West End, Winnipeg
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The West End of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is a mostly residential area west of Downtown Winnipeg. It is bordered by Route 62 (Osborne, Memorial, Colony, and Balmoral Streets) on the east and stretches as far west as St. James Street, the boundary between the old City of Winnipeg and St. James-Assiniboia. The southern boundary is the Assiniboine River and the northern boundary is Notre Dame Avenue. It includes the neighbourhoods of West Broadway, Armstrong's Point, Spence, Wolseley, St. Matthews, Daniel McIntyre, Sargent Park, and Minto.
The area is ethnically diverse as is evidenced by the Philippine, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Chinese, East Indian and Thai restaurants that line both Ellice and Sargent Avenues. According to the 2006 City of Winnipeg census, the West End is 48% Caucasian, 25% Filipino, 15% Aboriginal, and 12% other visible minorities. Historically, the area was home to large German, Scandinavian, and Icelandic communities, though it has become more ethnically diverse in recent decades.
In 2001, the population was 35,500, down from the 1971 pre-Unicity population of 46,320.
The area was originally a part of the Parish of St. James until the boundary of the City of Winnipeg was extended to St. James Street from Maryland Street (formerly Boundary Road) in 1882. Development of the area as a working and middle class residential area began in the late 19th century and continued through the 1920s until the area was completely built up. The area developed rapidly due to its proximity to Downtown Winnipeg, and, unlike Winnipeg's North End, the mainline of the Canadian Pacific Railway did not impose a physical barrier between the West End and Downtown. This fact, while it enhanced the area's reputation, retarded the development of a strong sense of community, and the West End is today much less well-known outside of Winnipeg than the North End. The area was also well served by the city's street railway system with lines on Portage Avenue, Sargent Avenue, Sherbrook Street, and Arlington Street. The industrial area located adjacent to the railway spur between Wall and Erin Streets provided employment for many West End residents.
The West End was considered Ward Two in the Old City of Winnipeg and was seen as the "swing riding" between the affluent and conservative Ward One and overwhelmingly socialist Ward Three, which comprised the North End and Elmwood.
The area declined in the years following World War II as many of the more affluent families moved to Winnipeg's suburbs and much of the housing stock was converted to rooming houses and became dilapidated. During the 1970s, parts of the area, particularly the neighbourhoods east of Arlington Street were marked by crime. The majority of the properties in these areas were rentals with a transient population, and prostitution and poverty became a problem in the neighbourhoods east of Arlington.
Since the 1980s, a notable revitalization of these eastern neighbourhoods has been made. Numerous urban beautification projects have been undertaken and in 1987, The West End Cultural Centre was founded in an old church at Ellice Avenue and Sherbrook Street. The venue attracts 30,000 people a year to various events, mostly musical shows. The importance of a healthy and vibrant West End to the future success of Downtown Winnipeg has also been recognized.
The neighbourhoods west of Arlington street and south of Portage have experienced a sharp renaissance in recent years and are again seen as desirable residential locations. These areas have experienced rapid increases in property values in the last decade; in many cases values have doubled, or even tripled.
The commercial area around Polo Park Shopping Centre has expanded rapidly beginning in the 1990s with the building of big-box retail outlets, restaurants, and a major hotel. It has now supplanted Downtown Winnipeg as the city's main commercial area. The West End was home to the Winnipeg Arena until its demolition in 2006 due to the construction of the MTS Centre.
Attractions in the area include, the University of Winnipeg, Vimy Ridge Memorial Park, Omand's Creek and Park, Westview Park, and the Sargent Park Recreation Complex, as well as many houses, apartment buildings, schools, and an armoury with significant architectural merit. Portage Avenue is the site in the summer months of the "Sunday Night Cruise" by automobile enthusiasts, which while delighting the participants, raises the ire of many West End residents due to the noise, and the all too frequent practice of drag racing.
Both Ellice Avenue and Sargent Avenue between Balmoral and Arlington (and even further west) are well-known in Winnipeg for having a large number a large variety of ethnic restaurants and stores.
(Source for Statistics: Statistics Canada, 2001 Census of Canada).
(Source for Statistics: 2006 City of Winnipeg Census).