Members of the military's "explosive device removal unit" have taken away an object that prompted a large police presence Thursday afternoon in Winnipeg's Fort Rouge area.

A contractor working on a home in 900 block of Dudley Avenue found the object and called police.

Police taped off six homes.

Contractor Wes Friesen told CBC he and a colleague, Peter Schilling, were digging in a back yard when Schilling's shovel hit something.

They dug it up, held it, photographed it, and called police.

Friesen described it as a piece of steel about 25 centimetres long. He said they weren't scared.

But other neighbours told CBC they were very scared. Some of them were out of their houses for a couple of hours.

Schilling told CBC that an officer with the military disposal unit said the device was a smoke bomb used for military training possibly during the second World War.

Police later confirmed it to be a smoke mortar but said its age and origin is undetermined.

Around 6 p.m. police pulled down the tape and allowed residents to return.

Police have not released any information.