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Chapter 12: The Southern Cities


All except one of Manitoba’s cities (Flin Flon) are located in the south. They range enormously in size from the newest, Winkler (9,106 in 2006) to Winnipeg, the capital city that has a greater population (633,451 in 2006) than all the others combined. Cities vary in form and function. Winkler, Selkirk, Portage la Prairie, Brandon and Winnipeg can be regarded as railway cities in that significant elements of their layout are railway determined. Also Selkirk, Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie and Brandon are river cities owing their existence in part to their location on the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Steinbach is unusual in that it is not on a railway line. Its original layout was determined by a small northwest flowing stream (Steibach Creek); the result is similar to the pattern in Dauphin. In all cases development has spread beyond the original core with residential bays and crescents and some industrial areas near the fringes. The long lots based on its three rivers—the Red, Assiniboine, and Seine--profoundly influence Winnipeg’s road pattern. Numerous railway lines (past and present) are also influential in the layout of the capital.

12.1: Winkler

The City of Winkler[i] is located in the northern part of the west Mennonite reserve and is now an important regional centre in south central Manitoba. Unlike towns in western Manitoba, it has been increasing steadily in population since the early 1970s (3,009 in 1971; 7,241 in 1996; 7,943 in 2001 and 9,106 in 2006).

It is another example of a gridiron town plan oriented to the railroad—the Canadian Pacific that runs east/west through town 1. The plan also harmonizes with the section lines of the DLS. Early in its history when a town plan based on a central square was suggested, “the Pembina Branch of the CPR threatened to move the town site rather than have business and houses moved from their assigned locations opposite the railways”[ii] Now the downtown area has a definite T-shape (which shows a light tone on the photo 2) with commercial activity located along two roads north and south of the railway line, Railway Avenue North and Railway Avenue South 3 and along a major street at right angles, Main Street 4. Most of the well-treed older residential areas 5 have a street plan based on the grid, but newer developments in the southwest, south, and northwest 6 have bays and crescents.

Winkler is now a centre of light industry in Manitoba. Industrial/commercial areas are located in the southeast 7 serviced by a spur line from the railway 8, in the east along the railway line 9, and in a central area north of the railway line 10.

The town straddles the township line between townships 2 and 3, the first correction line of the DLS. This area is only about 20 miles (32 km) west of the principal meridian so the correction is small—about 550 feet (168 m) 11. Nevertheless it is responsible for the jog 12 in the north/south trending highway 32 13. The main east/west highway—divided in the west 14—is PTH 14 that bypasses Winkler to the north.

Some of the usual items of infrastructure can be identified: an arena 15, a major recreational area 16, a school 17 with a running track 18, a golf course 19, and a large shopping mall 20.

The town is located in a rich agriculture region based on the fertile—but formerly poorly drained—soils of the Lake Agassiz Plain. Indefinite strandlines can be seen in the southwest 21. Sections are divided into narrow north/south 22 and east/west 23 fields, often with field shelterbelts to protect against wind erosion 24. In the east 25 and southeast 26 the long narrow objects are straw stacks. Straw is processed locally into hardboard.

Figure 12.1: Winkler

Figure 12.1: Winkler

Figure 12.1

Vertical air photograph: MB95027-143

Flight height:  lens focal length:

Scale: 1:20,400 (approx.)

Date: 1995

Location: Township 2 and 3; Range 4 WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/4 Altona


[i] Winkler was given city status on April 2, 2002.

[ii] Warkentin, J. and Ruggles R. I. Historical Atlas of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Manitoba Historical Society, 1970, 360.


12.2: Northwest Winkler in 2000

This large-scale colour photo obtained in 2000 allows for identification of changes since 1995 (figure 12.1) and for picking out some details not possible with the smaller scale panchromatic image. Changes that can be detected are:

1)     There is increased residential development in the northwest 1.

2)     Two new baseball diamonds have been added to the recreational complex in the west 2.

3)     A small running track has disappeared from the central area 3.

Items that can be seen more clearly on this image than on figure 12.1 are:

1)     There is a viewing stand west of the running track in the north 4.

2)     A large building southwest of the track has the curved roofing style of an arena 5, and a long narrow building north of it could be a curling rink 6.

3)     An area of mobile homes can be seen in the centre 7.

4)     It is difficult to differentiate between churches and schools on the basis of air photo interpretation alone; buildings that may be schools 8; and those that maybe churches 9.

Figure 12.2: Northwest Winkler in 2000

Figure 12.2: Northwest Winkler in 2000

Figure 12.2

Vertical colour air photo by Prairie Agri Photo

Flight height:  lens focal length:

Scale: 1:9,300 (approx.)

Date: 2006

Location: Township 3; Range 4 WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/4 Altona

12.3: The Location of Dauphin



Dauphin, with a population of 7,906 (2006), is the smallest, and at 51º 09' N, the northernmost of the southern cities. It is perhaps best known as the location of the Ukrainian festival that in August of each year draws people from all over North America for celebration of the area’s Ukrainian heritage. The main events now take place at a purpose-built stadium south of the city on the lower flanks of Riding Mountain. The French name seems out of place in a Ukrainian area. However, it was originally applied to a fort founded on the shores of Dauphin Lake (just east of the present city) in 1741 by La Vérendrye.[i] By 1896 there were two settlements in the Dauphin area—Gartmore and Old Dauphin—neither of which exists today. “In 1897 the railway arrived and the tracks were located midway between the two communities. Recognizing the importance of a location on the railway, members of both communities relocated to the new site, physically moving their buildings and businesses. With the coming of the railway, the population in the area grew very quickly.”[ii]

The city is located between Riding Mountain to the south and Duck Mountain to the north on flat land developed on Lake Agassiz sediments. The land is excellent for agriculture, and Dauphin grew principally as a centre for the surrounding agricultural region. It is now also an important regional centre not only for agriculture and culture but also for federal and provincial government functions.

The three photographs included here (figure 12.3, 12.4 and 12.5) show the usefulness of differences of scale and date of photography. In figure 12.3 the city can be seen at the eastern edge of the photo in an area of good agricultural land developed on Lake Agassiz sediments. Several prominent northwest/southeast trending strandlines can be seen west and southwest of the city 1. Vermillion River 2 that flows through the northwestern part of Dauphin drains from Riding Mountain (off the photo to the south) and eventually into Dauphin Lake (off the photo to the east). Edwards Creek 3,a channelized stream, also flows from Riding Mountain to Dauphin Lake, and in the northeast is a small, unnamed intermittent stream 4.[iii]

PTHs 5A and 10A 5 enter Dauphin from the south, pass through the city 6, then exit to the west 7 (they now bypass the city to the west). Also PR 362 exits Dauphin to the north 8. The other major routeway is the CN railway line 9 that runs diagonally through Dauphin from southeast to northwest before branching into two lines in the northwest 10.

Dauphin shows the conflicting influences of the railway route and the DLS system on the settlement pattern. In section 10, township 25, range 19WI 11 in which the older part of the city is located, roads are parallel, and at right angles, to the railway line which is at roughly 45 degrees to the section lines of the DLS system. This area was settled during the late 19th century and early 20th century.[iv] The light-toned commercial area of Dauphin is X-shaped 12 rather than the more usual T-shape.

Outside section 10 on all sides of the city, the road pattern is in harmony with the DLS system 13. To the northwest the railway line separates a commercial industrial area to the northeast 14 from a residential area to the southwest 15, and a commercial strip runs south from the city along PTHs 5A and 10A 16.

Other features to note on this photo are:

1)     the city’s airport is located 2 miles to the south 17; it has the characteristic triangular shape with one longer north-northwest/south-southeast trending runway 18.

