Tuesday, December 28, 2010

65 Ellen Street - Firehall No.1

Fire Hall No. One
Place: Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Station No. 1
Address: 65 Ellen Street (Map)
Architects: John Whitecross, Fred Trimble (City of Winnipeg)
Cost: $350,000
Opened: November 24, 1965

Fire Hall No. One
In October 1963 Winnipeg ratepayers voted in favour of a $790,000 debenture to acquire land and build a new central fire hall. It would be the city's fifth "Fire Hall No. One". The site chosen was between Ellen and Dagmar Streets north of Notre Dame Avenue.

ca. 1925 - with Ashdown's behind it ? (source)

There were numerous reasons for the move. The existing Number One at Albert and King opened in 1899, the days of horse and buggy fire engines. It was overcrowded with equipment and had was built to hold just 20 men. It was difficult to navigate through modern traffic to get to downtown fires and was in a poor state of repair. Former fire chief Dunett commented that the Albert Street fire hall was "... the most depressing place I've ever been in". (WFP, January 15, 1965)

Sketch of new hall, Winnipeg Free Press, Jan. 15, 1965

Once the necessary expropriation and demolition work was completed, tenders were let for the new, single storey building with basement. Aside from the eight garage bays, the 16,000 square-foot main floor would hold 120 men and included a dormatory, officers' room, recreation facility and separated dining rooms and storage areas.

The tender was awarded in February 1965 and by August 6, 1965 construction was half complete and the cornerstone was laid. On November 24 1965 the new Fire Hall No. One opened.

There wasn't a debate as to what to do with the old hall. It was immediately torn down for future development, perhaps a centennial park.

While council debated on what to do with it, complaints from residents and neighbouring businesses of the unsightliness of the vacant lot promted the city to spend $11,000 to install curbing and sod for a temporary park.

Site of former Fire Hall No. One (source)

That temporary park remained and by the late 1970s would become known as Old Market Square.

Related:Winnipeg Fire Paramedic ServiceWinnipeg Fire Museum


  1. Interesting post. This must have been one of the last buildings to go up with the pre-Unicity coat of arms in it. (Or one of the last buildings to go up in Winnipeg with a coat of arms on it, period!)

    It's a pity that the old fire hall couldn't have been preserved, but those were the times, I suppose...

  2. That is the Travellers Building in the background of the photo captioned “ca. 1925.”