Virtual Heritage Winnipeg Vignettes

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Assiniboine Park Pavilion

When Assiniboine Park opened in 1909, it was the culmination of sixteen years of effort by the Winnipeg Public Parks Board. Based on the formal parks developed in England and Europe in the 19th century, winding paths and roads were laid out, fields leveled, and thousands of trees, shrubs, and flowers planted.

One of the centerpieces of Assiniboine Park throughout its history was the tower of the pavilion, built in 1908 and designed by Winnipeg architect John D. Atchison. The tower housed a 16,000 gallon water tank that was visible throughout the park. Built at a cost of $19,000, the pavilion housed dining and dance halls featured loggias overlooking the park. Immediately behind the pavilion, a lily pond was located beneath a vine-covered pergola.

The pavilion burned to the ground in an early morning fire on May 27, 1929.  The Parks Board responded quickly by commissioning local architects Northwood and Chivers to design a new pavilion. On May 29, 1930 the new pavilion was opened. The new pavilion followed the plan of the original, retaining the pergola and lily pond, which had survived the fire.

Cyril Chivers designed the three-storey pavilion displaying a pastiche of European styles. The combination of mock Tudor half-timbering with Northern European massing and roof form were intended to give the pavilion an “international” flavour. The tower was again used to identify the building as a landmark, although it no longer served as a water tower.

The pavilion originally served as the social focus of Assiniboine Park. It gradually fell into disuse as a seasonal facility with a canteen on the main level with a rental hall on the second level.

In 1998, the Pavilion was beautifully restored and renovated.