History will come alive on Sunday, Sept. 7 when Armstrong Point hosts their Heritage House and Garden Tour.
What began as a subdivision in 1881 for Winnipeg’s elite settlers remains a tranquil hidden jewel 2 km from city centre.
From 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., visitors will have the opportunity to step back in time when the residents of this picturesque enclave open their homes, gardens and hearts to the public.
Originally a rural location and meeting place for Aboriginal residents – the “Gates” as the little bend in the Assiniboine River is now known – was sold in 1870 to Francis E. Cornish for $1,000. In 1880 Joseph F. Hill won his claim to the area in a court case and the rest, as they say, is history. He subdivided the land into what is now 125 homes and 200-year-old trees.
As a result of the Great Depression and the Second World War, Armstrong Point lost many fine examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture to bulldozers. Seventy-two of the current homes are listed as Noteworthy Buildings with the City of Winnipeg.
Ambiance aside, Armstrong Point is guardian to one of the few remaining parcels of remnant boreal forest within the city limits. Along with the iconic Cornish Library the area is, as CBC’s Bill Richardson says, “A step out of time.”
Also reflecting this will be tours of the house that books built, namely Ralph Connor House, former home of Manitoba’s most famous author of the 1800s, Rev. Charles Gordon.
There will be a variety of opportunities to celebrate exquisite cultural and historic moments with displays, such as one by Winnipeg Antique Car Club featuring beautifully restored cars.
For a true flavour of ‘life in the day’ there will be croquet game demonstrations at one of the homes and a street conversation with the Tweeders Riders Club.
The Gates will be alive with the sound of music thanks to Barber Shop Quartet which will serenade visitors at the house tours. Winners of the Senior Idol competition in 2013 and Judges’ Choice Winner at Virtuosi’s Got Talent in 2014, Harold Dreiger, Larry Hunter, Paul Bullock and Rob Smith all say that their greatest pleasure is sharing their love of music with audiences such as the Armstrong Point Heritage Tour.
A quintessential outdoor music experience will be provided by Gerrit Jan De Orgelman and his De Bommstam Street Organ. Built in 1911 and one of only six in Canada, the organ works by air pressure, generated by a set of bellows. As he turns the handle, it moves a cardboard book through a set of teeth, much like a player piano. The result is an amazing sound that enthralls the listener.
Tea, cotton candy and local produce from a Farmers’ Market will be available on East Gate, Middle Gate and West Gate for those who work up an appetite taking in all the adventures of the day.
There will be a a feast for the eyes in the form of an Art Show at 6 East Gate showcasing local artists.
Tickets are $25 and available from McNally Robinson Booksellers. Click here for more info.