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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Alexandra Square / Alexandra Park / Johnston Park (William Avenue, Winnipeg)

Link to:
Photos & Coordinates | Sources

This area between William and Bannatyne avenues in Winnipeg was formerly owned by the A. G. B. Bannatyne and Andrew McDermot estates who, in 1872, donated property for the establishment of the Winnipeg General Hospital (WGH). This green space originally was known as Alexandra Square, named for Queen Alexandra (1844-1925, wife of King Edward VII) and totaled four acres in size. Owing to financial hardship, the WGH sold the land to the City of Winnipeg for a reported sum of $40,000 in 1906. In May of that year, the Winnipeg Parks Board decided in favour of adjusting the name to Alexandra Park, and allotted up to $2,000 for landscaping and other improvements. While City Council approved the renaming to Alexandra Park on 8 August 1906, it didn't transfer the property over to the Winnipeg Parks Board until around 1908. During 1906, $1,214 was invested in park improvements and ornamental fencing. Tree planting commenced in 1907 and a water system was installed in 1909.

By the 1950s, the parks area had been reduced to around 2.5 acres with the additions to the hospital complex and accompanying access roads. Further encroachment was vigorously opposed by the Winnipeg Boards Board, which noted that the surrounding neighbourhood was already notably below the recommended one acre of parkland per thousand residents. The demand for public parking was also quickly growing, and the WGH’s Executive Committee requested the City’s Finance Committee to consider conversion for some of the parks land to a parking lot. In March 1959, City Council voted 8:7 in favour of returning the property to the WGH, but with a caveat that it strictly remain for the purpose of a public park. The formal transfer took place on 4 March 1960. The caveat was later withdrawn by City Council in January 1969 and the park continued to shrink in size with expansions of the adjacent hospital.

On 12 February 1971, the remaining land was renamed Johnston Park in commemoration of Arthur Eaton Johnston, a 50-year trustee, Chairman (1966-1968), and Honourary President of the Winnipeg General Hospital Board. Present at the ceremony and plaque unveiling was Natural Resources Minister Sidney Green (who inducted Johnston into the Order of the Buffalo Hunt at that time), Metro Chairman Jack Willis, Alderman Gordon R. Fines, and Hospital Director Peter Swerbone.

The park ceased to exist by 2010, having been fully encroached by the Health Sciences Centre, and the Johnston Park plaque, formerly affixed within the park, had been removed and placed in storage by the Health Sciences Centre.

Photos & Coordinates

Johnston Park

Johnston Park (no date)
Source: Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 3 May 1958, page 23.

Johnston Park plaque

Johnston Park commemorative plaque (1971)
Source:Winnipeg General Hospital, 1970 Annual Report, page 31.

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.90485, W97.15870
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Winnipeg General Hospital / Health Sciences Centre (Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg)

Sources:

“Parks Board tree contract,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 May 1906, page 5.

“Estimates for year,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 July 1906, page 1.

“Boulevards for the city,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 August 1906, page 3.

“To fence square,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 August 1906, page 10.

“Tenders for fencing,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 August 1906, page 2.

“City and general [The parks committee of the public parks board...],” Manitoba Free Press, 12 September 1906, page 18.

“To build a fence,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 September 1906, page 10.

“[Work will soon be commenced...],” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 September 1906, page 10.

“No balconies overhang parks,” Manitoba Free Press, 20 October 1906, page 14.

“New roadways,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 November 1906, page 11.

“Parks Board estimates,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 March 1907, page 11.

“Tree planting,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 May 1907, page 11.

“Civic estimates for ensuing year,” Winnipeg Tribune, 20 July 1907, page 9.

“Hand cemetery back to city,” Manitoba Free Press, 14 August 1907, page 10.

“Will build pavilion,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 May 1908, page 2.

“Estimates of Parks Board,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 April 1908, page 4.

“Assiniboine Park gets lion’s share,” Manitoba Free Press, 9 April 1908, page 8.

“Past and future of park system,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 February 1909, page 2.

“Money of the taxpayers,” Winnipeg Tribune, 5 October 1915, page 4.

“Children’s Hospital site,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 January 1949, page 6.

“Children's Hospital seeks fund for new $2.7 million building,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 February 1950, page 17.

“Architects reveal plan for hospital,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 March 1954, page 9.

“Hospital Wing plans teach tender stage,” Winnipeg Free Press, 21 January 1955, page 3.

“Park, not parking,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 April 1958, page 29.

“The Little Park,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 May 1958, page 6.

“Dispute flares on park sought for car parking,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 3 May 1958, page 34.

“Save park, says Board,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 May 1958, page 25.

“Not happy about park, but pushed,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 May 1958, page 3.

“Parks or parking?” Winnipeg Tribune, by Thomas Green, 24 March 1959, page 6.

“Keeping the green,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 March 1959, page 31.

“Save Alexandra Park,” Winnipeg Free Press Leisure Magazine, 11 February 1967, page 10.

“‘Nicest bit of green’ vanishing,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 January 1969, page 3.

“Hospital trustee honored,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 February 1971, page 7.

Winnipeg General Hospital fonds, 1970 Annual Report, Archives of Manitoba.

We thank Emma Prescott (Health Sciences Centre Archives) for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 22 June 2019

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