Welcome to Consideration Liberation Army’s Walking Tour of the Lost Villages of
Keep your eyes open for Consideration Liberation Army propaganda, marking stops
throughout the tour. Remember though, as we are in an ever-changing urban
environment, these traces might, at times, be erased or covered over. In general, be
aware of traffic, watch your step, and, as always, think carefully.
We are now ready to begin. Please proceed to the corner of Waterfront Drive and
Higgins Avenue in South Point Douglas.
Here you are at the corner of Waterfront Drive and Higgins Avenue, the starting place
for our walk today, and the birthplace of Consideration Liberation Army.
Until 2004, Waterfront Drive was called May Street. May Street was so-named for the
modal verb “may”, as in “May I?”, and the filled-with-possibility word “Maybe”. It was
once one of the most famed avenues in Winnipeg. In the nineteenth century, May
Street stretched the entire length of the conceptually charged village of Introspectosis.
Instrospectosis is a bastardization of the Cree word for “Get me out of here”. The
hamlet chose this name in 1840, inspired by the unavoidable contemplation that
resulted from the destruction the settlers had wrought. The decline of May Street (now
Waterfront Drive) has been slow-but-sure ever since.
The corner of Waterfront and Higgins is now populated exclusively by fabric-buying
Hutterites by day and transsexual prostitutes by night. The unexpected union of these
peoples has yielded a third demi monde: Consideration Liberation Army. Consideration
Liberation Army is a burgeoning force of pensive freedom fighters, armed to the teeth
with thought and thoughtfulness. To learn more about Consideration Liberation Army,
look for words of inspiration posted surreptitiously at this intersection.
Now walk away from Higgins towards the river. Proceed along Waterfront Drive for one
block until you come to MacDonald Avenue.
Twists and Turns
Turn right or west, and follow MacDonald’s twists and turns. Remember, this is not a
back alley or simply a remnant of another age. This is a functioning city street,
populated by families and businesses. After the second turn in the road, just past the
brown garage, you will come to a graffiti-covered wall on your right.
If you are from another city, you might be excused for presuming that what seems like
artful distressing conceals a bistro or boutique. However, what you see before you is
one of Winnipeg’s many wailing walls, a site of discontented discourse. It is also a
shrine of pilgrimage. In the early morning light of the vernal equinox, an image of J.S.
Woodsworth appears in hoar-frost on the weathered tin.
Continue past the wailing wall to the end of MacDonald, where the avenue dead-ends
at Argyle Street.
Turn left or south on Argyle and proceed to the bench immediately past the intersection
with Heaton. On your left, you will pass the magnificent flank of the Introspectotsis post
office, built in 1904. This is one of the few buildings of Introspectosis that survives, the
others having sunk into the depression unique to this area.
When you reach the bench, have a seat and restart the audio.
Across Argyle Street you will see Argyle School. Argyle Street and School are named
for one of Winnipeg’s earliest colonial populations, the Argyle Settlers.
The Argyle christened their hamlet Benoro (place of kindness) in 1820. Benoro has
been outshadowed in history by another Scottish group of immigrants, the Selkirk
Settlers (whose tragic tale will be explored later in this walk).
Benoro was the earliest pioneer settlement on this site, predating the founding of
Introspectosis by over twenty years. The Argyle Settlers who founded the community
dedicated themselves to weaving a vulvic form of goddess worship into stockings and
socks. Unfortunately, the community lasted mere months before it was ripped asunder
by infighting and even, it is rumoured, cannibalism.
Now continue walking along Argyle Street away from Heaton. You will pass the Argyle
schoolyard on your right and a sign for Gateway Soap and Chemicals on your left.
Continue walking along Argyle until you come to a scrap yard on your left. Through the
chain-link fence, you will notice a fascinating array of metal articles, including many
large, iron cone shapes. These once served as amplifying bells for the now-defunct
South Point Douglas urgent messaging system. Until the 1940s, vital words of wisdom
were electrically amplified and broadcast through these behemoths. All manner of
advice was dispensed, ranging from profound philosophy to helpful household hints.
The bullhorns were commandeered into service as air raid sirens during the war years
but fell into disuse upon the conclusion of the conflict. By war’s end a mistrust of big
ideas had developed, as well as a deep sadness for many concepts, and indeed
innocence, that had been lost to the ravages of war.
