Winnipeg’s North End: Then and Now
The North End of the City of Winnipeg was originally home to mostly Eastern European and Jewish working-class families who created a rich and vibrant culture and fueled the city’s economic boom in the early 20thcentury.
Known as the ‘Foreign Quarter,’ the North End was home to large numbers of Ukrainians, Germans, Russians, Poles, Hungarians and others. Living conditions were hard with inadequate housing, poverty-level wages, lack of public infrastructure (such as water), and little public investment in the quality of community life.
Although economically disadvantaged, the North End was home to a remarkable range of social, cultural and educational organizations and a thriving commercial centre on Selkirk Avenue. The result was a real sense of pride in being a ‘North Ender.’
Post-World War II, the North End changed dramatically. With growing suburbanization, many who could afford to do so relocated to the suburbs and other parts of the city leaving behind those least able to move. Economic life in the North End deteriorated, businesses closed, and the rich social and cultural life declined.
Recent efforts to renew community
Recent years have seen growing efforts on the part of community leaders to collaborate and promote the economic, social and cultural renewal of the North End. This has involved job creation, employment development for local residents, youth leadership development, improved and affordable housing, revitalization of the business sector, and initiatives to reduce crime and violence. These efforts have seen the growth of non-profits in the area, with many working to reduce poverty, provide needed social services, stimulate the local economy and revitalize the community.
New opportunity, new optimism
Today, the North End continues to be the first home for many new immigrants and refugees to Canada and for a growing number of Aboriginal people who locate where housing is least expensive—in the inner city and particularly in the southern portion of the North End.
As a result, the North End today is a culturally diverse neighbourhood with Canada’s largest urban concentration of Aboriginal people and Filipinos, and the largest Ukrainian centre outside Ukraine. The North End population is also younger than the rest of Winnipeg with nearly 23% under 15 years of age. Nearly 42% of the people in the North End are under 30 years of age. One-in-five households is led by a single parent. While the average North-End household income is $41,241, over 65% of households earn less than that.
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