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History of South Point Douglas

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South PointDouglas is part of a larger area, Point Douglas, one of the earliest settled areas of the City of Winnipeg. 

The Selkirk Settlers, finding the land at "The Forks" occupied by the North West Company's Fort Gibraltar, chose to locate their post, Fort Douglas, further north on a triangular piece of land formed by a meander of the Red River in an area that would become known as Point Douglas. Chosen because fire had made clearing the land easier, the fort was begun in 1813. [1]

Settlement occurred around the fort, which was eventually abandoned. By the time of the creation of the Province of Manitoba, the Point Douglas area was home to many of the Settlement's most prestigious political, religious and business leaders including James H. Ashdown, Honourable J. Schultz, Alexander Logan, Thomas Lusted, W. G. Fonseca, W.W. Banning, Thomas Lusted, Reverend A. McDonald, Duncan Sinclair, Stewart Mulvey, Andrew McDermot, Andrew Bannatyne, John Higgins, Robert Logan, E.L. Barber, Henry Hallet, Reverend Fortin of Holy Trinity Church, J. H. Mulvey and Dr. J. O'Donnell. [2] Churches, schools, stores and other businesses also located in the area and along the " Main Road " (today's Main Street), which connected the Hudson's Bay Company's Upper and Lower forts. The area continued to grow slowly like the rest of the community and region until the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in the early 1880s. The route of the Canada's first transcontinental railway's right-of-way dissected Point Douglas in half, creating the North and South Points. The coming of the railroad and the construction of the LouiseBridge created a flurry of activities, especially in the Point. Ogilvie Flour Mills and Brown and Rutherford Lumber both located in the Point in the early years of the 1880s to take advantage of spur lines of the CPR as did foundries, cement plants, a soap factory, furniture companies, warehouses and farm implement manufacturers. While these were located mostly in the southern area, the north Point saw mostly residential development along its many streets. With the coming of the railway and the associated industry, the area's occupants changed from upper class British stock to European immigrant labourers. The area's population grew rapidly, as boarders and tenants occupied single rooms in many of the larger homes - finding affordable housing close to their work places.

The development of the Point followed two paths. North of the CPR tracks the pre-1900 residential building stock was augmented by single-family homes that virtually filled all the blocks by World War I, although some factories and other industrial property was developed during this period. These homes, in various states of repair, can still be found here. In the south, most of the old residential structures were replaced shortly after the construction of the CPR line and there are few remaining single-family homes, most found in a small area south of Higgins Avenue. The entire area has also been divided by the Disraeli Freeway and Bridge (officially opened in October 1959). At the west end of the neighbourhood, on the north side of Higgins Avenue, was built the Canadian Pacific Railway Station and the Royal Alexandra Hotel, an modern and opulent complex serving the thousands of visitors that arrived by train. The Hotel was demolished in 1971, the station has been converted into the Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg "a gathering place for people and a centre to foster new ideas in education, economic development, social service delivery and training…for Aboriginal people in Manitoba." [3]

 

[1] Manitoba Historical Society, North PointDouglas, Walking Through Its History (Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Historical Society, July 2005),   

[2] Ibid.,

[3] Aboriginal Centre of Winnipeg website, www.abcentre.org/