In 1998, it looked like the residents of Woodhaven had lost their tobogganing hill. The infamous hill on the “old school grounds” had been sold by the School Division as part of a package of land slated for a new residential housing development. This recreational area overlooks Sturgeon Creek, close to where it enters the Assiniboine River.
Efforts by the community to save the hill were met with little success. It looked like access to this favourite place would be lost forever. At the last moment, in a gracious community gesture, the Hartley Richardson family purchased this section of land from the developer. The beloved hill was saved and remains a special green space in Sturgeon Creek Park.
Woodhaven Community Club President, Mike Weber recently presented to Hartley Richardson and family a painting of the “The Hill” in appreciation of this gift and their support of the community. The painting, by Manitoba artist Kevin Coughlin, depicts the hill in winter, with kids on sleds, and the community club and its outdoor hockey rinks in the distance.
“The family was very modest about this contribution to the city,” says Weber, “but we would not have this hill today without their generosity.”
“I’m sure, over the years, thousands of kids have gone up and down that hill,” says Ian Brown, a longtime resident of Woodhaven, who talks about the community’s attachment to the area.
“I love to see the kids walking along,” he adds,”and the vans loaded with kids, to spend a few hours on the hill.”
The tobogganing hill, with the Woodhaven Community Club, forms part of Sturgeon Creek Parkway on the eastern side of Woodhaven. This green space, with its footpaths along the creek, is enjoyed by all ages at all times of the year; including bird watchers, dog walkers, and people fishing off the banks in the spring and summer time.
“It’s a nature lover’s paradise,” says Brown.
Currently the Woodhaven Community Club, in conjunction with landscape architects and planners, Scatliff + Miller + Murray Inc., is engaged in a planning process called the “Building a Better Woodhaven” initiative. Residents of Winnipeg, and particularly those living in Woodhaven, are encouraged to participate in future meetings and provide input.
Mike Weber emphasizes, “This is a great opportunity to guide the growth and development of the Woodhaven Community into the future.” He also praises the ongoing support given to the club by City Councillor Scott Fielding.
To help the club fund expenditures related to plan implementation, copies of the painting “The Hill” are available for a $100 donation. This painting, along with an earlier painting by Kevin Coughlin entitled “The Rinks”, celebrates the beauty and the importance of places like this.
Further information about the painting and upcoming meetings can be found on the Woodhaven Community Club website.