Location: The Forks (Map)
Constructed: 1890 (as museum 1994)
Project Cost: $10m
Circa 1980s SourceThe Manitoba Children's Museum building has had a long and varied life.
It was constructed in 1889 - 1890 as a mechanical shop for the upstart Northern Pacific and Manitoba Railway.
The NP & Man was a partnership between the the Government of Manitoba under Premier Greenway and the American company Northern Pacific Railway. The purpose was to get around the CPR's painfully slow expansion of their branch lines within the province. NP & Man's main line ran from Winnipeg to St. Paul, Minnesota (68 miles of track) with branch lines from Brandon / Morris (185 miles) and Portage la Prairie (55 miles).
The railway's depot and signature building was the Manitoba Hotel, situated where the Federal Building is now at Main and Water. It was destroyed by fire on February 9, 1899.
The building remained a repair facility until the railway was swallowed up by Canadian National. From then it served a number of functions including an immigration hall and soup kitchen and eventually was renovated into CN offices.
When CN vacated their East Yards in the early 1980s the "Bridges and Structures" building was included in the plans for The Forks National Historic site. Though it would sit vacant for a number of years.
It was in 1993 that the Manitoba Children’s Museum, operating in the Exchange since 1986, began a $4 m fund raising drive to take over the building. They opened at the new site on June 1, 1994.
In September 2010 the museum temporarily closed to allow for a $10m refurbishment and expansion. Aside from all new attractions the museum is building the Buhler Welcome Centre, thanks to an $800,000 gift from John and Bonnie Buhler. The centre will act as the new admissions and visitor services area.
The museum will reopen on June 4, 2011 which is also its 25th anniversary. For an inside peek at the renos check out the museum's video page or interactive map.
The Northern Pacific and Manitoba Burrows and Masters
Manitoba Children's Museum Winnipeg Building Index
Provincial Heritage Site No. 88 Manitoba Heritage
The NP and Man. Railway Engine Shop MHS
Manitoba Children's Museum History Museum website
Museum gets big boost from Buhlers Free Press
UPDATE: June 2011
Children’s Museum Reopens to the Public