History Lives in Point Douglas Street Names

by Lillian Gibbons

Manitoba Pageant, April 1959, Volume 4, Number 3

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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The building of Winnipeg’s newest bridge over the Red River and freeway over the C.P.R. tracks in the Point Douglas area has brought into the news the reasons for some of the street names in that district of the city. Since the bridge will connect with Disraeli Street people have been asking how it is that a street here should have the name of a British Prime Minister.

“It has nothing to do with politics for Papa was a Yankee,” said Mrs. Harriet Graham who was born in Winnipeg ninety-six years ago. It was her father, Edmund Lorenzo Barber, who named the street. Mr. Barber who came from a publishing family in Hartford, Connecticut arrived here in 1860 from St. Anthony’s Falls, now Minneapolis. The Civil War had just broken out in the United States and Canada looked like a better place to the young adventurer. He started a store in the Point Douglas area and later bought the prairie’s first newspaper, the Nor'Wester, from Dr. John Schultz. “He had been reading a novel by Benjamin Disraeli,” said Mrs. Graham, “so he named the street after the statesman.”

Naturally she would like to see the bridge carry the same name. Next to Disraeli Street is Barber Street named after Mrs. Graham’s father. Both run into Euclid Avenue, named by him after the Greek mathematician. The fourth street named by Mr. Barber is Stella Avenue after Stella Hayden, a pretty girl he knew at St. Anthony’s Falls.

“My mother’s side of the family,” said Mrs. Graham. “is remembered in Logan Avenue, a street which runs from close to the Red River westward past forty-two cross streets.” Edmund Barber married Barbara Logan and their pioneer log home still stands at 99 Euclid Avenue in Winnipeg.

Other citizens and groups have suggested the new bridge be called “Fort Douglas”, “Point Douglas”, “Fonseca”, “Chippewa”, or “Peguis.” The Manitoba Historical Society, and the Winnipeg Council of Women think the name “Point Douglas” or “Fort Douglas” should be used. Elisabeth Henderson, a descendant of the 1812 settlers, prefers “Point Douglas” because, as she says, “the land was always known as The Point, and still is.” Some of William Gomez Fonseca’s descendants would like to see the name “Fonseca” restored as a place name because Fonseca Street disappeared when the present Higgins Avenue was extended through to Main Street. Still others think some Indian name such as “Chippewa” or “Peguis” should be the name of the bridge. With them Dr. Glen Hamilton agrees. “A Cree or Assiniboine name would match the Indian names Winnipeg and Manitoba,” he wrote to City Council. His wife says, “Why not Kelvin?” The doctor’s office is on Kelvin Street on the Elmwood sick of the river.

So you see there’s plenty in a name to start a good debate.

Page revised: 30 June 2009