2)     a very faint light-toned line seen in the centre 19 and in the west 20 is the route of a buried gas pipeline. Another broken faint line 21 trending east/west is the route followed by a power line. It has a branch leading off to the northwest, best seen where it cuts across dark-toned woodland 22.

3)     There is a racetrack in the southeast corner of section 10 23.

Figure 12.3: The Location of Dauphin

Figure 12.3: The Location of Dauphin

Figure 12.3

Vertical air photograph: A24741-71

Flight height: 26,700 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.456 mm

Scale: 1:51,900 (approx.)

Date: July 12, 1977

Location: Townships 24 and 25; Ranges 19 and 20W1

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62N Duck Mountains

                    1:50,000 62N/1 Dauphin


[i] Holm, G. F. ed.Geographical Names of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Manitoba Conservation, 2000, 59.

[ii] Sikora, H. “Dauphin: A Prairie Service Centre” in The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People. Winnipeg: The University of Winnipeg Press, 1999, 164.

[iii] For details about Edwards Creek see McGinn, R. A. and Towle, J. E. “Flood Control, Erosion and Sedimentation Problems Along Edwards Creek” in The Dauphin Papers: Research by Prairie Geographers. eds. J. Welsted and J. Everitt, Brandon: Brandon University, Department of Geography, Brandon Geographical Studies No. 1, 1991, 31-36.

[iv] For details see Selwood H. J. and Richtik J. M. “Dauphin: Emergence of the Urban Cadaster to 1908” in Welsted J. and Everitt J. op. cit. 1991, 69-78.

12.4: Dauphin

The large scale of this photograph makes it possible to identify far more detail than on figure 12.3. Outside the city are flat agricultural fields developed on Lake Agassiz sediments which have weathered into Black Chernozem soils.[i] In fallow fields the soils are uniformly dark-toned 1, but cropped fields are lighter-toned 2. The meandering Vermilion River 3 with one abandoned loop 4 can be seen in the northwest.

The CN railway line 5 cuts through section 10 with several sidings 6 on which railcars can be identified 7. Many sidings in a splayed arrangement 8 with the remnants of a round house 9 can be seen in the northwest corner of section 10. The X-shaped commercial area in section 10, township 25, range 19WI 10 is lighter in tone because the photo looks down on large flat-topped buildings with little green space between them in contrast to surrounding residential areas 11 that have smaller buildings with green space between them. Several items of the city’s infrastructure are seen in section 10, including three schools 12 with open space around them as well as a large recreational complex 13 in the southeast. The latter includes a racetrack 14, baseball diamonds 15, and two large buildings 16.

Outside section 10 settlement is relatively new, [ii] and in the main road directions harmonize with the DLS system 17, although one curved street can be seen along the abandoned loop of the Vermillion River 18. In the east is an area with single-family dwellings that have approaching driveways 19. Three additional schools 20 can be seen in these areas outside section 10.

Figure 12.4: Dauphin

Figure 12.4:  Dauphin

Figure 12.4

Vertical air photograph: A20898-4

Flight height: ; lens focal length: 152.52 mm

Scale: 1:16,000 (approx.)

Date: October 30, 1968

Location: Township 25; Range 19W1

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62N Duck Mountain

                    1:50,000 62N/1 Dauphin




[i] Scott, G. A. J. “Manitoba’s Ecoclimate Regions” in Welsted, Everitt and Stadel op. cit. figure 4.3, 46.

[ii] Selwood, H. J. and Richtik J. M. op. cit. figure 1, 71.

12.5: Detail of South Dauphin

Despite the relatively small increase in scale of this photo compared to figure 12.4 (1:12,000 compared with 1:16,000), much more detail can be observed here.

1)     On the agricultural land south of the city cropping patterns 1 and cultivation lines 2 can be seen. In one location two small white specks indicate a tractor pulling a cultivator 3; the northern part of the field—dark-toned—has been cultivated 4 whereas the south 5 has still to be done.

2)     On the CN line 6 two grain elevators 7 are identified on the basis of their shadow; many railcars 8 can be seen on sidings.

3)     Individual items of the recreation complex in the southeast corner of section 10 are more clearly identified: the racetrack 9 with small baseball diamonds 10 inside it; four other small baseball diamonds 11 and one larger one 12 with a running track beside it 13; and three large buildings, one of which is an arena 14. The buildings in the extreme southeast of section 10 15 seem unrelated to the recreational arena and did not exist when the photo in figure 12.4 was taken.

4)     There are four schools 16: one has a hockey rink beside it 17; and one in the east, probably the regional secondary school, consists of several large buildings 18 and a large parking lot 19.

5)     Of the two churches, one is on the main street 20, having the typical dome (identified by its shadow) of Ukrainian churches, whereas another on the southern edge of town 21 has a more modern structure and a large parking lot 22.

6)     The large buildings 23 with a large parking lot 24 close to Vermilion River is the hospital complex.

7)     In a typical location near the edge of “town” are two mobile home parks 25.

8)     A commercial spur projects southward along PTHs 5A and 10A and includes a shopping mall 26 with parking lot 27 and at least two motels 28.

9)     A cemetery with pathways between gravestones is located west of PTHs 5A and 10A 29.

Figure 12.5: Detail of South Dauphin

Figure 12.5: Detail of South Dauphin

Figure 12.5

Vertical air photograph: MB92001-51

Flight height:    lens focal length: 152.031 mm

Scale: 1:12,000 (approx.)

Date: June, 1992

Location: Township 25; Range 19WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62N Duck Mountain

                    1:50,000 62N/1 Dauphin


12.6: Steinbach



The cultural heritage of the City of Steinbach is very different from that of Dauphin (figures 12.3, 12.4, 12.5). It was established in 1878 by Mennonite families in the Eastern Mennonite Reserve and has grown to a thriving regional service centre. “In addition to its agricultural based services such as feed mills, milk and cheese processing plants, poultry plant, etc., it has developed a thriving automobile sales industry, which competes strongly with that in Winnipeg.”[i] It grew steadily in population to around 5,000 in 1972 to 8,478 in 1996, 9,227 in 2001, and 11,066 in 2006 making it the largest Mennonite settlement in Manitoba. It is home to the Mennonite Museum and the Mennonite Bible College. It is located near the southeastern edge of the Lake Agassiz Plain with good agricultural soils around it giving rise to its agricultural processing industries.

The area shown on the photo lies across the boundary between townships 6 and 7, a correction line. Since the area is east of the Principal Meridian (in range 6E) the jog of about 400 feet (122 m) is to the east rather than west as in most cases discussed previously.

Like Dauphin the main part of Steinbach lies in a single section—section 35, township 6, range 6E outlined on the photo. Also, part of this section has northwest/southeast and northeast/southwest trending roads, with other parts having roads that harmonize with the DLS system. However, the reason for this is quite different from in Dauphin. Here there is no railway line: in fact Steinbach is the only major settlement in Manitoba that is not on a railway line. The reason for the road orientation in the centre of section 35 is that “the Mennonites who came to southern Manitoba after 1874 to occupy lands reserved for them, established the agglomerated farm-operator village types of settlement that they had known in South Russia. Twenty farmers lived in the village of Steinbach, tilled strips in the various parts of the village lands and shared in the community pasture. Only the outside boundaries of the village lands and the size of the total unit (each of the twenty farmers had a 160 acre homestead to contribute to a common pool) were determined by the section survey and the government land policy.[ii] Some of the tilled strips of land were oriented at right angles to Steinbach Creek 1 that flowed from southeast to northwest through section 35. Although the strips are no longer tilled, the orientation is preserved with present-day roads running parallel and at right angles to the original strip. Steinbach Creek has been channelized, but its route can be seen because it is not straight like the roads round about it. North of section 35 it is hard to trace but can be seen in section 3, township 7, range 6E 2. The road pattern on the fringes of section 35 is in harmony with the DLS system, as is the case in surrounding sections except for a small remnant of strip system in section 34, township 6, range 6E 3.

