At the beginning of the last century, no city on the continent was growing faster or was more aggressive than Winnipeg. No year in the city’s history epitomized this energy more that 1912, when Winnipeg was on the crest of a period of unprecedented prosperity. In just forty years, it had grown from a village on the banks of the Red River to become the third largest city in Canada. In the previous decade alone, its population had tripled to nearly 170,000 and it now dominated the economy and society of western Canada. As Canada’s most cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse centre, with most of its population under the age of forty, it was also the country’s liveliest city, full of bustle and optimism.
In Winnipeg 1912 Jim Blanchard guides readers on a tour through this golden year when, as the Chicago Tribune proclaimed, “all roads lead to Winnipeg.” Beginning early New Year’s Day, as the city’s high society rang in 1912 at the Royal Alexandra Hotel, he visits the public and private side of the “Chicago of the North.” He looks into the opulent mansions of the city’s new elite and into its political backrooms, as well as into the crowded homes of Winnipeg’s immigrant North End. From the excited crowds at the summer Exhibition to the turbulent floor of the Grain Exchange, Blanchard gives us a vivid picture of daily life in this fast-paced city of new millionaires and newly arrived immigrants. Richly illustrated with more than seventy period photographs, Winnipeg 1912 captures a time and place that left a lasting impression on Canadian history and culture.