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PYRAMIDS ON THE PRAIRIES

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BANKER'S ROW
We are here right now in front of one of my favourite buildings at the corner of Portage and Main. This is Winnipeg's financial centre now and at the tun of the century. This is where all the funding came from that helped build the city and its various industries and warehouses into a level of prosperity that was unequalled in Canada. Growing cities attract financial firms to help finance expansion: real estate developers, banks, insurance companies, manufacturing, merchants, hostelries and a host of business activities. At one time twenty-seven different branches operated in Winnipeg and Main St., their preferred location was known as Banker's Row.

Today seven banks remain as witness to this exuberant period in Winnipeg's growth. Banks were the kind of client that architects killed for in Winnipeg's fabulous decade of bank construction between 1905 and 1916. Often bearing strong resemblance to Greek and Roman temples Bank architecture featured columns, capitals, pediments, and lavish interiors finished in the best marble the world had to offer. Everything was first class. Inside, the banking hall made a second and equally impressive statement. Some halls felt like the interiors of cathedrals, so sacred is the space. So valued is its function in the community. Palaces of Commerce, the banks have left Winnipeg's Exchange District a legacy few cities can match.


MILLIONAIRES
But while politicians of today must make difficult choices about which buildings to save and which to demolish, those that built Winnipeg at the turn of the century felt that the world was their oyster. And their individual successes rivalled that of men in much larger cities. With only one third the population of Toronto in 1919, Winnipeg boasted that it had 19 millionaires to Toronto's 21. They ran the Legislature, city hall, education, medicine, the Board of Trade. The leaders were in the vanguard of all civic improvements schools hospitals, parks libraries, water supply, transit, electricity, phones, music, and theatre.

Winnipeg's public works mirrored the optimism shown by its private citizens. Seeing great promise in Winnipeg's future, civic leaders dreamed and executed great public works. A major hydro electric facility was being established on the Winnipeg River 120 kilometres north. A water supply system that would last for centuries and The James Ave Pumping Station a high pressure pumping station for fire fighting were built in 1907.

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Agriculture : Business | Faces | Farmers | Food | Landscapes | Livestock
Business | Entertainment | Festivals | Gardens | Health
Manitoba : Birds Hill Park | Lake Moods | Lakes & Beaches | Landscapes | Lower Fort Garry
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People | Quebec City | Regina | Sports
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The Forks | Historic | Main Street | Neighbourhoods | Old Winnipeg | Portage Avenue
Portage & Main | Skylines | Winnipeg Lifestyle
Winter
World : Africa | Asia | Europe | Latin America
Documentaries : Assiniboine Park | Paradise Beaches | Portage & Main | Pyramids | Winnipeg In Bloom
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