PTH 12 4 crosses this area from south to north with an eastward jog 5 at the correction line, north of which it becomes a divided highway 6. PTH 210 7 enters from the southeast and becomes the main street through the city 8. It exits to the west as a divided highway 9. The principal commercial area 10 is developed along the main street, identified as a light-toned area because of the absence of vegetation and the presence of large buildings 11. To the northeast 12 and southwest 13 are dark-toned residential areas with a running track 14 and a nearby school 15 in the extreme southwest of section 35.

Various items of the city’s infrastructure can be seen in surrounding sections:

1)     to the north, in 2/7/6E, are several large buildings 16 along PTH 12, probably related to the city’s automobile sales industry. Further north is a recreational area with baseball diamonds 17 and a golf course 18 which extends into the next section north.

2)     to the northwest, in 3/7/6E, are more large buildings 19, possibly shopping centres and an area of mobile homes west of highway 12 20; west of the mobile homes is a dark-toned circular area 21, a shape that is often associated with irrigation.

3)     to the west, in 34/6/6E, are some large buildings 22 south of PTH 52 with a residential area further south 23 with farmland to the west 24.

4)     to the southwest, in 27/6/6E, is a small residential area 25 with single-family homes and agricultural land to the west 26.

5)     to the south, in 26/6/6E, is a small residential area 27 with a school 28 and a church 29 in a typical location for some modern churches on a highway at the edge of town.

6)     to the southeast, in 25/6/6E, is a mobile home court 30.

7)     to the east, in 36/6/6E, are some large commercial buildings 31.

Figure 12.6: Steinbach

Figure 12.6: Steinbach


Figure 12.6

Vertical air photograph:

Flight height:    lens focal length:

Scale: 1:15,000 (approx.)

Date: 1994

Location: Townships 6 and 7, Range 6E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/10 Ste Anne



[i] Farley, A. L. Trans-Canada Field Excursion Guide Book. Vancouver: University of British Columbia 1972; although the comment was made in 1972, it holds true today.

[ii] Warkentin J. and Ruggles R. I. op. cit. 1970, 344. Figure 160 is a map of Mennonite Farm Village Field Patterns in Steinbach.

12.7: The Central Part of Steinbach in 2000

This colour air photo taken in 2000 is at only a slightly larger scale than the black and white photo in figure 12.6 taken in 1994. The light-coloured central business district 1 trends northwest/southeast and contrasts with the dark colours of the residential areas to the northeast 2, southeast 3, and southwest 4. The layout of this central area of the city has not changed significantly in the intervening years between figures 12.6 and 12.7, but some minor changes in detail can be seen:

1)     Another building 5 has been added to the industrial area in the southeast.

2)     Some added residential development can be seen in the northwest 6.

Even with the addition of colour, it is difficult to distinguish from air photo interpretation alone between schools and churches. Several buildings that could be one or the other can be seen 7. One feature that would indicate a school rather than a church is the existence nearby of a playing field 8, especially if this includes a running track 9. The large white-roofed building 10 in the centre of the city is probably a hockey arena, with the long narrow building near it being a curling rink 11. There is no obvious interpretation of the red-roofed building 12, although given its location it might be a civic centre. A large, multi-storied building 13 with much parking nearby may be a hospital.

Figure 12.7: The Central Part of Steinbach in 2000

Figure 12.7: The Central Part of Steinbach in 2000

Figure 12.7

Vertical colour air photo by Prairie Agri Photo

Flight height:   lens focal length:

Scale: 1:11,000 (approx.)

Date: 2000

Location: Township 6; Range 6 E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/10 Ste Anne

12.8: The Location of Selkirk—What Might Have Been

J. C. Hamilton’s “Map of the Province of Manitoba and part of the District of Keewatin and Northwest Territory” dated 1876 shows the Canadian Pacific Railway line to western Canada passing through the site of Selkirk and then northwest to cross Lake Manitoba at the Narrows. However, when it was built the line passed through Winnipeg that became the major city of Manitoba benefiting enormously from the east/west traffic through it, and Selkirk never became a large city. Its population in 2006 was 9,515 up from 9,227 in 2001.

This high-level, small-scale photo shows clearly the setting of Selkirk with some detail of the city itself. The city is located on the west bank of the Red River 1 “beside a deep sheltered inlet off the Red River 2. Called the “West Slough”, the inlet is where the Hudson’s Bay Company and lumber and fishing companies found safe winter harbour for their boats. Even today, excursion boats use the inland port for winter shelter. The museum at the foot of the slough 3 features large authentic shipping vessels, lake boats, a lighthouse and a host of artifacts.”[i] Cooks Creek flows parallel to the Red on the northeast 4.

The northward-flowing Red River is crossed at two locations. First, at Lockport 5 is the St. Andrews Locks and Dam 6 which carries PTH 44 7. “Built between 1907 and 1910 to help the river traffic between Lake Winnipeg and the City of Winnipeg, it [the Lockport Dam] is one of the last remaining dams of its kind—and the largest ever built. Featuring the French “camere curtain” design, it uses wooded curtains to control water levels. The hinged slats of Douglas Fir roll up and down as a blind does.”[ii] Secondly, a bridge is located east of Selkirk 8.

Land on either side of the Red River is subdivided using the long lot system with fields running back from the river. Fields are particularly visible in the south 9 and centre 10 where fallow fields show as very dark tones. Away from the river in the northwest and southeast the DLS system is used. The division between the two systems is obvious in the southeast 11 but not so clear in the northwest; its general location is indicated by a dashed line 12. Most of the land outside settlements is intensively farmed except for the wooded area of Birds Hill Provincial Park in the southeast 13.

Entering the Red River from the south is the Red River Floodway 14 built to prevent flooding of Winnipeg by carrying water around the city—most recently used in the spring of 2004. Building the floodway involved excavation of massive amounts of rock and overburden—more it is claimed than for the Panama Canal. The floodway disrupted route ways; shown here are two railway bridges 15 and 16 and one road bridge 17 that had to be built across it.

Route ways in the area—including three railway lines—follow the trend of the Red River. West of the Red River is the CP line 18 that splits in the north, with one branch leading into Selkirk 19 and the other 20 heading north to settlements along the west shore of Lake Winnipeg. East of the Red is a CN line 21 which leads to Pine Falls, and further back is a CP line 22 (now not in existence). Both these lines bend to cross the floodway at a high angle (23 and 24). Roads include PTH 9A 25 close to the west bank of the Red with PTH 9 26 further back. East of the river is PTH 59 27—the Great River Road—which leads to Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg. The only east/west roads are PTH 44 28 that runs east from Lockport and PTH 67 29 that runs west to Stonewall (off the photo).

The city of Selkirk in the north 30 has a road pattern determined by the long lot system; northwest/southeast trending roads 31 run along the edges of lots with cross roads 32 at right angles. “Main Street [33] is part of the Old River Road and presses its own individual way across the lots.”[iii] Selkirk is a steel town, the steel mill being visible as a dark-toned area south of town 34. It is also the location of one of two thermal power stations in Manitoba, the other being in Brandon. The dark-toned coal pile (the fuel used) is seen east of the Red 35 which is the water source for the station. The thermal stations at Brandon and Selkirk are used as backups in case of low water flow through the large hydro stations on the Winnipeg River and in northern Manitoba which provide the bulk of Manitoba’s electricity. Selkirk is also the head of navigation for Lake Winnipeg and during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was an important port. Fishing was important on the lake and the river, and Selkirk is “the Catfish capital of Canada” and home to “Chuck the 9 m Channel Cat.”[iv]

Other nucleated settlements in the area are Lockport 5 and St. Andrews 36. Lower Fort Garry Historic Site 37 is located west of the Red below Lockport. Linear settlement occurs along the highways on both sides of the Red (38 and 39).

Figure 12.8: The Location of Selkirk—What Might Have Been

Figure 12.8:  The Location of Selkirk—What Might Have Been

Figure 12.8

Vertical air photograph: A20663-9

Flight height: 19,230 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 88.85 mm

Scale: 1:61,000 (approx.)

Date: July 25, 1968

Location: Townships 12, 13 and 14; Ranges 4 and 5E

Mapsheets: 1:250,000 62I Selkirk

1,50,000 62I/2 Selkirk


[i] Lebrecht, S. Trans-Canada Trail Manitoba. Ottawa: Canadian Geographic. 2003, 268.

[ii] Lebrecht, S. op. cit. 2003, 266.

[iii] Warkentin, J. and Ruggles, R. I. op. cit. 1970, 366.

[iv] Lebrecht, S. op. cit. 2003, 270.

12.9: The Location of Portage la Prairie

Fort la Reine was a trading post established by La Verendrye in1738 in the general area of Portage la Prairie, although its exact location is not known. Later the Hudson’s Bay Company established a port on the Assiniboine River in 1832 about two miles from the centre of Portage la Prairie.[i] The present city of Portage la Prairie (12,728 in 2006))—Manitoba’s fourth largest city—is located on the north side of the Assiniboine River 1 between the river and Lake Manitoba a few miles to the north, an “easy” portage in fur trading days.

The eastward flowing Assiniboine 1 meanders across the southeastern corner with three abandoned channels north of it, the largest of which is Crescent Lake 2, an important recreational area for the city. South and east is George Lake 3 and a larger unnamed abandoned channel 4. The latter is recent in origin; George McPhillips’ 1874 “Survey of the Parish of Portage la Prairie” shows it as part of the main Assiniboine channel.[ii] Palaeochannels—previous river positions—of the Assiniboine can be seen both north and south of the present channel (5 and 6), the most obvious being Willowhead Channel in the northwest 7.[iii]

The Assiniboine has been dammed 8 resulting in a wider channel upstream and flooding of land on either side of the channel 9—a situation that caused some legal problems. Some of the water that is held back is diverted into the Portage Floodway 10 at times of high flow. This is part of a three-pronged flood control scheme—the Portage Floodway, the Red River Floodway and the Shellmouth Dam—designed principally to prevent flooding of Winnipeg. The 700 cms capacity Portage Floodway carries water into Lake Manitoba.

The whole of the area is located on the Lake Agassiz Plain on which have developed fertile agricultural soils. As a result most of the area is intensively farmed although there is a surprising amount of woodland 11—dark-toned—on either side of the Assiniboine in the south.

The area displays both the long lot system and the DLS system. The long lot system extends west along the Assiniboine from Winnipeg to Portage la Prairie. Lots extend back from the river and also radiate out from Crescent Lake. On the eastern part of the lake this resulted in lots oriented just east of north 12, whereas on the western part lots were oriented just west of north 13. These lines are followed by the present-day road system (14 and 15) with cross roads at right angles, that is, just off east/west (16 and 17).

“In 1874 a special order-in-council was passed, making it possible to survey wooded areas in the belts along the Assiniboine and Red rivers into 10 and 20 acre lots, to be assigned by lot to nearby homestead settlers who had no timber on their farms. The settlers did not receive permanent possession but only the authorization to remove timber over a five-year period. South of the Assiniboine the forested area was divided into 20-acre wood lots for this purpose. This appears to be the only place in Manitoba where this was done.”[iv] The only place where the influence of this system can be seen is south of the Assiniboine near the newly formed cutoff 18 where a series of north/south strips can be seen. The DLS system covers the area away from the river. Sections 19 and quarter sections 20 can be seen. However, given the intensity of farming in the area, quarter sections are often divided into many fields 21.

Portage la Prairie is a railway hub with a complex of lines and sidings 22 separating the northern part of the city from the south. The central business district 23, light-toned on the photo, is strung out along PTH 1A that runs almost east/west through the southern part of the city.

Approaching from the east are a CP line 24 and a CN line 25, with another linear feature 26 from the southeast that may be the route of an abandoned line. Fanning out to the west are no fewer than five lines anticlockwise they are: a CN line 27, a CP line 28, another CN line 29, another CP line 30, and an abandoned line 31.

Portage used to lie on the Trans-Canada Highway, but a bypass has been constructed to the south 32. PR 240 33 leads north to Delta Beach on Lake Manitoba. South of Portage is what used to be CFB Portage la Prairie. North of the runways 34 is accommodation for people living at the base 35. The base has closed as a military base and is now functioning as a training centre. Near the southern edge of the photo is a light-toned line 36, the location of a buried pipeline.

Figure 12.9: The Location of Portage la Prairie

Figure 12.9: The Location of Portage la Prairie

Figure 12.9

Vertical air photograph: A21666-34

Flight height: 24,200 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 85.61 mm

Scale: 1:83,000 (approx.)

Date: July 21, 1970

Location: Township 11 and 12; Ranges 6, 7, and 8WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon

                    1:50,000 62G/16 Portage la Prairie


[i] Holm, G. F. op. cit. 2000, 84.

[ii] Warkentin and Ruggles. op. cit. 1970, 263.

[iii] Rannie, W. F., Thorleifson, L. H. and Teller J. T. “Holocene Evolution of the Assiniboine River Palaeo Channels and Portage la Prairie Alluvial Fan” Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, vol.26, 1989, 1834-1841, figure 2.

[iv] Warkentin and Ruggles. op. cit., 1970, 262.


12.10: Portage la Prairie


This newer (1989), slightly larger-scale photo, allows the identification of more detail than figure 12.9.

1.     Meander scrolls can be seen along the bends of the Assiniboine River 1; in some cases the damming of the river 2 has flooded the lowland between scrolls.

2.     The three abandoned channels observed on figure 12.9 are seen here; a footbridge crosses Crescent Lake 3.

3.     A small amount of water, dark-toned, occupies the floor of the floodway 4; two drop structures (5 and 6) can be seen along the floodway, designed to concentrate the falling water—Lake Manitoba is at a lower elevation than the Assiniboine River—at specific controlled locations.

4.     The intensive farming in this area concentrates on high-value crops, particularly fruits and vegetables—Portage claims to be the strawberry capital of Canada. This emphasis results in small fields particularly close to the city (7 and 8), although the very small fields east of Crescent Lake 9 are part of a Department of Agriculture Experimental Farm. Also, the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie has the second highest irrigated acreage—after the Rural Municipality of North Cypress—in Manitoba.[i] Evidence of irrigation takes the form of circular-shaped fields 10 associated with centre pivot irrigation.

5.     PTH 1A passes through the city 11 that is bypassed by the twinned Trans-Canada Highway 12.

6.     This photograph extends slightly further south than figure 12.9, to include the boundary between townships 10 and 11 13, a correction line: the westward jog is about 1500 feet (457 m) 14 resulting in the bend on PR 240 15.

7.     The gas pipeline seen on figure 12.9 is even more obvious on this photo 16.

8.     West of the Assiniboine just north of the pipeline is a cluster of buildings 17 not seen on Figure 12.9; this is probably a newly established Hutterite colony.

9.     The planned layout of the city is clear. The eastern part has roads that trend a few degrees off north/south 18 and east/west 19, following the influence of lots running back from Crescent Lake. In the west is a small area where roads are a few degrees more away from north/south and east/west, with the “north/south” ones following lots radiating back from the lake 20. The direction of Highway 1A through the city is influenced by these trends; it bends slightly too soon 21, but a minor road continues to the “correct” changing point 22. As usual the central business district is light-toned 23 because of the absence of vegetation and presence of flat roofs. It stretches along Highway 1A extending less than a block back in either direction.

