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& MAIN: CELEBRATION SQUARE
NAR: At the East End of Portage Ave is the best-known intersection
in Canada. The intersection of Portage & Main. The centre
of Winnipeg's financial district. It's the pulse of the city.
It's where every head office wants to be. It's a corner steeped
in history, and controversy. It was so congested with traffic,
especially pedestrian traffic, that 30 years ago they banned
pedestrian crossings, forcing people underground,
Whenever Winnipeg has something
to celebrate it happens at Portage&Main. Peace day in
1919, The signing of Bobby Hull to the Jets, Or the Blue Bomber's
win of the Grey Cup, The party happens at Portage and Main.
MEL MICHENER, ARCHITECT
The victory celebrations after WW2. Going down Portage Ave
was a spectacular joyous event. The king and queens visit
to Winnipeg in 1939. Portage Ave. was the lifeblood of the
city of Winnipeg.
LOSS OF EATON'S
NAR: Of all the buildings that have been lost on Portage Ave,
the most wrenching loss was that of Eaton's. The store that
had done $100m in business annually was bankrupt.
DOUG CLARK, DOWNTOWN WINNIPEG
So the last day when the store was open and the cameras were
all there, the last general manager was getting ready to shut
the doors and say good buy to everyone. And the sales had
gone on for many months, we knew that we were putting another
nail in the coffin of downtown.
DEBRA JOHNASON YOUNG
It was surprise bigger than anything I could have imagined;
and it was clearly one of the saddest days of my life.
When people found out that Eaton's would be demolished there
were a number of people were really angry. I think they wanted
to retain the old Eaton's as they remembered it almost at
People were really emotional. Either they were in one camp
or the other. Eaton's is a landmark issue in that we said:
do we move forward or do we allow Portage Ave. to sit there
and wait for something to happen. And I think in Winnipeg
the politicians said we can't afford to just sit there and
wait. We have to do something now.
Stay with us. In the next part we look at what is being done
to breathe new life into Portage Avenue. And we see how the
corner of Portage and Main has been transformed over the years.
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