Part V of the Proceedings consists of a paper given at the 1985 SSAC
Annual Conference held at Bishop's University. The co-authors are Thora
Cartlidge, a heritage consultant and owner of Sundog Heritage Planning
and Sheila Grover, an architectural historian and SSAC Director for
The Manitoba issues March and june were assembled by the efforts
of john Lehr, Neil Einarson and Sheila Grover. The artiles selected provide
some indications of the complex factors which have been at work
in Manitoba to influence that regions' visual heritage and built environment.
These papers provide a useful introduction to the 1986 Annual
Conference in that topics such as prairie vernacular, prairie towns and
suburbs will all be major sessions for the meeting. Additionally, Greg
Thomas' "Lower Fort Garry National Park" will be one of the many
destinations of the 31 May 1986 bus tour.
Issue Number 3 will be on the Maritimes and is being organized by
Richard Mackinnon. Anyone with suitable material for this broad theme
should contact Richard at 656 George St., Sydney, N.S. BlP 2L2
(telephone 902-539-5300 ext. 395).
As a final note, the December BULLETIN at forty pages exceeded
the budget normally allocated for our quarterly. However it did begin
to indicate the potential for this publication. Before this potential can
be realized the Society requires more financial support and that simply
put, means more members. Please make that extra effort to bring a new
member to the SSAC. Additional copies of the December BULLETIN
are available for $5.00 (postage paid) from Mark Fram, No. 302, 221
Russell Hill Road, Toronto, Ontario M4V 2T3 or SSAC, P.O. Box 2302,
Station D, Ottawa, Ontario KlP 5W5
Can you supply me with Gerald T. Bloomfield's address. I thought
he would be interested in knowing we have a Canadian Bank of Commerce
very similar in style, the enclosed photocopy is the building as
it appeared in wartime and as it does today. It is a desgnated heritage
structure in the City of Halifax. We have a set of blue prints of the building
which are dated revised August 20, 1906; September 15th and September
24, 1906, job number 303. They bear the name of Albert Kahn, Achitect;
Ernest Wilby, Associate, Detroit, Michigan. The local architect involved
with the building was Sydney P. Dumaresq. The building inspection
permit was taken out on the 22 August, 1906 by S.M. Brookfield Limited
for $100,000.00 and there is an article in the Halifax Morning Herald
for the 02 March, 1908 upon the completion of the building.
Garry D. Shutlak
Public Archives, Nova Scotia
The December issue of the BULLETIN is excellent-! am very pleased
with the presentation of the Kahn article. I had not expected that the
paper would be published so quickly or so efficiently. Your work as editor
of the BULLETIN is very much appreciated.
Department of Geography
College of Social Science
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1
Bulletin Publication Schedule
The publication schedule for 1986 is: #3
September -Maritime Issue
organizer Richand Mackinnon
December - Quebec Issue
organizer Nadine Corbel
Papers presented at the 1984 and 1985 annual meetings are published
in the Proceedings section of the Bulletin. Manuscripts should follow
the University of Chicago Press Manual of Style and should be forwarded
complete with photographs to the Editorial Board; S.S.A.C., P.O. Box
2302, Station D, Ottawa, KlP 5W5. Book reviews and other material of
a more informal nature such as notices and announcements should be
sent directly to the Book Review Editor or Bulletin Editor respectively.
Addresses for these individuals are found on the back cover. Contributions
of this type should arive a month prior to the publication month.
For example to be considered for the March issue copy must arrive early
CIHB, Parks Canada
Less Terrasses de Ia Chaudiere
Ottawa, Ontario KlA 1G2
Department of Geography
University of Winnipeg
515 Portage Ave.,
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9
30 Renfrew Ave.,
Ottawa, Ontario KlS 1Z5
1470 Edgecliff Ave.,
Ottawa, Ontario KlZ 8G1
llB-1 Roslyn Road,
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3L OGl
2875 Haliday Cres.,
Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 3N1
office (613) 994-2231
office (204) 786-7811
office (613) 237-1867
office (613) 994-2866
office (204) 945-4390
office (604) 753-8217
Membership fees are payable on 1 january of each year at the following
rates: Student $10.00, Individual/Family $20.00, Organization, Corporation,
Institution $30.00. Make cheque payable to SSAC. Further information
on membership dues can be obtained from the Membership
Secretary, Box 2302, Station 'D', Ottawa, Ontario, KlP 5W5 . Opinions
expressed herein are those of their authors and not necessarily those
of the Society. The Bulletin is not responsible for unsolicited material.
City of Halifax, 1906 Canadian Bank of Commerce by Albert Kahn
bears remarkable likeness to the Walkerville Bank also by Kahn.
COVER: Winnipeg Electric Railway Company, 16 June 1921, Notre Dame
Avenue and Albert Street.
2 SSAC BULLETIN 1:86
ISSN No. 0228-0744
Indexed in the Canadian Periodicals Index
Printing and typesetting: Quadra Graphics Ltd., Nanaimo, B.C.
I have read the notice for MEETING PLACES: TORONTO'S CITY
HALLS in the SSAC BULLETIN December 1985, (Conferences and Exhibitions,
As the description indicates, a remarkable diversity of material was
assembled for this exhibition. Resulting from thorough research and
scholarly study, its accompanying commentary and analysis greatly
enlarged the viewers' understanding of the importance of these structures
to our urban life and increased our protective regard for the existing
When it is recalled that E.J. Lennox's building came perilously close
to demolition following the erection of the new city hall, it must be
acknowledged that the curators of MEETING PLACE have done the city
a great service.
Not to have included their names in the notice is an inexcusable oversight.
For SSAC's information they are Douglas Richardson and Stephen
Otto, founding members of the Society.
Shirley G. Moriss
Cook's Creek Church, Manitoba, 1963.
It was kind of you to include the list of entries from the Canadian
Encyclopedia in the latest (and very impressive) issue of the SSAC
BULLETIN (December 1985). My hope is that readers will be able to refer
to this list for quick reference to the important topics relating to architecture
and architects in Canada.
