Friday, 5 May 2017

Heritage Home Helps to Heal

The front of the Leacock Estate (courtesy of Marymound)
The Marymound Complex in Winnipeg's West Kildonan neighbourhood has a 105-year legacy which dates back to 1911. The organization recently launched a capital raising campaign to extensively renovate the historic Leacock Estate, a 135-year-old heritage home on the organization's property. The home will serve as the second phase of the Complex Needs and Mental Health Service Program, a program for girls in care whose past trauma puts them at an increased risk of being harmed. This critical program will provide a safe and secure environment for girls in Marymound's care as well as seamless access to the therapeutic and educational programs Marymound already provides.

when the girls arrive at the home, they will be met in the welcome foyer, which has retained many significant 19th-century features. The residence will be designed to house a maximum of ten girls, each with their own bedroom. A fully renovated kitchen, common area, sunroom, and private meeting room will utiilize aspects of the homes otiginal floor plan. A round room in the South-West corner of the home will encourage introspection and celebrate the importance of the circle in many faiths and cultures. It will be a place for elders to hold ceremonies, and offer traditional teachings. Click here to see the proposed design concepts for the Leacock Estate.

Built for Edward Phillip Leacock in 1882, the 22 room, 2 1/2 storey home is one of Winnipeg's oldest surviving examples of the Queen Anne Revival school of architecture. The style is known for its idiosyncratic features, bright colours, irregular roof lines and asymmetrical facades. Especially prevalent during the late nineteenth century, the style waned in popularity following the First World War.

The Leacock Esate in 2014 (Photo Courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society)
Leacock's estate is a modest example of the school, but the canary yellow brickwork and wraparound veranda are both staples of the Queen Anne style. The estate was a fixture in the early days of Winnipeg's burgeoning social scene, and Leacock was renowned for throwing parties that attracted the city's growing bourgeoisie. 
Caricature of E.P. Leacock, (Courtesy of The City of Winnipeg)
Unfortunately for them, Leacock relied heavily on his charm, and little else, to get by. During his time in Canada he was involved in several lawsuits which presumably ate into his fortune. His financial lines fell on "untoward places" and he was rumoured to have borrowed money from acquaintances with no intention of ever paying them back. Leacock was forced to flee the province for England under "a cloud of financial suspicion" in 1894. Despite the unceremonious parting, Leacock had nothing but fond memories of his time in Manitoba. He would often reminisce about his adopted home under an Oak Tree he had brought with him from the Estates Grounds.

Leacock built his estate to show the "wild and wooly" just how things ought to be done. (Winnipeg Tribune, 04 August 1911)

The sisters of the Good Shepherd were called to Winnipeg in 1911 and formally took possession of the Leacock estate in 1912. With help from the city and several charities, the sisters established a home for delinquent girls that was modeled as an alternative to prison. Extensive renovations were done to the second story of the estate to accommodate the girls coming from Manitoba's Juvenile Court system.

Girls Play in a wading pool on the Marymound ground (Photo courtesy of Marymound)
The program at Marymound was designed to "treat and rehabilitate girls through instruction, employment, and reformation." The girls were expected to attend school and study a curriculum that was similar to other private institutions in the city. Delinquent girls were considered most in need of reform, while orphaned girls in Marymound's care were considered pre-delinquent and kept separate from their peers.

Sisters Farming the Land surrounding the Estate (Photo Courtesy of Marymound)

A Delivery Car from St. Joseph's Laundry comes to collect laundry from the Marymound complex (photo courtesy of Marymound)
Although the reformatory was meant to house no more than 48 girls, that number could jump to almost 70 at any given time. A large frame addition was made to the home to alleviate overcrowding.
A second structure, St. Agnes's Priory, was erected to the West of the estate to accommodate a large number of orphaned girls being sent to Marymound. The structure also housed a powerhouse and laundry on the second floor.

