Manitoba Heritage Under Duress

Reid Dickie

I was going through my photographs of  Manitoba heritage sites and came across this piece of Manitoba heritage that was lost to vandals in 2004.

Glenboro Canadian Pacific Railway Water Tower, Railway Avenue, Glenboro, MB


The very best example of an octagonal wooden railway water tower in Manitoba stood beside the tracks from 1904 until its destruction by arson in 2008. This design, the Standard No. 1 Plan was pioneered by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1903 and quickly became part of the Manitoba landscape. Between 1902 and 1925, the CPR constructed 75 water towers in the province every 80 kms (50 miles) which was how far a steam train could travel before needing water.

The Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism offers further details on the site: Constructed in 1904, the Glenboro structure is the best surviving example of an intact, fully-equipped water tower in Manitoba. The adjacent pumphouse fed water to the tank inside the water tower. A coal-burning boiler powered an interior water pump and prevented the water in the tank from freezing. In 1939 this pumping mechanism was replaced by an electric motor and pump installed inside the tower. A ball, or “float”, glided along a pole atop the tower to indicate the level of the water in the tank. The cedar water tank, with a capacity of 181,840 litres (40,000 gallons) of water, rests upon a framework of large wooden support timbers. By the late 1950s, the railway companies converted to diesel-powered locomotives which made the water structures obsolete. This tower once stored the community water supply for the Village of Glenboro.

Alas, the old water tower was burned to the ground by arsonists in April, 2008 and its rich and consequential heritage value went up in  smoke. Several other fires were set in Glenboro the same night. Glenboro is plagued by a firebug who set several fires previous to the destruction of the water tower and since, recently in the summer of 2011.

Because of the in situ value of heritage sites, they are often in an isolated area without close human habitation or they are vulnerable due to lack of physical protection. Another Manitoba heritage site that has recently been vandalized is the Criddle Vane homestead near Shilo. The old house Percy Criddle built in the late 1800s today stands empty and open, its windows smashed and replaced with plexiglas. My post on the Criddle Vane homestead is here and you can watch my video tour of the house and surrounding area here.

You might also be interested in the research done by Westman Paranormal which has recorded some of the spirit events inside the Criddle Vane house.   

1 Comment

Filed under Heritage Buildings, Local History, Manitoba Heritage

One response to “Manitoba Heritage Under Duress

  1. mrG

    perhaps apropos, perhaps not, from John Cage “Indeterminacy #90”:

    Dorothy Norman invited me to dinner in New York.
    There was a lady there from Philadelphia who was an
    authority on Buddhist art. When she found out I
    was interested in mushrooms, she said, “Have
    you an explanation of the symbolism involved in the
    death of the Buddha by his eating a mushroom?” I
    explained that I’d never been interested in
    symbolism; that I preferred just taking things as
    themselves, not as standing for other things.
    But then a few days later while rambling in the
    woods I got to thinking. I recalled the Indian
    concept of the relation of life and the seasons.
    Spring is Creation. Summer is Preservation.
    Fall is Destruction. Winter is
    Quiescence. Mushrooms grow most vigorously in
    the fall, the period of destruction, and the
    function of many of them is to bring about the final
    decay of rotting material. In fact, as I
    read somewhere, the world would be an impassible
    heap of old rubbish were it not for mushrooms and
    their capacity to get rid of it. So I wrote to
    the lady in Philadelphia. I said, “The
    function of mushrooms is to rid the world of old
    rubbish. The Buddha died a natural death.”

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