Portage Avenue & Edmonton Street
The very first Traffic controller box ever painted with artwork. The artwork (top half) was by Mike Valcourt; the bottom was by Tom Andrich; both in 2000 with sponsorship by Take Pride Winnipeg. The box was one of several removed from the street in 2011 as bigger boxes were required.
Original notes follow:
This was the first of the traffic control boxes Tom Andrich has painted with Heritage
themes for Downtown Winnipeg located along the north side of Portage Avenue.
Mike Valcourt, another Winnipeg Artist started the artwork on this box and did beautiful
reproductions of photos showing how Portage Avenue looked in the early 20th century.
The images were relatively small, though, and the client wanted bigger images.
Andrich: "I was asked to come in and help finish it for him. I could see that Mike had
put a lot of work into it and it looked quite good, so I incorporated all of Mike's existing
artwork into the final design. I decided to add the Fort Garry Gate on the bottom."
"This is the only traffic control box I painted with an oil paint but it was really hard to
work with. At the time I thought it's going outside, I wanted it to stick to the metal.
After this one I switched my strategy and started looking for a better primer, one that's
good for going over galvanized metal and it's made a big difference. I use latex now, and
then finish it off with an anti-graffiti coat."
"After this one was completed the clients told me they liked it and they wanted me to do
more of them. For this one in particular though, I wish I'd done a better job of the gate.
With the knowledge that this was one in a whole series of traffic control boxes I would've
done it much differently now."
Upper Fort Garry was arguably the most important fort in the development of Western
Canada. It was built in 1822 on the site of Fort Gibraltar, a post of the North West
Company from 1809 to 1816. Located at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine
Rivers, it was named after Nicholas Garry, the deputy governor of the Hudson's Bay
Company. Damaged by flood in 1826, it was replaced by Lower Fort Garry (1831-
33) farther down on the Red River. The switch in location proved unpopular with
traders and people of the area since it was further from the 'action' at the forks.
Upper Fort Garry was therefore rebuilt in 1835 and became the centre of the Red
River fur trade and trading post for The Hudson's Bay Company.
Although the old fort has long since disappeared, the old gate, which was the
northern entrance to the fort, still stands in a little unadorned park at the
southeast corner of Main and Broadway, and just east of the beautiful Fort Garry
Hotel (also named in honour of the Fort; originally the Hotel was going to be
called the Selkirk).
For a terrific Short Pictorial History of Upper Fort Garry, go to
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