October 14, 2019

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Uplift: Streetcar 356 an ode to city's past

You could call it a streetcar with desire.

Decades ago Winnipeggers worked downtown inside what are today our heritage buildings.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES <p/>
The era of the streetcar as Winnipeg's chief means of mass transportation came to an end in 1956.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The era of the streetcar as Winnipeg's chief means of mass transportation came to an end in 1956.

But the way many people got downtown to go to work is also part of the city's history and there is now a fundraising campaign to restore the last original streetcar they rode on.

Starting more than 100 years ago until being taken out of service in 1955, the quickest way to get to and from the downtown from various areas of the city was by streetcar. Whether it was rolling down Portage Avenue, Main Street, Osborne Street or Arlington Street, streetcars on rails and attached to electrical wires above carried thousands of Winnipeggers daily.

And Streetcar 356 was one of them.

Cindy Tugwell, Heritage Winnipeg's executive director, said the organization has launched a fundraiser through GoFundMe to raise the $15,000 needed to bring the streetcar back to what it looked like when its first passengers boarded it in 1909.

"We're trying now because it's the 100th anniversary of the strike," Tugwell said recently.

"It's a really very important part of our transportation history. It needs to be in a good prominent place when it is completed. And it is all being done by volunteers."

The fundraiser does have a ways to go: so far it has raised $425 of the $15,000 needed. It can be found here if you want to help.

Robert Loiselle, volunteer director of the restoration, said they want to bring the streetcar back to "museum quality.

"Getting it back to operational level would be impossible, but we might be able to get it to the point of being able to roll it in and out."

Loiselle said a lot of the damage they are repairing is on the roof where decades of weather took its toll.

Along with the rest, Streetcar 356 spent its last day on Winnipeg's streets on Monday, Sept. 19, 1955, and then they were sold off. Many ended up at rural farms where they slowly deteriorated and disappeared.

Streetcar 356 was sold for $100 and left at Springfield Road and Panet Road until being bought by the Old Market Square Association in 1980. Later that year, Heritage Winnipeg became responsible

"It sat outside for 20 years after it was mothballed," Loiselle said. "But 80 per cent of the vehicle will still be here."

Tugwell said the streetcar is also not just any old streetcar - it is unique. It is actually one of only four wooden streetcars that not only spent its whole life transporting passengers in Winnipeg, but which was also built here."

If you want to see how far the restoration work has gone, you can see the streetcar during this weekend's Railway Days put on by the Winnipeg Railway Museum on Track 1 and 2 at Union Station at 123 Main Street. The event is free, but there will be a donation bin set up and there will also be other railway themed displays during the event.

- Kevin Rollason


Clowning around during firing

  • There have been support dogs to help people fly on planes for years or go to work, but an advertising executive in New Zealand has a different type of support for his termination meeting - a support clown.

    When Josh Thompson was warned he should bring a support person to a meeting with human resources - and fearing the worst - he decided to hire a clown to bring for $200.

    "It was rather noisy, him making balloon animals, so we had to tell him to be quiet from time to time," Thompson told media in New Zealand, also noting the clown mimed tears as the termination paperwork was handed over to Thompson. His job had been labelled redundant.

Fruit market more than just fruit

  • RUTH BONNEVILLE /  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS <p/>
Vic's Fruit Market owner Scott Schreimer sells fruit, veggies and a whole lot more.

    RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Vic's Fruit Market owner Scott Schreimer sells fruit, veggies and a whole lot more.

    Vic's Fruit Market has been around for more than 60 years - and it turns out they sell more than fruit.

    David Sanderson recently took a closer look at the family-owned business and found how they've fought and survived against larger grocery stores.

    "We have lots of people who started coming here with their parents, and now show up with their own children, because they seem to appreciate the personal touch we try to offer," owner Scott Schriemer says.

Bellhops do more than carry luggage

  • SASHA SEFTER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS <p/>
Gerry Unisa (left) has worked as a bellman at the Fort Garry Hotel for 29 years while his son John followed in his footsteps nine years ago.

    SASHA SEFTER / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Gerry Unisa (left) has worked as a bellman at the Fort Garry Hotel for 29 years while his son John followed in his footsteps nine years ago.

    They park your car and carry your luggage, but did you know they can also offer dinner suggestions and directions?

    The bellhops at the Hotel Fort Garry do this and more — you could say they are goodwill ambassadors for the city.

    "The type of person we look for is someone who makes a great first impression, outgoing, and able to interact with people from all walks of life," Jane Snow, the hotel's director of rooms, recently told the Free Press. "I can proudly say everybody presently working here fits that description to a T."

Mass at shrine

  • MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS<p/>
Reverend Dominic La Fleur at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and Shrine near St. Malo Provincial Park, a site that's becoming more popular with city churchgoers.

    MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

    Reverend Dominic La Fleur at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and Shrine near St. Malo Provincial Park, a site that's becoming more popular with city churchgoers.

    People have been going to the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and Shrine near St. Malo Provincial Park for decades, but this year was different.

    Recently, for the first time, parishioners from the entire Archdiocese of St. Boniface were asked to gather at the site, with at least one mass at their own churches cancelled on Sunday to encourage people to go.

    "It builds up the common expression of faith and church," Archbishop Albert LeGatt aid about the diocesan designation of the shrine and the annual pilgrimage. "It's a call to the faithful in all parishes."

Bob Vipond was loved — and kept family on toes

  • SUPPLIED <p/>
Bob Vipond, who loved being an uncle, is seen with his great-niece Aimie in 2002.

    SUPPLIED

    Bob Vipond, who loved being an uncle, is seen with his great-niece Aimie in 2002.

    There was never a dull moment for Bob Vipond's family when he was around.

    Vipond, who died earlier this year, and was recently profiled in the Free Press' Passages feature, A Life's Story, was remembered as being a person who loved Canada - and loved mischief. His family recalled him jumping off a garage roof onto a relative's car roof and another time putting a garden hose into a neighbour's basement window and turned on the hose. And those are just a couple of his stories.

    But, overall, Vipond, who lived with Down syndrome, was remembered as a kind and loving soul whose parents made the choice decades before to have him grow up with them instead of in an institution.

Your weekly squee

KALANDRA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa plays against China's Chen Meng during their women's team table tennis final match at the ITTF-ATTU Asian Table Tennis Championships at Amongrogo stadium in Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.

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