To preserve and promote the community spirit of Transcona, through sharing our history and stories for the benefit of all.
History of Transcona Museum - Origins
The Transcona Museum, a registered not-for-profit charity, was established in 1967 as Transcona’s Centennial Project for the 100th anniversary of Confederation of Canada. Following a motion made at a City of Transcona Council Meeting on 10 April 1967 by Alderman Paul Martin (former Mayor for the Town of Transcona), the Council approved the creation of a Museum “in Principle” a week later on April 17th. Following a meeting between Mayor Harry Fuller and the Transcona Public Library to discuss potential arrangements for the location of the museum, space was allocated in the basement of the library. The Transcona City Council contributed $3,000 for renovations to the library basement and a grant of $200 to help the museum in other areas.
Shortly after the Museum’s official creation, a group of interested citizens headed by Mr. Paul Martin formed a separate Museum Board to oversee its operations. The museum collection was started by a civilian committee which went door to door requesting donations. The museum officially opened to the public on October 16, 1968. During the first years, the Transcona Museum Board Members operated the museum, collected artifacts and set up exhibits. Additional volunteers served as museum attendants and supervised the displays three evenings per week.
The museum in the Roland Michener Arena
In 1970, the expansion of library services, together with the growth of the museum necessitated the need for relocation to a larger area. After considerable study, the Transcona City Council decided that space would be made available in the Roland Michener Arena at 1131 Wabasha Street by redesigning a portion of the basement area in the complex which was then still under construction. The Museum closed its doors in the library in October of 1970 and with the help of volunteer labour, the Museum was packed and moved to the arena location by November 1971. The museum was re-opened to the public in the second location in March of 1972. Displays were set up to coincide with the “christening” of the new facility, by the Governor-General of the time, Roland Michener.
Bank of Toronto & Transcona Municipal Office Building
In 1979 the Museum once again began to look for a new home since the arena hoped to use the museum space for gymnasium purposes. In August it was suggested that the Museum be relocated to either 401 Pandora Avenue West or the former Civic Offices at 141 Regent Avenue West. At the same time, the old Transcona Municipal Office which was built in 1925 by the former Bank of Toronto, was added to the Historic Buildings Inventory and designated a Class III Historic Building by the City of Winnipeg. As such, it was the first, and one of only two buildings to date, in Transcona to receive a historical designation. In June 1980 the former Municipal Office at Regent and Bond was officially assigned as the new home of the Transcona Museum.
The Museum's second major move took place on November 5th and 6th, 1981. Once again, volunteers played a heavy roll in the movement and unpacking of the collection. A limited number of displays were opened to the public in May of 1982, with the official re-opening ceremony taking place in June of 1983.
The heart of Transcona's vibrant history and culture.
History of Transcona
The name "Transcona" was chosen to commemorate the railway to which the town owes its existence. It is claimed that the name "Transcona" was chosen from thousands of contest entries and was a combination of "Transcontinental" and "Strathcona".
"Transcontinental" - either for the CPR Transcontinental trains that passed through the area or for the National Transcontinental Railway who constructed the shops in cooperation with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway
"Strathcona" for Donald Alexander Smith, also known as Lord Strathcona. He headed one of the groups responsible for constructing the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1885, Lord Strathcona drove the last spike into the CPR railway.
In 1907 or 1908, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway purchased 800 acres of land located 8 miles east of Winnipeg from John Henry Kern for the construction of the railway repair shops and the future town-site.
Establishment of the Townsite
In 1906 or 1907, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway surveyed an area in the Suthwyn district for the future site of the western repair shop and the town of Transcona.
Early Municipal Development
The prospect of steady employment brought hundreds of men to the area beginning in 1909. The area was quickly covered with the tents of construction gangs and hurriedly constructed shacks. Some permanent homes were built by the railwaymen who came from Rivers, Melville, and other railway points. For those intent on making Transcona their home, men brought their families only after they were established.
In 1910, the Transcona post office opened and the town population was reported at 1,600 people. There were two boarding houses, a bakery, butcher shop, a bank, two churches (Methodist and Presbyterian), and a two-room school in the Saunders Block. The first three-storey house was built in 1910 by Joseph Maranda who owned a lumberyard. For many years, Mr. Maranda operated the jitney service (a car transportation service that ran prior to bus lines) between Transcona and Winnipeg.
Town of Transcona
The Town of Transcona was officially incorporated by Charter on 12 April 1912.
The first Transcona election was held on Monday, 20 May 1912. Two polling booths were situated across the town, one in the North end at a new store on the corner of Regent and Oxford (currently Day Street) and the other in the South (in South Transcona) in the barber shop opposite the Springfield Hotel. Six town councillors were elected as follows: Peter Watt, J.W.Gunn, C.Fieldhouse, Alex Campbell, Ovide Brodeur, and Matt Hall.
On 18 January 1913, the Transcona Shops were officially opened. Central School constructed between 1912-1913 was officially opened 8 September 1913. The Ukrainian Catholic Church was also constructed in 1913.
On 10 February 1911, the Transcona Board of Trade was inaugurated.
Transcona's first Mayor, Mr. C.J.E. Maxwell, was the only candidate running for the position of Town Mayor. He was declared elected by acclamation on 13 May 1912.
1912 saw the construction of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, the opening of the Transcona Municipal Offices and Fire Hall on November 12, and the installation of the first electric lights and power.
The town continued to invest in building miles of wooden sidewalks. In 1914, the sewage system was installed. The Transcona Cemetery was surveyed in August and approved by the council on 7 October 1914. By the end of the first year, 22 burials had been made in the new cemetery.
Between 1914 and 1918, over 400 men from Transcona enlisted in service to King and Country. Between 1915 and 1918 the Transcona Shell Company and Eley Cartridge Company engaged in the manufacture of munitions.
During the Depression of the 1930s, the community faced chronic unemployment, railways layoffs, and many economic hardships. To provide employment to able-bodied men, Regent Avenue was paved as a "relief" project. The new cement highway was paved from Transcona to Winnipeg at a cost of $135,000.
According to the 27 October 1955 issue of the Transcona News, new signs placed at Dugald and King Street, Regent and Hwy 59 (Panet Road), and Dugald and Superior (close to the Cemetery) celebrated Transcona's population as "8,000 happy people."
The slogan "The Park City" was officially adopted through a motion passed by Mayor Harry Fuller and Alderman C.J. Perry, Paul E. Martin, William Dzyndra, and M. Sharpe on 3 October 1966. The motion stated, “that the words ‘Park City’ would be included on all letterhead”. A few months later, as part of a campaign to further promote Transcona’s park-like image, the Transcona Post Office provided the City administration with a postage tape bearing the official slogan "The Park City".
Today, Transcona is a large urban community in the City of Winnipeg with a population of approximately 40,000 people.
The town experienced severe economic hardship during the 1920s and went bankrupt in 1921. The Mayor and Council were required to resign. The Province administered the Town of Transcona until 1927 when a Town Council was elected.
From 1939-1945, the townspeople pulled together to support the nation at war. Over 800 men and women from Transcona served in uniform. Others worked at the Cordite Plant, on the armoured train, or helped with the Transcona War Efforts Committee.
Growth to a City
The population continued to grow so that by 1961, Transcona had 13,000 citizens and was granted its City Charter. Transcona celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1961.
The City of Transcona existed until 1 January 1972 when it was amalgamated with the City of Winnipeg along with 11 other communities.