Carry on to the intersection of George and Argyle, and turn right or west onto George.
Then stop at the first cross-street, Duncan.
Duncan and George
Here we are at the corner of Duncan and George. In the early nineteenth century, this
area was populated by a formative Canadian mish-mash. There were French and
English fur traders; Métis hunters and trappers; Cree, Nakota, and Ojibwe people; and
destitute Scottish and Irish farmers.
This site has seen many incarnations since, and now houses a magical array of the
forgotten: artists, makers of kitchen articles, addicts, and last but not least,
Consideration Liberation Army.
Turn onto Duncan. Walk to the end of the first building on your left until you come to a
gap between buildings.
Enter this gap, to your left, and you will find yourself walking down a verdant, overgrown
alley. You will see loading docks on the left and a large tin barn that conceals a
clandestine hockey rink on your right.
All sorts of furtive activity have taken place in this alley over the years. Were it
excavated, a veritable treasure trove of thoughts, words and deeds would be
unearthed. Tread lightly, lest you trip over an arcane testament of love or a hastily
buried regret. And keep your eyes peeled for rusty concepts that have been known to
pierce the psyche.
At the end of the alley and across Waterfront Drive is a lovely place to stop and
reconsider the Selkirk Settlers. They are memorialized by a monument that is next to
the river, directly ahead of you. When you reach the monument, restart the audio.
Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk, was one of the area’s first colonial philosophers and
utopians. His good intentions have paved the road to hell since 1811.
Lord Selkirk was concerned that sheep farming and ensuing land clearances had left a
number of Scottish serfs destitute, so he moved them here, to a colony he called
Assiniboia. Needless to say, the experiment ended badly for everyone: the starving
immigrants, and the pre-existing Aboriginal and voyageur populations. Despite the fact
that the colony was never agriculturally successful, the lure of free land attracted new
settlers every year.
Conflict between the newcomers and the Métis population escalated, and led ultimately
to the Red River Rebellion and the creation of Manitoba, in 1870. Out of this misery, our
province was born.
However, Lord Selkirk did not live to see what his efforts had wrought. A mere nine
years after his experiment began, he died. By the end of his life he was near bankruptcy
and broken-in-spirit: a fatal example of the costs when one ignores Consideration
Liberation Army’s adage, “Think twice, act once”.
Inspired by Lord Selkirk, be mindful of the consequences of your actions as you walk
two blocks towards downtown along Waterfront Drive. Stop when you come to
At Alexander, turn right or west. Proceed between these magnificent rows of
On the right-hand side, a quarter of the way up the block, you will pass glass doors
marked with the address 95 Alexander. Just beyond this entranceway, watch for
thoughtful minimalist poetry – a single word, “Creamery” – that distinguishes a small
This is one of several vestiges of architectural verse that remains in Winnipeg. These
traces are reminders of the once-flourishing Winnipeg School, an architectural
movement that employed non sequiturs to the delight of all.
Now carry on until you come to a small sign that says Scott Bathgate Limited. It will also
be on your right.
This discreet sign belies a horrifying reality. Scott Bathgate is the progenitor of the Nutty
Club Man, a candy-stick colossus that haunts the subconscious of every Winnipegger.
Those of you who have never seen the Nutty Club Man, consider yourselves lucky! For
the truly brave of heart, a small drawing is present on the other side of this building, to
the north. For those of you who are all-too-familiar with this peppermint-headed titan,
what can we say? Only that now is a time to honour childish fear. The tightening of our
guts and the singing of our teeth is entirely appropriate in this world we find ourselves. If
you are not afraid, you should be. We are.
If you wish to see the can-d-man, go around the corner to your right and then return to
the corner of Lily and Alexander. If you wish to be spared the sight, go to Lily and
Turn left, cross Alexander Avenue and walk along Lily Street. If you look up, you will
see a warehouse on Lily, graced with loading docks that open to the sky. This is yet
another example of the Winnipeg School, those poetic architectural pranksters of old.
Stop when you reach Pacific Avenue
At Pacific Avenue, turn left or east. Pass the Christian skateboarders, cross Pacific, and
head to the large vacant lot just past the hydro substation.
