Thursday, May 14, 2020

Manitoba Metis Federation to Take Over Bank of Montreal Building

A view of the the Bank of Montreal from the Fairmont Hotel.

It has been announced that the bank has sold the building to the Manitoba Metis Federation. The bank itself will be moving the branch across to 201 Portage which presently as a RBC sign at the top of the bulding.
Work being down at 201 Portage Avenue. This used to an inside corridor. At one time there were metal doors that closed at either end. At some point they were stolen and sold for scrap presumably. The space has been dead space ever since. Some people used to sneak down there to smoke.

For 201 Portage Avenue which used to be the TD building and then Canwest building, it was not a good look. It seems the banks are changing spot on the street regularly now. The TD logo is now across the street.

The Bank of Montreal building built in 1913 and declared a heritage site in 1980 has a memorial out front commemorates the 200 employees who died in WWI. It has been lovingly been upkept but in recent years the corner has decayed and it isn't easy to access.

The handover seemed done on Manitoba's 150th birthday was done with a high degree of bonhomie. The bank's sale is a statement that it did not want its old building to sit empty. The purchase by the MMF is also a statement that they are there to do business and and bringing their not inconsiderable financial offices into the building.
Presently, the Manitoba Metis Federation have their offices in a large building built to house all the Canadian Pacific offices at 150 Henry. It is a handsome building and fairly large right by the Disraeli Freeway, I have no special insight to what they will do with their old building but it does house their vocational college which could benefit from having more space.

However, consider this: The MMF hinted that they will be making an announcement soon on bigger property than the Bank of Montreal at Portage and Main.

Lest anyone wonder if MMF has the money for purchases, keep in mind they were awarded $154 million in 2018 by the Supreme Court on a 1981 challenge on a failure to compensate for 1.4 million acres they were promised 150 years ago.
The MMF has been pushing hard for Metis to seek higher learning and a list each year those getting medical, legal, engineering, educational and social sciences degrees. It is impressive. Education is how you can really assist people in living fulfilling lives where they contribute to the overall benefit of themselves and society.

A number of people have reacted negatively or fearfully or in many cases with darker feelings to this announcement. Manitoba joined Confederation with the Metis leading the way. It has become a strong province but it has tried to absolve itself of the agreement they signed to 150 years ago. It has taken decades for the courts to resolve all this.

People complain about the poverty and the permanent underclass in Manitoba. The solution for that is not prison or death. It is fulfilling the obligation that was made and watching the Metis become the Manitobans they always wanted to be when this originally started.

I am happy the Bank of Montreal will not whither in neglect or as we dithered on what to do with it. It will be a cultural and business centre for the Metis and in some we'll see the province lifted in ways that show we are in this together.

Monday, May 4, 2020

The Last Arby's in Winnipeg Closed

And then there was none.

It is reported that Kildonan Place Arby's closed and will not be re-opening.

Kildonan is undergoing a major renovation and a new food court. Arby's will not be going.

In 2013, there was two mall restaurants and one stand-alone.

Is it the end?

Well, we have seen Swiss Chalet leave and then come back, KFC to a lot of closings and then come back. But will people come back for curly fries? Time will tell.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

River Heights/Sir John Franklin Walk March 29

A look down the back lane at Kingway and Lanark March 29 Friday. Several sunny days in a row and on off work since March 15. Working at my parent's every day and going for a walk to create a routine.
Along Lanark from Academy to Taylor are bays. There is only one street that does this from one end to the other in the neighbourhood. Above is Lanark bay between Kingsway and Academy.


Kids gravitate to the parks. Many have picnic tables, some parks have kids toys in them year round. In this bad it was not unusual for 50 or more kids playing in one of the largest of the Lanark bays.

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Heading south down Lanark towards Grosvenor, you reach the section that used to be Sir John Frankin School but had been a field from 1991 to 2018. The school itself was built in 1921 and served the surrounding area for Kindergarten to Grade 6.

Above are the 31 homes (some still being built) on the former school ground with a new cross street between Beaverbrook and Lanark called Greenlawn Street. Kind of messes the tradition of streets running north and south and avenues running east and west. Bottom photo is Greenlawn Street from Lanark.

A look down Greenlawn towards beaverbrook Street. The houses are expensive even compared to River Heights standards.


Greenlawn is designer homes that are completely different from each other in look. Only a few empty lots remain. Lots of families seem to have moved in so far.
A look back towards Lanark Street. They planted trees last year. Only a few years ago, there were 40 or 40 people a day or more taking their dogs here even though it was a school field not a park. The school division granted Sir John Franklin Community Club use of fields for soccer and other sports. Dog owners torn the fence to get inside and the fields were left in bad shape.
A look down Beaverbrook Street toward Grosvenor. Sir John Franklin elementary school used to face out this way and in the 1980s had a play structure built out front.

The school division held onto the land for years as surplus. Truth is that some schools come back like Sir William Osler whhen certain programs like French immersion take off.
Beaverbrook Street has some of the finest elms you will find in River Heights.
The corner of Beaverbook and Grosvenor.

Eventually, the school division sold the land. The city wanted no part of buy land at market value nor the upkeep of it. Dog owners took umbrage.
Looking back down Beaverbook.
Looking down Grosvenor. Westworth Church is on the right.
During the pandemic you can see many houses with kids drawings in the windows. This house on Grosvenor opposite Westworth Church.



