Building blocks from Winnipeg’s past are creating a path for the city’s future at a new public space at The Forks.
The new space will remind visitors what is possible when generations of donors work together to create a Winnipeg where community life flourishes, while honouring the origins of the community foundation movement in Canada.
Prominent banker William Forbes Alloway established The Winnipeg Foundation – the first community foundation in Canada – in 1921 as a way to give back to the community that helped him prosper. With his gift of $100,000, Alloway fulfilled his vision of an organization, built by everyday Winnipeggers, supporting our community For Good. Forever.
The second gift to the Foundation, received in 1924, was an anonymous donation of three gold coins. The envelope which contained the gift – a total of $15 – carried the words, ‘The Widow’s Mite’ on it. This gift epitomizes the spirit of the community foundation movement and is a reminder that every act of generosity, no matter the dollar amount, makes a difference.
The new space at The Forks will connect the Broadway promenade and the Esplanade Riel – an important alignment of the city and a critical connection between communities on both sides of the Red River.
“The Forks is culturally significant in so many ways. We are thrilled to add another dimension to this historic site that will help us all remember what is possible when we work together to support social justice and equality for all,” says Richard Frost, CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation.
“This is a beautiful addition to The Forks, one that demonstrates the giving nature of our entire community,” says Paul Jordan, CEO of The Forks North Portage Partnership. “It’s so fitting to have it at The Forks where so many have come together, given of their time and talents and collaborated to create the city’s Meeting Place.”
The space includes shards from the façade of the original Alloway and Champion bank once located at 362 Main Street – dubbed the Alloway Arch – and a circular fountain with three jets, representing The Widow’s Mite contribution.
Also included in the project will be a linear garden in the middle of the existing path representing the idea that hundreds of smaller pieces (plants) contribute to a greater whole, and a plaque describing the project and The Winnipeg Foundation. The project was designed by Mike Scatliff from architecture firm Scatliff+Miller+Murray.
- Shards from the Alloway and Champion bank are currently on site.
- Construction on the Alloway Arch and The Widow’s Mite Fountain will begin at the end of September.
- Piles will go in first and the entire area will be closely monitored by archaeologists.
- It is anticipated the Fountain will take six weeks to complete and the Arch will take between eight and 10 weeks.
- The Arch will be constructed in a series of 8′ sections, with a concrete back section being formed and poured, and the granite pieces being pinned and grouted to the concrete. At 24′ tall, there will be three phases of Arch construction. The last phase, in which the lintel is placed over the walkway, will be under heavy scaffolding as the large pieces of granite, on their own, weigh upwards of 10 tonnes a piece.
- Planting will commence in spring 2015.
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