From the desk of a gadfly
This story will feature the residential part of Bradford Street and Nightingale Road. Why would I combine two streets at opposite ends of St. James? The Answer is BRIDGE POLITICS.
1960s St. James bridge politics. Final score: St. James 1, Metro 1
As we entered the 1960s, Winnipeg was governed by 14 separate municipal governments. In 1961, Metro Council was created and so began an 11-year run as another level of Government.
Metro was supposed to assume some responsibilities and coordinate others for the suburban municipal governments. However, the relationship between the suburban governments and Metro often resulted in very bitter political theatre. This bitterness was evident in the dispute between Metro and the City of St. James over where to build bridges over the Assiniboine River.
In December 1960, St. James approved the construction of a bowling alley to force the second span of the St. James Bridge farther east into the old City of Winnipeg (the boundary then was just west of St. James Street). Metro wanted the bridge right next to the then existing St. James Bridge, built in 1936. After Metro won this battle, the residential part of Bradford Street ceased to exist. In the 1970s, the business part of Bradford immediately north of Ness was renamed Century. Bradford currently exists as a business only street between Sargent Avenue and Saskatchewan Avenue.
Farther west, the early months of 1963 featured Round 2 of the bridge disputes between St. James and Metro. Metro proposed using vacant land between Thompson Drive and Harcourt Street for an inner beltway which would have a bridge at the end of Thompson Drive and serve as a link to Charleswood. By April 12, 1963, opposition from area residents and the St. James Council convinced Metro to back down.
On October 5, 1963, a notice in the Winnipeg Tribune stated that the City of St. James was taking the necessary legal steps to allow the development of this land. Nightingale Road was born. A February 23, 1967 Winnipeg Free Press Story summarized: “Metro originally planned the inner perimeter through the heart of St. James between Harcourt Street and Thompson drive where there was a wide expanse of open land, but St. James had different ideas and developed Nightingale Road.”
In 1995, shortly after the debate over building a bridge into Charleswood at the end Moray Street celebrated its Golden (50th) Anniversary, the long-promised Moray Street Bridge was finally built.
Enough of Bridge Politics. Let us look at some of the history of the residential street we lost and the one we gained.
Remembering the 56 years of residential part of Bradford Street 1907-1963
Bradford Street is first mentioned in the 1907 Henderson Directory. Harry Gardner, Joseph Race, Lars Larson, P.W. Convery, and John Clarke were listed as carpenters. Amille Porter was a painter. I was unable to verify the occupations of Richard Lyde, George Hearndin, and S. Hanechakosel.
In 1928, Alex Sutherland lived and operated the People Ice at 201 Bradford. People Ice donated the Silver Cup to the West End Hockey Loop. In 1928, this Cup was won by the Sturgeon Creek Black Hawks.
In 1948, Ruby Tumber was the Queen of the Border Community Club. Margaret Sanderson won the top prize a bicycle in the girl’s section of the 1955 Winnipeg White Cross Paper Rag Drive. Margaret collected 558 pounds of rags.
In 1951, William and Mabel Whitlock celebrated their 50th Anniversary.
The 1963 Henderson Directory listed Bradford Street homes for the final time. There were only two houses listed. Fred Sr., Maryanne, and son Fred Jr. Tumber were listed as the residents of 233 Bradford Street. Fred Sr., a veteran of both World Wars, worked for 20 years as a Commissionaire.
William and Kathleen Hampton were listed at 353 Bradford. In 1964, William retired from the City’s Parks Board.
Nightingale Road 1965 to …
In the 1965 Henderson Directory, Norman and Olive Chapman were the first Nightingale Road residents listed. Both Chapmans were involved with transportation. Norman was a mechanic for Air Canada and Pearl was a clerk at Motor Coach.
In 1969, Pearl McGonigal became the first woman elected to St. James Assiniboia Council. On October 6, 1971, Winnipeggers went to the polls in the first Unicity Election to elect a Mayor and the 50 councillors to replace Metro and 12 separate municipalities. It seems a little bit ironic that two of the 50 elected Councilors, Pearl McGonigal and Eldon Ross were residents of Nightingale Road when the street had recently been created despite Metro. In 1981, Pearl McGonigal became Manitoba’s first female Lieutenant Governor. Pearl was awarded both the Order of Manitoba and the Order of Canada. The street in front of the Grace Hospital is named after her.
Eldon Ross served three terms as a hard-working, down to earth councillor for East St. James and Brooklands. An indoor swimming pool on Pacific Avenue is named after Eldon.
Joseph Marek, a lawyer, had an impressive and varied resume. Joseph was the President of the Canadian Polish Congress, a Board Member of the Holy Spirit Credit Union, and civilian aide to Lieutenant Governor John McKeag. In 1977, Joseph received the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Medal.
Douglas Bridge was the first principal of John Taylor Collegiate (1964-1981). Other stops during his education career included Gordon Bell, Linwood, St. James Collegiate, Westwood Collegiate, and Silver Heights Collegiate.
Bertha Bridge hosted the annual John Taylor Teachers Barbecue. Bertha and John were married for 61 years.
Greg Woodbury had several careers. Greg worked for 27 years with the RCMP, 11 years in the Security Department of Safeway, and seven years with the Manitoba’s Attorney Generals Department.
In 1969, Kim McGonigal and Jayne Steeves were part of a 10-member team who won a YMCA Dance Competition in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Also in 1969, Len and Gerry Benger displayed snow sculptures of deer that appeared to be real. In 1972, the Bengers had a mountain sheep sculptured on their lawn. It is time to bring back snow sculpturing competitions to St. James.
On June 19, 1972, Dorothy Steeves held a unique reunion featuring eight pure bred collies and their canine parents. We conclude this story by nominating these 10 collies to the St. James Pet Hall of Fame.
Fred Morris is a Grandfather, Sports Fan and Political Activist.