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Winnipeg, Manitoba

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, the capital of Manitoba, and chief city of Western Canada. It is situated at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red rivers in the middle of a wide plain. The river valley, being of exceptional richness, early attracted the traders, and so in the beginning of the 19th century gained the attention of Lord Selkirk, a benevolent Scottish nobleman who sent out in 1811-1815 several hundreds of Highland settlers. On the site at the junction of the two rivers where Verandreye, the first white explorer to visit the Red river, had three-quarters of a century before this time erected Fort Rouge, and where some ten years earlier in the century the Nor'-Westers of Montreal had erected Fort Gibraltar, the Hudson's Bay Company, which at the time Lord Selkirk and his friends controlled, erected Fort Douglas, bearing the family name of the colonizer. After bloodshed between the rival fur companies, and their union in 1821, Fort Garry was erected, as a trading post and settlers' depot, and with somewhat elaborate structure, with stone walls, bastions and portholes. Fort Garry (2) was erected at a considerable cost in 1835. A short distance north of this fort, about the year 1860, the first house on the plain was erected, and to the hamlet rising there was given the name of the lake 45 m. north, Winnipeg (Cree, Win, murky; nipiy, water). The name referred to the contrast between its water and that of the transparent lakes to the east. For ten years the hamlet grew though very slowly, it being more than four hundred miles from St Paul, the nearest town in Minnesota, to the south. The fur-traders did not seek to increase its size. When the transfer of Rupert's Land took place to Canada in 1870, the governor of Assiniboia had his residence at Fort Garry, and here was the centre of government for the settlers over the area surrounding Fort Garry. Its acquisition by Canada and the influx of settlers from Eastern Canada led to the greater importance of Winnipeg, as the new town was now generally called. The establishment of Dominion government agencies, the formation of a local government, the machinery required for the government of the province, the influx of a small army of surveyors who mapped out and surveyed wide districts of the country, and the taking up of free lands in all directions by Canadian settlers, all tended to build up the hamlet of Winnipeg into a considerable town.

The following figures of population show the remarkable increase of Winnipeg: (1870) 215; (1874) > 1869; (1885) I9,S74; (1898) 39,384; (1901) 42,340; (1905) 79,975; (1906) 90,153; (1907) 100,000 (estimated). The rapid growth of the city, the character of the soil, and the high prices of material for street construction have led to a large and expensive civic organization. The city is governed by a mayor, four controllers, and twelve aldermen. The city possesses the public utility of water, but the city street car system, gas, and private electric lighting are in the hands of a private company. The city has decided to introduce electric power from Winnipeg river, at a point some 50 m. distant. The streets are in some cases macadamized and in other cases block paved, and in still others asphalted. The Parks Board is a board appointed by the city council, and has the complete administration of a fixed percentage of the city taxes. The streets are boulevarded, trees planted on them, and both of these kept by the Parks Board. A number of well-kept small parks are found throughout the city, and a large park the Assiniboine is being prepared and beautified. The greatest business street is Main Street, on which (north) the Great Canadian Pacific railway station and Royal Alexandra Hotel are situated, and (south) the Union station of the Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk Pacific railways are found. On or near this street (132 ft. wide) are placed the great financial institutions of the city, including eighteen chartered banks, many of which are ornaments to the city, and many loan, insurance, and real estate buildings and offices. The departmental stores and offices of the Hudson's Bay Company and its Fort Garry court, which stand on Main Street South, are worthy of that ancient company. The city hall, with park and volunteers' monument, are on the same street, while the lofty Union Bank, Mclntyre, and Bon Accord blocks are here wildernesses of offices of every description. The second great street, Portage Avenue, of the same width as Main Street, runs at right angles to Main Street, and is the mercantile street of the city. On this are the post office, Free Press office, Y.M.C.A. building, Aikins Block, T. Eaton & Co.'s enormous departmental shop, and the Ideal Building, which are worthy of note. The wholesale business street of the city is Princess, running parallel to Main Street; and the two most beautiful residential streets are Broadway and Assiniboine Avenues. All parts of the city are reached by the Winnipeg electric street railway, which runs north for 25 m. on the continuation of Main Street to the town of Selkirk, west along Portage Avenue for 12 m. to St James, Silver Heights, St Charles and Headingly, and south through Fort Rouge to River Park. At the north of the city are St John's episcopal buildings, including St John's College and boys' school. In the central part of the city are the parliament building, governor's residence, barracks, law courts, university, Manitoba College and Wesley College buildings. More than eighty churches, many of them of architectural value, are found scattered over the city, while the General Hospital, Women's Home, Children's Home, Children's Aid Shelter and Deaf and Dumb Institute speak of the benevolence of the citizens. One of the most striking features of Winnipeg is seen in the elaborate system of public schools. The buildings are not exceeded for beauty of design or for completeness of finish by any Canadian city and by few American cities.

The geographical position of Winnipeg is unique for the purposes of trade. Like Chicago it stands on the eastern border of the prairies. All western trade in Canada of the vast provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, must pass through the narrow belt of 100 m., lying between the international boundary line and Lake Winnipeg. Midway in this belt stands Winnipeg. The trade from the wide extent of three-quarters of a million of square miles of prairie and woodland, becoming more populous every year, must flow as through a narrow spout at Winnipeg; every railway must pass through Winnipeg. In consequence Winnipeg is already a 1 Incorporated in this year as a city.

considerable manufacturing centre. Its lumber and flour mills are its largest industries, but the following are found: aerated waters and breweries, tent makers, baking-powder manufactories, box manufacturers, brick makers, broom, brushes and carriage makers, cement blocks, manufacturing chemists, chocolate and cigar manufacturers, confectionery, copper plate, cornice makers, engine builders, gas fitters, ink manufacturers, jewelry makers, lime makers, milliners, opticians, paint makers, paper-box makers, photographers, pickle makers, planing mills, pork packers, publishers, pump makers, rubber-stamp makers, sash, door and blind factories, upholsterers, ventilating manufactory, vinegar factories, foundries, wire and fence manufactories. The area of the city is 1 2,700 acres.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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