Orange Hall is no more
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/02/2020 (1015 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The 1902 Thomas Scott Memorial Orange Hall has now been reduced to a pile of rubble.
According to what I have read, the hall, for various reasons, was about to collapse and its restoration would not only be onerous but dangerous to attempt.
It was a municipally protected heritage structure because of its design and profound connection to the complex story of Manitoba’s birth as a province. This year we celebrate Manitoba’s 150th year.
The hall was completed a mere 32 years after Thomas Scott, a member of the Orange Order — a well-established fraternal benefit society — was executed by Louis Riel’s provisional government, for reasons and under circumstances about which much has been asserted, and volumes written.
The provisional government had seized representation of Red River when the east was positioning to join western lands into Confederation. Scott actively denied its legitimacy.
But the efforts of Riel (excluding Scott’s execution) leveraged negotiation for the rights under which Manitoba became a province within Canada. It is why schoolchildren voted Louis Riel Day as the name for a February provincial holiday.
Various fraternal organizations, like the Orange Order, were at the centre of life for many in early Winnipeg. The Order, committed to “traditional tenets of loyalty to empire and Protestantism,” grew large and the hall was built. You may recall seeing it directly at the end of Rupert Avenue when glancing from Main Street.
The Orange Order sold the structure in the 1990s. Fraternal organizations were waning dramatically with great societal changes in religious involvement, political activity, and leisure interests. A modern social safety net had more reliably replaced the functions of mutual aid organizations.
The hall was known for a particularly eerie “ghost sign.” (They are old-time signage painted directly onto exterior brick walls). But at the hall, as the paint weathered, imagery of an earlier sign, unseen for decades, became increasingly visible. The words “57 Varieties” and “Food Products” of the Heinz company were emerging.
A workman at the demolition site said a few people stopped by in hopes of retrieving a brick from the hall that once held dances and wedding socials. He said he tried to give away ones with paint from the ghost sign.
If the bricks (like the building once did) hold any meaning about the many layers to the story of our province — I wonder if those bricks just might get up and dance in the night.
Shirley Kowalchuk is a Winnipeg writer who loves her childhood home of East Kildonan where she still resides. She can be reached at email@example.com
East Kildonan community correspondent
Shirley Kowalchuk is a Winnipeg writer who loves her childhood home of East Kildonan, where she still resides. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org