History came to life at Winnipeg City Hall Friday, as the city commemorated the inaugural city council meeting 140 years ago, at noon on Jan 19, 1874.

Costumed members of the Manitoba Living History Society turned up to help tell the story.

CBC reporter Jillian Taylor said one anecdote has it that the chief of police back then was fired "because he visited too many houses of ill repute."

Taylor said that got Winnipeg's current chief, Devon Clunis, laughing.

She said Mayor Sam Katz took pains to emphasize that Chief Clunis is "nothing like the chief back then."

In a news release, the city said the historic first council meeting took place in a rented room on the second floor of Bentley's Store, located just north of what is now Portage and Main.

Councillors didn't have a permanent home until the opening of Winnipeg's first City Hall building in 1876.

The city said a box of artifacts, such as original documents, coins and photographs which were laid in the cornerstone of the first City Hall are on display until the end of the month to coincide with the anniversary.