Academic journal article Manitoba History

James Avenue Pumping Station

Academic journal article Manitoba History

James Avenue Pumping Station

Article excerpt

In the early years of the twentieth century, fire was a constant threat in the Manitoba climate of long, cold winters and an era of wood frame buildings. Many private and commercial structures were heated by coal-burning stoves or boilers with inadequate safety devices. But the greatest problem in combating fire was adequate pressure for the water supply.

Winnipeg obtained its drinking water from a series of artesian wells. This water was pure and sufficient for routine use, but could not be supplied in the high volumes needed to fight a serious fire. As well, engineering developments in steel-frames allowed for the construction of taller buildings which the existing water pressure lines could not reach in the event of a serious fire. Fortunately, advances in technology in the early 1900s provided a solution. In 1905, Winnipeg' s City Council announced plans for a high pressure water system for fighting fires, developed through the James Avenue Pumping Station.

Opened in 1907, the pumping station is a low brick structure located near the Red River down the street from the Centennial Concert Hall. Its plain brick exterior disguises the massive equipment within its walls. Its pumps drew large quantities of water from the Red River and pushed it through a separate grid of pipes and special hydrants buried beneath downtown Winnipeg streets. …

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