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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.