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  #1  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2011, 8:45 PM
alittle1 alittle1 is offline
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Old Memories that make Winnipeg Great!

Having grown up in Norwood Grove, we were just a short jaunt from downtown and where the action was. My Dad was in the trucking business and I started going with him when our 1945 Maple Leaf truck was almost new. We were either, tearing down a building, hauling gravel for a new road or building, supplying building material, or moving people into their new home. Trucking after the war was 'cutting-edge' and if you owned a truck, you were always busy.

The one thing that always amazed me about Winnipeg, was that it was a 'bridge city'. By that, I mean, because we had two rivers flowing through Winnipeg, and two major railways also going in and out, we always had to cross a bridge to get to where we were going at some point during the day. If we went downtown, it was either the Norwood or Provencher bridge that we crossed, during the day we would go over Arlington or Maryland bridge, coming back we would either cross Redwood or Louise bridge, or even Elm Park if we were going to our St. Vital property before coming home.

As kids, we crossed these same bridges without parental supervision! In most cases that statement wouldn't throw up any caution flags. A simple walk across the Norwood and Assiniboine bridges would get you to downtown in less than 30 minutes. Our excursion lasted a whole day.

As we crossed the Norwood, we had to go over the rail and down the stairs to the liftmaster's house on the eastside of the center span. It was a room that had leaded glass windows that gave the liftmaster and un-obstructed view of the river as well as the lifting mechanism of the bridge. Although, we never saw it opened in our time, we believed it could, based on all the gauges, switches and levers that we marvelled at looking through the windows. The CN mainline at the Northside allowed us to perform many Jungle Jim antics as we crawled through the web of angles and girders to get up on top of the trestle to use the phone in the shack beside the track. I'm sure that the CNR operator enjoyed the five minute conversation he had with a half a dozen boys trying to disguise their voices to make them sound older, ordering a train to be sent to Norwood bridge for a pickup of passengers.

A quick escape down the steep bank of gravel, cinders and coal usually ended up with a climb on the sign structures that surrounded the old curling club that lay in between the two bridges. In winter time, when the club was active, a look in the 'BUTT BOX' usually netted a few cigar or Sweet Cap's for under the Assiniboine bridge. The clay soil under the bridge was usually dry and the overhead decking offered a sanctuary for us during a freak rainstorm, as well as the hobo's, pigeons, fishing and wild life that lived there fulltime. We spent many a hour under there, rolling up clay mud balls to throw at the pigeons that roosted on the upper deck webbing, some of which returned fire upon us in the form of a green spurt as they took flight. My claim to fame was being able to write my name in thrown mudballs on the bridge abutment, only two letters, ...E......D, but, an accomplishment for me. Another way was, to walk across the girders underneath, which left many a stain in a young boy's pants. An easy venture when viewed from below, a life changing experience when executed for the first time. Besides the roosting pigeons, the maze of cross ties and angled braces, a bridge walker had to contend with, the lure of the flowing muddy water 50 - 60 feet below, the jeers and howls of the wolf pack of friends below, and the ability to find that delicate point of balance in your own mind. Many times we ran from under that bridge, yelling with joy or screaming for our lives, sometimes both at the same time.

Our next venture was just a few steps away at the bus barns, Upper Fort Garry Gate, the grocery store in the basement of Fort Garry Courts, Union Station, or the car lots along south Main Street. As I said before, going uptown could be an all-day venture.
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  #2  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2011, 8:47 PM
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  #3  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2011, 8:51 PM
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^"So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time" haha

On a more serious note though, welcome to the forum alittle, and it's great to hear stories like these from Winnipeg's glorious past!
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  #4  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2011, 9:12 PM
alittle1 alittle1 is offline
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Yeah, your right Bdog, just an old man recanting his past. But I've sat at the knee of the master and I walked on top of some of Winnipeg's Tallest buildings BEFORE they put stairs and elevators up there to take the meek and narrow-minded, but I applaud you for reading it.
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  #5  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2011, 10:38 PM
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I miss Unicity mall
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  #6  
Old Posted Dec 19, 2011, 10:43 PM
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Welcome alittle1, my grandfather built our family home in Norwood Grove back in around 1945 so your timeframe and neighborhood resonate with me. My father grew up in that house only to move away for a couple of years after he married my mother. When I was about to come along my grandfather sold the house to my father which then I grew up in. Unfortunately in 2000 he took a job out of province and the house went for sale. Since I was in Alberta living at the time I never had the opportunity to have the one last look, but it seems to be in good hands now creating new memories for a family.
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  #7  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2011, 2:12 AM
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You don't log in that much, do you?

