By: Cheryl Girard
One of the things I love about Winnipeg is that many of its streets honour people and places from our city’s rich past.
Some are beautifully named for lakes, rivers or trees while others are a mystery. But those that pay homage to people from our past tell a kind of wonderful story of our city; a legacy, if you will, set in stone.
The communities of Riverbend and Rivergrove in Old Kildonan are fairly new although Old Kildonan itself is one of the oldest communities in Winnipeg, formed in 1812 with the arrival of the Selkirk Settlers.
Some streets here, thankfully, preserve some of the area’s history, some are named for more recent folk and some with names like Glencairn Road or Donan Street conjure images of Scotland, home to many of the original settlers.
John Black Avenue remembers the Scottish-born minister who came to Red River in 1851 and helped establish the landmark Kildonan Presbyterian Church.
McBeth Street is named for early Scottish settlers who farmed in the area. Their son, Robert Jr., built the McBeth House in 1913, which still stands today.
Main Street itself was once but a trail and not a surveyed street according to Mary Hislop who wrote The Streets of Winnipeg in 1912. Main was once called The Red River Trail and also the King’s Road.
According to the Manitoba Historical Society, Murray Avenue remembers Selkirk Settler Donald Murray. Murray hosted the first classes of Manitoba College in his home near where Kildonan Presbyterian Church stands today.
Frog Plain Way remembers the surrounding area of about 300 acres that once encompassed the original Red River Settlement. A tiny park here includes a monument to Frog Plain, with two plaques explaining how the unusual name came about.
Vince Leah Drive fittingly remembers the West Kildonan sportswriter and historian who wrote for the Winnipeg Tribune and later the Free Press. Many of his books and columns were devoted to the Kildonan area.
Saul Miller Drive is named for NDP MLA Saul Miller, who also was a former alderman and mayor of West Kildonan.
Ben Hewak Bay may be named for Benjamin Hewak, a former chief justice and former West Kildonan alderman. And William Whiteway Bay may be named for a William Murray Whiteway who was very active in the community of Old Kildonan. But I’m not sure about either of these last two streets.
If anyone can shed some light on either of those — or any other streets in the area — please email and let me know. I would love to learn more.
Published in The Times/ Winnipeg Free Press Feb. 27, 2017