However, I must say that it was regretable that such scant coverage
was given in this issue to the important exhibit on our City Halls (see
page 40). Even more regretable was the fact that no acknowledgement
was given to Prof. Douglas Richardson and to Stephen Otto, both of whom
are charter members of the SSAC, and both of whom are responsible
for nearly five months of research, organization and preparation of the
exhibit catalogue (soon to be released by Boston Mills Press).
Would it be possible for a correction or an addendum to appear in
the next issue of the BULLETIN which acknowledges the substantial
amount of time and effort which two of our members have made on the
subject of the history of our Toronto city halls?
Robert G. Hill, MRAIC
Editor, Biographical Dictionary
of Architects in Canada
NOTE: Mr. Hill has kindly agreed to help the BULLETIN find a reviewer
for the City Halls Exhibit and Catalogue.
Volume 11, Number 1
PROCEEDINGS PART V
James Avenue Pumping Station
by Thora Cartilidge and Sheila Grover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Father Philip Ruh: Missionary-priest and Builder
by Gloria Romaniuk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
The Abbey of Our Lady of the Prairies
by Christopher Hosgood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Books-Livres ....... . ... . .... .. . . . ... . .. .... .. .... 11
News from Across Canada . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Douglas Richardson, an associate professor in the Department of Fine
Art at the University of Toronto and Stephen Otto, a member of the
Toronto Historical Board were the guest curators for the Market Gallery,
"Meeting Places-Toronto's City Halls, 1834 to Present"- exhibit.
by Thora Cartlidge and Sheila Grover
JAMES AVENUE PUMPING STATION:
HISTORY AND ARCHITECTURE
In recent years the Canadian heritage movement has discovered the
importance of industrial technology in the evolution of Canada's built
environment. Not only has this industrial technology influenced Canada's
social and economic history, the adaptation of this technology has had
a substantial impact on the physical development of our urban communities.
A case in point is the james Avenue Pumping Station in Win·
nipeg, Manitoba. This historic station, which is still in daily operation,
pumps water for the exclusive purpose of fighting fires. It utilizes its
own grid of high pressure water lines and hydrants which are separate
from the domestic water system.
The james Avenue Pumping Station opened in 1906, a masterpiece
of mechanical technology. It employed huge flywheels, pumps and
engines which are still in use today. The equipment is housed in the
original building and routinely performs the same service of fire protection
it has since the early years of this century.
Winnipeg in those years was in a period of remarkable growth, not
the punch-drunk days of its 1882 boom, but the self-assured steady growth
that derived from its prominence as the gateway to the northwest. From
its frontier days of the 1880's, with a population of only 8,000, Winnipeg
could boast of 42,000 people in 1901. That population figure was to double
again before this pumping station opened in 1906.' Faced with a neverending
demand for services, City Council attempted to run the city like
a business, with an eye to cost efficiency and a blind spot to the social
A thriving warehouse district emerged around the railway spur lines,
while the adjacent financial district and retail shops ran along Main Street
and Portage Avenue. This commercial district was disproportionately
large for the city as a whole, proof to westerners that Winnipeg was indeed
destined to be the "Chicago of the North".
Because of its commercial dominance, architecture in the city
reflected state of the art in building technology. Masonry buildings, which
were generally warehouses or combined offices for the wholesale trade,
had been pushed to their upper limit of six or seven storeys. Structural
steel and concrete had provided the skeleton for skyscrapers to reach
higher still and Winnipeg was proud of its tall new office towers. But
both the scale and the concentration of the buildings was a source of
concern for the fire department as well as for the fire insurance underwriters.
Winnipeg's domestic water supply, pumped from artesian wells,
could simply not guarantee the kind of pressure or volume that fire
fighters needed to fight a major blaze. Horse-drawn steam engines,
chemical pumpers and hose reels could only afford as much protection
as the deficient pressure permitted.
4 SSAC BULLETIN 1:86
The original urban water system, which consisted of pumping up
river water, was replaced by a city-owned artesian well system in 1899. 2
As pure as the artesian water may have been, the volume was still low
and the pressure varied. During an emergency situation, such as the
Ashdown Hardware fire in October 1904, the old river water pump
system was re-activated to supplement pressure to fight the fire. Polluted
river water poured uncontrolled into the domestic water supply and days
later, nearly 1,300 adults and children came down with the dreaded
On top of the typhoid epidemic, City Council came under criticism
from the Fire Underwriters' Association. There was not, they argued
in a 1904 report, enough water to ensure proper protection of valuable
downtown buildings and contents.• Fires were a constant threat in a
climate that required buildings to be heated at least six months of the
year. While modern buildings had guaged boilers, many structures were
heated by stoves that could easily overheat or were left unattended
through long winter nights.• Building and fire codes generally applied
to newly constructed buildings.
Although the decision to provide Winnipeg with a steady source of
drinking water was further delayed.• In 1905, City Council announced
that a pumping station would be built on James Avenue, near the bank
of Red River on the eastern boundary of the downtown district it was
to serve. Under the direction of the City's engineering and fire protection
staff, Williams Jacks and Company of Glasgon acted as the general
contractors in construction of the station. Tenders were called for with
a predictable result: British and Scottish firms supplied most of the
machinery at a time when England was perhaps the most technologically
advanced nation in the world. The cost of this high pressure fire protection
system (which climbed to one million dollars), was paid for totally
by a pro-rated tax levied on the businesses served by the special watermains
Because of the tremendous size and weight of the pumping equipment,
the station was built around the machinery. Form and function
have achieved a unique integration. Yet the form is most effective in
its simple devotion to the function. The structure is utilitarian without
being stark or brutal. What makes the pumphouse so distinctive is its
straightforward design and clear expression of purpose, which has
created an enduring impression of power harnessed.
Of the three buildings that formed the original complex, only the
pumphouse survives. Formerly, there was also a gas producing plant
where coal was burned to produce fuel which was piped as gas into the
adjacent massive brick and steel storage plant. After the pumping station
was converted to electricity, these two ancillary structures became
redundant and were eventually demolished.
The pumping station is a single-storey brick structure with two gabled
bays. Spanning each bay are two large cranes that move along an !-beam
track of steel. The tracks rest on a steel frame, with each support continuing
below grade in concrete piers. As well as supporting the walls
and roof, this steel holds the cranes that initially lifted the massive
machinery components into place. The equipment is therefore "housebuilt,"
part machinery, part structure, all resting at grade or in the trough
If brief, water was pumped through a large pipe cribbed in the middle
of the river, sucked into the building and pushed through the high
pressure water mains controlled by separate hydrants. The power for
the pumps and plungers was originally produced in large engines that
ran on the coke gas produced in the building attached. What is remarkable
about these machines is their scale: the pistons are the diameter of a
human's arms, each flywheel 36 tons in weight and the fan belts 20 feet
long, controlled by a fascinating array of valves, guages and gears. Much
of the large equipment is made of polished steel, with the railings and
guages still glittering in solid brass. Beneath the equipment, in the murky
depths, are the huge pipes and graded run-offtroughs.
In order to give the operators maximum natural light, large windows
run the height of the wall along three sides, with sweeping arched windows
at both ends of each bay. Above these arched windows run brick
corbelling, one of the building's few concessions to vanity.
Because the machinery was so sophisticated, the English mechanics
who assembled it stayed on in Winnipeg to run the equipment for the
years to come. When the city was finally connected by aqueduct to Shoal
Lake in 1919, James Avenue Pumping Station was hooked into it. Never
again would fire fighters save a burning building only to ruin its contents
by pouring gallons of muddy river water onto the flames.
JAMES AVENUE PUMPING STATION:
PRESERVATION AND INTERPRETATION
More than a few early municipal pumphouses have been preserved
in cities across Canada. A brief review of some better-known examples
Building interior (1983)
from Ontario will help illustrate the possibilities for interpreting the James
Avenue Pumping Station.
The Hamilton Pumping Station is operated as the Hamilton Museum
of Steam and Technology.• Modern pumping and filtration plants have
replaced the original water-pumping system, but the historic pump house
built in 1857 has been preserved by the careful maintenance volunteered
by City Waterworks employees over the years. The two original Gartshore
steam engines are in near-perfect condition. The new museum
stands proudly on the grounds of the modern facility, its preservation
Kingston's Pump House, built in 1849, has also been preserved as
a museum.• The main pump room, with the two original steam-driven
pumps, is restored to 1895. While the pump house no longer supplies
water to the city, the building and pump engines are intact and maintained
by the Frontenac Society of Model Engineers together with the
Kingston Department of Parks. Open to the public since 1973, the Pump
House Steam Museum contains a collection of historical engines and
steam artifacts, all in working order.
The main exhibits of these living museums are the pumping stations
themselves. Through mostly volunteer efforts, the massive pumping
equipment of each station has been maintained and is fully-functional.
This is a tribute to the century-old technologies that would still be in
use, except that the cities' demand for water gradually exceeded the pumping
stations' capacity, rendering the stations obsolete.
By contrast, Ottawa's Fleet Street Pumping Station has been fully
rehabilitated so it continues to operate, delivering about 50% of the water
required for the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.'" It utilizes
the water power of nearby Chaudiere Falls, as it has since its construction
in 1874. The aging reciprocating pumps and water wheels of the
original system were replaced by 1949 with modern centrifugal pumps
and turbines, but the physical plant is housed in the original pumphouse,
which is restored to its 1900 appearance.
Like the Fleet Street operation, the James Avenue Pumping Station
in Winnipeg is still part of the city's water supply system. It pumps water
under high pressure to fire-protection hydrants in the central business
district. What sets it apart from other historical pump houses is that the
City of Winnipeg continues to operate the system with the original
generating and pumping equipment installed in 1906. 11
The City is considering closing the James Avenue Station and possibly
developing the site as a tourist attration. Like the other facilities discussed,
the focus of an interpretive program at the James Avenue Station would
be the pump house itself, impressive for the image of power created by
the brick and glass construction and magnificent in its display of
The primary objective for interpretation of James Avenue Pumping
Station is to increase public awareness and understanding of the historic
powerhouse." While the main theme for interpretation is the pump house
operation, secondary themes include the history of Winnipeg's water
supply, the social history of the area and industrial architecture."
The powerhouse itself offers the best resource to interpret the main
theme. The physical plant and the procedure for pumping water for firefighting
can be well illustrated inside the powerhouse. The view from
the foyer presents a panorama of the generating and pumping equipment
on the engine-house floor below, adding a dimension of immediacy
that is rarely realized in a museum setting. Even if the pump house operation
is closed down, the original pumps and engines will remain as builtin
exhibits that can be operated for display.
The secondary themes can be interpreted inside the powerhouse and
also illustrated outside the building. In the riverside setting of Stephen
Juba Park, there are physical resources that link to the Pumping Station:
-the Red River, which was the first source of water for the pumping
plant, and a deciding factor in its location;
-the plant intake for the Shoal Lake Aqueduct, which delivered water
to the plant since 1919;
-the rail tracks, which delivered the hoppers of coal to the gasproducer
-the exterior design of the powerhouse, which represents early industrial
-the Winnipeg Hydro Steam Plant, which is another example of early
industry and architecture in the city; and
-the site of Victoria Park (on the site of Winnipeg Hydro Steam Plant)
where strike leaders addressed assemblies during the 1919 General Strike.
The Historic Winnipeg Restoration Area, which centres on Old
Market Square west of Main Street, is also considered an interpretive
resource. The pumping plant serviced fire-protection hydrants in this
historic business district. Located within walking distance of the Pumping
Station, the Restoration Area contains examples of early commercial
and industrial architecture that may be compared with the Pumping
Station as part of an extended walking tour of the area.
An interpretation program for the Pumping Station would incorporate
indoor and outdoor interpretive panels, a publication and
3-dimensional exhibits, into a self-guided tour of the Station and its immediate
area. Visitors will have first-hand experience exploring the power
house and its operation. Through interpretation, the plant operation will
be opened up to the public as a scientific exhibit, a tribute to Winnipeg's
What makes Winnipeg's high-pressure pumping station unique in
Canada is its pristine condition and the integrity of both its structure
and machinery to the turn of the century. The massive engines, flywheels
and pumps of the original plant are always polished and primed, ready
to start up the water pumping operation within minutes of notice from
the Fire Hall. The Pumping Station is located within walking distance
of Portage and Main, at the edge of the commercial centre it was designed
to service, yet it remains undiscovered by most Winnipeggers and
tourists. The opportunity exists to present to the visiting public a historical
example of industrial architecture and to interpret the technological
significance of this heritage resource. 0
Building interior (1983)
1. Alan F.J. Artibise Winnipeg: A Social History of Urban Growth
1874-1914 MeGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal and London)
1975, p. 130.
2. Diane Payment "The Winnipeg Aqueduct" report for the Canadian
Engineering Heritage Record c.1976 p. 1. Used by permission
of the author.
3. Artibise, op. cit., p. 228.
4. "Report on Municipal Fire Prevention Appliances". Board of
Control Papers No. 447,25 October 1904 quoted in Artibise,
op. cit., p. 216.
5. As well, the hard water from the artesian wells rusted boilers
at a remarkable rate.
6. The Winnipeg Aqueduct was constructed between 1912 and 1919.
In the interim, six new artesian wells were equipped with pumps
and introduced to the domestic waterworks. By 1906, the year that
James Avenue Pumping Station was built, there were four artesian
wells supplying drinking water. City government and administration
was long divided over whether to continue and expand the
artesian well system or to make the huge investment in the aqueduct
system. "Winnipeg's Waterworks" The Canadian Engineer,
19 January 1911, p. 189.
7. Notice by City of Winnipeg, advertised in the three daily newspapers,
High Pressure Pumping System, special documents box,
dated c.18 June 1905. The Telegram.
8. Norman Ball and Ken Desson "The Pump-house Parthenon"
Canadian Heritage December 1983/Janum:y 1984 p. 10.
9. "The Pump House Steam Museum." City of Kingston. brochure, n.d.
10. "The Fleet Street Pumping Station." Regional Municipality of
Ottawa-Carleton (Ottawa) 1981, p. 10 brochure.
11. Sheila Grover "109 James Avenue: High Pressure Pumping Station."
Unpublished report prepared for City of Winnipeg Historical
Buildings Committee 28 May 1982 p. 2.
12. Sundog Heritage Planning "Interpretation Concept for James
Avenue Pumping Station." Prepared for Heritage Winnipeg 1983,
13. Ibid., p. 4.
14. Ibid., p. 6.
6 SSAC BULLETIN 1:86
In 1930, no one dreamed that the hard times of the drought and
depression were just beginning. When the horses began to scrape out
the basement of the new St. John the Baptist Church, there was great
excitement. There were many young people in the parish. This widelyreputed
new priest was dynamic; he was serious; but he was also fun.
He organized the usual parish functions, but he also organized teas and
plays and bazaars to raise money for building materials. He scheduled
the families into work shifts. He had the men haul stones and boulders
from their own fields as well as from the quarries which were ten miles
It took 22 years to complete St. John the Baptist Church. It was finally
consecrated in 1952, and later was renamed the Church of the Immaculate
Conception. It is a massive structure, in cruciform shape, with
a base measuring one hundred and forty by one hundred feet. There are
nine domes with the central cross reaching one hundred and fourteen
feet above the ground. The standing capacity of the church is one thousand
people but five thousand were present at the consecration which
was celebrated by Archbishop Ladyka and his Auxiliary Bishops.
Two years after the consecration of the church, Father Ruh began
what he called his last great effort to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In August, 1954 he inaugurated the first annual Pilgrimage to celebrate
the Assumption of the Virgin, and he began to erect a new structure:
the Grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes with a Calvary, or Way of the Cross.
This lies to the north of the church itself.
The Calvary and Grotto were intended to replicate Lourdes; France.
Father Ruh visited Lourdes at least three times in his life and was deeply
inspired by the mountain grotto where the Virgin had appeared to
little Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. He wished to provide the Ukrainians
in Canada with a pilgrimage centre of their own. In this he succeeded.
Every summer large numbers of pilgrims attend the celebration
which last for three days in mid-August.
Pouring concrete for the grotto, Cook's Creek. Father Ruh at bottom left.
Breaking ground for the church at Cook's Creek. Father Ruh at centre
with spade and pipe!
Father Ruh's health began to fail in 1960. By that time he had been
a priest for 50 years and had served the Ukrainians in Canada for 48
of those years. Wherever his projects had taken him, he worked right
along with the labourers, taking great pleasure in the actual process of
building. He worked tirelessly to raise funds as well, enabling most of
the parishes to build their churches without heavy debt but rather through
a well-organized program of volunteers.
A great deal of fund-raising energy initiated the Grotto. Parishioners
who had known Father Ruh in different parts of the country donated
towards this last monument. A group in Toronto, for instance, drew from
the St. Catherine's and Grimsby areas where many former Ruh
parishioners had settled, to raise thousands of dollars. But the vision
was not to be fulfilled. Father Ruh died before the Grotto was completed
and he left no plans of the Grotto to guide the parish after him. The
Knights of Columbus of St. josaphat Council No. 1438 worked diligently
for several years to bring the Grotto to a sufficient conclusion, but
without the architect the original concept was not fully obtained.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception and The Grotto have now
been designated a historic site of the Province of Manitoba. Father Philip
Ruh, architect of some 30 structures across Canada, lies buried in the
cemetery just north of the Grotto. D
Cook's Creek Church under construction, 1940s.
Gloria Rornaniuk is currently researching The Life and Works of Father
Philip Ruh, O.M.I. with the aim of publishing his biography in 1988, the
year of the Christian Millennium in Ukraine. Gloria is a graduate of the
University of Winnipeg in Anthropology and Religious Studies.
8 SSAC BULLETIN 1:86
THE ABBEY OF OUR LADY
OF THE PRAIRIES
by Christopher Hosgood
The Trappist monastery of Norte-Dame des Prairies, Our Lady of
the Prairies, gutted by fire in 1983, was founded in 1892 by the Abbot
of Bellefontaine, France. For 86 years the monastery, located on the wooded
bank of the La Salle River near St. Norbert, provided the Trappists
with the solitude they required to pursue a life of prayer, contemplation,
study and humble manual labour. During this time the monks
became popular figures in St. Norbert, and the monastery became an
important feature of the village's economic life. Unfortunately, urban
encroachment increasingly threatened the tranquility of the monastery,
and by 1978 the monks had relunctantly moved to new quarters near
Holland, in southern Manitoba.
