Meandering searches

My last post about my teen years and my Great Grandmother’s dress, reminded me that I have a copy of some of my Great Grandfather’s journals.  They were more like Captain’s logs with short notes about the day’s events than wordy explorations of the soul and so not earth shattering revelations of the man and the times.  I hate to say I haven’t read them all.

Wednesday night I was inspired to read one of the them.  Something caught my eye.  The entry for April 24, 1890 was positively wordy for him.

April  24  Thursday

We got to Winnipeg before noon & I went to the Rossin House.  Also went to the Government Emigration Agent & he gave me the address of some dairy men & so I went to Kildonen & hired out for 6 months at the western & if we suit each other after the first month to be $20. First month $15.

He left from Dunham Quebec on April 21 and traveled the 2,368 km (I assume) by train. I thought about how cool it was that he was once in the old city of Winnipeg during a time that I “play make-believe” about now.  

He likely arrived at this train station.



I think this one is gone now and has been replaced by another building in 1904.  Anyway, Great Granddad likely arrived at this station and walked up Main st (what is 6 city blocks now and under 1 km) .  He went into Rossin House to rent a room.  

I had never heard of Rossin House so I went to my handy-dandy internet and did a search.  I found a brief notation:

The Leland, which started out as Rossin House, in 1884 boasted richly carpeted rooms featuring walnut and ash furniture.

That sounded more familiar.  A search for the Leland Hotel got a short page with this little bit of info.

The Leland Hotel was built in 1883 and was once the city’s most prestigious hotel.  It fronted what was Old City Hall and the Old Market Building. It was so successful that four stories were added in 1892. But in 1913 a fire gutted the top three floors.

Those extra four stories went up after my Great Grand Father was there and burnt down sometime after the birth of my Grand Father.

I remember this hotel.  It was a bit of a dive when I knew it.



Source for above photo. After many years of neglect and use as a “flop house hotel”, the building sat empty and was purchased by the City of Winnipeg in 1995. Denied heritage status despite a concerted public campaign, the structure was destroyed by an arson fire in January 1999.

This is what my Great Grand Father would have seen.



The middle building was Rossin House.  The building to the left was the Union Bank of Canada (now the Royal Bank) and it is still standing.  That lovely building to the right was City Hall (and possibly where my Great Grand Father went to see the  Government Emigration Agent) and it is now gone.  You can read the story of its demise here.

Basically, some thought the Victorian City Hall looked to old-fashioned and didn’t portray Winnipeg as a mover and shaker in the modern world so it wasn’t worth any conservation efforts.  And what has replaced this lovely palace?  Weep, world, weep.



Source of the above photo.

It is to weep, is it not?  Sigh.  At the top left of the above photo, you can see that the Union Bank building is still there.

Anyway, Great Granddad got the names of some dairy farmers in Kildonan.  This is where it gets a bit fun.  Kildonan was a parish north of Winnipeg and its role was to produce the farm goods used to feed the city.  In 1903 the street car ran through there and it began to evolve into a suburb of Winnipeg, a city in its own right in 1957 and became part of Winnipeg in 1972.  The northern boundary of Kildonan was Oakland Street…where I lived for 15 years.

So I wonder how many times, if ever, did I tread in the exact same place he did?

One thought on “Meandering searches

  1. […] My primary interest in it was that it was the forth station to stand on that site and it was at that site, my Great Grandfather would have arrived in Winnipeg before walking a couple of blocks to get to a hotel.  He spent the night in the hotel and then walked across the street to the old city hall to find work.  I did a blog post about that a few years ago. […]

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