Historic Sites of Manitoba: Winnipeg Central Dump / Saskatchewan Avenue Dump / “Garbage Hill” / Westview Park (1 Midland Street, Winnipeg)
In the late 1880s, the City of Winnipeg purchased a ten-acre parcel of land at this site—bordered by Wellington Avenue to the south, Empress Street to the west, the Canadian Pacific Railway lines to the east, and Saskatchewan Avenue and Midland Street to the north—and began using it for a garbage dump. It was also used as a dumping grounds for dead animals, manure, and sewage.
By the early 20th century, with an accumulating pile of garbage and growing public concerns about disease and the leaching of pollutants into a nearby creek, the Winnipeg city council began exploring the possibility of burning the garbage. In 1907, a tender was issued for an incinerator capable of processing 140 tons of garbage per day. The contract was awarded to the Decarie Manufacturing Company of Minneapolis. A steam-powered incinerator with a 200-foot smoke stack, built at a cost of around $130,000, went into operation in late July 1907 and was taken over by the Board of Control on 11 September 1912.
By 1942, the mountain of garbage at the site measured some 60 feet in height. The accumulation was sufficiently significant that, during the Second World War, the Canadian Army considered using explosives to mine the site for salvageable scrap metal. In 1948, the site was deemed full and unable to receive any additional garbage, at which time garbage was transferred to a newly-built incinerator on Henry Avenue.
Between 1953 and 1961, a series of landscaping and grading projects costing around $125,000 reshaped the site for possible recreational use. According to Winnipeg city councillor Bernie Wolfe, the as-yet-unnamed recreational site was referred to as “Lil’s Hill” at City Hall, for Lillian Hallonquist who chaired the committee tasked with finding a permanent solution. The public was consulted on official names for the site and finalists included Ginger Snooks’ Paradise, Snooks’ Mountain, Metroski Park (Metro Ski), Fairview Ski Hill, Jubilee Park, Juba-lation Heights (for Mayor Stephen Juba), and Pioneer Hill. Westview Park was suggested by Alderman William McGarva who stated that “one certainly gets a good view to the west from [the park],” to which Parks Board member Mr. J. J. Thomas reportedly responsed that “the view is equally good in the opposite direction.” McGarva’s suggestion was approved by Winnipeg Board of Parks and Recreation on 15 February 1961.
Operated by Metro Parks Commission, space in the south end of the park was rented to the Royal Astronomical Society for one dollar per year. The Manitoba Zone Ski School was located on the slopes of the hill, which also hosted tobogganing for many years, although in recent years, the latter activity has been restricted to portions of the site deemed less steep and dangerous. A large compass-shaped limestone and concrete monument now adorns the top of the hill.
Photos & Coordinates
“The city garbage,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 December 1898, page 4.
“The incinerator plant,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 December 1906, page 36.
“Interior view of the incinerator,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 July 1907, page 28.
“The incinerator test,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 July 1907, page 4.
“Official visit to incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 August 1907, page 2.
“Ask for report on incinerator,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 September 1907, page 5.
“Decarie enters suit against city,” Manitoba Free Press, 7 December 1907, page 3.
“City operating new incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 September 1912, page 8.
“Disposal of refuse,” Manitoba Free Press, 12 June 1908, page 18.
“The incinerator is again a live issue,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 July 1908, page 9.
“Incinerator is too far away,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 January 1913, page 1.
“May call in Army to “mine” metals in dump,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 October 1942, page 3.
“New incinerator,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 August 1946, page 5.
“Parks Board may make ski jump at dump,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 October 1947, page 17.
“Parks Board o.k.’s dump for ski slide,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 October 1947, page 7.
“New look for old dump,” Winnipeg Free Press, 25 August 1953, page 3.
“Our hill,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 May 1960, page 21.
“Parks spending okayed,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 April 1961, page 25.
“Westview’s the name,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 February 1961, page 3.
“They dream of Wooded retreats within the Metro area,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 April 1961, page 23.
“Ski tracks,” Winnipeg Free Press, 8 December 1961, page 45.
“Ski tracks,” Winnipeg Free Press, 5 January 1962, page 23.
“The offal truth,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 February 2004, page H3.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 10 March 2020