You can now own a piece of Winnipeg’s architectural history
Published Thursday, December 22, 2016 10:13PM EST
Grand edifices, intricate stonework, block upon block of turn of the century architecture. Many Canadians don’t know that Winnipeg boasts a rich architectural history.
In the early 1900s, Winnipeg was booming. It was the third largest city in the country, and per capita, it boasted more millionaires than Toronto. Back then, buildings were constructed with expensive materials like limestone, marble and ceramic tiles. Entire blocks of those buildings still stand today. The ones that don’t, however, are being preserved in their own way.
One of those long-gone buildings is the Capitol Theatre. Demolished more than a decade ago, some of its opulence and beauty has been preserved in another Winnipeg venue.
“That sense of taking usable products, or useable beautiful products and reintegrating them in other spaces, I think is a beautiful way of kind of passing it forward,” Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra executive director Trudy Schroeder told CTV Winnipeg.
There are also literal pieces of Winnipeg’s history. Called “shards,” they are pieces of buildings that met the wrecking ball. Collected and saved by the city, some of these shards are now being sold to the public through the Shelmerdine Garden Centre. At the centre, there are chunks from the city’s first post office as well as pieces of one of its most opulent hotels.
“So each piece has a special story and is a part of history,” Nicole Bent, co-owner of the Shelmerdine Garden Centre, told CTV Winnipeg while perusing the centre’s shards.
More than 500 shards had been sitting for years in a sort of stone graveyard. Heritage Winnipeg is the group that has been tasked with finding homes for them.
“I like to find out where they came from, what they belong to,” Greg Agnew told CTV Winnipeg. The historian, who sits on the board of directors of Heritage Winnipeg, has been tracing the shards’ origins to the exact streets and buildings they were torn from.
“It’s our heritage, our history,” he said.
While it’s believed that the Shards Project is creating historic awareness, it’s also hoped that once the last piece is sold, there will be no more to sell.
“Going forward, I’d like to see no shards,” Heritage Winnipeg executive director Cindy Tugwell told CTV Winnipeg. “In a perfect world, that means we are protecting and preserving all these amazing buildings that should be protected.”
With a report from CTV News Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon.