Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Committee eyes renaming park for former councillor

Earlier bid to honour Olympian nixed

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The historic accomplishments of Robert Machray, the first archbishop of Rupert's Land, was deemed too important in 1997 to rename a park with his name to Olympic athlete Clara Hughes.

Now city councillors are set to rename the park for one of their former colleagues -- longtime city councillor Harry Lazarenko.

A motion to rename Machray Park, bounded by Church and Anderson avenues on the north and south and Andrews and Powers streets on the west and east, in honour of the longtime Mynarski councillor will be at Monday's protection and community services committee.

It's counter to a recommendation by the city's administration not to rename the park, instead recommending either Pritchard Park or the south flower garden in Kildonan Park be renamed for Lazarenko.

Coun. Ross Eadie, who succeeded Lazarenko in Mynarski after illness forced the veteran politician out of office after 30 years in 2010, said renaming the park would be a wonderful way to commemorate his accomplishments.

"The Manitoba Historical Society says two things are named after (Machray), the street and the school, and no records were found in the archives prior to 1910 saying how (the park) was named," Eadie said.

"Somebody may have an issue, but there are two other permanent things named after (Machray) already."

Eadie, who said both Lazarenko's wife and daughter are supportive of the renaming, said he believes he already has the support of a majority of councillors.

The final vote would be at the May 28 council meeting.

Cindy Tugwell, Heritage Winnipeg's executive director, said councillors shouldn't be rushing the name change until they know for sure how the park was named.

"Was it named for (Archbishop Machray)? There has to be some type of file," Tugwell said. "If you have already commemorated a person, I think it's disrespectful.

"I have no problem with them wanting to commemorate Harry Lazarenko, but how can you trump somebody else historically?"

A city report says the Machray name has historical significance to the Lord Selkirk-West Kildonan community.

Machray, who according to the Manitoba Historical Society website was born in Scotland in 1831, was ordained in 1855 and came to Canada to become bishop of Rupert's Land in 1865.

The city report says Machray built up St. John's College, was chancellor of the University of Manitoba and became archbishop and the first primate of all Canada in 1893. He died in office in Winnipeg in 1904.

A search of the Free Press archives could only find two references to Machray Park around 1910. A Feb. 4, 1910, article reported Machray was one of 15 new smaller parks bought by the city in 1909, while a Sept. 29, 1911, advertisement saw a tender being put out by the Public Parks Board for 1,700 lineal feet of wire fencing for Machray Park.

A proposal came up in 1996 to rename the park Clara Hughes Park, but that was rejected the next year by the protection committee, which stated it was because of "the notable accomplishments of Archbishop Machray dating back to early Winnipeg pioneer days."

The city instead renamed Matheson Playground the Clara Hughes Park Children's Playground.

As well, the city last year named Clara Hughes Recreation Park at the site of the former Kelvin Community Club on Henderson Highway.

Coun. Scott Fielding, another member of the committee, supports Eadie's motion because "if a few things are named after Machray, I don't think it is an outrageous request to change the name for somebody who contributed a lot."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2014 B5

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