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Suffragette mural newest addition to city’s West End
Jul 29, 2016

WinnipegREALTORS®, which has a market region covering Winnipeg and its surrounding rural municipalities or Manitoba’s capital region, has a strong association with Winnipeg’s West End.

Why?

In 1997, the association successfully secured funding from the Manitoba Securities Commission based on deposit interest earned in real estate brokers’ accounts. It also had the good fortune of obtaining significant funding from a tripartite Winnipeg Development Agreement.

This enabled the new start-up Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP) initiative to get off the ground and acquire homes in need of restoration, completely refurbish them, and then sell the upgraded homes to low- to moderate-income first-time buyers. The West End happened to be the ideal neighbourhood to target as its easternmost neighbourhoods had gone through significant disinvestment in their older housing stock and experienced a conversion of former ownership of homes to rental as people vacated the neighbourhood. 

With this trend occurring over a period of time, house values dropped markedly and it only accelerated the further decline in the condition of its housing.  Strategic acquisition of dilapidated homes in targeted blocks and streets really proved effective in arresting the decline and reversing the depreciation of average prices in the area. Average house prices in the area have rebounded over fivefold since HOP began its work in 1998.

After upgrading and selling 90 homes, HOP is still hoping to work with neighbourhood associations such as Spence and Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews within the West End to do more.

HOP and WinnipegREALTORS® has also developed a relationship over a number of years with the West End Biz.

While the West End Biz is dedicated to making local businesses prosper and letting everyone know the West End has an eclectic mix of excellent restaurants, a major institution in the University of Winnipeg and entertainment venues such as the West End Cultural Centre, there is also a rather unique offering that dovetails nicely with the WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame in Assiniboine Park.

Another way it attracts people to the West End is through its internationally recognized mural tour program. As they indicate on their Biz website, “the West End’s mural gallery features over 50 pieces of public art.”

The tie to the Citizens Hall of Fame and its bronze portraitures of Winnipeggers, who have given so much back to their community that are on display in the formal gardens area of Assiniboine Park, is through the category of Famous People and Local Heroes. There are now four Citizens Hall of Fame inductees who have a mural featured on a wall in Winnipeg’s West End: Lionel Lemoine Fitzgerald, Sir William Stephensen, Bill Norrie and Nellie McClung.

The latest mural, which was unveiled this week at 560 Sargent Ave., is called A Women’s Parliament and features suffragette leader Nellie McClung, who 100 years ago was instrumental in gaining women’s right to vote in Manitoba, the first province in Canada.

Lila Goodspeed, chair of the Nellie McClung Foundation said: “How wonderful to have this mural illustrating the story of Nellie McClung and so many others who worked tirelessly to gain the rights for women to vote. It truly will keep her legacy alive”. 

Citizens Hall of Fame chair Rick Preston agrees with Goodspeed’s reference to art and McClung’s legacy. “By showcasing an historic figure such as a Nellie McClung in such a visible and permanent fashion,” he said. “we do remind Winnipeggers and tourists in a very public way what significant role these individuals have played in shaping our city, province and country

“The one clear advantage a mural has over our individual inductee portraitures is you can do more to show others involved and depict important milestones in their contributions and accomplishments,” he added.

And no one knows that better than West End executive director Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner.

“There is a great story to be told with every mural,” she said. “Building our mural gallery helps us draw people in to sharing Winnipeg’s history and the amazing contributions of its people.”

Note: Speaking of famous people and heroes, get out and enjoy Terry Fox Day on Monday. Terry Fox was inducted into the Citizens Hall of Fame in 2010.