St. Agnes School (Photo Courtesy of Marymound)

As the prevalence of Foster Homes grew in the city, the role of Marymound began to change. The priory was converted into a treatment center in the 1940's and renamed the St. Agnes School. The Leacock Estate became the primary residence of the sisters and would serve as their home until their departure from Marymound in 2014. Although the sisters are no longer involved in day to day life at Marymound, the words of the order's founder, Sister Euphrates, still ring true: One person is of more importance than the whole world.

Today Marymound provides services to 3,000 young people and their families each year. Many of the necessary programs and services provided rely on funds from foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors. With your support, Marymound youth can realize their full potential through positive change that creates a stronger sense of self and a desire to have a brighter future.

Heritage Winnipeg applauds Marymound for their dedication to a sensitive preservation of this E.P. Leacock heritage home.

You can donate to the capital campaign here.


Marymound Capital Campaign

City of Winnipeg Historical Building Committee Report

A Promise of Redemption: The Soeurs du Bon Pasteur and Delinquent Girls in Winnipeg, 1911-1948

Memorable Manitobans: Edward Phillip “E. P.” Leacock (1853-1927)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Leacock House (442 Scotia Street, Winnipeg)

Manitoba's Sisters of the Good Shepherd nuns to leave Marymound

E.P. Leacock: Heritage Winnipeg Blog

Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Manitoba Law Courts Through the Ages

The First Court House

Prior to becoming a province, justice in the area which would become Manitoba was carried through by the Governor and Council of the Hudson's Bay Company. By 1836, their law court was built at Lower Fort Garry, the area known as the Red River Settlement was divided into four judicial districts. Each district had a magistrate or justice of the peace. In 1864, a resolution was passed declaring the the General Court should be regulated by the Laws of England.

When the Province of Manitoba was formed in 1870, Winnipeg was still only a town; however, it was the largest town. Therefore, following the creation of the Court of Queen's Bench Winnipeg became part of the provincial judicial structure and so required a courthouse. The first courthouse was housed in an adapted former store building at 494 Main Street, in 1870 (now the entrance way to Old Market Square).  A large addition was created in 1873 which was in fact larger than the actual original building. This location was used for the courthouse until 1881, and was demolished three years later in 1884.

The 1882 Law Courts

The Manitoba Law Courts then moved to their first Kennedy Street location. This much larger building was finished in 1882. Designed by Winnipeg based English architect C. Osborne Wickenden; it was the largest and most ornate structure built in Manitoba at the time for its purpose seeing as Winnipeg was the chief population point.
The Kennedy location was deemed poorly laid out and overcrowded less than ten years after it was completed. Trials were frequently being postponed because all courtrooms were occupied and so a new addition was required. Designed by architect Charles H. Wheeler the new 1893-94 addition was twice the size as the old section. The building with the addition is pictured below, the far right is the original Wickenden wing, the much larger section to the left is the addition by Wheeler.
The 1882, Kennedy Street location of the Manitoba Law Courts
From the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections

1916 Building

The Kennedy Street location was replaced by the current Law Courts building at 391 Broadway Avenue. The new building was designed originally by provincial architect Samuel Hooper in 1904; however, he was succeeded by his assistant provincial architect V.W. Horwood when he died in 1911.

Scandals surrounding the Department of Public Works (DPW) were occurring in the midst of the 1916 Law courts being built. The main issue was the costs of having provincial architects and the political regime's sponsoring the design and construction of all the new court houses and government buildings being built. Hooper and Horwood were both provincial architects employed through the DPW. Because of all the scandals Horwood was led into early retirement and the provincial architects office was abolished when the entire DPW was reorganized. These changes effectively rendered the 1916 Manitoba Law Courts building, the peak of grand judicial architecture. Moreover very few public buildings were created between 1918 and the 1950's.

Horwood was replaced by John D. Atchison, and he oversaw the construction until the building was completed in 1916. The 1912 building permit estimated the cost at $1 million, but an addition was built in 1914 at a cost of $155,000. 
Section facing Broadway Street

Section of the current Law Courts Building facing Kennedy Street

What Happened to the 1882 Building?

