Bringing UWinnipeg’s history to life on Spence Street

wall1Photo: Original Tyndall stone embedded in new UNITED Health & RecPlex as construction nears completion 

WINNIPEG, MB – It was 1871 when the first students gathered in a house in what is today West Kildonan to study the classics, an initiative of the Reverend John Black. That humble beginning grew to become The University of Winnipeg and as the new UNITED Health and RecPlex takes shape on Spence Street, history will be preserved with a piece of original Tyndall stone embedded next to the front entrance of the complex. In the coming months the goal is to commission an original artwork on the stone with accompanying text.

That first West Kildonan house with Tyndall stone features was owned by Selkirk Settler Donald Murray, and would become Manitoba College. Manitoba College (1871) and Wesley College (1888) merged to form United College in 1938 and then The University of Winnipeg, which  received its charter in 1967.

Several years ago, educator, history enthusiast and former Chair of The University of Winnipeg’s Board of Regents Richard Graydon was walking the Murray property and he came across a Tyndall stone basement. It became his mission to reclaim and repatriate a section of that Manitoba College stone back to UWinnipeg’s main campus.

“It is a unique piece of history and these opportunities arise once in a lifetime,” said Graydon. “The University of Winnipeg comes from honourable roots that originate with the Selkirk Settlers, and it is wonderful to preserve this on campus so people can remember the foundation of Manitoba College and the Reverend John Black.”

Tyndall stone is a dolomitic limestone first used in 1832 for building Lower Fort Garry, and has since become popular for building purposes throughout Canada and the United States. The Canadian Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and the Manitoba Legislative Building have Tyndall stone in their construction. The rock is famous for its cream colour (limestone) with its pervasive coloured mottling (dolomite), caused by the burrowing of marine creatures when the limestone was deposited. The stone came from the quarry at Little Mountain Park.

“The UNITED Health & RecPlex is one of the most significant community resources ever built in Winnipeg’s inner city which will serve our students and the neighbourhood for decades to come,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “Because of Richard Graydon’s tenacity, our unique history will live on in a visible way for the next generation of Manitobans.”

Repatriation of the Tyndall stone was made possible through a generous $10,000 gift from the Donner Canadian Foundation.

A ribbon-cutting event will be held one week from today, on June 17, 2014 at the UNITED Health and RecPlex, which is the most significant recreation and wellness facility ever built in the inner city.

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Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E:




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