Still, welcome aboard (welcome back?).
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Old Posted Dec 20, 2011, 3:09 AM
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Thank you for the interesting story. My father is around the same age and also has many stories of the almost completely unsupervised lives of 11 year olds roaming around the city ca. 1947. It is amazing how certain things that fascinate you as a child, such as looking in those dark windows, remain so vivid in your mind forever. My generation didn't have so much of that, as we were not allowed to go so far from home (although much farther than the current one) and we lived in a postwar suburb where you would have had to have walked very far to come to any area that wasn't purely residential, where adventure could be had.
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Old Posted Dec 20, 2011, 4:10 AM
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vivid childhood memories mine would be from the 90's

watching fireworks from a conoe amongst the the boats on the mighty red during canada day

dancing in the fringe peraid around a maypole... what ever happend to the fringe parades?? still a vivid memory of dancing around the pole at portage and main looking up at the td building and being aww and inspired

sitting on the transit bus and looking at the old royal bank building dreaming about owning it one day lol and then talking about it with my baby sitter

hanging out at the press club with my parents
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  #10  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2011, 5:09 AM
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still a vivid memory of dancing around the pole at portage and main looking up at the td building and being aww and inspired
Pole dancing at Portage and Main eh?
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  #11  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2011, 7:25 AM
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Thanks for the story. I remember those landmarks, just not with the experiences you had (a bit younger). Fort Garry Courts burning and then seeing them covered in ice after. We crosses the CNR mainline bridge over the Red, ducking down to a pier to avoid trains we knew were coming. Never a fear of downtown, walking or busing.
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Old Posted Dec 20, 2011, 10:54 PM
alittle1 alittle1 is offline
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Ever wonder why somethings are where they are?

I sometimes take a look in the old picture boxes, going through the pictures that my mother took from on top of the King George Hospital (now Riverview) back in about 1928/29. In the background of the pictures, you can see the Norwood Grove area known as the ‘flats’. Who would have known that in 12 years our family would be living in that area of Winnipeg

The Norwood flats area which is bounded by Lyndale Drive, which runs along the river on three sides of it, and St Mary’s Road on the East. This higher flat area extends back into the St. Vital area to the South and towards the Seine River area on the East. To the North it slopes gradually to the flood plain area that extends from Cromwell, along St Mary’s Road to Tache, where it now becomes a sharp drop-off (that was once an outer bank area of the Red) is now called Enfield Crescent. The washout area at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine pushed an abundance of clay silt and organic material up in ridges against the inside bank area of the ox bow (Enfield Crescent) which formed the area streets from Kitson to Dollard Blvd. (St. Boniface).

In these lower areas, deep rooted oak trees held the soil firmly in place while the clay water slurry from flood waters passed over top during heavy Spring floods, that is why we find pool areas of heavy clay soil throughout the area. The largest oak (that I remember) in the area was on Eugene Street, just West of Kenny, two 10 year old children could barely put their arms around it.

I had occasion to view the digging of a few basements; St. Boniface Hospital, Safeway’s and the De Leeuw apartments on Marion, as well as numerous house basements in the area. There are reasons the apartments on Marion are only built with the basements suites only five feet in the ground. The reason is because the hole kept filling up with water just after the dozer dug it and a pump couldn’t keep it dry. The hospital, on the other hand, had an impervious clay that was so sticky that it had to be scraped out of the bucket of the drag line and when it dried, it was as hard as a brick. One summer rainstorm gave us an excellent swimming hole at the hospital for almost two weeks.

