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Portage Avenue:
Dreams of Castles
in the Sky


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Page 3

NAR: At the western end of the business district sits the Bay retail store. It's a majestic limestone building

GERRY LOEB, BAY WINNIPEG STORE
The Bay is the world's longest continuing company and it was incorporated May 2 1670 as the company of adventurers trading into Hudson Bay. This particular store was opened in Nov 1926. The store opened at 9: 00 am by one of the directors of the company. Mr Galt opened the door with a golden key and, during the day, 50,000 customers visited the store

The Bay viewed Portage Ave. as very important because it was like a portal to downtown Winnipeg. Looking at the store exterior you are struck by the architectural highlights, the Tyndal stone, the very fact that this building was built with an attention to detail. The people that had this building built wanted it to be a signature building. It was built to be 10 stories, it stopped at 6 stories.

This building is 675,000 sq. ft. incorporating seven retail levels including the basement. The building offers something for everybody starting with the basement our newly expanded food market. To just a gorgeous cosmetics department on the main floor. The second floor is home to the men's assortment. Third floor of course anchors the mirror room full of fashion. The fourth floor has housewares, linen and china. Also on the 6th floor is the very historical paddle wheel queen restaurant. I am sure that just anyone familiar with Winnipeg has been in the paddle wheel at some time. Where there is the actual paddle wheel ship with the wheel that turns and the different murals of prairie life. The paddlewheel restaurant's got a lot of memories in it especially fond memories are in the 60s; when it was a meeting place for teen agers the music scene was there. It's rumoured that Burton Cummings would visit the paddlewheel quite often.

Something very interesting that happened once was during one of our Bay day sales and they were always famous for our clock specials that we had in the food market. We had clock special limited time limited quantity sale frozen turkeys. Well it turned out that they were down to the last turkey and 2 women both had their hands on it and were fighting over a frozen turkey. One woman took the turkey hit the other woman over the head with the turkey and knocked her unconscious. She's the one that kept the turkey.

BOYD BUILDING
NAR: Castles in the sky are certainly what Portage Avenue's first builders had in mind. And there is no better example than William Boyd's landmark building.

MURRAY PETERSEN, ARCHITECTURAL HISTORIAN
One of my favourite buildings along Portage Ave. is the Boyd building. Boyd made his money on confectionery. In 1912 a national company bought him out; he used that capital to build the Boyd building.

Mr Boyd decided that Portage Ave. was the place to be and in fact he was right. By that time Portage Ave. was really developing as the central main thoroughfare of Winnipeg. He contracted JD Atchison who was one of Winnipeg's most famous architects who had been trained in Chicago. The Boyd building in its design and its construction was a very important statement. Of course Winnipeg was trying to do everything that Chicago was doing. They were trying to mimic Chicago's development and its success. The economy was booming just prior to WW1 there was lots of capital, it was really a golden age for construction in Winnipeg and certainly Portage Ave.

When you walk down the street even today its one of the most magnificent Portage Ave. buildings, the difference in colour the white of the cream terracotta vs. the dark green of the interior terra cotta. It's just a spectacular building and then when you get up closer and you see the ornamentation and the detailing in the terra cotta; it's just a magnificent building.

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