Main street, Winnipeg 1881, Feb 12 2013

People might think that the Winnipeg Art Gallery was founded in 1912, but evidence has been found of a Gallery on Main Street in 1881.

So what are we to make of it?

After a hot tip that Andrew Kear of the WAG got from Abi Auld about this book, I headed over to the Manitoba Archives, and took a close look at this very old source.

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Main Street 1881 Winnipeg Book
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Johnston’s Fluid Beef Factory, Montreal, 1881
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West side of Main street, Winnipeg, 1881 between McDermot Ave and Bannatyne streets

One of Winnipeg’s first photographers was Duffin & Co., on the south west corner of Main and Bannatyne streets.

View of the Duffin photography studio on Winnipeg’s Main Street, late 1870s.
Source: University of Alberta Archives, 74-169-15-69.

The Duffin Block was built on the spot where this white house was. Duffin & Company, Photographers. Notice the little covered booth on the sidewalk. It looks like Duffin put out some sample photos to entice new customers. (?)

It seems I am correct;

from the Manitoba Historical Society Website:

Simon Duffin, of Ireland, possibly Winnipeg’s first Professional Photographer

“He, Simon Duffin, was actively involved in community works, allowing his studio to be used to display plans for a new church in Springfield [8] and to advertise piano lessons by Mrs. Searl, wife of his employee George W. Searl. [9] But he ran afoul of the law occasionally, such as in May 1880 when he petitioned the Winnipeg City Council,

… asking permission to leave on exhibition in front of his gallery on Main street a revolving show case, which he had been notified by the police to remove. He urged as the ground of his petition that the said show case was an important immigration agency, as new-comers were thereby led to purchase pictures relating to this Province, to send home to their friends in Ontario and the old countries. Moreover, none of the citizens had complained of the show case as an obstruction to pedestrians. [10]”

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Portage and Main Illustration, 1881 Winnipeg
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Main street, Winnipeg, West side, 1881, illustrated by H.A. Strong
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Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1881, (spelled Winnipig on the sign)
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Main street scene illustration, 1881, between Graham Ave and Portage, on the west side
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Red River Ox Carts in Winnipeg, 1881
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Lyman’s Standard Blue Black Copying Ink and Writing Fluid. and Lyman’s Concentrated Extract of Coffee, 1881
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Electric Light was a new thing in 1881. Dynamo Electro Magnetic!

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