Even during the ’50 Flood when we dug out the Norwood Community Club playing field, later called the Norwood Flood Bowl, and hauled the clay soil to make the dikes along Lyndale Drive. The sticky clay was so tacky that you could break a dump truck u-joint in one spot, move two feet over near a bit more water, you would slide like a skier down the bank towards the river, and save for an alert Cat operator, would prevent you from going in the drink.

Generally, most of the ‘high ground’ had two feet or more of rich black organic soil before the clay started. The rich soil with the abundance of moisture below allowed the elm, oak and ash trees to flourish in the area, hence the name, Norwood Grove.
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Old Posted Dec 20, 2011, 11:12 PM
alittle1 alittle1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinguni View Post
Thanks for the story. I remember those landmarks, just not with the experiences you had (a bit younger). Fort Garry Courts burning and then seeing them covered in ice after. We crosses the CNR mainline bridge over the Red, ducking down to a pier to avoid trains we knew were coming. Never a fear of downtown, walking or busing.
Speaking of the FG Courts, do you remember the 'fairy tale' icescape that overtook the building the next morning? The long icicles hanging from the wires and balconies, white smoke and ice fog ozzing from the rubble, who's got those pictures?

Did you ever go up in that huge counter-weight that hung over the mainline? Remember the horses that used to run at Whittier Park?

Who remembers the tree lined entrance that ran into Polo Park Race Track?
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2011, 1:03 AM
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Back in 1957 Winnipegers would drink tall glasses of perogy juice because they didn't have flu shots at the time. You used to be able to buy a cup of coffee for a buck back in the early 80's that had Dieter Brock's face on it so we called them "Brock Bucks". In the late 1970's Sylvia Kuzyk ran Winnipeg's mafia they were called the "Cold Front".
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2011, 1:10 AM
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Back in 1957 Winnipegers would drink tall glasses of perogy juice because they didn't have flu shots at the time. You used to be able to buy a cup of coffee for a buck back in the early 80's that had Dieter Brock's face on it so we called them "Brock Bucks". In the late 1970's Sylvia Kuzyk ran Winnipeg's mafia they were called the "Cold Front".
The powerglove era of 1989 made everything else in Winnipeg look like childs play. Also, I love the Powerglove. It's so bad!
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2011, 1:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Kinguni View Post
Thanks for the story. I remember those landmarks, just not with the experiences you had (a bit younger). Fort Garry Courts burning and then seeing them covered in ice after. We crosses the CNR mainline bridge over the Red, ducking down to a pier to avoid trains we knew were coming. Never a fear of downtown, walking or busing.
The Fort Garry Court is certainly one. It looked so beautiful in a way and yet it was so awful to think of ten people dying in there. There had been the Hazlemere Apartments on Ellice that burned a year or two before with 8 or 9 people killed. But after that smoke detectors were invented and smoking became less common and fires of that magnitude have been a rarity ever since.
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2011, 6:25 AM
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Speaking of the FG Courts, do you remember the 'fairy tale' icescape that overtook the building the next morning? The long icicles hanging from the wires and balconies, white smoke and ice fog ozzing from the rubble, who's got those pictures?
Etched in my mind.
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  #18  
Old Posted Dec 21, 2011, 6:26 AM
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Did you ever go up in that huge counter-weight that hung over the mainline? Remember the horses that used to run at Whittier Park?

Who remembers the tree lined entrance that ran into Polo Park Race Track?
Never climbed it, no, and not nearly old enough for the rest!
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2011, 7:33 PM
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seine river bridge

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Never climbed it, no, and not nearly old enough for the rest!
One of my fond memories of Winnipeg is when my siblings and I would convince my dad to drive back home over the old Seine River bridge on Niakwa Rd. (now pedestrian only) located between the Niakwa Golf Course and the Travel Lodge on Fermor Ave.
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Old Posted Dec 21, 2011, 8:24 PM
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One of my fond memories of Winnipeg is when my siblings and I would convince my dad to drive back home over the old Seine River bridge on Niakwa Rd. (now pedestrian only) located between the Niakwa Golf Course and the Travel Lodge on Fermor Ave.
Is it north or south of the existing bridge? Tried to find it on an aerial photo but no luck.
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