Photo: City of Winnipeg

Downtown Winnipeg is a mecca for art and culture buffs. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the oldest ballet company in Canada and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America, while the Winnipeg Art Gallery has the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.

Main Street looking south from City Hall, ca. 1882

Main Street Photo: City of Winnipeg

The busiest streets in Winnipeg today, Portage Avenue and Main Street, were originally used as trails for fur traders. New developments began popping up along Main during the 1860s, a decade which saw significant urban expansion in the city.

Canadian National Railway Station on Main Street, ca. 1940

Union Station Photo: City of Winnipeg

Union Station opened its doors in 1911, and in 2011 Via Rail commissioned a special project to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The National Film Board of Canada compiled over 70 years of archival material to create a work exploring the history of trains in Winnipeg. You can watch it here.

Looking west along Edmonton Street, date unknown

Aerial7 Photo: Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries

One of the most historic homes on Edmonton Street in Winnipeg originally belonged to John Walter Harris, a notable surveyor in the city. Once part of a luxurious residential area, Edmonton Street today is mostly lined with commercial buildings and apartment blocks.

Looking south from Wesley Park at rear of United College, ca. 1937

Aerial2 Photo: City of Winnipeg

On a visit to Winnipeg, the famous author and creator of Sherlocke Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, attended a baseball game between the Winnipeg Arenas and the Minneapolis All-Stars in Wesley Park. After the game, he declared “I have all the prejudices of an old cricketeer, and yet I cannot get away from the fact that baseball is the better game.”

Looking north along Main Street, ca. 1903

Aerial8 Photo: Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries

Winnipeg’s economy and population saw significant growth during the early 20th century. By 1903, business was booming and the ‘Peg was well on its way to becoming one of the largest cities in Canada.

Corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street, ca. 1910

Aerial10 Photo: Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries

Henry McKenney, a merchant from Upper Canada, was one of the first to build a store at the corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street. His store helped to establish the intersection as the main point of commerce in Winnipeg.

Looking south on Fort Street, ca. 1914

Aerial12
Photo: Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries

Not too many citizens of Winnipeg owned cars in 1914, but the ones that did had to abide by a speed limit of 15 miles per hour and share the road with horse-drawn carriages, motorcycles and bicycles. How’s that for road rage?

Looking southwest at the corner of Main Street and Portage Avenue, ca. 1913

Aerial13 Photo: Peel’s Prairie Provinces, a digital initiative of the University of Alberta Libraries

The Bank of Montreal at 335 Main Street was designed by the renowned neo-classicist architects, McKim, Mead & White. In 1975, the Bank of Montreal restored the building to its former glory by cleaning the exterior walls, replacing the roof, refurbishing all the marble surfaces and installing modern heating and electrical systems.

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