On 7 November 1983, flames engulfed the empty church and dormitory
wing of the monastery. The dramatic ruins were subsequently
stabilized and preserved under a joint project of the Canada-Manitoba
Agreement for Recreation and Conservation on the Red River (ARC),
City of Winnipeg and Province of Manitoba. This, the site of the first
monastery in Western Canada, will officially be opened as a provincial
heritage park in the summer of 1986.
The Trappists are a branch of the Cistercian order founded in 1098
by three reformist Benedictine monks. Retreating into the Forest of
Citeaux, in northern France, there reformers hoped to return to the true
observance of the rule of St. Benedict-charity, obedience and humility.
Eventually, hundreds of Cistercian monasteries were established
throughout Europe. Two distinct types of Cistercians emerged: those
of the Common Observance and those of the Strict Observance.
The French Revolution of 1789 brought about the confiscation of
monastic properties and the dispersion of monks and nuns from their
institutions. When peace returned to France, a Cistercian monastery near
the village of La Trappe, in Normandy, was the first to be re-established.
The monks, Cistercians of the Strict Observance, came to be known as
During the late nineteenth century, France again experienced serious
political unrest, and many religious communities threatened with explusion
began to seek refuge abroad. Dom Jean-Marie Chouteau, Abbot
of Bellefontaine, a Trappist monastery in the doicese of Angers, turned
to Canada. He accepted an offer of land near Oka in the district of Two
Mountains, in Quebec, where the monaster of Notre-Dame du Lac was
established in 1881.
Nine years later, while visiting the Ika monastery, Dom Chouteau
met with two priminent Manitoba clerics, Archbishop Tache of St.
Boniface and Father Ritchot, parish priest of St. Norbert, to discuss
establishing a Trappist monastery in the west. The French monastery,
Bellefontaine, lacked the resources to initiate this project, although Dom
Chouteau promised to co-operate as best he could. Consequently, the
initiative for the foundation of Notre-Dame des Prairies came chiefly
from Tache and Ritchot.
For almost thirty years, Ritchot has hoped that a group of Mains
Blancs [White Monks) one day would settle in his parish. Ritchot believed
that a monstery would act as a model farm, educating and encouraging
local farmers, thereby benefitting the local community. A quiet, secluded
piece of land along the La Salle River had already been set aside for
that purpose. Eventually, the Trappists were offered 486 hectares (1,200
acres) of farmland in the Parish of St. Norbert, to which Father Ritchot
added 121 hectares (300 acres) from his personal estate. Archbishop
Tache donated $2,000 and Father Richot added another $1,000 to offset
the costs of establishing Notre-Dames des Prairies.
The first monastery buildings were situated on a west-bank penin
.sula of the La Salle River, near its junction with the Red. In 1899 Tache's
successor, Archbishop Langevin, donated the land on the east side of
the river and portions of neighbouring lots were subsequently purchased
as the scale of the Trappists' agricultural activities increased.
Brother Antoine, one of the founders of Notre-Dame du Lac, arrived
in St. Norbert in the spring of 1892 to launch the new monastery.
The land was cleared and prepared for cultivation, farm animals, supplies
and implements were purchased, and shelters were built. At the
request of the Abbot of Bellefontaine, Archbishop Tache supervised
monastery operations and finances.
The first monastery building-a three-storey wooden structure with
a small porch and a bell tower sitting on the roof ridge-was constructed
during the summer of 1892. The building featured an eight by five metre
(27 by 16 foot), sparsely furnished chapel, enhanced by religious ornaments
and statues presented by French benefactors. A donation the
following year permitted construction, next to the monastery, of an additional
buildings which served as living quarters for the hired workers.
Faithful to the rule of poverty, the Trappist monks lived on what
they could grow on their land. Consequently, agriculture and animal
husbandry were of prime importance at Notre-Dame des Prairies.
Potatoes and grain were sown and reaped during the summer of 1892,
and by December the first stable was built. Water was hauled from the
river until a well could be sunk. After the first harvest a threshing machine
was purchased, and a modern dairy and butter factory were set up during
the next few years.
The Trappists gradually diversified their agricultural operations.
Although they were vegetarians, they raised beef cattle, pigs and poultry
along with horses and a dairy herd. They marketed meat and cheese in
order to purchase those few necessities which they could not provide
for themselves. After 1906, the Trappists derived further income from
sales of the honey produced by their new apiary.
Despite the Trappists' medieval garb and 900 year-old traditions, only
the most up-to-date equipment was used for their agricultural activities.
To ensure the monastery's self-sufficiency several shops were built including
a bakery, a shoemaker's shop, a forge and an outdoor sawmill.
Stables, granaries, equipment sheds, greenhouses, and a chicken coop
were also erected.
By 1900, this community of about thirty monks had outgrown its
original quarters, and plans were sent from France for a new church
and monastic wing. Work on the church began in the summer of 1903,
but due to a lack of funds, construction was not completed for several
Built of brick and Manitoba stone, the new Romanesque Revival
church had the round-headed windows and rounded cross-vaulted roof
typical of the style. The building was 43 metres (140 feet) long, 18 metres
10 SSAC BULLETIN 1:86
(60 feet] wide across the transept and 8 metres (25 feet) wide across the
nave. The silver-domed bell tower was surmounted by a cross. Many
of the religious ornaments and statues were gifts from France, while most
of the simple interior furnishings were crafted by the monks in their
workshops. Near the front of the church were the stalls reserved for the
Fathers and, in the second part, those of the lay Brothers. A rood screen
separated the two sections of the nave, and above the large rear entrance
was a spacious gallery for visitors. Seven small chapels used for private
masses were located in an ambulatory behind the apsidal wall.
Construction of the monastic wing to house monks, novices and
visitors, and to provide a kitchen, refectory and pantry, began in 1905.
This three-storey structure matched the church in colour, materials and
brick detailing. Once the new wing was completed, the old wooden
monastery became a guest house and served that purpose until early
in 1912 when it was destroyed by fire. Faithful to the monastic tradition
of hopsitality, the Trappists quietly replaced the gutted building with
a new guest house.
