Recognized by generations of Winnipeg motorists as convenient, if somewhat expensive, places to park their vehicles, parking lots have the distinction of originating in Winnipeg.

To be clear, it’s not the gigantic concrete and steel parking structures that stack cars on multiple levels that Winnipeg is famous for. Instead, the nickname “parkade” was coined here.

“It’s a combination of (the terms) mall and parking lot,” explains history researcher and writer Christian Cassidy of the coined name for the city’s first downtown parking lot at 285 Memorial Blvd., connected to the store of the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Cassidy plans to include this fact about Winnipeg’s unique name for parking garages, along with dozens of tidbits and stories about the city’s top five parking lots, in a two-hour walking tour at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9 and Saturday, April 23. As part of Design Month sponsored by the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, the tour from Memorial Boulevard to Smith Street will explore some of the original features of this city’s first multi-level parking lot.


MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Historian Christian Cassidy hosts a pair of walking tours offering information about the city’s parking lots.

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MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Historian Christian Cassidy hosts a pair of walking tours offering information about the city’s parking lots.

For example, parking fees at the new Bay Parkade, which opened with only two levels on October 29, 1954, were significantly higher than nearby street parking, which then cost only a nickel for an hour. The new parking structure at the south end of the store charged drivers five cents for the first 30 minutes and 10 cents for each hour or part hour thereafter.

Shoppers bought convenience and proximity with that fee, as they could load their car just steps from the store’s back doors instead of walking down the street with their packages, Cassidy says.

Winnipeg’s first parking garage proved so popular that two additional levels were added in 1955 and 1964, all featuring the same clean, modern lines, contrasting with the department store’s ornamental Beaux-Arts design.

“It has a function and its function is completely on display,” Cassidy said, pointing to the utilitarian horizontal railings and open sides of the concrete and metal structure that spans nearly half a city block behind the tall store now closed.

“There’s nothing decorative or fancy about it.”




<p>MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>The Bay Parkade, which opened in 1954 behind the iconic Portage Avenue store, was the city’s first.</p>
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<p>MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>The Bay Parkade, which opened in 1954 behind the iconic Portage Avenue store, was the city’s first.</p>
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<p>Compare that to the parking garage at 218 Edmonton Street, connected to the Medical Arts Building, which sports vertical concrete fins on the exterior, partially obscuring vehicles inside, Cassidy says.			</p>
<p>“They tried to make it look like an office building,” he says of the six-story 1961 structure with 386 parking spaces.			</p>
<p>“They tried to camouflage it, but it only works if you walk past it.”			</p>
<p>Taken individually, the five parking lots included in the tour might not generate much interest from passers-by, admits Susan Algie, executive director of the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, who added a second tour on April 23 after the first sold out.			</p>
<p>“Each of these parking lots is not interesting on its own,” she says.			</p>
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<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Built before the city even considered rules for parking structures, the CityPlace lot on Hargrave Street illustrates why the city needs regulations.</p>
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<figcaption>
<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Built before the city even considered rules for parking structures, the CityPlace lot on Hargrave Street illustrates why the city needs regulations.</p>
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<p>“The tour also tells the story of the city from a parking perspective.”			</p>
<p>One such story could be how the city’s first parking lot includes a staircase at the corner of Vaughan Street and St. Mary Avenue, allowing people to exit the structure without entering the store, Cassidy says. .			</p>
<p>“Most of the tour parking lots are built for the building and to get people into the building,” he explains.			</p>
<p>“But this one has access to the wider community.”			</p>
<p>This is not the case with T. Eaton’s parking lot at 250 Hargrave St., now known as Cityplace Lot 1. Built in 1956-1957 on the former women’s parking lot, this six-story structure was connected to the department store now demolished.  in the basement and on the third floor.			</p>
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<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>The Medical Arts parking lot has incorporated “fins” to disguise its function.</p>
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<figcaption>
<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>The Medical Arts parking lot incorporated “fins” to mask its function.</p>
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<p>“They put it right next to the store,” Cassidy says of the multi-level garage squeezed into a relatively small footprint;  it included an elevator, toilets and a spiral exit ramp.			</p>
<p>Across Portage Avenue, another 1950s parking garage had automated features that would eventually lead to its demise.  Built in 1957 for an estimated $1 million, using technology new to Canada, the Marlborough Hotel Parkmaster was equipped with an automated system to lift and move cars.  Drivers would leave their cars locked in the entrance aisles, then the parking attendant would guide the car to an empty booth using conveyors, turntables, and elevators.			</p>
<p>The attendant would do the reverse when the driver returned, returning the car in less than a minute, Cassidy said, but that wasn’t fast enough if a crowd had gathered late in the day.			</p>
<p>“It worked well if you had people coming in or out all day, but for an event or a conference it just didn’t work,” Cassidy says of the automated parking lot, demolished in 1967.			</p>
<p>Intended to move hundreds of cars from the suburbs to the city center, these first three car parks created 1,700 spaces in just three years, Cassidy says, demonstrating how car culture has permeated downtown development.			</p>
<figure class=


