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Madison Street short in length, long in history

Fred Morris

Fred Morris

From the desk of a gadfly

To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of St. James (starting just west of St. James Street to Sturgeon Road) breaking away from Assiniboia to form their own municipality, I am doing street profiles. This column features Madison Street.

Madison Street is the farthest east street in this series. This story will deal with Madison Street between Portage Avenue and St. Matthews Avenue. There are certain buildings farther north on Route 90 and Border Street that once had Madison Street addresses. Perhaps another story.

Madison Street Portage to Ness

Madison Street has been in the middle of many political and development issues. In the summer of 1936, the St. James Bridge was built connecting Madison Street to Kenaston Blvd. This part of the bridge is currently used by southbound traffic. As traffic increased, there were demands to expand the bridge. On December 15, 1962, a new bridge opened just east of the existing bridge. This bridge handles northbound traffic. The evolution of the transportation system resulted in Ness 1963, Silver 2001, and St. Matthews 2015 being extended to St. James Street. More widening of Route 90 has been promised. However, these changes appear to be south of the Assiniboine River.

Ten even numbered Madison Street houses were expropriated. For approximately two decades after 1962, construction of the St. James Bridge, Madison Street continued to exist as a residential street with a few small businesses and the 4-unit Cascade Apartment block. These businesses included the Pride Enterprises Car Wash, Gibson's Woodworking Cabinet Makers, and Custom Sheet Metal.

During the 1980's this block of Madison Street was almost completely bulldozed and replaced with Madison Square. In retrospect, I believe that the bull dozing of this city block was a mistake. Sportsman Enterprises owner Barry Iffillle successfully fought the expropriation of his building. For a couple more decades, Sportsman Enterprises remained in business at 271 Madison.

In 2018, Dr. Simona Pesun and Dr. Rodrigo Cunha founded Prairie Endodontics ( a form of dentistry) in the Sportsman Enterprises Building.

 Ness to St Matthews 

Between 1938 and 1947, Coronation Park was listed at Silver and St Matthews. In an April 1938 newspaper archive, Jim Morrissey is listed as the organizer for a baseball league for all age groups between Pee Wee and Junior.

Since 2014, the Yellow Quill University College, a First Nation Institute of higher learning, has been located in a former Manitoba Hydro Building.

In 2022, the Wyndham Hotel owned by the Long Plains First Nation opened. On October 22, 2022, the hotel hosted a forum for  the candidates for Mayor of Winnipeg

Some of the People of Madison Street

In 1909,Robert West, a plasterer, was the  first Madison Street  resident listed in the Henderson Directory.

Bernice Dideriksen (1939), and Elsie Ostopiwich (1942) were welcomed as Sunbeams in the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Club. In 1947, John Morrison and Herman Timmer won the St. James grounds and garden contest sponsored the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

On November 8, 1951, Al Mackling son of Anne and John Mackling, age 23, was pictured on the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press after winning an award for Second Year Arts from United College. Al went on to a political career that included serving as a St. James Alderman and a cabinet minister for two Manitoba NDP premiers. During Al's years on St. James Council , the St. James Civic Centre was built. In 2016, Al dropped the puck for the 50th Anniversary Game. David Mackling was the chairman of the Manitoba Peace Council.

Alice and her husband Joseph Morrissey were musicians. In 1970, Alice opened the Morrissey Music Studio. Ivan and Carrie Crouch ran a construction company. William Gibson operated the previously mentioned wood working business behind his home.

Several Madison Street residents had impressive longevity records. Alex Ostopiwich spent 42 years at CN. Daniel McCarthy delivered mail for 38 years. David Gray worked for 36 years at Eatons.

On Saturday September 23, 2023, at 7:30 p.m., at the St. James Civic Centre , I will be hosting a St. James Trivia Night. All questions and prizes will have a connection to St. James Assiniboia.

Fred Morris is a Grandfather, Sports Fan and Political Activist.

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