No longer used as the home of the Law Courts, the building was used for many different purposes. One of its last tenants was the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law. The Kennedy building was eventually demolished in 1965, and the University of Manitoba’s Robson Hall building, was completed in 1969 to permanently house the faculty.
Blind Justice, a stained glass window originally in the 1882 Court house, is now incorporated in
the Faculty of Law Building at the University of Manitoba.
The Kennedy building had a stained glass window executed by Robert Bell of Winnipeg and Robert McCausland Co. of Toronto which had been completed in 1893. The window represented Blind Justice and had been installed in the main staircase of the 1882 Law Courts Building. When the building was demolished the stained glass window was kept intact and presented to the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law by the Government of Manitoba in 1970.

1983 Addition 

The 1916 Law Courts got a $15.5 million upgrade between 1983 and 1987; built by Kraft Construction. This addition added an extra five floors, including twenty two courtrooms used for the Provincial Court of Manitoba. The older 1916 building is comprised of three floors used primarily for the Queen's Bench Court.

The 1983 addition consists of five floors and houses the court offices and registries of the Court of Appeal, the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Provincial Court;  offices of court administration and court clerks are located on the second floor; courtrooms primarily used by the Provincial Court of Manitoba, as well as Sheriff Services offices and the Sheriff Lock-Up for in-custody accused persons making appearances in the court complex.  On the fifth floor are the chambers for the Provincial Court Judges. The older building also houses the Court of Appeal and the law courts library, known as the Great Library.

1983 Addition

The Great Library

Housed in the older, 1916 section of the current Law Courts building, the Great Library is the second largest of its kind in Manitoba, only the E.K. Williams Law Library at the University of Manitoba overshadows it. When it was originally built the library had stained glass skylights and cork flooring to muffle sound, both of these design elements have since been replaced.

Courtroom 210

Courtroom 210 is used along with four other courtrooms for the Court of Queen's Bench which is the superior trial court of Manitoba. This court has jurisdiction to hear both criminal and civil cases. This courtroom draws on many Greek and Roman architectural ideas. A prime example of the Roman influence is found above the Tuscan columns where one can see the Lictor Fasces. A lictor was an officer or guard who carried the fasces, an ancient Roman symbol of the unity and power or authority of Roman magistrates (ancient Roman judges).

Carter, Margaret. Early Canadian Court Houses. National Historic Parks and Sites Branch: Parks Canada. p.d. 1983. p.149 -151

“From Rural Parkland to Urban Centre: One Hundred Years of Growth at the University of Manitoba, 1877 to 1977” published by Hyperion Press for the University of Manitoba (1978) as a University of Manitoba Centennial Project.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Heritage home in North Point Douglas is an important part of our history

Barber house located at 99 Euclid Avenue is a vibrant centre for seniors in the North Point Douglas community. Before it was a Senior's Centre, it was another vacant & derelict building, and suffered from several arsons. But before any of that, it was a Red River Settlement home that stood as the City of Winnipeg developed around it. Barber house is named for its original inhabitants, the Barber family. It was built by journalist and businessman E.L. Barber. The house is one of just a few surviving examples of the Red River frame construction method employed by early settlers.

Barber House in 1900. Source: City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee

Edmund (sometimes spelled Edmond) Lorenzo Barber (1834-1909) was born in Hamden, Connecticut. He migrated to the St. Paul area in 1854 working for the Minnesota Democrat. In 1859 or 1860, he located to the Red River Settlement to work for his brother's dry goods business. Barber later opened at least one dry goods shop and traded in furs, hides and firewood. He developed business ties with John Christian Schultz, a rising businessman and political figure, through involvement in Schultz’s Nor’Wester and joint real estate transactions.