The railway zone 24 is a definite barrier between north 25 and south 26 Portage, with some industrial development on the north side of the lines 27. Older residential areas occur north of Crescent Lake 28 with newer areas south of the lake 29 and along the Trans-Canada Highway 30.

Other aspects of the city’s infrastructure that can be seen are: two large buildings, one to the northeast 31 and the other northwest 32; several large buildings on highway 1A west of the main city 33, one of which is a shopping mall 34; a recreational area within the loop of Crescent Lake including a golf course 35, a racetrack 36, and baseball diamonds 37; a sewage treatment plant on the south side of the bypass 38; and the city’s cemetery 39. Located just west of the dam is a small cluster of buildings 40—the Dakota Tipi First Nation. Southport airfield is located in the southeast 41.

Figure 12.10: Portage la Prairie

Figure 12.10: Portage la Prairie

Figure 12.10

Vertical air photograph: MB89021 6 182

Flight height: 30,800 feet a.s.l.: lens focal length: 152.860 mm

Scale: 1:59,900 (approx.)

Date: August 7, 1989

Location: Townships 10, 11, and 12; Ranges 6, 7, 8 WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon 

                    1:50,000 62G/16 Portage la Prairie


[i] Gaia Consulting. 2001 Manitoba Irrigation Survey. Portage la Prairie, Gaia Consulting, 2001, figure 2.

12.11: The Location of Brandon


Brandon, Manitoba’s second largest city (population of 41,511 in 2006), is located in the Assiniboine Valley in the western part of the province. The Assiniboine River 1 meanders across a glacial spillway floor that is steeper on the north side—the “North Hill”—than on the south. Without the aid of stereovision the North Hill is not obvious on this photo, but several wooded gullies 2 indicate its location. Historically the bulk of settlement was located on the gentle southern slope; only recently has settlement encroached on the north hill 3. The meandering Assiniboine has left behind several abandoned meanders 4 and river segments 5, one of which is named Lake Percy 6. Land north and south of the spillway is underlain by ground moraine that exhibits the characteristic light-toned hillcrests 7.

In contrast to the area around Portage la Prairie, the whole of this area is subdivided using the DLS system: sections are easily recognized north and south of the city 8; one in the southeast is misshapen 9, and major roads within the city run along section lines 10. The photograph covers parts of townships 9, 10, and 11; the boundary between 10 and 11 is a correction line, the correction here being about 4500 feet (1371 m) 11. Brandon is located in the centre of a large farming area with most of the land around it being cleared for agriculture. Sections are divided into quarter sections 12 and smaller-sized fields 13. The very small fields northwest of the city 14 are test plots at an experimental farm.

Brandon is a railway town, owing its origin to being a division point[i] on the CP line that runs through the north end of the city 15. The first settlement in the area was at Grand Valley 16 about two miles (3.2 km) east of the present central business district, and it was assumed that this would be the location of the division point. However, when local land owners asked more for their land than CP was willing to pay, Colonel Rosser, the engineer in charge, decided on a high, well-drained site south of the river, two miles to the west. This proved to be a wise decision because Grand Valley was flooded in 1881 and 1882. Also seen is the CN line that runs through the southern part of the city 17 at an angle to the general trend of the roads. Abandoned lines can be seen in the northeast 18 and west 19.

The Trans-Canada Highway 20, partly twinned, bypasses the city to the north and PTH 10 (Eighteenth Street in Brandon) 21 runs south/north through Brandon and then jogs east just over a mile (1.6 km) 22 before continuing north—eventually to Flin Flon. The curve in the road 23 results from the correction at the township10/11 boundary.

The city originated along Pacific Avenue that runs east/west parallel to the railway line. In classic prairie fashion the downtown area is a blunt T-shape 24 with businesses along east/west trending Pacific, Rosser, and Princess Avenues and north/south along 9th and 10th streets. In the older parts of the city treed residential streets run north/south and east/west in harmony with the DLS system 25. This pattern is broken in the west 26, south 27, and southeast 28 by crescents, bays, and, in one place, courts 29. The new developments on the North Hill 30 also follow a grid pattern, despite the opportunity for something more enterprising. The same is true of some new developments south of the city 31.

Industry in Brandon is concentrated in the southeast in the industrial park along the CN line 32. Further east is a fertilizer manufacturing plant—Koch Nitrogen Fertilizer Holding 33—and just south of the river is the second thermal electric power station in Manitoba, the other being in Selkirk. The dark-toned area 34 is a coal pile, the fuel used in the plant at the time; water for cooling is taken from the Assiniboine.

Other items peripheral to the city include a park with an outdoor swimming pool 35, a drive-in cinema 36 (now no longer in use), and a poultry farm 37.

Figure 12.11: The Location of Brandon

Figure 12.11: The Location of Brandon

Figure 12.11

Vertical air photograph: A25656-46

Flight height: 17,384 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 88.19 mm

Scale: 1:54,000 (approx.)

Date: April 19, 1981

Location: Townships 9, 10, and 11; Ranges 18W1 and 19W1

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon

                    1:50,000 62G/13 Brandon

                    1:25,000 62G/13d Brandon (this map was printed in 1968 with information correct to 1964)


[i] Division points were placed about every 125 miles (201 kilometres) along a line because that was about what a crew could cover in a day when the lines were built. Some, like Brandon, had superintendents, train dispatchers, major shops etc. Others, like Broadview, were much more modest “away from home” places where crews stayed over until a train could take them back to Brandon. Because of the railway employment, division points tended to grow because merchants knew that some of their customers had incomes in good times and in bad. (Chuck Bohi, May 2007).

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.

12.13: Downtown Brandon

The photograph, technically termed a low oblique because the horizon is not shown, was taken looking to the southeast across Brandon with the Industrial Park 1 in the background. The ethnic area of Assiniboine Gardens 2 with Saint Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church 3 can be seen in the foreground, north of the CP tracks 4. The Cargill grain elevators 5 in the foreground (no longer in existence) are located on the site of the old Great Northern Station. The former CP station 6, now up for sale, is located nearer the centre of the photo. A road bridge crosses the tracks at Eighth Street 7, but they still present a considerable barrier to north/south movement between First and Eighteenth Streets. The Central Business District is located south of the tracks; in this area parking lots 8 occupy almost as much space as buildings, some of the more prominent of which are Scotia Towers 9, an apartment block with businesses on the ground floor; McKenzie Seeds 10, an important local industry; and the white flat-roofed Brandon Gallery 11, the downtown mall. Further south are well-treed residential areas 12.

Figure 12.13: Downtown Brandon

Figure 12.13: Downtown Brandon

Figure 12.13

Oblique air photograph

Scale: Approximately 1:5,000 in foreground reducing to rear

Date: (about 1980)

Photo by Dirk Aberson

Location: Township 10; Range 19WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon

                    1:50,000 62G/13 Brandon

                    1:25,000 62G/13d Brandon

12.14: Brandon From the South


The photograph—a low oblique—was taken looking north along Eighteenth Street 1 (PTH 10) with the junction of Eighteenth Street and Richmond Avenue 2 in the middle of the photo and the CN line running east/west in the background 3.

East of Eighteenth Street from foreground to background are 1) the city’s well-treed cemetery 4 and a small Jewish cemetery located west of the highway 5[i]; 2) a cluster of commercial buildings including a Canadian Tire store 6 and a garage 7; and 3) the Keystone Centre 8 with a 4000 seat arena 9 and several other buildings surrounded by a large parking area 10.