Head southeast on a diagonal through this wasteland towards Waterfront Drive. In the
centre of the field lies a mass grave to mass disappointment. The dreams of a city lie
buried here. Climb this prairie mountain and enjoy the panorama. It is second only to
the view from Garbage Hill.
Now that you are a-top this mound, look around. You can see a vista that includes
mega-projects, mega-hopes, and mega-disillusionment. The McLaren Hotel and old
Harbour Light Mission stand to the west; City Hall and the Concert Hall are slightly to
the left of them; and the skyscrapers of downtown tower above abandoned buildings to
the south. If you listen carefully, perhaps you will hear a train going past. Its whistle
sounds a lament to this unconsecrated site of mourning. Consider that this locus of
reflection will soon be filled with condominiums.
Now proceed to Waterfront Drive next to the boarded-up steam plant or thereabouts.
Due to the construction in this area, this path is treacherous and often impassible, as
are all roads to inspired thought and generous thoughtfulness.
Here, in the vicinity of Waterfront and James, stood Scrutiny Landing. This community
of Swiss watchmakers immigrated in the 1870s, escaping the banal neutrality that so
plagued their homeland. Upon arrival in Winnipeg, they chose a boggy, disease-ridden
site where Pensive Creek (now buried) emptied into the Red River. Here they
developed an industry of precision wind-up toys and finely calibrated instruments
designed to predict the future. Seemingly immune to the discomforts of what was known
as “the Swiss Swamp”, they founded Winnipeg’s first chess club, debating society, and
Unfortunately, Scrutiny Landing fell to arson in June 1885. Because of the dampness
that permeated the neighbourhood, the inferno unleashed a cloud of steam that
blanketed the city for close to two years, transforming Winnipeg into a tropical
rainforest. This climactic change was brief, and many prominent citizens lost their
fortunes when the Brazil nut crop failed.
With the fire and subsequent riot of vegetation, all traces of Scrutiny Landing were lost,
including plans to the future-prediction machines and the tools necessary to repair the
ones already in existence.
Now walk up James away from Waterfront Drive, being mindful of the construction and
deconstruction. Stop when you come to the first street on your left. There is no sign, but
it is called Bertha Street.
Turn left onto Bertha Street. Interestingly, most roads in Winnipeg were once named for
women. However, over the years, most have been renamed to honour prominent male
Continue along Bertha for one block until you come to Elgin Avenue.
Turn right onto Elgin Avenue. This street reveals a railway track running beneath a
patchwork of asphalt and gravel. These tracks were sublimated decades ago and yet,
like a long suppressed memory, they emerge and lead our foot-falls.
Until the Concert Hall was built, Elgin Avenue continued past Lily Street to Main. The
now filled-in block was nicknamed Hell’s Alley, and was the site of a brutal bloodbath in
which the North West Mounted Police cornered the strikers of 1919 and attempted to
beat the brave ideas out of them. Twenty-seven were injured and two were killed.
When you reach Lily Street, pause to mourn the loss of rash idealism and to consider
the ongoing tyranny of thoughtlessness.
Cross Lily Street with care and walk to your right, to the trees just beyond the Concert
Here you will find an unexpected oasis between the Concert Hall and its parking lot.
Proceed down the steps to the fountain, where you can soak your feet and repose.
Just above this idyllic spot, towards Main Street, is a tall monument. It honours the
Winnipeg Rifles’ role in squashing the1885 Revolution in Fish Creek and Batoche.
We at Consideration Liberation Army are sad that Louis Riel was not allowed to create
a radical hybrid nation and homeland for the Métis gestalt. Imagine, grannies equally
adept at making biscuits and bannock! No, we are all the poorer for Riel’s demise. Take
a moment to share our embarrassment about the big white member towering above
you: a monument to our intolerance, stupidity, and loss.
Then, once you are ready to move on, retrace your steps up the stars back to Lily
You will now want to angle across Lily Street towards the Nygård mural. After you have
safely negotiated the perils of traversing this thoroughfare, you are going to cross
Market Avenue. If all goes well, you will find yourself standing in front of the Manitoba
Proceed down Rorie Street to the oft-overlooked John Hirsch Place. Have a seat on the
bench on the southeast corner – that’s the corner furthest away from you – and make
This is the location of yet another lost village of Winnipeg. It arose as communities so
often do: in a haphazard manner. In 1825 a few Selkirk Settlers left the safety of Fort
Douglas and moved downriver to this site. Here they constructed the first Winnipeg
suburb and named it Discretion.