Schultz may have been rising in the political and business worlds, but he wasn't known for his ethical business practices. This caused friction between him and the francophone community of the Red River settlement. During the Red River Rebellion, Shultz became the leader of the newly formed, anti-Metis party called the Canadian Party. The Canadian Party had small scale military conflicts with Louis Riel's provisional government on numerous occasions. At one point, Shultz was taken hostage by Riel but managed to escape. There are rumours sometimes present as fact that Schultz hid in Barber House before fleeing to Ontario, but ultimately it is unverifiable if he hid there or not.

John Christian Schultz. Politician and leader of the Canadian Party

Edmund Barber married Barbara Logan in 1862. Logan was the daughter of Robert Logan, a well-known fur trader. This marriage allowed Barber, who was bent on establishing himself as a member of the elite, to enter into the social circle of the most well-to-do citizens of the Red River Settlement and early Winnipeg. Barbara's brother Alexander Logan was one of Winnipeg's first Mayors.

In 1873, the same year Winnipeg was founded, Barber bought the Nor’Wester newspaper from John Schultz. Barber would be editor and owner of the paper for the rest of its publication lifespan.  Many of his other business endeavours were not especially successful. The dry goods store he moved to the Red River Settlement to work at was struggling with the rebellion and a poor crop season. Even when Barber was buying up real estate property, he was unable to pay his suppliers for the dry good store, and had perpetually bad credit. A friend of his from Ontario strongly encouraged him to pay off his debts saying "a merchant's good name and credit is everything to him."

Edmund Barber.

Barber never did head his friend's advice. Barber's store theoretically should have bounced back. The rebellion ended, crops had a better season, and the population of the area continued to increase. But despite all of these external factors swinging in Barber's favour, the store was never consistently profitable. In 1871, Barber opened a second store in Portage La Prairie, which promptly failed and closed. In 1873, he bought a saloon which should have been a very profitable venture, but that failed as well.

Edmund and Barbara moved into a tiny home called Thistle Cottage. The cottage was much too small for their growing family, and they desperately needed a new home. Barber house is thought to have been built sometime in the 1860's but lack of records make it hard to say for sure. It is a two-storey, seven or eight-room log house. Like the story about Schultz hiding there, much of the information about Barber house is difficult to verify. It is unclear if the house was built by Barber himself, or if he paid somebody else to build it for him. Some records suggest the house may have been built earlier on and another property, and Barber purchased the house and paid to have moved to his lot.

Barber House, Date unknown.
The house was built using Red River Frame construction, an adaptation of the post-on-sill building method, popular in New France. The house was probably set into a stone foundation with perhaps a root cellar for storage. The frame was probably squared oak logs and the horizontal logs were likely also oak. As oak was the fore most material for permanent construction and the supply of oak on the plains somewhat limited, the logs were probably floated down the Red or Assiniboine from elsewhere.

A one-storey veranda topped by a balustrade once extended across the façade, while a wooden enclosure sheltered the doorway. It is not known whether these were original elements or later additions. Most of the veranda was demolished sometime after 1959. Prior to then, it had been enclosed with windows and the balustrade had been removed.

Barber House, date unknown.
Many other changes were made to the premises over the years. The exterior was stuccoed in the early 1920s, and the roof was clad with asphalt shingles. Interior changes included the addition of wood panelling, floor coverings, and various layers of paint and wallpaper.

Barber House, 1959.
Barber died in 1909,  but his descendants continued to live in the house for decades. The City of Winnipeg purchased the house in 1974 but the Barber House unfortunately sat vacant for many years, and was the victim of several arsons.  It was purchased by a group called SISTARS - Sisters Initiating Steps To A Renewed Society in 2010, with the intent to turn it into a community centre for seniors, but almost as soon as the sale went through, the house was once again set on fire by an arsonist.

After the house was the victim of arson in 2003, Heritage Winnipeg didn’t want to see it vacant and vulnerable anymore, fearing demolition but instead wanted to develop a plan to get a family living in the historic home once more and to take care of it.

