Transcona, arguably Winnipeg's most easily-defined and oft-maligned neighbourhood, is turning a century old this spring.

Transcona was founded as the site of the repair shops for the Grand Trunk Pacific and National Transcontinental Railways. Its name is an amalgam of Transcontinental and Strathcona, the latter from Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona, a former Manitoban who was instrumental in building Canada's first railway.

It was Lord Strathcona who drove the last spike into the CPR railway in 1885.

The CNR Transcona Shops opened in 1913 and during the First World War, the shops were used for the manufacture of munitions.

Transcona attained city status in 1961 and in 1972 it amalgamated with the City of Winnipeg, along with 11 other communities.

Centennial committee chairman Peter Martin says people from around the world have made their home in Transcona over the years.

The neighbourhood stands apart from the rest of Winnipeg, Martin said.

"We have a good sense of community," he told CBC News.

"I'm not sure if it's better. I just know, in my opinion, it's easier to define the boundary for Transcona."

For decades, the CN whistle was sounded several times a day to call railway employees to work, signal their lunch breaks, and indicate the end of their work days.

Martin said life in Transcona revolved has around the railway and the CN whistle.

"A lot of people that I talk to are saying, 'I can't wait to hear that whistle again,'" he said. "That will bring back the memories of Transcona."

Martin added that the centennial celebrations will include some age-old jokes about Transcona, with some people planning to wear pink flamingo T-shirts and pins.

Great and not so great events in Transcona's history

(Courtesy of the Transcona Historical Museum and the Transcona Centennial Committee.)

  • 1908: Grand Trunk Railway, predecessor of the Canadian National Railway, decides on Transcona as location for railway shops and buys 800 acres (3.2 km2) of land. Name of Transcona adopted for future town. It's a combination of "transcontinental" and Strathcona, after Lord Strathcona who helped to build the country's first railway.
  • 1909: Construction begins on rail shops.
  • 1909: The Queen's Court Hotel was built in 1909. First beer parlor is called the Bucket of Blood Saloon!
  • 1911: The Transcona Theatre, later called the Apollo, opens and runs on Regent until 1960.
  • 1912: Town receives its charter. Power installed from Point du Bois. First school is built.
  • 1914: CNR shops begin to make munitions for World War I. Seventy-six Transcona residents are killed in the war.
  • 1918: Town gets water supply from Shoal Lake.
  • 1921: Town runs out of money. Council resigns and Transcona is run for six years by the provincial government.
  • 1926: Shops turn out the first locomotive.
  • 1930: Railway layoffs caused by the Depression create severe hardship. Town's main street (Regent Avenue) paved as an employment relief project.
  • 1930: Population reaches around 50,00.
  • 1931Council seeks additional train service to Winnipeg.
  • 1933: Peak of the Depression. City is paying the rent for 192 families. The town pays local doctors $10.00 to attend women having babies in their own homes, not in the hospital.
  • 1933: A man on relief says he can not work because his wooden leg is in poor condition. Is told to get someone to go into the bush and cut him a new one.
  • 1934: City says dogs no longer allowed to run free in town after dark.
  • 1936: Moonlight Express to Grand Beach now picks up Transcona passengers on Thursday's and Fridays.
  • 1936: Small riot breaks out when police arrest 11 youth for loitering.
  • 1945: A tag day is help in support of mosquito control.
  • 1941: The film "Hitler, the Beast of Berlin" shown to raise funds for British air raid victims.
  • 1947: Resident complains about a $2 per year property tax increase.
  • 1950: Population reaches 7,000. Town churches used to provide shelter for 500 families fleeing from the Winnipeg flood.
  • 1961: Population reaches 13,000. Transcona granted city charter and celebrates its Golden Jubilee the next year.
  • 1966: Slogan. "The Park City," is adopted by council.
  • 1972: City designation disappears in the amalgamation of 11 other communities into the City of Winnipeg.

Hi Neighbour Festival Celebrates Transcona's Centennial

Transcona's Hi Neighbour Festival which itself have been around for more than 40 years brings the community together at the beginning of each June. It's like a giant three-day street party celebrating this unique community. Nevermore so than this year the community's 100th birthday.

Schedule of events

Opens 5 p.m. Friday - Closes 5 p.m. Sunday
Main Stage on Regent
Entertainment during the day and evening through the weekend.
CBC News live on location
5:00 - 6:30

Video & Audio

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