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Winnipeg Unveils 1919 General Strike Monument near Exchange District's 'Hell's Alley'.

Over the years there have been a large number of popular and scholarly publications documenting the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 from a variety of perspectives. Recently, the Exchange District, as the area where a large number of events associated with the General Strike took place, has seen innovative interpretive resources developed to commemorate the complex narrative surrounding this pivotal event in Canada's history.

On 2 November, a new monument commemorating the Winnipeg General Strike was unveiled at the prominent corner of Lily Street and Market Avenue. Crafted primarily from weathered steel, the monument designed by Winnipeg's Monteyne Architecture was selected by a jury as the winner of a City of Winnipeg design competition. Echoing steel structure construction emerging in the early 20th century, the exhibit is also a nod to Winnipeg's Vulcan Iron Works, the Point Douglas foundry which employed some of the striking workers.

Subtly angled to attract the interest of passers-by, the monument is in two parts. On the left is a synopsis of the strike story in text form under four headings: prelude, early days, climax and legacy. Events identified are keyed to nine sites on a large steel map of the immediate district. It is here that the infamous 'Hell's Alley' is identified, a blind alley where strikers fled and were unable to exit as the so-called 'special constables' on horseback beat anyone in their path.

On the right side of the monument is a large flat board inset with many words evoking causes of the strike and its legacy, including 'crucible', 'justice', 'freedom', 'war', and 'order' The two sections take awhile to read and require daylight, but at night the right section lights up and the numbers '1919' emerge.

Besides the interpretive monument, the site features bench seating and a small stage area that can double as a venue for talks and events.

The Exchange District is a national historic site best known for its architectural character and rejuvenation as an important commercial, cultural and, increasingly, residential area. Integrating monuments such as this recent addition on the Winnipeg General Strike enriches the public's awareness of its important history.

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Title Annotation:MHS Gazette
Publication:Manitoba History
Geographic Code:1CMAN
Date:Sep 22, 2017
Previous Article:New Publication and Exhibit from Winnipeg Architecture Foundation.
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