Historic Sites of Manitoba: Winnipeg Auditorium / Archives of Manitoba / Manitoba Legislative Library (200 Vaughan Street, Winnipeg)
This building, designed by the architectural firms of Northwood and Chivers, Pratt and Ross, and John Nelson Semmens, was erected by the firm of Carter-Halls-Aldinger, assisted by excavation contractor James Murray Reid, in 1931-1932. It was completed during the depths of the Great Depression as a make-work project of the federal government, Province of Manitoba, and City of Winnipeg. Its cornerstone was laid on 18 August 1932 at a ceremony attended by the Governor-General of Canada. The building was officially opened on 15 October 1932 by Canadian Prime Minister R. B. Bennett and Minister of the Interior T. G. Murphy.
Its main auditorium seated 4,075 people while the concert hall seated 800. Some of the international stars who appeared here included Yehudi Menuhin, Sonny James, Margot Fonteyn, Paul Robeson, The Trapp Family Singers, Arthur Rubinstein, Glenn Gould, Petula Clark, Jussi Bjöerling, and Marion Anderson. Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker began his successful 1958 election campaign here. A few months later, the Canadian Labour Congress and Co-operative Commonwealth Federation met to lay plans for the creation of the New Democratic Party (NDP).
In 1970, the building was sold by the city to the Province of Manitoba for about a million dollars. After renovations, it became known as the Manitoba Archives Building, and was home to the Archives of Manitoba and the Legislative Library of Manitoba, opening in September 1975. Interior renovations included removal of cantilevered balconies from the main auditorium. The exhibition galleries, with their large, arched windows, became the Reading Rooms for the Archives and Library.
Photos & Coordinates
“Winnipeg Auditorium Building: A Brief History,” unpublished fact sheet by Manitoba Legislative Library.
We thank Jordan Makichuk for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 11 August 2023