Charleswood Centennial 1913-2013
Celebrating Our Past - Embracing Our Future!
In 2013, Charleswood celebrated its' 100th anniversary as an incorporated community. As a new rural municipality at the time, the incorporation recognized the growth and development of Charleswood as a unique and distinctive community, which has continued to this day.
The Charleswood Historical Society initiated a Centennial Committee to honour our Centennial and invited all interested to join in the year-long celebration. The years’ initiatives and activities shook off the historic dust of the years, woke up awareness of our unique past events, and engaged the community in celebrating the past and embracing our future.
More specifically, our Festivals and Celebrations team got an early start with a Bud, Spud and Steak party in November (now an annual event), followed by a series of events such as our historic fashion show, Heritage Lecture Series, pancake breakfast and car show at our Centennial Weekend, annual family picnic at Caron House, as well. In addition, we continued our annual events such as the Potluck Dinner and in February, welcoming all visitors to Caron House at Doors Open Winnipeg in May, annual Pioneer Dinner, as well as, other celebrations in collaboration with local groups who came on board.
Also, in November 2012, our School, Museums and Program team initiated a year-long series of historical presentations with “Charleswood Goes to War”, held at Charleswood Legion Branch 100. Current plans include a living history presentation, special presentations for both elementary and high schools, special Charleswood Museum exhibits and artifacts displays to name a few.
As we are a historical society, our Recognition and Monuments team initiated special recognition for veterans, for original settlers designation of the original river lots. In addition, we will have a special focus on the historic buffalo river fording trail and ferry crossing at The Passage and Kelly’s’ Landing.
Early in the 19th Century, Charleswood was the location of "The Passage" a natural ford at the foot of Berkley Street, where the Assiniboine River was shallow enough to cross. Historically thousands of buffalo crossed at The Passage, later used by buffalo hunters and independent traders bypassing the Forks in defiance of the H.B.C. s monopoly. Historic figures using what was referred to as “the Grand Passage” included, Pegujis, Miles Macdonell, Jean Baptiste Lagimodiere, Lord Selkirk and Cuthbert Grant. (Can you imagine, a herd of buffalo thundering down Berkley St. towards the stop lights at the bottom of the hill?)
The Passage, and nearby Kelly’s Landing historic ferry location, are two unique historic sites designated as Legacy Projects by the Society for enhanced recognition to visibly display this history to future generations. The Passage site historic plaque was rededicated in 2014 and two classic interpretive panels was added in recognition of one of the most historic sites in the province.
The R.M. of Assiniboia was incorporated in 1880, combining the Parishes of Headingley, St. Charles, St. James and part of St. Boniface on both sides of the Assiniboine. In 1899, a highway (Roblin Boulevard) was surveyed along the south side of the Assiniboine River. A year later, the City of Winnipeg purchased 283 acres for Assiniboine Park.
Later, in 1908, the electric street car line was extended west on Roblin Boulevard to Kelly’s store near Beaverdam Creek. Due to shallow water, the ferry at Berkley Street was moved upstream in 1908, linking Xavier Drive and St. Charles Street. The St. Charles Ferry remained in use until the opening of the Perimeter Bridge in 1959.
As roads improved, and the Assiniboine River became more of a barrier, the Rural Municipality of Charleswood was incorporated in 1913. The name "Charleswood" has two probable sources of origin. One is that it was named for Charles Kelly who served on the first municipal council. The other is that it is a combination of the Parish name "St. Charles" and the dense woodland that filled the area.
The first Municipal Council met in Patrick Kelly’s General Store, built in 1907. After 1914, the council met in Charleswood School, at the present site of Beauchemin Park Place. The red brick school replaced a one room log school house. In 1972, after 60 years as a separate municipality, Charleswood was amalgamated with the City of Winnipeg, as were many other local communities at the time.
In celebrating our Centennial Year the Charleswood Historical Society invited everyone to join in and supported others in celebrations they planned. We developed a Master Schedule of events and a historic Centennial Calendar. The Charleswood Historical Society also collaborated with other groups on their celebrations and an increasing number of events as enthusiasm grew through the Centennial Year.