What's in a Street Name?
Christian Cassidy believes that every building has a great story – or 10 – to tell. His quest to find these stories has led to the discovery of hundreds of people, places, and organizations that helped build this province, but are not mentioned in the history books.
For over a decade, Christian has posted his research on his blog, West End Dumplings. He is a Manitoba Historical Society council member and has also been known to conduct the odd walking tour and for nearly three years hosted a local history-themed radio show on UMFM.
Like most bloggers, Christian’s day job has absolutely nothing to do with his blog topic, so he can usually be found hovering over his computer in the wee hours of the morning with a fresh pot of coffee by his side.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Christian is a proud resident of the West End.
Recent articles by Christian Cassidy
The Flying Bandit: Ken Leishman became a folk hero following ill-fated 1966 gold heist12 minute read Preview Sunday, Apr. 29, 2018
Born in a remote community in northern Manitoba, Joe Keeper distinguished himself as an athlete and a soldier9 minute read Preview Tuesday, Apr. 3, 2018
Administrative and planning blunders delayed construction of city's oldest functioning traffic bridge7 minute read Preview Monday, Mar. 12, 2018
Early Black settler Billy Beal was a ground breaker in many ways8 minute read Preview Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018
In the '50s, an indecency charge ended the political career of a closeted councillor13 minute read Preview Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017
For more than a century, Gillis family instrumental in construction of iconic Manitoba buildings5 minute read Preview Tuesday, Sep. 26, 2017
West End boxer fought in 1928 Olympics and was among world's top welterweight boxers in 1930s8 minute read Preview Sunday, Sep. 3, 2017
Small communities rising to the challenge of saving significant buildings10 minute read Preview Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017
Unique building screened films for decades before becoming bowling alley8 minute read Preview Sunday, Jul. 2, 2017
Brandon's streetcars were rolled out, then scrapped, within 20 years11 minute read Preview Saturday, Apr. 29, 2017
Converting Exchange District building into space for creativity was bold move7 minute read Preview Sunday, Mar. 26, 2017
1952 Air Force crash and tower collapse claimed the lives of six7 minute read Preview Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017
City incinerator burned household garbage for decades until 19797 minute read Preview Monday, Nov. 21, 2016
Pioneer wholesale grocer helped start some of city's best-known businesses8 minute read Preview Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016
Former child performer was rising star when she met tragic end9 minute read Preview Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016
Mapping out Manitoba's history: interactive platform aids amateur explorers6 minute read Preview Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016
With the historic Sherbrook Pool set to reopen, a look back at its history7 minute read Preview Monday, Jan. 9, 2017
First 'city gardener' chose elm trees that line boulevards7 minute read Preview Saturday, Jun. 4, 2016
Monster mansion: Massive home on Ruskin Row was city’s most extravagant7 minute read Preview Sunday, Mar. 13, 2016
Longtime porter became labour leader, pillar of black community7 minute read Preview Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016
First lady of real estate: Gibson gained fame as city’s earliest female, full-time agent7 minute read Preview Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016
City’s heritage hero: McDowell considered founding father of historic-preservation movement7 minute read Preview Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015
Bombers owe existence to Winnipeg's first trip to Grey Cup8 minute read Preview Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015
Deanna Durbin didn’t forget her Winnipeg roots after fame9 minute read Preview Sunday, Sep. 27, 2015
About time: City procrastinated before introducing first parking meters7 minute read Preview Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015
How Winnipeg tried to switch from named to numbered streets9 minute read Preview Sunday, Apr. 12, 2015
The early years of Winnipeg's development can be described as chaotic, as it transformed from a settlement to a full-fledged city.
When it incorporated on Nov. 8, 1873, the city's population was 1,869. By 1886, that number had ballooned to 20,000, and it stood at 28,000 by 1891. In those early years, the city struggled to keep up with the demands for the most basic services. The proper surveying of a street system to meet the needs of future growth was something city administrations would play catch-up on for decades to come.
The city's first attempt at bringing order to its streets came in 1890, when it synchronized building numbers. Prior to that point, developers had a lot of latitude as to what number they chose, which led to confusion for emergency services and delivery drivers. Council passed a motion stating "the buildings on all streets running east and west are numbered from the (Red) river in such a way that No. 200 comes on the first building on the west side of Main Street."
Similarly, corner buildings on streets running parallel to the Assiniboine River were numbered 100 at Broadway, 250 at Graham Avenue, and so on. By August 1890, 5,079 buildings had been renumbered, at a cost of $224.75.
Hood coming down: Building believed to be Sargent Avenue’s oldest slated for demolition this week6 minute read Preview Sunday, Mar. 22, 2015
A different kind of firefight: Winnipeggers helped battle blazes in the Blitz9 minute read Preview Sunday, Mar. 1, 2015
The untiring, always-smiling Transit Tom5 minute read Preview Sunday, Sep. 14, 2014
There are few local characters as iconic as Transit Tom, the always-cheerful bus driver who has invited people to take transit and "move to the back of the bus, please" since 1957. Despite the fact his heyday was 50 years ago, his name is still used interchangeably with Winnipeg Transit.
Tom was created in the late 1950s, a low point for public transportation in many North American cities.
The rolling stock of most systems was in poor shape due to wartime restrictions on the use of steel and the fact some vehicle manufacturers and related suppliers had been retooled for wartime manufacturing. The Winnipeg Electric Company (WECo), the city's privately owned transit provider, struggled to keep its fleet of aging streetcars and small buses on the road.
After the war came the development of vast new suburbs. Their sparse density was geared more toward car users than transit users, and the public began turning its back on public transportation. Still, transit was expected to provide service to these new areas even though they were money-losing routes.
Beacon shone from atop Bay building5 minute read Preview Sunday, Jul. 27, 2014
There seems to be no end of interesting historical tidbits about the Bay's downtown store. I recently stumbled across something called the Great Beacon, the strongest light in the British Empire, which shone from atop the store in the early 1930s. It was equal parts advertising gimmick and practical safety device.
The first airmail flights to and from Western Canada were set to take place at Stevenson Field on March 8, 1930. It was a big deal for not only the budding aviation industry, but the city of Winnipeg, which would be a hub for western mail going east and to points international, and for anyone who mailed letters or packages to or from the west.
The British government, readying itself in 1929 for its first regularly scheduled commercial flights to and from Europe, experimented with giant beacons or "aerial lighthouses" near the coast that would point pilots in the direction of the nearest airport, especially useful in case of fog. The trials were a success, and the largest permanent installation was established at Croydon, near London, in November 1929, throwing off more thanone million candlepower of light.
Crossing the sparsely populated Canadian Prairies at night would be similar to crossing the ocean -- dark and featureless and at times foggy or snowy. It appears the Hudson's Bay Company took the initiative to create a similar beacon atop its Portage Avenue store in Winnipeg in time for the first airmail flight.