In 1914 a house originally owned by the Sisters of Mercy was purchased
and moved to the monastery to serve as a gatehouse. It was also
destroyed by fire and replaced by the present structure in 1946. A narrow
footpath bridge was constructed near the gatehouse, about 7.6 metres
(25 feet] above the La Salle River. The bridge provided access to the
railroad and to the village of St. Norbert and, until it was swept away
by the floods, it proved particularly useful when the dirt roads became
muddy and impassable.
Manitoba's Trappists have maintained many of the centuries-old
traditions of monastic life which they share with Cistercian brethren
the world over, and indeed, with monks of other religious professions
as well. The Trappist way of life features work and prayer, unencumbered
by the cares and comforts of the non-monastic world; above all, their
life is devoted to finding God and achieving salvation. The labour of the
monks both renders their community self-sufficient and promotes a
healthy life-style which fortifies them against spiritual irresoluteness.
Prayer, however, provides the community's focus; through prayer Trappists
seek the salvation of all souls-both within and beyond monastery
The daily life of the Cistercian pioneers in St. Nor bert was rooted
in these monastic traditions. Only in recent years has the strict discipline
of earlier times been slightly relaxed. Until well into the twentieth century,
Trappists observed their order's reknowned rule of silence, and
communicated with each other only through the use of rudimentary sign
language. During the St. Norbert monastery's earliest years, women were
barred from the grounds of Notre-Dame des Prairies. Only following the
consecration ceremonies of 1947 were women allowed in when the rule
of papal enclosure was lifted for nine days. More recently, women were
permitted to enter the monastery's church, and the gatehouse, where
they could view a photographic exhibit of Notre-Dame's buildings and
The Trappist Fathers (choir monks] were distinguished from the lay
Brothers by the colour of their robes: the former wore white and the
latter brown; everyone wore black cowls. The monks shared frugal meals
and ate no meat, fish, or poultry. They rose early each day, which began
with prayer, and before nightfall congregated seven times for the
canonical hours; their most august daily rite was the Holy Sacrifice of
the Mass. The remainder of the day included four of five hours of spiritual
reading or study, and the fulfilment of chores and farm labour.
During the twentieth century Notre-Dame des Prairies usually housed
somewhere between 30 and 45 monks. Many of them were skilled
gardeners, carpenters, iron workers and decorative artists. These skills
allowed the monastery to remain virtually self-sufficient. Trappists maintained
and repaired their buildings and equipment, and preserved the
simple beauty of the church, monastery and grounds.
Following the foundation of Notre-Dame des Prairies, few could have
suspected that the peace of the secluded monastery would be interrupted
by the encroachment of the City of Winnipeg. Yet, by the 1960s, city
life was beginning to impinge upon their contemplative ways. After long
and sometimes painful discussion and prayer, the monks decided that
they would have to relocate to some other part of the diocese. In order
to remain faithful to their traditions, the Trappists of Notre-Dame des
Prairies selected a site more suitable to their life of solitude.
The new monastery was set up between Holland and Bruselles,
Manitoba, 145 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg. The move to the new
site was staggered over the years 1975-1978. On the new 356 hectare
(880 acre] farm, about 20 Trappists have continued their dairy, beef and
grain operations on a slightly smaller scale. Meanwhile the people of
St. Norbert bade a sad farewell to the Trappists at a special celebration
held on 18 September 1977. Subsequently the barns and farm buildings
were demolished leaving only the church, dormitory wing and guest
The piety, hospitality and dedication of the monks had inspired their
neighbours for nearly a century and it was widely held that their departure
would leave a void in the community. Significantly, as a provincial
heritage site, the monastery's grounds continue to act as a haven, although
today's beneficiaries are city dwellers rather than Trappist monks. 0
Books - Livres
For any person with an abiding and passionate interest in architectural
bibliography, the position of book review editor with an architectural
journal is a dream come true. Work on this issue, the first I hope
in a good number, has not blunted my initial excitement. This enthusiasm
for architectural publications, in particular those of Canada, is what I
hope to communicate each quarter as this section looks at books, primarily
Canadian, mostly architectural, recent publications and classic works.
This is a good opportunity to thank the last Review Editor, Michele
Laing for her contribution. Regrettably Michele was obliged to resign
owing to increased responsibilities at the Architecture Library of the
University of Manitoba. Appreciation is also owed to Don Lovell, the
Bulletin Editor. Even with the many editorial duties and the concerns
of a new professional architectural practice, Don devoted time to writing
reviews and keeping this section alive.
In my view an important mandate of the SSAC Bulletin is to encourage
information transfer. While the Bulletin has had notable success
with the publication of papers, the Book Review section has alternately
flourished and languished.
With the support of the Editor and the assistance of the reviewers,
I intend to build on the solid foundations poured by earlier book review
editors. More by luck than planning, this Bulletin illustrates several of
the directions this section will follow.
One of the most frustrating aspects of Canadian architectural study
is not learning about pertinent local publications. This area is expanding
in terms of both quantity and quality, and while it may not always
be possible to review every item, they can at least be referenced and sourced.
Stone Houses, a regional, populist book on a topic of growing interest,
is reviewed in this issue.
Books of national scope will of course still take precedence and every
effort will be made to provide timely reviews. This Bulletin also reviews
Reviving Main Street - Heritage Canada's guide to its innovative rehabilitation
program for town cores. While this program has many proponents
and few opponents, private concerns about the rationale and process
can be heard. The Bulletin is pleased to present both sides in a special
double feature with reviews by Stuart Lazear and Gregory Utas.
Past reviews have had a parochial tendency to ignore works outside
our national borders. While this follows the Society's objective, its
membership loses by perhaps not being aware of important architectural
scholarship. While A History of Architecture by Spiro Kostof has
only three very incidental references to Canada, Stanley Laten's review
provides ample reason for its inclusion in this section.
In the future, whenever possible, this section will reinforce the special
topic of the Bulletin. Unfortunately, for this issue on Manitoba, there
was not sufficient time to solicit book reviews. However in an effort to
remedy this deficiency, with much assistance from Sheila Grover and
John Lehr, a sho.rt narrative survey of Manitoba architectural bibliography
has been prepared. Again it is hoped that this article will be the first in a
series of bibliographic notes on special topics. (See Part 2, June Issue.)
