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Planning, Property & Development

1919 General Strike Design Competition

1919 General Strike Ideas Competition

In 2016, the City of Winnipeg, Planning, Property and Development Department invited interested parties to submit a proposal for an interpretation installation at the corner of Lily and Market Avenue to commemorate the labour movement resulting in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. Monteyne Architecture was selected as the winning firm.


The Site is located next to 145 Market Avenue currently used as a tandem parking area by an area business. The site measures approximately 4.12 metres x 30.11 metres. There is also a raised concrete planter and large light standard, the planter can be removed, and the light was moved with sidewalk and street renewal work in 2016.


Exchange District National Historic Site
Winnipeg's early downtown first developed along the Red River, partly due to the shipping industry arriving from the American frontier. However, it was the arrival of the railway that had the greatest impact on the Warehouse District. The railway brought with it not only goods and materials, but also a huge surge in population giving Winnipeg the moniker "Gateway to the West". By 1911, there were 24 rail lines converging on the City, and over 200 wholesale businesses and warehouses around the Exchange. Financial institutions established themselves along Main Street, establishing "Bankers Row", a sign of the wealth and prosperity of the City. The area also thrived as an entertainment centre with its theatres, cabarets and vaudeville shows, along with an active publishing trade. At its height, the area laid claim to three daily civic newspapers. Winnipeg's growth slowed with the onset of World War I and the opening of the Panama Canal. As the price of wheat fell and transportation costs rose, Winnipeg lost its footing as the centre for wholesale and shipping activity, sharply ending a period of prosperity

The Exchange District National Historic Site was designated by the Government of Canada in 1997, recognized for:

  • Illustrating the City's key role as a centre of the grain and wholesale trade, finance and manufacturing; and
  • Containing a range of architecturally significant built resources which speak to the City's key economic role in the West.

The Centennial Concert Hall (1967), the Manitoba Museum (1970), Manitoba Theatre Centre (1970), the Civic Centre (1962-65), and Public Safety Building (1965) and parkade represent a significant period of urban renewal in Winnipeg's history.

In 2009, the Manitoba Theatre Centre was recognized as a National Historic Site, the first Modernist building to be recognized in the Province, and one of only a handful in Canada. Winnipeg's mid-century modernist structures are culturally significant places, and represent Winnipeg's growth in community and civic pride as well as its noted connection to the Modernist movement.

Elgin & the Labour Movement
Elgin Avenue is significant for its role played in the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919. Originally stretching from Main all the way to Waterfront Drive, the lane was actually the right-of-way for the Winnipeg Transfer Railway; parts of which are still visible today.

The General Strike changed the City forever, and Elgin became infamously known as "Hell's Alley" after deadly confrontation between workers and mounted police, resulting in numerous arrests, multiple injuries and a couple of deaths. This confrontation actually occurred in the block now home to the Concert Hall, but the remaining portion of Elgin Avenue continues to play an important role in the interpretative history of the District.


The jury was composed of a union activist, urban designer, artist, historian, and writer:

  • Jordon Van Sewell has been working as an artist for over 30 years and an active community member. Known for his ceramic work, his art pieces are also along Waterfront Drive in Stephen Juba Park. He served 6 years as Chair of the Works of Art Committee at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He is also past Executive Director at the Manitoba Crafts Council. He is currently President of Heritage Winnipeg.
  • Paul Moist is the former National President of CUPE, vice-president of the Canadian Labour Congress and a governor of the Labour College of Canada. He has previously held numerous positions including Treasurer of the United Way of Winnipeg, vice-chair of the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation, and co-chair of the Premier's Economic Advisory Council (Manitoba).
  • Esyllt Jones is Professor of History at the University of Manitoba. She is the author of Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg and Imagining Winnipeg: History Through the Photographs of L.B. Foote. She teaches the social history of Canada, and is a specialist in the history of epidemic disease and the history of socialized medicine.
  • Susan Algie is the Director of the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation and 2015 winner of the Advocate for Architecture award. She previously worked for Parks Canada as a heritage resource planner. Ms Algie has written and edited several books on Winnipeg Architecture, curated the Architecture + Design Film Festival, along with several architectural exhibitions.
  • Alyssa Schwann is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Architecture, Environmental Design, at the University of Manitoba. Her professional experience includes practice as a landscape architect and urban designer in Canada, the UK, and the Netherlands with projects in North America, Europe, and North and South Africa. Her current practice, Atelier Anonymous, focuses on the intersection between design, heritage conservation, and environmental activism. Atelier Anonymous recently formed the Global Landscape Foundation, a society which works with non-profit organizations to provide targeted expertise and funding for 'at-risk' urban landscapes such as historic public gardens, parks, and urban areas within developing regions, areas which suffer from lack of resources, and where the need for advocacy is identified.


Click on the image to enlarge for a closer look:


Winner: Monteyne Architecture Works

Monteyne Architecture Works was selected by the jury as the winner of the design competition to commemorate the labour movement that resulted in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.

According to Monteyne Architecture Works, the monument, made primarily from weather steel represents: “the archetypal struggle for a fair deal that gripped the city almost 100 years ago mirrored the class between classes and the various opposition that existing then and continue to dominate our political and social discourse to this day. The goal is to create a unique and memorable civic space where all members of the community are welcome.

This project supports the City’s East Exchange Heritage Interpretative Strategy, a plan that recognizes the historical importance of this area, and tries to acknowledge commemoration of important historical events beyond the typical bronze plaque. It will also be an important stop on Exchange District BIZ historical tours.


Click on the image to enlarge for a closer look:

Last update: October 31, 2017