Heritage Winnipeg was involved in a restoration/rehabilitation study for the house.  Heritage Winnipeg had numerous meetings with both the provincial government and the city about the heritage elements of the home, both interior and exterior.  They also consulted and had presentations and discussions with the Point Douglas Resident’s Advisory Committee and community memers about occupying the home with tenants, and making it available to the community once a year for Doors Open Winnipeg.

After much searching the SISTARS started working with the federal government to build a daycare on the vacant land behind Barber House. SISTARS had enough money to expand their project. The community of Point Douglas voted to see Barber House become incorporated into the new daycare facility. Through SISTARS dedication to the community, they developed a plan to turn Barber House into a community centre for seniors. The new daycare would connect to Barber House, and it would become a project that would bring generations together, and allow children to learn from their elders.

At this point Heritage Winnipeg saw the community enthusiasm for this use of the home, and laid aside its plans to move forward as a residence. Heritage Winnipeg was excited to hear of the community centre plans, and stayed involved in a support role to help the new community centre come to life.  In 2010, SISTARS made their intent official to turn it into a community centre for seniors, but almost as soon as the sale went through, the house was once again set on fire by an arsonist.

The fire didn't however stop the future plans for this large community project. The rehabilitation project went ahead, and many viewed the house as a metaphor for Point Douglas itself. Point Douglas was one of Winnipeg's first residential neighbourhoods, but after the Canadian Pacific Railway put their tracks through it, the neighbourhood became more industrialized, and began to fall into great disrepair. The population became comprised of mostly immigrants, whose interests were largely ignored or neglected by the government. Barber House, like Point Douglas, spent a long time being ignored and neglected. Residents describe Barber House as "rising like a phoenix," out of the ashes of the 2010 fire. There are many people dedicated to working towards Point Douglas itself following suit, and rise from the ashes.

The daycare and rehabilitation of Barber House was successfully completed and in February of 2012, Heritage Winnipeg held their held their 27th annual Preservation Awards at Barber House and presented the SISTARS organization on behalf of the community with an award for the successful rehabilitation of this historic home and for its integration into the social fabric of the community. 

Barber House in Present Day.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Victory on Main Street

269 Main Street is an address that has had a long history of tenants. For the past 80 years, the address has been home to the Victory Building, originally called the Federal Building. However, before the Victory building was constructed, a handful of other buildings were also located on the lot.

The very first building to stand at that location was The Grace Church, built in 1871. Over the next decade a number of small commercial establishments popped up, as well as a residential unit on that corner which served as a classroom for the newly created Winnipeg School Division before the Central School was constructed.

It was prime land, and the Northern Pacific Railway Company wanted to build a hotel on it. Their plans were realized when the Manitoba Hotel opened on the site on New Year’s Day, 1892. It predated the Royal Alexandra (which wouldn't be built until 1906) as Winnipeg's best luxury hotel. It was unlike anything that had been built in Western Canada at that time, and was ranked among the most prestigious hotels in the country.

The Manitoba Hotel
Unfortunately, less than a decade after its grand opening, the Manitoba Hotel burned down in the early hours of February 7, 1899. The story goes that it was so cold, (-53 degrees with the wind-chill) that the firefighters' hoses froze, and they were unable to do anything to save the building.

The Manitoba Hotel engulfed in flames
After the fire burned out

After the Manitoba Hotel burned down, the lot sat empty for close to a decade, until 1911, when the Industrial Bureau Exposition Building opened its doors. Businesses would rent space inside the building to display and sell their latest technological innovations to the public. During the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, the building was used as the headquarters of the Citizens Committee of 1,000.

The Exposition Building
This building also had a short lifespan, and was demolished to make way for the construction of the new Federal Building. Construction began in 1935, and the building opened in 1936. It was built by the department of Public Works, now known as Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the federal department that still owns the building today. George William Northwood was the building's architect.