Westworth was name that came from west River Heights and Dr. H.B. Duckworth, the first minister. It opened in 1954.
A look back down Grosvenor at the new houses on Sir John Frankin's old site.

Leo Mol did the stained glass windows here. They really are something to see from inside or out at night.

The roundabouts were added with no consultation, no study. The bike path along Grosvenor in much the same way. They are dangerous to cars, bikes, people and animals.
This controversial former fire hall should never have been the subject of land trades. The backroom self-dealing is poor governance. I wish we could say it has ended but even today we see one land holder as in the airport have sway of other landholders in Polo Park. If noise and height is truly a concern of the airport, should hotel development on airport land not be curtailed?

The north rink and satellite building are among the oldest components of Sir John Franklin Community Centre. The building has for decades been a wreck and the rink has been been through it as well.

The playground, slide and wading pool are pretty basic. The satellite building is not fit for any recreation facility.
The main building for Sir John Franklin and a urban basketball court right next to the dumpster.
The only entrance to the community centre fore decades used used to though the backlane. This entrance used to be smaller so when they built Sir John Frankin Road, it could only be used for pedestrians.

The urban basketball court and the main building. And addition in the late 1970s allowed for the community center to host hockey tournaments when my change areas were added as well as space to service the rinks. The two southern rinks became the focus of activity and have hosted as many as three rinks back there.

The main building in recent years had an active social rental business but the combination of three community clubs of Crecentwood and River Heights has meant more is done to keep only one of them active for that business.

Sir John Franklin has a little of every sport and recreation but it could stand to to replace and re-purpose some of the land. The absence of a dog park is perhaps the most obvious need in the area.

The two southern rinks for Sir John Franklin and the dressing room section that was built around the same time as Sir John Franklin Road was built in 1978/79. Prior, the dressing rooms were down some stairs and players had to walk down stairs to crowded space limited to two teams at a time. The entrance off the backlane on Lanark was closed.

The old Sir John Franklin Community Centre logo featuring Explorers. The building was a warming hut more than anything for in-between periods when rinks sometimes had to be shoveled off.

Sir John was the oldest of the community clubs in River Heights. It first started at Wellington Crescent in 1922 beside footbridge. It is now only a playground and tennis courts, It has been re-done so check it out if you haven't done so in a while. In 1940-46 a facility was built at Kingsway and Lindsay and in 1966, the current building was built.

River Heights (1946) and Crescentwood (1946) are babies compared to SJF as community centers, And yet in 2012, the Cardinals, Grizzlies and Explorers merged together as they all needed strength is shared services. The combined team is called the Comets. Go Comets.

Community clubs need some love. It is why I believe a dog park is a possible use of SJF land with a reconfiguration of the north part of the property.
Popping out of the alley at Lanark and walking down the street, you can see across at Renfrew a Circle K. Used to be Mac's. The award-winning Enoteco and Chinese food restaurant round out the tenants. For a long time River Heights used to be a food desert and people went to Kenaston just to go Grapes or Peppers.
In 1985, the old Safeway which closed in 1979 in favour of the newly re-done Tuxedo Safeway. It say empty till was converted to multiple shops. Bernstein's became an anchor Village Streetwear was another. The second building opened around 1993 when Royal Bank moved across the street. Just New Releases became an anchor as well as a video store.
In 1983, Domino's opened its first international location here on Corydon. It has been there ever since. Carellan Sewing Centre and Corydon Animal have been here even longer.
Safeway moved around a lot in River Heights with several locations but eventually moved out entirely in favour of the Tuxedo location.
Where Enteco is now used to be a Quiznos. However, many of them closed in Winnipeg with on St. James Street coming to mind as remaining.
The VQ Salon used to be Styx Comics for a while before a move to Academy Road as Comics America. Prior to that it was a Royal Bank until early 1990s when it moved across the street.
La Cantina portion of Mona Lisa used to be Nieman's Pharmacy. The middle section of Mona Lisa used to be Papa George's till 1982. Before that it was George's in the 1970s. The far end of Mona Lisa was Tony's barbers shop and beside the a women's hair salon.
Gatewest Coin used to also also house Styx Comics for a a number of years.
The nature of this mall since 1985 has been very local in nature. It has had very little in the way of big operators here. It is an important place for business who don't fit traditional mall, street location or big box business operations.
Corydon has been getting rehabilitation section by section. They are trying trees in the median again. I hope they can withstand salt and sand. Several have been struck too by speeding vehicles.
Lanark Gardens apartments have gone through upgrades the last few years. One thing that hasn't changed is there are more cars than parking spaces for residents.
The Anglican Christ Church was on Corydon at Lanark from 1956 to 2008 when it was sold to Diamond Gallery. The parish had grown too small for the church that was once home to a daycare and for decades sold plant seeds every year.
Heading back north on Lanark. This is another example of new housing going up in River Heights. Every street has an example of this. For years it was unheard of to see complete re-builds in the neighbourhood.
Westworth back in March offered assistance to those kept in by the pandemic. This is assistance is being offered all over the city by people.

And back to Greenlawn and Lanark. The trees that always lined the fence of Sir John Franklin Elementary remain today. Everyone insisted they stay.

So ended my walk from Sundasy, March 29, 2020