Without your support this section may again languish. Let me know
of local material including free publications and pamphlets. Offer to write
reviews by dropping me note indicating your specific field of interest.
And most importantly let me know when we have overlooked or slighted
any publication. I look forward to hearing from you. D
Book Review Editor
10 Findlay Avenue
REVIVING MAIN STREET edited by Deryck Holdsworth. Toronto:
Heritage Canada FoundationiUniversity of Toronto Press, 1985. 246 pp.,
many photographs, $12.95 paper/$25.00 cloth.
REVIVING MAIN STREET attempts to describe and synthesize the experience
of the Heritage Canada Foundation in the area of Main Street
Revitalization over the past five years. The descriptive component is tackled
by former Main Street co-ordinators who worked within selected communities
across Canada for three year periods commencing in 1981. The
synthesis/overview is provided by Deryck Holdsworth, Harold Kalman,
John Stewart and Jacques Dalibard.
Whether the specific approach be in promotion, marketing·, rehabilitation,
infill design, store front design, signage, organization of the business
community, grantsmanship or any of the other components of Main
Street revitalization described in this book, there is a common theme
that the mechanisms for assisting with the rejuvination of a downtown
community rest with the human, cultural and economic resources of
that community. Dalibard summarizes this theme at the end of the book,
"The answers to Main Street's problems are on the doorstep."
REVIVING MAIN STREET includes a fine mix of technical information
and approaches without being heavy handed. Jim Mountain's
"Promoting and Marketing Downtown" provides a detailed strategy for
any community wishing to organize successful promotions. "Taking Care
of Business" by Chris Pelham and Dan Macintosh usefully describes the
economic factors such as market determination and retail recruitment
which can be understood even by non-MBAs. The chapter on "Sympathetic
New Design" (Peter Hyndman and Gordon Fulton) illustrates
successful and unsuccessful infill construction. "Catching the Customer's
Eye" which covers signage, echos the philosophy of Main Street-"As
with other aspects of Main Street revitalization, gradual change
demonstrating by effective example rather than by imposition of a
preconceived plan, creates a snowball effect whereby the broader potential
of a district can gradually be realized."
"Store-Fronts for Downtown" by Hans Honegger and Bob Inwood
deals with approaches to store-front design as well as technical issues.
The illustrations, particularly the "before" and "after" series, are very
effective and should be useful for encouraging revitalization. John Edwards
in "Organizing for Change" presents the role of the Main Street
co-ordinator in animating change through public and private sector
organizations and community groups. This chapter ends with the ten
essential ingredients for a successful downtown, which are in fact, the
same elements which make a shopping mall succeed. Kalman also
discusses the shopping mall in "Crisis on Main Street." The advantages
of the shopping mall are described together with other issues (national
chains, banks, etc.) facing downtown revitalization. Kalman's "Canada's
Main Street" presents the evolution of public and commercial architecture
in small town Canada.
In reading Reviving Main Street one can appreciate that the experiences
and lessons of Main Street have been shared by former coordinators.
Each author uses a variety of examples borrowed from their
collegues across the country, to illustrate their topics. This shared experience
is to me the greatest value of the book. Reviving Main Street
is timely but not timeless. As the Main Street approach matures, it will
be a useful and essential catalyst for the next generation of books and
by Stuart Lazear
Stuart Lazear currently the SSAC representative from Saskatchewan, is
a former Main Street Program co-ordinator for Moose Jaw.
REVIVING MAIN STREET consists of ten essays by Heritage Canada
staff and others who are or were associated with the foundation's pilot
Main Street program. The book is divided into three parts: Part One is
a history and characterization of the Canadian Main Street; Part Two
is a survey of Main Street programs from Norwich, Ontario to the present,
with a brisk but extensive account of current Canadian programs;
and Part Three concerns the "how-to" of revitalization, illustrated by
brief references to the pilot projects. In effect, Part One and Part Two
are a search for a theory of Main Street, and Part Three outlines practices
more or less derived from the theory.
Heritage Canada's theory blames the decline of Main Street on shopping
centres. It follows, according to the theory, that Main Street must
behave as a shopping centre behaves. Mainly, this means that merchants
must work collectively to define their marketing strategy, and, as a consequence
of the marketing strategy, define an appropriate "look" for their
street. Heritage concerns enter the theory at this remove, as one possible
look. Heritage Canada, of course, prefers a heritage look, but offers
no theoretical reason for doing so.
Part Three is directed mainly to future Main Street co-ordinators.
It is over-elaborate as a job description, but falls short as a how-to manual.
It contains hints about how to organize and animate a town, and how
to work its political system in aid of revitalizing Main Street. It discusses
marketing, from "tuning the mix" to devices such as joint promotions
and window dressing. It contains a light-weight primer on rehabilitation.
The chapter, "Sympathetic New Design" contains a list of seven
approaches to infill which is a worthwhile contribution to this subject,
and, by extension, to the discussion of contextualism which has occupied
architects of late.
Heritage Canada is offering here a theory or model of economic
revitalization for Main Street. One of the most troubling aspects of the
book is that Heritage Canada is presenting this theory of economic
evitalization as if it were a theory of conservation. A theory of economic
revitalization answers the question, "How does one improve the economy
of ... " A theory of conservation answers the question, "Which buildings
should one save, and why." By confining itself io its shopping centre
model, Heritage Canada even obscures its underlying assertion that
heritage buildings are an exploitable resource, an assertion that is troubling
it itself, and only partly true. Heritage Canada seems prepared to
pin heritage conservation to the vagaries of the bottom line. The indifferent
glass boxes of popular myth are a true expression of the bottom
line as a determinant of form. Surely one of the chief purposes of the
heritage movement is to preserve the view that builders and owners have
social responsibilities separate from the mean requirements of profit.