West of Eighteenth is Brandon Shoppers Mall 11 which has increased in size since figure 12.12 was taken. The parking lot has expanded southwards 12. Extending northward to the railway line is a strip of commercial establishments: stores, restaurants, garages, and motels 13. West of the Shoppers Mall are several apartment blocks 14.

Light industrial and commercial buildings 15 fringe the CN line. The CP line can just be seen in the north 16, and between the two lines are older, well-treed residential areas 17 with Brandon University campus in the centre 18.

Figure 12.14: Brandon From the South

Figure 12.14: Brandon From the South

Figure 12.14

Oblique Photo

Scale: Approximately 1:4000 foreground decreasing to rear

Date: 1987

Photograph by John Everitt

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] Brandon has only a small number of Jewish people engaged mainly in education and business.

12.15: The Northern Part of Brandon

Shown on this photo is the Assiniboine Gardens area of Brandon located between the CP tracks 1 and the Assiniboine River 2, the only true ethnic area of Brandon. In the foreground is St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church 3 with the Ukrainian Reading Room to the left of it 4. In the middle is the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Ghost 5 with Polish Sokol Association’s Club and Hall to the south of it 6. The unwooded area in the middle ground 7 marks the former course of the Snye that used to enter the Assiniboine off the photo to the right 8. Close to the river are the Burns Meat Plant 9 that closed several years ago and the Manitoba Pool Livestock Market 10 that is still open. The North Hill is in the background 11; since the photo was taken box malls have been constructed on Eighteenth Street at the base of the hill 12.

Figure 12.15: The Northern Part of Brandon

Figure 12.15: The Northern Part of Brandon

Figure 12.15

Oblique photo

Scale: 1:5,000 (approx.) in foreground decreasing to rear

Date: 1987

Photo by John Welsted

Location: Township 10; Range 19WI

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon

                    1:50,000 62G13/13 Brandon

                    1:25,000 62G/13d Brandon 

12.16: The Location of Winnipeg

The line running across the southern edge 38 is a flaw in the imagery.

On this false-colour Landsat image of southern Manitoba, the colours have been manipulated so that areas reflecting large quantities of infrared radiation—mainly healthy vegetation—are imaged as light to dark blue 1. Winnipeg is located at the centre of the image 2 at the junction of the Red 3 and Assiniboine Rivers 4. The smaller Seine River 5, which enters the Red from the southeast, is also just visible.

The image was obtained in the spring (May 14, 1973) when the discharge of the rivers was high. Consequently, the Red in particular is easily picked out as is the Assiniboine upstream from the dam at Portage la Prairie 6. Crescent Lake in Portage la Prairie 7 is also visible. In the northeast the course of the Winnipeg River 8 is easily identified. Lakes Manitoba 9 and Winnipeg 10 appear in copper tones with sediment plumes 11 visible in both. Other lakes are North 12, East 13, and West 14 Shoal Lake in the Interlake region. Delta Marsh 15 at the south end of Lake Manitoba and the Red River delta 16 at the south end of Lake Winnipeg are clearly represented.

The darker-toned brownish areas surrounding the city (defined by the dashed line) are agricultural areas developed on Lake Agassiz clays and silty clays. This area extends south into the U.S.A. 17, west to Portage la Prairie 18, northwest along the west shore of Lake Winnipeg 19, northeast along the valley of the Brokenhead River 20, and east to the Canadian Shield in southeast Manitoba 21.

Woodland and wetland areas appear as light and dark-blue, particularly in the east where forest intermingles with swamps and bogs 22. Two isolated areas are the Mars Sand Hills 23 and Birds Hill Provincial Park 24. Much of the Interlake area 25 and Pembina Mountain 26 are pale blue indicating an abundance of natural vegetation.

Some cultural features—including several roads—are identifiable. The Trans-Canada Highway can be seen east 27 and west 28 of the city with the bypass 29 surrounding it. PTH 15 30 enters the city from the east and PTH 3 31 from the southwest. Bypassing Winnipeg to the east is the wide Red River Floodway 32, and the Portage Floodway 33 can be seen near the western edge. Along the Red River the influence of the long lot survey system can be detected 34, in contrast to the checkerboard pattern 35 of the DLS over most of the area. For some reason roads are particularly obvious in the Interlake area, with highway 229 west from Winnipeg Beach 36 and PTH 17 with two jogs 37 being most noticeable.

Figure 12.16: The Location of Winnipeg

Figure 12.16: The Location of Winnipeg

Figure 12.16

Landsat composite image; bands 5 (0.6-0.7 micrometres-green); 6 (0.7-0.8 micrometres-red, and 7 (0.8-1.1 micrometres-infrared)

Date: May 14, 1973

Scale: 1:1,000,000 (approx.)

12.17: North/South Transect Through Central Winnipeg

Winnipeg originated at what is now called “The Forks” at the junction of the north-flowing Red River 1 and east-flowing Assiniboine River 2. It was here that the Hudson’s Bay Company built Fort Garry that became the focus of the fur trade for western and northern Canada.

“However, until 1873, when Winnipeg was incorporated as a city, the settlement remained a relatively unimportant part of the larger Red River Colony, comprising the homes and farms of the Selkirk settlers [who arrived in 1812] in and around Point Douglas… and the buildings of Upper Fort Garry at The Forks.”[i] Winnipeg’s “other river,” the much smaller Seine 3, enters the Red from the south-southeast downstream from The Forks.

In contrast to Brandon’s simple gridiron road pattern, Winnipeg’s road system is complex, reflecting the influence of the rivers and property lines based on the long lot system. As far as possible lots were oriented at right angles to the river, but this has produced some complicated situations where different systems intersect. West of the Red River, roads following east/west lots based on that river cover an area extending from the northern edge of the photo to Notre Dame Avenue 4. These are at an angle to north/south trending roads 5 based on lots oriented to the Assiniboine. This same orientation is seen in the southwest corner of the photo 6 south of the Assiniboine. Elsewhere, south of the Assiniboine, the orientation is west-southwest/east-northeast based on the Red River 7. To complicate matters part of central Winnipeg (bounded by the dashed line) is laid out as a gridiron: Portage Avenue 8—the route of a trail in from the west—cuts across the grid, and Main Street, following a former trail north along the Red, fringes the grid 9 and then cuts across the lots based on the Red 10. “In 1835 the Council of Assiniboia declared the river trails to be two chains (132 feet [40.2 m] wide), and after Winnipeg was incorporated in December of 1873 the ambitious town fathers adopted that width for Portage Avenue and Main Street in anticipation of rapid and sustained growth for the city.”[ii] One result is the famous junction of Portage and Main 11—the “coldest corner in North America”. Notre Dame Avenue also runs close to this intersection producing wedge-shaped blocks in the centre of the city 12.

East of the Red are some triangular blocks 13 where two different lot orientations intersect. Further south another complication occurs where west-southwest/east-northeast trending lots 14 intersect east/west trending lots 15 in the area of Norwood Flats. Also near this area is a crescent-shaped alignment of roads followed in part by St. Mary’s Road 16 and in part by Enfield Crescent 17. This is the location of an oxbow of the Red.[iii]

The river bends obviously caused problems for a survey system based on lots at right angles to the river. At Point Douglas the problem was avoided by using a separate system with lots radiating out from a line running down the centre of the peninsula, now followed by Sutherland Avenue 18.[iv] Some of the peninsulas within river bends were not surveyed early on[v] but were later developed into prime residential areas, for example, Armstrong Point 19 on the north side of the Assiniboine, now a well-treed residential area.[vi] Similarly Kingston Crescent on the Red 20 that was not surveyed early on has become an attractive residential area.

