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History of Portage & Main

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Portage and Main was part of the City of Winnipeg that amalgamated with the surrounding municipalities to create the City of Winnipeg which came into legal existence on January 1, 1972.

Portage and Main is one of Canada's most famous intersections and has been an integral part of the City since the fur trade ear. Marking the crossroads of two important trails, the Main Road developed as an important north-south route between Upper Fort Garry and Lower Fort Garry, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) posts and centres of the Western Canadian fur trade. The Portage Trail ran from the Upper Fort westward across the prairies to the network of small posts stretching to the Pacific Ocean. When newly arriving businessmen sought to break the commercial monopoly of the HBC, they chose a location north of the Fort, as Portage Avenue  was created. From these humble beginnings grew a major North American city with Portage and Main at its centre. Main Street saw the development of a railway terminus at its south end, office structures south of Portage Avenue and the development of Bankers' Row, the mammoth headquarters of Canada's major banks locating on both sides of the street north of Portage Avenue. Here money from around the world poured in in the early 20th century, fuelling the growth of Winnipeg, Manitoba and all of Western Canada.

Portage Avenue developed slowly until the early 1900s when the announcement of the construction of the T. Eaton Company department store acted as a catalyst for the street's development as Winnipeg's commercial and office centre.