Even as a theory of economic revitalization, the shopping centre
model is not entirely adequate. Shopping centres are acknowledged to
be "machines for selling"; an organic metaphor would better represent
Main Street. The marketing canon itself abounds with business successes
that resulted from creative entrepreneurs moving in a direction markedly
different from the general trend. Such entrepreneurs succeeded by increasing
the choice available in the marketplace, not by creating more
of the same. Main Street is ineradicably different from a shopping centre.
A main Street that glories in its difference, and makes creative use
of it, will have a firmly rooted success, independent of the forces which
support shopping centres.
The heritage movement has the beginnings of a sophisticated theory
of conservation. We no longer save buildings solely because of their
historical associations. By our consideration of context or social heritage
we have moved some way towards a theory that accommodates social,
economic and cultural factors. Ecology and systems theory have devices
which allow them to deal with complex, non-linear relationships. I believe
that the heritage movement, too, must learn how to deal with non-linear
relationships in its theory of conservation. With a sound theory of conservation,
heritage could take its place with urban design and other
disciplines in the management of the built environment. But to do so
it must work for its strengths, which have to do with the cultural values
of buildings, and the dynamics of collective memory in the built environment.
It is in a well-managed built environment, rich or poor, that heritage
buildings are safest. They are safe because, while they have an economic
function, they are understood to have other important functions as well.
Heritage Canada's theory of economic revitalization does seem to
work. One cannot be entirely certain, since Heritage Canada has chosen
to report neither its measures of success, nor its data. Independent observation
would affirm that in the Main Streets to which Heritage Canada
has devoted its attention a number of buildings have been rehabilitated.
I suspect that Heritage Canada operates on an unstated theory of conservation
whilst professing its theory of economic revitalization. Its
labours have resulted in some Main Streets more handsome than they
were before. On this level the Foundation can be congratulated.
Heritage Canada is now in the position of promoting a single analysis
and a single solution to the Main Street problem. The remuddled facades
we now deplore in Main Street were created according to an equally
simplistic prescription. Furthermore, this prescription, too, was effective.
It met the pragmatic test so well that it was applied regularly for
more than thirty years. In the absence of a theory of conservation, today's
newly renovated facades are just as much a faddish applique as
the aluminum or Vitralite they replace.
By all means buy Reviving Main Street to give to any philistines who
cross your path. It speaks their language. The arguments it contains may
well still come as a surprise to some local politicians and decision makers.
In such cases it will insinuate the idea that older buildings are a positive,
exploitable resource. While this is not an entirely happy attitude, it is
better than the belief that old buildings are a drag on a community. The
shortcomings of the book should provoke those to whom its content is
old hat into working on a better theory of conservation. Let us hope that
one soon emerges. D
by Gregory P. Utas
Gregory Utas is an architectural historian and restoration architect with
Public Works Canada. In this capacity he has surveyed federal buildings
in many towns across Canada and has cultivated an appreciation for small
scale streetscapes. A longtime SSAC member, Mr. Utas is a frequent contributer
to the Cityscape column of the Ottawa Citizen.
Books- Livres- Con't. in Part II- June Issue.
The following SSAC Members have moved without forwarding their
new addresses. Anyone with information as to their new local is requested
to contact the SSAC Membership Secretary.
Edward M. Ledohowski
News From Across Canada
DALHOUSIE ART GALLERY
Andrew Cobb: The Vision of Dalhousie is an exhibit at the Dalhousie
Art Gallery, Dalhousie University, until 6 April 1986. Andrew Cobb
designed five well known campus buidings between 1913 and 1924. The
architect's drawings, elevations and plans of the library, faculty club,
chemistry bulding, clinical research centre and pharmacy building are
the basis of the display.
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO
The School of Architecture at Waterloo is arranging eight (8) guest
lecturers for the 1986 winter term. Visitors and topics will include:
Adele Freedman on Peter Dickinson
Graham Owen on new Architecture in South Africa
Grady Clay on Ephemeral Places
Michael Wilford on Stirling & Wilfrod's current work
Eric Fiss and Nan Legate on Canadian Folk Architecture
Robert Harbison on Space and Imagination
Michael Wilford, London, England, has been appointed as the "Arriscraft
Visiting Lecturer in Building Materials and Construction" for
the 1986 winter term, and will give his opening lecture on Monday,
March 3rd. Other dates not yet available.
Further Information: Ena Wrighton (519) 885-0394.
YESTERDAY'S NEWSMAKERS FOCUS OF MARKET GALLERY
PHOTO EXHIBIT. The people, places and events that made news during
the turbulent decade of the 1930s are the focus of more than 100
Globe and Mail photographs on display February 8 - May 4, 1986 at The
Market Gallery of the City of Toronto Archives.
Chosen for their historical interest and impact, these images represent
the work of pioneer photojournalists, most notably John Boyd (1898
- 1971), the Globe's first staff photographer. Significant political and social
events documented in "The '30s: A Photo Legacy from the Globe and
Mail," include the City's 1934 Centennial, demonstrations by the
unemployed at Queen's Park, Labour Day and May Day parades, construction
of landmark buildings, the annual Canadian National Exhibition,
the 1934 visit of film star Mary Pickford, the 1939 royal visit, and
home-grant activities at the out break of the Second World War.
"In addition to providing insights into the interests and concerns
of Torontonians during a benchmark decade in the City's development,
this exhibition proves how valuable newspaper photo collections can
be as unique historical resources for researchers and the public," says
Karen Teeple of the City of Toronto Archives, curator of the show. "This
exhibition only begins to tap the rich body of historically-significant images
donated to the City by the Globe and Mail."
ABOVE IT ALL
May 10- July 6
The Market Gallery, Toronto, is staging a multi-media exhibition to
coincide with the 10th anniversary of the CN Tower in June, 1986. This
landmark show will tell how the world's tallest free-standing structure
captured the imagination of residents and visitors alike from the day
it was announced to its breathtaking "topping off' using a Sikorsky
D. W. Lovell, MAIBC, MRAIC
EDITOR SSAC BULLETIN
2875 Haliday Crescent,
Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 3N1
12 SSAC BULLETIN 1:86
BOOK REVIEW EDITOR
10 Findlay Avenue,
Ottawa, Ont. K1S 2T9
Editorial Board I Membership Secretary
P.O. Box 2302
Ottawa, Ont. K1P 5W5