Friday, February 2, 2018

448 Burnell Street - Orioles Community Club

Place: Orioles Community
Address: 448 Burnell Street
Opened: February 2, 1951

West End Orioles Athletic Club win Western Canada Juvenile Hockey Championship
April 16, 1945, Winnipeg Tribune

Orioles Community Club began its life as the West End Orioles Athletic Club, a private club founded in 1936 that specialized in hockey.

Its original home was further south on Burnell Street, next to the Canada Bread bakery, at a softball diamond known as Canada Bread Field. In the wintertime, Orioles would install a hockey rink or two and used an old box car as their club house.

In 1947, the land was sold to the Valour Road Legion to build a recreation centre and legion hall. When construction began in June 1948, Orioles found itself without a home but got a lifeline from the City of Winnipeg.

The city was in the midst of creating a city-wide network of "community clubs" to bolster the amount of recreational and other activities offered in neighbourhoods. Orioles was offered funding and a piece of city-owned land at Burnell and St. Matthews if they chose to sign on.

It was not an easy decision as it meant dissolving the private club and having to offer a much wider range of activities.

Mayor Coulter cuts the ribbon, Feb. 2, 1951

Eventually, they agreed and on September 21, 1950, a sod turning ceremony took place for the new clubhouse. Over the winter, additional work was done to the site and on February 2, 1951 Mayor Garnet Coulter cut the ribbon to officially open the Orioles Community Club.

The club underwent some minor name changes. It was initially the Orioles West End Community Club, that was changed in the summer of 1951 to Oriole Community Club. At some point the "s" was added back in.

In 1952, a salvaged wartime H-Hut from the Winnipeg Airport was moved to the site and around 1986 a gymnasium was constructed to complete the site.

In 2006, amalgamation talks began between three West End community clubs: Isaac Brock (catchment area 5,050); Clifton (catchment area 4,820); and Orioles (catchment area 13,855).

An agreement was finalized in December 2006 that created the Valour Community Centre to be based out of the Isaac Brock site and Orioles was rechristened Valour Community Centre - Orioles Site.

For more about the history of Orioles, see my multi-part West End Dumplings series!

 Orioles ca. 1951 (City of Winnipeg Archives)
 Orioles ca. 1970s (source)

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