Back in the early 1930s the average per capita income in Manitoba had fallen 49%, and the province and the city were in desperate need of jobs and income. The Federal Building project was a boon to the community, as it was one of the only buildings constructed in Winnipeg during the Depression. The project saw 1.5 million dollars in contracts flow into the economy, and a large number of jobs were created.  As a result, it is considered to be the second largest depression relief project in Canada, and one of the most effective job-creation projects that took place in Winnipeg during the 1930s.

To provide employment relief for Winnipeg during the project, efforts were made to have as many construction resources and materials come from local sources as possible. With just one exception, every company that worked on the building as a general or subcontractor was Winnipeg or Manitoba based. Even the building's exterior was local in origin, being made from Tyndall stone, a type of limestone native to Manitoba.

The Victory Building, formally called the Federal Building. Date unkown
The Federal Building was designed to efficiently house the offices of multiple government departments in one location, which was a new idea at the time, and which continues to be the case today. The building is seven stories high, with four stories in the tower. In its earlier days, the top floor served as a residence for the people who worked shovelled coal into the furnace that heated the building.
Victory Building in 1935, formally called the Federal Building
It’s also extremely well-constructed. The steel used came from Selkirk, Manitoba and was put through an extensive series of tests at the Agricultural Engineering Laboratory at the University of Manitoba. During the construction, the Winnipeg Free Press reported that the contractor was able to give an ironclad guarantee that the building would hold up against anything it might encounter in its lifetime.

The Victory Building was designated as a Classified Federal Heritage Building by the Department of Canadian Heritage on October 10, 1990. It is a prime example of Classical Modèrne, a school of architecture that uses elements from other classic styles like Beaux-Arts and Art Deco. Classical Modèrne was often used for buildings constructed as relief projects during the Depression in Canada and the United States, and is embodied in the designs of many different types of institutional buildings, such as museums, courthouses, banks, and government offices. Buildings in this style usually have exteriors of smooth, flat stone, have recessed windows, and their design motifs are typically balanced and symmetrical.

Looking up from the main doors

 As expected for a building in this style, the Victory Building has many elegant touches, both inside and out. For example, the main stairwell in the foyer proves to be more important and elegant than one would think a stairwell could be. It isn't just a bare or boring set of stairs – it has beautiful original railings, and surprisingly interesting views. Its walls and stairwell are also made of Tyndall stone, and the railings are brass.

Brass railings on the stairs
 On November 7, 2005, the Federal Building was re-named the Victory Building by PSPC, in honour of Canadian Veterans, and also to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

A study was completed by PSPC in 2006 to identify areas that could be restored to be more in keeping with the building’s original heritage character. The study confirmed that "many interior areas of the Victory Building have been altered to meet modern requirements without much consideration for its heritage character over the years."  Pages upon pages of documents provide details on the changes that have been made to the building since the 2006 study. It is impressive how much detail, thought and careful work have gone into ensuring the heritage value of this building would be preserved as close as possible to its original state.

Lobby light fixtures

Since the study was done, experts from the Canadian Conservation Institute and PSPC’s Heritage Conservation team have targeted areas for restorative work, to return the building to its original beauty. For example, the team worked to uncover the original colours and stencil pattern found on the ceiling. These intricate features were painstakingly restored when the ceiling was rehabilitated in 2013. Work was also performed on the main lobby elevators to return them to their original appearance.

The beautifully detailed ceiling

Overall the Victory Building is valued for its architectural, environmental and historical significance. It contributes to its environment because it is a large, highly visible structure on Main Street with a bold, dramatic impact on the streetscape. It is a very attractive building with a commanding presence. It has architectural heritage value due to its height and tower, its arched windows at ground level along Main Street, its decorative entrance, and the unique angle on which it’s situated.

The impressive lobby elevator

After the revolving door of buildings that have been located at the site throughout our city's earlier days, we are thrilled to see that the iron-clad guarantee made by that contractor all those years ago has proven to be true, and that the Victory Building is here to stay. Its unique heritage character has been maintained excellently, and it will continue to be a Main Street landmark for future generations.

Crest on the exterior of the building