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Chapter 12: The Southern Cities

12.12: The City of Brandon


This large-scale image reveals more detail of the city than figure 12.11. The Assiniboine River 1 meanders through the north end of the city with some dark-toned woodland remaining close to the banks 2. Just visible are indications of an old course of the river 3—locally termed “the Snye”—that was blocked off as a flood control measure in 1925.[i] Wood harvested in the Riding Mountain area was floated down the Birdtail Creek and the Little Saskatchewan River to the Assiniboine River and on to Brandon where it was assembled in the Snye before processing.[ii] Other indications of former channels can be seen north of the present channel 4, and meander scrolls 5, indicating the former positions of meanders, can be seen in several locations. A weir 6 on the river maintains the water level upstream to ensure a reasonably constant level at the city’s water treatment plant, just off the photo to the west.

The two railway lines—Canadian Pacific to the north 7 and Canadian National further south 8—are clearly visible. The CP line has several sidings 9, particularly in the sorting yards to the east 10 where railcars 11 and a round house 12[iii] are visible. Several commercial buildings—one of which is the CP station 13—are strung out along the south side of the line 14. The CN line cuts through the southern part of the city at an angle 15 to the checkerboard pattern of the streets. Several sidings can be seen in the centre 16 and east 17 with railcars in both locations 18. In the west buildings housing light industries and commercial establishments 19 fringe the north side of the line. Sidings run into an area of industrial buildings in the east 20 in the city’s industrial park 21. Here the line disrupts the grid pattern of streets with two northwest/southeast trending streets, north and south of the line 22.

Two bridges 23, both of which carry highways running south from the Trans-Canada Highway that bypasses the city, cross the Assiniboine. The eastern bridge carries highway 1A that is twinned as it passes east of an Assiniboine meander 24. Before construction of the Trans-Canada bypass, it carried traffic through Brandon, south and then west along Victoria Avenue 25. PTH 10 (Eighteenth Street in Brandon) follows a section line one mile further west 26; this highway continues south to the U.S. border.

The blunt T-shape of Brandon’s downtown area shows up as a light tone 27 because of the absence of trees, in contrast to the well-treed residential areas to east 28 and west 29. The bar of the T runs east/west along Pacific Avenue 30, next to the CP line, Rosser Avenue 31, Brandon’s main downtown shopping street, and Princess Avenue 32.[iv] The stem runs north/south along Ninth 33 and Tenth 34 Streets. The large very light-toned area between Rosser and Princess 35 is a downtown shopping mall.[v]

Just west of Eighteenth Street (PTH 10) is the campus of Brandon University 36, and south of it the Kinsmen Memorial Stadium 37. Further south on the east side of the road is the Keystone Centre 38, a complex of buildings with an arena 39, the home of the Brandon Wheat Kings hockey team. The Keystone Centre houses both the summer and winter provincial fairs. Further south on the west side of the highway is Brandon Shoppers Mall 40, a cluster of stores that draws customers from all over southwestern Manitoba as well as southeastern Saskatchewan. A very large parking lot 41 is only just big enough to house all the customers at peak periods. Across from the Shoppers Mall is a cluster of buildings including Canadian Tire, fast food outlets, and a garage 42.

Other items of the city’s infrastructure are the Sportsplex 43 on the north hill with a nearby running/skating oval 44; the correctional institute (jail) 45; the stockyards and a meat processing plant 46 which is now closed; two high schools 47, each with nearby playing fields; and a well-treed cemetery 48.

A small, relatively new residential area 49 with some bays 50 is located north of the Assiniboine. Between the river and the CP line is the only “ethnic” area in the city with many people of Ukrainian and Polish descent 51. Residences were once more widespread in this area, but the northern part has been abandoned because of the flood risk. The streets and avenues of central Brandon 52 are lined by single-family and two-family dwellings, although some large buildings have been divided into apartments. Bays and crescents are seen in newer residential areas in the southeast 53, south 54, and southwest 55. In the extreme southwest is a high-density townhouse development around courtyards 56, with similar high-density townhouses in the extreme east 57. Mobile home parks can be seen on both sides of PTH 10 in the south 58.

In recent years Brandon has attempted to set aside the banks of the Assiniboine for various forms of recreation; a park can be seen on both sides of the Eighteenth Street bridge 59, and a complex of soccer fields is now located on cleared land northeast of First Street Bridge 60. Two relatively straight stretches of the Assiniboine have been used for water skiing events, the Western Canada Water Ski Championship in 1982 61 and the Canada Games in 1997 62. Hiking and cross-country ski trails run the whole length of the river’s course in the city.

Figure 12.12: The City of Brandon

Figure 12.12: The City of Brandon

Figure 12.12

Vertical air photograph: A25397-242 and 244

Flight height: 9,700 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.034 mm

Scale 1:16,000 (approx.)

Date: June 9, 1980

Location: Township 10; Range 19 WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon 

                    1:50,000 62G/13 Brandon

                    1:25,000 62G/13d Brandon


[i] For details of the Assiniboine in Brandon see Welsted, J. “Brandon and the Assiniboine River” in Brandon: Geographical Perspectives on the Wheat City eds. J. Welsted, J. Everitt and C. Stadel. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 1988, 9-35.

[ii] Welsted, J., Everitt, J., and Stadel, C. 1988, plate 2.1.

[iii] See Figure 8.42, note 13.

[iv] In Brandon east/west roads are avenues, whereas north/south roads are streets.

[v] For details of the downtown mall see Everitt, J. C. and Ramsey, R. D. “Reviving central Brandon in the early twenty first century” Canadian Geographer, Canadian Urban Landscape Examples 23, vol. 46, no. 3, fall 2002, 266-274.