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History of Sir John Franklin

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Sir John Franklin was part of the old City of Winnipeg that amalgamated with surrounding municipalities to become part of the City of Winnipeg which came into legal existence on January 1, 1972.

Winnipeg's southwest area had been annexed by the City of Winnipeg in 1882, becoming Ward 1. Housing development first began along the Assiniboine and Red rivers - what became known as FortRouge and Crescentwood. Desirable and highly priced property was developed during the pre-World War I period and these neighbourhoods became the home for some of the City's wealthiest families. Much further west, the City was developing one of its largest public parks, CityPark (now AssiniboinePark), officially opened in 1909 while the Province of Manitoba had chosen to build its sprawling AgriculturalCollege (officially opened in 1906) nearby. 

The land between Fort Rouge/Crescentwood and the City Park/Agricultural College sites in what would become the Town of Tuxedo, was first organized in the early 1900s, newspaper advertisements touting it as an excellent investment. Among the first developers in the area were Howey and Borebank, real estate developers who had previously worked with Charles Enderton (1864-1920) to organize and market Crescentwood. [1] The neighbourhood would ultimately encompass all the land south of Academy Road and north of Taylor Avenue between Kenaston Boulevard and Cambridge Street.

But the actual residential development was slow in coming. Construction up to World War I was confined mainly to the northeast corner of the area, especially Oxford, Montrose and Elm streets north of Kingsway. After the War, most of the lots north of Corydon Avenue filled with single-family homes and in the 1950s, much of the southern half of the neighbourhood was finally developed. The community was very much middle- to upper-income, many of the families with British heritage.

Associated with the development was the creation of important services and facilities including schools, parks and playgrounds, commercial property and churches. There is mention of a River Heights Community Club being organized as early as 1919 and several years later, land was set aside by the City of Winnipeg south of Grosvenor Avenue (originally Haskins) and west of Corydon Avenue (originally Jackson). [2]

Because of its location near to Wellington Crescent, North River Heights developed earlier than much of the rest of the area, especially in the neighbourhood's northeast corner, where some of the homes date to the 1910s. Most of the remainder of the area, except for land in the south and east corner, developed in the 1920s while the latter area's saw housing built in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

The Sir John Franklin neighbourhood includes the west end of Wellington Crescent, one of Winnipeg's premier residential thoroughfares, as well as parks, schools, churches and a community club. The northern portion developed first in the 1920s, although along Centennial Street there are some houses dating to the pre-World War I era. Most of the southern areas were developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

[1] Manitoba Free Press , February 12, 1938, p. 26.

[2] C. Macdonald, A City at Leisure: An Illustrated History of Parks and Recreation Services in Winnipeg, 1893-1993 (Winnipeg, MB: City of Winnipeg, Parks and Recreation Department, 1995), p. 80.