Winnipeg owes much of its importance to the railways well shown here. The CPR arrived in 1881 bringing with it an era of real estate speculation. It was routed through Point Douglas 21 and on to marshalling yards, the eastern parts of which are shown on the photo 22. Two CP lines are shown approaching from the northeast 23 and east 24. “Later, in the period 1889-90, the Northern Pacific and Manitoba Railway (later part of the Canadian National Railway) arrived with the establishment of yard and shop facilities at the Forks with a station and grand hotel on South Main and Water”.[vii] On the photo two CN lines can be seen approaching from the east 25 and southeast 26 crossing the Red above Point Douglas 27 and leading to yards at the Forks 28, crossing the Assiniboine just above the Forks 29 and leading to the Fort Rouge yards further south 30. A round house 31 can be seen at the north end of these yards. A Heritage Park has replaced the yards at the Forks but the Union Station 32 remains. Also gone—at least as functional entities—are two railway bridges 33 across the Assiniboine.

The rivers and the survey systems influence the roads leading out from and into Winnipeg. Main Street 10—originally a trail along the Red—becomes PTH 9 34 leading to Selkirk. North of the Assiniboine, Portage Avenue 8, also following an old trail, leads west to become the Trans-Canada Highway leading to Portage la Prairie and Brandon. In the southwest Corydon 35 runs along Red River-oriented lots then bends 36 to run at right angles to the Assiniboine River-oriented lots. Grant Avenue 37 also follows the line of Red River-oriented lots. Running south from “downtown” is Osborne Street 38 with the Pembina Highway 39—which follows the course of the Red southwards—splitting from it. This results in a complex situation—known locally as “confusion corner”—where Corydon, Osborne and Pembina come together 40. Main Street South 41 crosses the Red on Norwood Bridge 42 to become St. Mary’s Road 16 that runs along the west side of the Red to the Perimeter Highway. In the north the Disraeli Freeway 43 crosses the Red on Disraeli Bridge 44 to become the Henderson Highway 45 and subsequently PTH 204 leading northeast.

Some individual features of note on the photo are the Saint Boniface Refinery 46, with the stockyards to the south 47; the Redwood Centre 48 with the Ukrainian Museum of Canada near the Redwood Bridge 49; and the Manitoba Legislature near Osborne north of the Assiniboine River 50.

Winnipeg is well-endowed with parks and golf courses, some of which are seen here: Wildwood Golf Club 51, with the grounds of the Winnipeg Canoe Club (now replaced by condos) opposite 52; St. Boniface Golf and Country Club 53; Seine River Parkway 54; Whittier Park 55; Chalmers Park 56; and Churchill Park 57.

A noticeable feature is the well-treed nature of Winnipeg’s old residential areas 58 especially in high value areas such as Armstrong Point 19 and Kingston Crescent 20. Many of the trees are/were elms, but many are dying or have died from Dutch Elm disease which reached the province in 1975.[viii] Two heavily wooded areas are Elmwood Cemetery 59 near the Disraeli Bridge and St. John’s Cemetery 60 below Redwood Bridge.

Figure 12.17: North/South Transect Through Central Winnipeg

Figure 12.17: North/South Transect Through Central Winnipeg

Figure 12.17

Vertical air photographs: A17982-2 and 4

Flight height: 12,545 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.98 mm

Scale: 1:25,000 (approx.)

Date: June 14, 1963

Location: Township’s 10 and 11; Ranges 2 and 3E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/14 Winnipeg



[i] Carter, T. “Winnipeg: Heartbeat of the Province” in The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People eds. J. Welsted, J. Everitt, and C. Stadel, Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba Press, 1996, 137.

[ii] Warkentin and Ruggles. op. cit., 382.

[iii] Warkentin and Ruggles. op. cit., figure 76, 190.

[iv] Warkentin and Ruggles. op. cit.,figure 197. 382.

[v] Warkentin and Ruggles op. cit., figure 75, 190.

[vi] For a detailed description of the area see Warkentin and Ruggles. op. cit. figure 196, 390.

[vii] Carter, op. cit., 1996, 138.

[viii] Scott, op. cit., 1996, 46.



12.18: Central Winnipeg

This large-scale photo shows more clearly several of the things shown on figure 12.17, although, of course, it covers a smaller area. The three rivers of Winnipeg and their influence on the layout of the city are obvious. The Red River 1, flowing from south to north, is crossed by seven bridges (5 road 2 and 2 rail 3) and is joined by the east-flowing Assiniboine River 4 that is also crossed by seven bridges (5 road 5 and two rail 6). The tone of the Red 7 is much lighter than that of the Assiniboine 8 probably because it is more heavily sediment-laden. The much smaller Seine River 9 is also dark-toned.

The influence of the long lot system is clear with lots running back from the Red west of the river (10 and 11). East of the river lots run back from the river at varying angles to accommodate the river bends (12, 13 and 14). East of the Seine River 15 lots seem to be based on that river. Point Douglas 16 was laid out as a special survey, as was the area across the Red to the south 17, although the influence is not obvious on the photo.[i]

The centre of Winnipeg (delimited by the dashed line) was laid out in a grid system superimposed on the long lot system, but Portage Avenue 18, an old trail along the Assiniboine, angles across the grid. Also Main Street 19, which follows one side of the grid, wanders north 20 roughly parallel to the Red and at angle to the long lots.

One result of the interplay of these systems is a complex series of intersections and triangular or wedge-shaped blocks where Portage Avenue, Ellice Avenue 21, Notre Dame Avenue 22, and Main Street come together. Another oddity superimposed on the long lot system east of the Red is Enfield Crescent 23 that follows the route of an oxbow of the Red.[ii]

Superimposed on the survey systems are railway lines and sidings: CP lines enter the photo from the south 24 and east 25 and cross the Red River at Point Douglas 26, leading to the CP yards 27. The railway line and yards, an important barrier to north/south movement, are crossed by two methods: underpasses and bridges. Vehicular traffic goes under the railway on Main Street 28 and at McPhillips, just off the photo to the west. Bridges have to be long to cross the yards; for example the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge 29 and the Arlington Bridge 30. CN lines enter the photo from the southeast 31 and east 32 and cross the Red to lead to yards at the Forks 33. Union Station is located on Main Street south 34.

The true downtown area is located in and close to the area laid out in grid fashion with important east/west streets: Ellice 21, Portage, 18 and Broadway 35. Memorial 36 borders the west with Main Street 19 marking the eastern border. The core area extends north along Main Street. In this “downtown area” some individual buildings can be identified: The Legislature 37, Convention Centre 38, Richardson Building 39, and University of Winnipeg 40.[iii]

Across the river from the Forks is St. Boniface with Provencher Bridge 41 leading to Provencher Street 42. In the outlined block 43 are St. Boniface Cathedral, St. Boniface College,[iv] and St. Boniface Museum, with St. Boniface Hospital to the south 44.

When the photo was held at arms length certain other features stand out: the complex of industry along the Seine 45, and wooded areas such as at Elmwood Cemetery 46, St. John’s Cemetery 47, and Armstrong Point 48. With more detailed scrutiny other features can be identified such as the Health Sciences Centre 49 and the Redwood Centre west of the Red 50.

Figure 12.18: Central Winnipeg

Figure 12.18: Central Winnipeg

Figure 12.18

Vertical air photograph: A27254-87

Flight height: 13,300 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.033 mm

Scale: 1:24,500 (approx.)

Date: April 14, 1988

Location: Township 10 and 11; Ranges 2 and 3E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/14 Winnipeg

                                   62H/15 Dugald


[i] The surveys for these areas are shown in Warkentin and Ruggles op. cit. figure 75, 190.

[ii] See Warkentin and Ruggles. op. cit., figure 76, 190.

[iii] The University of Winnipeg occupies a small area given its enrollment. It is the epitome of an urban university catering particularly to part time students.