At first, this band of commuters continued to work “downtown”, either at or immediately
surrounding the Fort. But in time, Discretion grew. Some French and Aboriginal people
moved to the area, bringing their unique skills. Within a decade the first local industry
was born, a bookbindery. No longer content to simply supply the fur trade with raw
goods, the multi-lingual citizens transformed the ubiquitous beaver into illuminated
Unfortunately, the invention of the printing press almost 400 years previous limited the
commercial appeal of this one-of-a-kind product. Once collectors were sated, sales
steeply declined. This, combined with a severely compromised beaver population,
sounded the death knell for the venture. But by that point, the hamlet was a town. It
roiled with enterprise, gossip, itinerant preachers, and drink. Citizens began to refer to it
jokingly as Indiscretion. In 1846 it incorporated and renamed itself Régard.
Régard became known for its cosmopolitan inclusivity and practice of free love. Every
man, woman, and child took part in competitive dancing. Sweat lodges steamed, church
bells peeled, and muezzins sang praises to God and nature.
Then, in the late summer of 1861, a freak tornado lifted the entire community from its
location between Market and Bannatyne Avenues. Where it landed is a matter for
debate. At the time, it was universally accepted that the entire hamlet had been taken
directly to heaven or hell, depending upon one’s perspective. But reports from distant
fur traders indicate that the community was transported to Saskatchewan, where it
continued to thrive, and later formed the bedrock of socialism unique to that province.
Now it is time to continue our tour. When you are ready to carry on, restart the audio.
Cross Rorie Street, and follow John Hirsch Place away from the river, west. On your left
you will pass the back of the Ashdown Warehouses. Eventually you will come to a
carriageway on your left.
Keep going on John Hirsch Place! Contrary to appearances, this is not a dead end.
Pass a large tin building. Thread your way through the maze of parked cars. Gawk at
clandestine businesses. The road will curve to the left. Be brave and push on.
We at Consideration Liberation Army endeavour to be considerate, and hope we have
not befuddled you with our directions. If so, we apologize. Rest assured, you are
nearing the end of this tour! We can only imagine that you are getting thirsty. Food and
drink await, a mere five minutes away.
When you finally reach Bannatyne Avenue, turn right and continue to Main Street.
Here, at Main Street, you can look left, into the nexus of wealth and power, or right,
towards the last and largest forgotten village, the North End. The North End is the place
from which all of Winnipeg’s dreams emerge. It is frightening and beautiful in equal
measure. It is our home, whether we like it or not.
Be careful when you cross Main Street, and proceed along Bannatyne to Old Market
At the southeast corner of Old Market Square, you will see a pile of architectural rubble.
Winnipeg's ruins are rarely so boldly displayed. For the most part the remains of the city
are confined to back alleys, surface parking lots, and the recesses of our collective
unconscious. However, Old Market Square has always been unusual. For more than
ten decades, the stuff of life has been exchanged here: food has been bought and sold,
and ideas have been freely traded. In our current, impoverished context, this sacred
interchange is represented by the Goldies French Fry Truck and Fringe Festival
Do not let this dishearten you. Remember, the past is embedded in the present and has
the potential to shape the future. The Lost Villages of Winnipeg, their utopic visions,
and their thoughtfulness prevail. Let us consider them carefully, learn from them, and
use their example as we sing; Ahoy, Ideas!
Aloha, Concepts! Hello, Liberation!
Thank you for joining Consideration Liberation Army on this walking tour. We entreat
you to learn more about our renegade force of caring and careful freedom fighters. If
you turn south onto Albert Street and proceed to Mondragon Bookstore and
Coffeehouse, you can buy a beverage from an anarchist and quench your conceptual
thirst with our video communiqués, provided on the TV in the corner.
We hope you have enjoyed this meander through the lost villages of Winnipeg. Now
that you have found these sites of idealism and action, continue to haunt them, just as
they will continue to haunt you.