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History of Lord Roberts

Heritage Resources

Lord Roberts was part of the old City of Winnipeg when it amalgamated with the surrounding municipalities to become the City of Winnipeg which came into legal existence on January 1, 1972.

Lord Roberts is an older residential district in Winnipeg's south end, in the area known as Fort Rouge, which has seen modern development beginning in the 1870s. Originally known as St. Boniface West, its ratepayers successfully lobbied to have Fort Rouge created in 1881. The railway-created real estate boom of 1881-1882 resulted in the development of new residential neighbourhoods, as well as commercial districts and industrial areas. The Osborne Bridge was built in 1881-82 at the foot of Osborne Street by the South Winnipeg Bridge Company and gave Fort Rouge its second traffic bridge connection with Winnipeg.

Growth for the City of Winnipeg meant an expanded tax revenue base but also a need to borrow heavily to finance the expansion of its own infrastructure. To ensure its own future, Winnipeg was given provincial approval to annex surrounding communities, including the suburb of Fort Rouge in 1882, which became Ward 1 of Winnipeg's new six ward set-up. Development in the area in the late-1890s was generally up-scale; many of Winnipeg's well-to-do families chose the "rural" suburb of Fort Rouge to build their mansions. Judges, bankers, engineers and major business owners were among those who settled along the river. Electric streetcars came very early to Fort Rouge, fostering expansion of its development. And as business and industry moved into the area, so too did its workers, who built modest homes along its many newly laid out streets and avenues. This process intensified during the first decade of the 20th century as Winnipeg again experienced a population and economic boom that lasted to World War I. And one of FortRouge's main thoroughfares, Osborne Street , evolved from a mainly residential street into a commercial centre for the area, with multi-level business/residential blocks replacing older residential property and storefront additions to other homes.

The period between the two World Wars was for Fort Rouge, like elsewhere in the City, a time of negligible growth and modest change. After World War II, Winnipeg experienced significant expansion of its residential suburbs and Fort Rouge, especially Osborne Street , saw a marked increase in vehicular "commuter" traffic. From the 1950s to the early 1980s, Osborne Village underwent some of the most intensive redevelopment that occurred in Winnipeg. Single-family dwellings were replaced by high-rise apartment and condominium buildings. Specialty retail stores and restaurants transformed the local business district on both sides of Osborne Street - the "Village" was created. And this transformation ultimately attracted a new resident population to the area - a mix of students, professionals and retirees with enough discretionary incomes and consumer lifestyles to frequent the Village's boutiques, restaurants and entertainment venues.

In the southern portion of the area, blocks of comfortable single-family dwellings were built, as well as the other services - schools, churches, playgrounds, parks and retail stores.

This neighbourhood also included River Park, one of the most popular destinations from its official opening in 1891 until its final closure in the early 1940s. It boasted many attractions including: a zoo, roller rink, race track (horses and automobiles), carousels, dance hall, amusement rides and a miniature train.

The Lord Roberts area in south Fort Rouge developed shortly after 1900 and much of its residential building stock, in the form of single-family dwellings, dates to this pre-World War I era.