Virtual Heritage Winnipeg Vignettes

Print Page
Enlarge text:  smaller  |  larger

Johnston Terminal Building

Increased freight traffic on Canadian National Railway lines led to construction of a massive, four-storey warehouse and freight-forwarding facility in the southern half of the CNR’s East Yards.

Located at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red rivers in downtown Winnipeg, the yards were shared by Canadian Northern and Grand Trunk Pacific railways during the early 1900s. In 1917-23, along with three other financially troubled systems, they amalgamated into the publicly owned CNR.

In order to eliminate inefficient duplicate operations, the National Storage and Cartage Limited consolidated the warehousing and hauling services carried out separately by Canadian Northern and GTP. This wholly owned CNR subsidiary, soon required new storage space. In 1928, CNR’s architectural branch planned a new, on-site warehouse building for lease by the cartage company.

The structure was erected by Winnipeg’s largest construction firm, Carter-Halls-Aldinger Company at an estimated cost of $134,700. A substantial addition in 1930 resulted in one of the largest warehouses in Winnipeg, with more than 9,300 square metres of usable space, and one of the few in Manitoba that is finished on all sides.

The free-standing warehouse features mill construction, a more common technique in pre-World-War-I Winnipeg than during the 1920s when steel framing or reinforced concrete was used.

National Storage and Cartage occupied the premises until 1961. Modernized rail facilities were built on the outskirts of the city in the 1960s, and the marshalling yards at The Forks became obsolete. For the next 15 years, the warehouse was leased to Johnston National Cartage Company, later known as Johnston Terminals Company. The building was vacated in 1977 and sat empty until becoming part of The Forks, a riverside expanse of shops, restaurants, entertainment and events.