[iv] College Universitaire de Saint-Boniface, where the language of instruction is French, is part of the University of Manitoba.

12.19: The Forks in 1988

This very large-scale photo shows the junction of the Red 1 and Assiniboine 2 rivers—The Forks—at an early stage of its conversion into a heritage park. In this spring photo, the dark plume of the Assiniboine River 3 can be seen advancing into the lighter-toned, sediment-laden water of the Red.

“The Forks Renewal Corporation (FRC) was established by the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments on 29 July 1987 to own and redevelop the river-front site and surrounding Canadian National East Yard area. The entire site consists of 83 acres (33.6 ha), although 18 acres (7.3 ha) are owned by the city and may be developed for commercial purposes, and Parks Canada had developed a 9-acre (3.65 ha) National Historic Park. The park covers most of the city’s prime riverbank area with major green space and hard-edged riverbank facilities—walkways, marina, quay and interpretive units.”[i] Some of the developments are underway on the photo (taken on April 24, 1988), a marina 4 just north of the junction of the two rivers and two quays 5. Across the Red is Taché Dock 6 that leads up to St. Boniface Cathedral just off the photo to the east.

At the time the photo was taken the Johnson Terminal 7 and four other railway buildings 8 remain. Some tracks remain in the yards 9 as does a bridge 10 across the Assiniboine. This is now a footbridge; when in use as a rail bridge it could be raised and lowered to take the rail line into the old Fort Rouge Railway Yards (#30 in figure 12.17). To the west are four tracks 11 running past Union Station 12 and merging to cross the Assiniboine on another bridge 13 to run south along the west side of the Red.

The wide Main Street 14 runs west of Union Station and is joined by Assiniboine Avenue 15 and Broadway 16, the southern edge of central Winnipeg’s grid system. Individual buildings can be identified in this area: Hotel Fort Garry 17, Fort Garry Place, an apartment block with the mandatory revolving restaurant at the top 18, and the Wawanesa Building 19 as well as other apartment blocks 20. Also identifiable are Fort Garry Gate 21, on the original location of Fort Garry, and Bonnycastle Park along the Assiniboine 22.

South of the Assiniboine is South Point Park 23, which is now First Nations property and is to be developed as an Aboriginal Theme Park, with buildings to the west including a school 24 and The Winnipeg Winter Club 25. The large building between the road and the railway line 26 is the old Fort Garry Curling Club, demolished several years ago.

Main Street runs on to the Bridge of the Old Forts 27 across the Assiniboine and then Norwood Bridge 28 across the Red, to continue as St. Mary’s Road 29 with Goulet Street 30 leading into it. North of Goulet Street is Dominion Shopping Centre 31 with St. Boniface Hospital to the north 32. As is often the case near large hospitals and shopping centres much land is taken up by parking lots; individual cars can be identified 33. The scale is large enough that cars can be distinguished from buses such as those leaving Norwood Bridge 34.

The Taché Promenade runs along the east bank of the Red 35 with steps leading up from Taché Dock 36, and Taché Avenue 37 parallels the Promenade in the north. East of the avenue is La Verendrye Park 38 with the grounds of St. Boniface Cathedral and Museum to the north 39.

Figure 12.19: The Forks in 1988

Figure 12.19: The Forks in 1988

Figure 12.19

Vertical air photograph: AS88013-43

Flight height: 3250 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.033 mm

Scale 1:5,500 (approx.)

Date: April 24, 1988

Location: Township 10 and 11; Range 3E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/14 Winnipeg


[i] Carter, T. “The Forks” in Welsted, Everitt, and Stadel. op. cit., 1996, 150.

12.20: The Forks ca 2004

This satellite image obtained from Google Earth in 2006 shows the Forks in a more advanced stage of development than that show in Figure 12.19, but it is not completely up to date.

As on the air photo the contrast in colour (tone in figure 12.19) between the sediment-laden Red 1 and the Assiniboine 2 is very obvious, but the latter 3 does not penetrate as far into the Red as in figure 12.19. The five buildings shown on figure 12.19 still exist and are used for a variety of purposes: The Forks Market (4 and 5); the Manitoba Children’s Museum 6; a T.V. studio 7; and the Johnston Terminal 8, a general purpose building. Two new buildings are the Manitoba Theatre for Young People 9 and the Scotiabank Stage 10. Not shown is a new hotel located just north of the Johnston Terminal in an area occupied by a car park 11.

The tracks east of Union Station 12 have been replaced by a large car park 13. To the north Provencher Bridge 14, on which vehicles can be seen, has been supplemented by Esplanade Riel Pedestrian Bridge 15, named in honour of Louis Riel the leader of the 1885 Metis Rebellion. The 5-metre wide and 250-metre long ‘people path’ provides a link between the Forks and Winnipeg’s French Quarter 16. The Forks National Historic Site Amphitheatre 17 is complete, as is the Forks Historic Port 18, but the latter is almost covered by water indicating high volumes in the Assiniboine River when the image was obtained. Another change from the 1988 photo (figure 12.19) is that the zone of railway tracks east of Union Station has been roofed over 19.

Outside the Forks other features that can be identified are the double-tracked Bridge of the Old Forts—there is only one track on figure 12.19 20 leading to Main Street 21; two railway bridges, one of which is still used by trains 22 while the other is used as a foot bridge 23; Broadway 24 with the Fort Garry Hotel 25 fronting on it; and east of the river, St. Boniface Hospital 26.

Figure 12.20: The Forks ca 2004

Figure 12.20: The Forks ca 2004

Figure 12.20

Google Earth, Digital Globe Image 2006

Scale: 1:9,000 (approx.)

Location: Township 10 and 11; Range 3E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62 H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62J/14 Winnipeg

12.21: Southern Winnipeg in 1948

This large-scale photo of southern Winnipeg shows very clearly the influence of the long lot system on land holdings and road pattern systems and also illustrates the usefulness of old photos. East of the Red 1 in the St. Vital area narrow fields run back from the river in a west-southwest/east-northeast direction 2. The same influence can be seen west of the river, but some amalgamation of lots has occurred resulting in greater distances between field boundaries and roads.

At the time the photo was taken the area was mainly residential with some small-scale farming. Numerous single-family dwellings are strung out along the roads, especially east of the Red 3. Parks and golf courses occupy a significant percentage of the land, for example, St. Vital Park 4 with a cemetery to the south 5, Dakota Park 6, River Road Park 7, Normand Park 8, and Southwood Golf and Country Club 9. The University of Manitoba campus is located at the neck of a large Red River meander 10 with small experimental plots to the west 11.

Two roads roughly parallel the Red River: in the west is Pembina Highway 12 that becomes PTH 75, and to the east is St. Mary’s Road 13 that becomes PR 200.

The photo is old and illustrates the usefulness of air photos in preserving historical information and detecting changes of land use. For example, much of the area east of the river is now filled in by roads (not following the long lot pattern) and houses. Also Bishop Grandin Boulevard 14 continues west to cross the Red on the Fort Garry Bridge (at 15 on the photo) and joins Pembina Highway just north of its intersection with University Crescent 16. From there it continues west to Kenaston Boulevard (off the photo). St. Vital Shopping Centre 17 is now located southeast of the junction of St. Mary’s Road and Bishop Grandin Boulevard, and University Stadium is located where the experimental plots 11 are located on this photo.

Figure 12.21: Southern Winnipeg in 1948

Figure 12.21: Southern Winnipeg in 1948

Figure 12.21

Vertical air photograph: A11667-98

Flight height: 8,740; lens focal length: 6 inches

Scale: 1:17,000 (approx.)

Date: August 18, 1948

Location: Township 9 and 10; Range 3E

Map sheets: 1:250,000 62H Winnipeg

                    1:50,000 62H/14 Winnipeg