First Avenue North, Winnipeg
by Charles Edward Parker
Manitoba Pageant, Spring 1965, Volume 10, Number 3
Some cities in Canada have streets with numbers instead of names. Winnipeg did too - long ago and for a few years only! At the same time that numbered streets and avenues were put into effect, it was decided that avenues should run east and west (more or less) and streets should run north and south (more or less). This legacy from the 1890s is still in effect.
But to go back; on 31 March 1891 the City Council passed By-law No. 502 which changed the names of certain streets and gave numbers thereto. Notre Dame Avenue became Central Avenue and was the dividing line between north and south. Portage Avenue and Main Street remained as they were but most other street names were changed.
McDermot became 1st Avenue North; Bannatyne was 2nd Avenue North and so on. Selkirk was 17th Avenue North and so it went as far as 35th (Polson) and 36th (Athole).
South of Central Avenue, Cumberland was 1st Avenue South; Sargent was 2nd Avenue South; Assiniboine was 10th and over the river Corydon was 17th Avenue South. The southerly limits of the new scheme was Scotland Avenue which was 25th Avenue South but which had been Scott Avenue before it got a number.
East or West never entered the picture. The streets were numbered from Main Street westerly and were either North or South of Central Avenue. Albert became 1st Street North; King was 2nd Street North and so on. When some of these streets reverted in 1893 to names, there was more than one name to a street; for example, 4th Street North became, in its separate parts: Adelaide, Paulin, Stanley and Derby!
The streets running north of Central ended at 24th Street which had been Xante and Sinclair.
On the south side of Central Avenue, Fort Street became 1st Street South and the streets progressed to 23rd Street South which was Arlington.
Henderson’s City Directory for 1891 shows the old names for the streets as well as the numbers. The 1892 and 1893 Directories list only the new system with a brief reference to the former name.
This marvelous system lasted only two and a half years because on 16 October 1893 the City Council passed By-law No. 703 which restored names to the streets and avenues of Winnipeg. Historic names were restored and the names of the City’s early mayors lived again on street corners: Cornish, Kennedy, Logan, McMicken.
Page revised: 20 November 2021