Walk down any street in Crescentwood and you will be dwarfed by magnificent elms and engulfed in bold architecture designed a century ago. Crescentwood is steeped in a rich history with every house having its own secrets.
Formed in the early 1900s by C.H. Enderton, a real estate agent who would later go on to form the Winnipeg Real Estate Board, Crescentwood was promoted to the city’s business elite as the best place to live in Winnipeg. Believing in Enderton’s vision that they could enjoy beautiful tranquility inside the city, the executives left their homes in other parts of the city to come and enjoy new grand houses west of the Maryland Bridge along the Assiniboine River.
A new concept at the time, Ederton established strict building guidelines for any new prospective homeowner. Known as the Ederton Cavet, a home had to be set-back a certain distance from the sidewalk and could only be a single family dwelling. These conditions ensured a consistent look and feel to the neighbourhood which is still evident today.
"Crescentwood is one Winnipeg’s oldest neighbourhoods. You can see the elegance of a time gone by in the streets, trees and the houses which are a great representation of the once popular grandiose architecture," said Annabelle Mays, a former dean of education at the University of Winnipeg and president of the Historical Society of Manitoba.
"Winnipeg is filled with pockets of moments in time. Every neighbourhood in Winnipeg seems to represent a time in our past. Crescentwood captures what life was like over 100 years ago."
For people entering into the Crescentwood area from the Maryland Bridge, St. Mary’s Academy with its distinctive architecture and high solid brick walls and mansard roof, has been a welcoming presence. Having outgrown their space downtown, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary , who ran the all-Catholic girls school, purchased six acres of land where the school still currently resides back in 1902. Continued growth precipitated several renovations over the years (1909, ‘26, ‘60 and ‘64) while current additions can be seen when driving down Academy Road.
The Ashdown House located at 529 Wellington Cres. is a palatial house designed for hardware mogul J.H. Ashdown in 1912. It remained in the family until 1953 when it was sold to the Shiners who held their meetings there until it was sold in 1995 to WOW Hospitality Group. The beauty of the 19th century architecture remains intact.
Next door, prior to the Shaarey-Zedek Synagogue being built, the spot was occupied by two stunning houses. One was owned by David J. Dyson, of Dyson and Gibson Spice Mills, which made Seven-Day Pickles, while the other was the residence of John Gage residence. Gage was president of Consolidated Elevator Co. Ltd., a precursor of Federal Grain.
Further south along Wellington, Munson Park was once the site of a farm with a large farm house. The original house was built in 1889. It was renovated and modernized over the years and was once owned by the Richardson family. The house was demolished in 1980 but the beautiful park with old walking trails remains.
"A lot of the movers and shakers that helped build the city at one time lived in the Crescentwood area," Mays said. "Names such as Osler, Ashdown, Richardson, Pitblado, and others all had addresses in the area."
Many of the homes once occupied by these prominent families still stand.
Self-guided walking tours of the area are available through the Manitoba Historical Society.
Crescentwood: A History, written by a Randolph Rostecki provides a comprehensive look at the history of the neighbourhood we call home.
Carolyne Braid is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. You can reach her at email@example.com.