Contrary to popular belief, Guay Park, where the St. Vital Cenotaph is located on St. Mary’s Road, is dedicated to the memory of Abraham Guay, and not to his grandson Joe, who went on to be a mayor of St. Boniface.
So who was Abraham Guay?
He was truly one of the earliest movers and shakers in St. Vital.
In 1870, one year after arriving in the Red River Settlement from Quebec, Guay, 20, opened a livery stable in the fork of St. Anne’s and St. Mary’s roads. He later added a 100-cow dairy behind the livery barns.
An avid fan of horse racing, Guay is said to have "loaned" a horse so Louis Riel could safely escape Manitoba to North Dakota. According to folklore, Riel asked Guay how the horse, named Toufant, would return home and was told to slap it on the rump.
Prior to Riel’s departure, Guay had been negotiating to purchase St. Boniface lot 103 from the founder of Manitoba. The deal was finalized in 1881 when Guay paid Riel’s mother $410 for the property, which extended between the Seine and Red rivers and from Carriere to Morier avenues and what is now Guay Avenue.
Guay eventually acquired all the property from St. Anne’s Road to the Seine River from Clonard to Harrowby avenues.
On July 17, 1887, Guay was a founding member of the Union nationale métisse St. Joseph du Manitoba.
Known as a man of high principle, Guay built two homes — 79 Kingston Row and 5 St. Anne’s Rd. — where he and wife Esther raised three sons: Adelard, Jules and Phillip.
Jules drove a team of horses for the public works department, Adelard was one of the earliest St. Vital firefighters, while Phillip was a St. Vital alderman from 1917 through 1920.
Phillip was the father of Joe Guay, the future St. Boniface mayor who also became a member of Parliament for St. Boniface.
Abraham, 78, and wife Esther both died in June 1927.
The St. Vital Museum is holding its Fall Barbecue on Sat., Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Drop by 600 St. Mary’s Rd. to learn about the second-oldest settlement in Winnipeg and much on a hot dog or hamburger and a bag of chips. The price is $5 for adults, $3 for those 12 and under.
Meanwhile, if anyone knows when Guay Park was opened, please contact the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org