From The Desk of a gadfly By Fred Morris


To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of St. James (starting just west of St. James Street to Sturgeon Road) breaking away from Assiniboia to form their own municipality, I am doing street profiles. This column features Whytewold Road.


Whytewold residents are first listed in the 1911 Henderson Directory. They were Edwin Coombe, a carpenter; William Hadath, a CN boilermaker; and Claude Anderson, a chief inspector for Manitoba Telephones. The east-west cross streets heading north from Portage were Willamette (now Lodge), Louise (now Bruce), Ness, Silver, Barry, Peter, Clair, and Murray. Obviously, pre-airport days.

The Corner of Portage and Whytewold

In the middle 1950s the Vernon, the Rae, the Whytewold and the Sandra Blocks were constructed near the corner of Whytewold and Portage. Don Johns was a resident of the Rae. Johns, a stay-at-home hockey defenseman, played 137 regular season and playoff games for the Winnipeg Warriors of the Western League. Don would go on to play 153 NHL games. One of these games was the first regular season game for the Minnesota North Stars. In that game, Bill Masteron scored the first regular season goal for the Minnesota North Stars. 

Alex and Lenora Dobbie lived in the Whytewold Apartments. Alex was a massage therapist.

The Sandra Apartments faced Whytewold Road with an angled park in front. Doctors Howard and Sheena Guest, obstetricians, were original residents of the Sandra Block (source 1956 Winnipeg Henderson Directory). The Guests practiced medicine in St. James for three decades. Another original resident, Ruby Hymers, became the long-time caretaker of the Sandra Block. 

Many businesses were located at the northwest corner of Portage and Whytewold. They included Whytewold Drugs, Whytewold Department Store, Blossom Florists, Lawrence Heppenstall Law Office, Metro Drugs with a post office, St. James IGA, and the Bank of Montreal. 

On Friday December 4, 1992, a late morning gas smell led to the evacuation of 183 homes, several apartment blocks, and the neighbourhood businesses. Around noon, an explosion leveled the northwest corner of Whytewold and Portage. The explosion happened two days before the 75th Anniversary of the deadly Halifax explosion. Dan Lett’s Winnipeg Free Press front page report December 5, 1992, stated that “It was a miracle that nobody was killed.” 

Orest Hairstyling (Orest Shydlowsky) and Cleopatra’s House of Beauty (owner Jana Wenzel) were able to relocate. However, Granny’s Kitchen, an iconic bakery, which was first listed in the 1958 Henderson Directory, was destroyed, and never returned. John Heinrich’s bakery was a community meeting place. Many different products – cinnamon buns, soup, gingerbread cookies, sugar donuts – are fondly remembered

Between Portage and Ness

In 1959, a new City of St. James Fire Hall opened at 320 Whytewold Road. Clarence Keith (1881 to 1964) was a County Court Judge. Harold Minaker established Rusti Krete of Canada, a brick manufacturing company. Bert Stapleton operated an excavating business. In several elections, Bronwen Yewdell served as an Elections Manitoba District Returning Officer for various St. James constituencies.

Irene Peggie was the first female Human Resources manager for Powell Equipment. Freeman Skaptason was the president of the Betelstadur Housing Cooperative when Betelstadur at 1061 Sargent Avenue was built in 1987. A picture and plaque hang on the wall in the lobby of Betelstadur remembering Freeman’s work. (1)

Eric and Olga Shea were married for 66 years. Sharon, Sandra, and Susan, the newly born triplets of Jack and Irene Peggie, are pictured on Page 3 of the June 14, 1963, Winnipeg Free Press. In 1966 their mother Irene was a founder and president of a Manitoba Club for the parents of twins and triplets. Jack and Irene were married for 60 years.

Ness to Silver

Diane Beresford, an English Teacher tirelessly fought for improvements in our education system. Diane held executive positions with the Manitoba Teachers Society. Diane was the president in 1997/1998. 

Craig Johnson worked at the Career Development Institute for 25 years. Craig is currently the career service manager. Between 2010 and 2022, Craig served as a St. James Assiniboia School Trustee. 

The CFB Winnipeg Curling Club was located on Whytewold Road. In 1985, the Club was badly damaged by fire. It was home to two provincial championship teams. The 1980 Manitoba Men’s Championship team of Earle Morris Clare DeBlonde, Gary Deblonde and Winston Warren won. In 1982 Mary Ling, Marg Hamilton, Gert Gray, and Irene Feasey won the Manitoba Senior Women Championship.

In 2005, the northern end of Whytewold off Saskatchewan was renamed Wihuri after Antti Wihuri the Finnish businessman who owns Winpak. I will include more about Wihuri Road and 17 Wing in another story in the next couple of months 

Update on the Arlington Street Bridge 

Days of No Decision: 57 Days as of January 18

The Arlington Street Bridge was discussed at the January 9, 2024, meeting of the Public Works Committee. The Committee proposed a 60-day layover to wait for a report on extending the life of the bridge. On January 16, 2024, EPC agreed to the 60-day extension. REALLY! 

On June 20, 2019, City Council approved a report that clearly stated that the bridge was near the end of its life span and major repairs were no longer possible. I quote from the 2019 report: “However, when maintenance is no longer viable the bridge will be permanently closed.”

The only choices that remain are a brand new bridge on the same site (my preference), rail yard relocation, or telling the North End that nothing will be done. The time has come to approach all 16 members of the Current City Council to find out what they think about this city-wide issue. I will dedicate my next column to their responses and non-responses.

@ 2024 Pegasus Publications Inc.