Friday, August 6, 2010

The Bungalow

As a new city began to grow at The Forks in the 1870s, many houses were built and converted to boarding houses for the many young men arriving from the east. One of these houses stood on the banks of the Red River at the foot of George Street. For more than a decade, the house, known as The Bungalow in the papers and the Henderson Directories, was home to a string of bachelors; mostly Anglican, Conservative newly arrived Ontario or British-born. A number of these occupants of The Bungalow would became notable figures in the city business, and it was from this house that two house-mates, cousins George and John Galt, founded the Winnipeg Rowing Club in 1881.

Fire insurance map from 1905, showing The Bungalow facing away from George Avenue, and toward the Red River

The Bungalow was built in the summer of 1875 by a 23 year-old Englishman named Arthur Eden. Arriving in Winnipeg, Eden went into the wholesale business with an early house-mate of The Bungalow, Frederick Stobart.

The Bungalow was situated on the north side of Logan's Creek, which ran from the Red River northwesterly to the Fonseca Estate. On the opposite side of the creek was the Logan house, a venerable estate in terms of the Red River settlement, the Logans had been there since 1825, when Robert Logan purchased the site of Fort Douglas from the estate of Lord Selkirk. In 1817, Chief Peguis buried the dead Selkirk Settlers after the Battle of Seven Oaks. According to some early accounts, they were buried on the banks of the creek opposite Fort Douglas, making it near the spot where Eden built his Bungalow.

Winnipeg east of Main, 1874. The Bungalow was built on the south side of George and northeast of the creek. Credit

In July, while the house was being constructed, workers digging a drain along George Avenue uncovered "a large collection of old weapons and human bones," the Nor'wester saying that they were believed to belong to "some of Governor Simple's [sic] party... killed early in this century." Remarkably, this discovery possibly related to a major event in the early settlement did not seem to attract more attention.

News item in the Nor'wester, July 19, 1875. Credit

Arthur Eden, the young bachelor who built the house in 1875, remained a resident there until 1882, when he married and moved to a house he built that year on Armstrong's Point (the house, 147 Eastgate, is still standing today). Eden and his wife moved to England in 1894.

Caricature of George Galt, 1907. Credit

In 1881, two new house-mates of The Bungalow, George and John Galt, built a rowing boat and began taking it out on the Red River. Two years later, they formally incorporated the Winnipeg Rowing Club, today one of the oldest sporting organizations in Western Canada. After incorporation in '83, The boat and club houses were built at The Forks, but the residents of The Bungalow maintained a rowing crew, competing against crews from the Hudson's Bay Co., the Monastery, Bank of Montreal.

George Galt would eventually move to Wellington Crescent, his cousin John to Roslyn Road. Another notable resident was the banker Frank L. Patton, who later lived on Wellington Crescent. The Bungalow appears to have ceased functioning as a boarding house for bachelors by 1889, and the house had been demolished by 1932. Today the site of the house is a vacant lot facing Waterfront Drive. Surrounding it, where the Logan's house, Fort Dougals, and the creek where Peguis was said to bury the dead from Seven Oaks once were, is a forgotten corner of the central city, scattered with warehouses and a few remaining residential homes.

1 comment:

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