<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Across from the Canada Life Center is a parking lot built to service the former Eatons store on Hargrave Street.</p>
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<figcaption>
<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>Across from the Canada Life Center is a parking lot built to service the former Eatons store on Hargrave Street.</p>
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<p>In 2022, Winnipeg has only 12,864 spaces in indoor parking structures, including the 480 underground parking spaces at the Millennium Library operated by the City of Winnipeg.  In total, the city center has about 21,000 paid surface parking spaces, car parks and paid parking lots.			</p>
<p>Providing more space for cars unintentionally creates worse conditions for people walking on sidewalks near large parking structures, says architect Brent Bellamy of Number Ten Architectural Group.  With no storefronts at street level and few, if any, people watching the street from inside the parking lot, huge parking garages abutting the sidewalk created unsafe environments for pedestrians, he said. he.			</p>
<p>“It kills the quality of the street, the environment, the number of pedestrians,” says Bellamy, also president of CentreVenture Development Corp.			</p>
<p>“Every city that has parking lots creates a dead zone for pedestrians.”			</p>
<p>One way to counter the dead zone is to include offices, residential units or retail at street level and move cars further inside, Bellamy says.  A good example of a successful early structure is the construction at 238-246 Portage Ave, originally named the Dreman Building, which combines street-level retail space, an office tower, and parking for nearly 300 cars.			</p>
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<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>The parking lot on Garry Street at Portage Avenue should be a model for future parking structures, disguised as street-level retail.</p>
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<figcaption>
<p>JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p>
<p>The parking lot on Garry Street at the corner of Portage Avenue should be a model for future parking structures, disguised as street-level retail.</p>
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<p>“It’s the perfect example of building design that fits together,” Bellamy says of the $1.85 million multi-purpose building constructed in 1962-63.			</p>
<p>“You could walk past it and never know it’s a parking lot.”			</p>
<p>Bellamy believes the future of downtown parking must follow this example of integrating other functions into a parking structure.  Currently, the City prefers that parking lots not face the sidewalk on the ground floor, but would like to see this become standard practice.			</p>
<p>“I would like to see a strict bylaw prohibiting exposed parking downtown.”			</p>
<p>Currently, the City of Winnipeg is working on a parking strategy alongside a transportation master plan, which will be released next year, a city spokesperson said.			</p>
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But by the 1950s, the city had no parking strategy, leaving companies to build structures — and rename them — while ultimately reconfiguring the shape of downtown.

“These were the first two retailers to cash in while the city considered what to do,” Cassidy says, referring to the parking structures at the city’s two department stores.

[email protected]

Brenda Suderman

Brenda Suderman
faith reporter

Brenda Suderman has been a Saturday newspaper columnist since 2000, first writing about family entertainment and faith and religion since 2006.

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