Historic site plaque shows up at The Met 26 years after designation

Winnipeg’s Metropolitan Entertainment Centre got a plaque marking its historic site status on Monday, nearly three decades after the designation was made.

Parks Canada marks plaque's eventual arrival with Monday ceremony

MP Robert Falcon Ouellette (right) and Culture Minister Cathy Cox (second from right) unveiled the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre's historic site plaque Jan. 15, 2018. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

Winnipeg's Metropolitan Entertainment Centre got a plaque marking its historic site status on Monday, nearly three decades after the designation was made.

Parks Canada held a press conference Monday morning at the Met with MP Robert Falcon Ouellette and Manitoba Culture Minister Cathy Cox to unveil the plaque.

But the former theatre, one of Canada's first "movie palaces," was designated a national historic site in 1991.
A file photo bills Gary Cooper and Maria Schell at 'The Hanging Tree' in Technicolor at The Met. (CBC)

A Parks Canada spokesperson confirmed the designation has been in place for decades and said it sometimes takes time to get the plaques to sites.

Parks Canada officials would not explain what took the plaque so long to arrive or what the press event cost, only that costs were "minimal," and there are more than 2,000 historic designations for people, events and locations in Canada.

Ouellette said even if the plaque arrived more than a little late, it was still a good opportunity to highlight the significance of the site.

"I must say I was a little surprised to learn just recently that it took almost three decades for a plaque to arrive," said Ouellette, adding, "I think we need to highlight the great work that's been done by Canad Inns and the Ledohowski family that's really invested their time and energy into a building which no one else wanted, which was almost about to fall down, which was almost about to turn into a parking lot."

The Met was built in 1919 and later shut down in 1987, after sitting vacant and falling into disrepair.

It was later restored by Canad Inns, which reopened it in 2012, and now operates a theatre, restaurant and bar at the location.

The 93-year-old Metropolitan Theatre officially opens its doors to the public after a $20-million refurbishment and new title as the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre. 0:57
"Probably Canadians will look at this and say, 'This is just how governments run. They're unable to fulfil some of their most basic mandates — in this case putting up a simple plaque,'" said Ouellette. "But at the end of the day, someone has taken the effort and the time to make sure this is a historic site. It was important 30 years ago, and it's important today."

He said there may need to be a review of plaques at historic sites across Canada because the inventory is so expansive and some are out of date.

"In discussions actually with my colleagues previous to this, we had actually discussed that there were a number of plaques across the country that were placed either back in the 1940s, '50s or '60s that sometimes contain language which might not be acceptable today, which also might even represent inaccurate information," he said. "There is actually a need for Parks Canada to go ahead and make a review of some of the plaques and commemorations that are out there."

CBC is still waiting for a response from Parks Canada about what caused the 26-year delay.