Did she by any chance witness it's construction or did anyone you know remember it being built or this architects other work?
for directly addressing Winnipeg architecture in this thread. At least I can offer some evidence that I can physically verify.
Oddly enough Winnipeg has also been subjected to devastating flooding. Due to the Red River draining northward, ice dams can build up near the mouth of Lake Winnipeg and expand the river essentially into a giant lake over the flat prairie - sometimes deep into North Dakota. Here's a pic of the 1950 flood.
And yes, in terms of our soil, it is poorly draining clay that runs very deep (The ancient bottom of Glacial Lake Agassiz) - so mud flood could be used to describe what is left after the water recedes.
This is a photo of the crest of the flooding that happened in 1950 in a neighbourhood known as Riverview:
The houses above were relatively new at the time and do still stand. I personally have lived in two different houses in Riverview that had been flooded in 1950. Both were built in the 1920's. The houses always have foundation problems and are always crooked as they re-settled after the flood.
The 1950 flood is considered one, if not the, most catastrophic floods in Canadian history.
There was little loss of life (you can see it coming for days) but the property and infrastructure damage was extreme. As for personal recollections, my maternal Grandfather was working for the gas company at the veterans hospital in Riverview when the dyke failed. He had a great, but terrifying story witnessing that.
In response to this event and the fact that a larger one had happened in 1826, our provincial government undertook building one of the largest earth moving projects in modern history -The Red River Floodway.
Red River Floodway
Since it was finished, it's saved billions of dollars in damages. I was in my 20's for the 1997 flood (which was the largest since 1950), and although the Floodway saved the city, many smaller towns south of the floodway cutoff were heavily damaged (Grand Forks North Dakota was destroyed). Afterwards new ring dykes were built around them as well as new zoning laws to build on elevated ground, so as to minimize future damages in case of a similar event.
If I was to play "mud flood advocate", Winnipeg and the general area would be a good candidate. Cyclical catastrophic flooding and lots of mud regularly takes the area out. So what about the 1826 flood that was bigger than 1950? In 1826 there was already a fledgling agricultural colony here as well as long-established fur traders, metis and first nations people. Here's short blurb on it from the Province:
The 1826 flood was the largest known in the Red River Valley, with an estimated peak discharge about 40 per cent greater than the natural flow in the 1997 flood. The conditions that caused the 1826 flood have been described in detail by St. George and Rannie (2003). The event devastated the struggling Red River Settlement, led to the exodus of German and des Meurons regiment settlers, precipitated the relocation of the Hudson’s Bay Company headquarters from Upper Fort Garry (in present-day Winnipeg) to flood-free Lower Fort Garry (near Selkirk, 40 kilometres downstream).
There are a number of testimonies and books from various sources I've found that were written at the time or shortly after by people that have a long history of being here with hundreds of descendants. My neighbour's fiancee is directly descended from Narcisse Marion - who was 20 years old at the time of the 1826 flood. Also, in regards to the above mentioned "Des Meurons" who left during the flood - I live one street over from Rue Des Meurons and the Seine River where their homesteads were. We walk the river path with our dogs in summer and on the frozen river in the winter all the time. There are no unusual structures. Although there is a half-buried Pontiac from the 1950 flood that's pretty cool.
Our neighbourhood is the largest and oldest and French-speaking community in western North America and has a very active historical society. One of our neighbours who cat sits for us in the summer is a member. Not only are many people here related to notable historical figures going back to the early 1800's (or before), but the majority of those figures are buried at St. Boniface Cathedral and you can visit their graves.
Because of the uniqueness and loyalty to our local history, much what was unknown to let's say "Anglo-Canadian" mainstream history has been dug up by locals. The Oblate Fathers that founded our cathedral, went as far to find a rare set of correspondence from Pere Aulneau who was killed in a massacre on Lake of the Woods with La Verendreye's sons in 1735. The father's went so far as the reconstruct the lost location of one of those forts and rebuild it in the 1950's.
The point would be is that there is no way all of these records were re-written by the Cabal/Rothschild's etc.
What would be the point? Who cares about a few thousand farmers and trappers living in the northern wilderness and their history? Has there recently been a lot of political spinning/speculation about how that older culture lived? Yes. In a very pathetic, desperate woke way. But no change to the events from the 1730's to 2023.
I'm not going to get deep into Manitoba history (everyone on the forum will hit the snooze button
, No major event seems to be inserted or erased. Lots of spin and politics - yes. But the events aren't disputed.
So to follow the "buildings existing from a previous civilization that were built/incorporated into 19th century buildings
" assertion, it would have to have been before the 1730's in Manitoba. If you take a look at the thread @Debra
started, The Great Serpent Mound of Ohio,
I added some evidence and speculation about a large mound complex 250km from Winnipeg that points to another culture lost to memory that may have existed. But they are stone and earthen mounds and not near any major town or city. It's not about masonry and "buildings". If it's something "lost" - it's a completely different technology and not useful to 19th century builders.
The last point comes down to your original question on the Peck Building and whether my Great Grandmother was ever in the basement or was aware of the architect. She passed away in 1979, so I would not have known to ask her that then
As for Charles Wheeler - yes he is a well-known "father" of Winnipeg architecture. I personally find his style kind of constricting and "fortified". As I mentioned in a previous post. I really like the flamboyant, Barber & Barber styles much better. But his buildings do stand and if you visit the Winnipeg Free Press (previously Manitoba Free Press dating to the 1870's) archives there are many announcements about his buildings opening and their construction.
His "resume" for buildings in Winnipeg isn't unusual. "Proper" educated easterners have better resumes. No one's "faking" who built a major building in Carman or Deloraine. It would take a lot of coercing for someone to even visit Deloraine in those days by train. I don't find a single entry in that list from MHS that is suspect. None of them are mysterious buildings. His firm took a week to plan most of those smaller buildings. The whole issue was getting the materials and the craftsman - drafting is easy.
I have been to two weddings at St. Mary's Church (what we call the Holy Trinity church in your post). My grandfather was married at St. Mary's. I've also been in the Galt and Sanford buildings. But never in the basements.
If the smoking gun lies in basements - then I can say I've been in one of the oldest and weirdest one that's known in Winnipeg. Underneath this building and connected underground across the street to another building (the street wasn't there when it was built) was the earliest jail after the Hudson's Bay Fort "Brigg" at Upper Fort Garry. It's a rubble foundation with a dirt floor and the old outlines of the cells are still there. Very creepy.
It was built in the late 1870's, but was replaced by the Vaughan Street "Gaol" in 1881 (which you can still visit on ghost tours and is the nastiest place for energy and vibes in the province - the Gorilla Strangler was hung there).
In terms of Wheeler's "mysterious" appearance - almost everyone in Winnipeg in the 1870's and 80's showed up to make money and fame. We were the "Chicago of the North" and rapidly growing. Speculation and construction was everywhere. It was a boom town - soon to be city - that was the gateway to the west. Half of the second largest country in the world would be developed from the starting point of Winnipeg. From 1878 to 1910 an entire city was built.
Here's Winnipeg in 1875:
Wood buildings built on 50 feet of mud and clay that freezes, heaves and floods every year.
Once there was rail communication and stone masons, more substantial structures started to be built. Here's the first City Hall built a year later:
It collapsed by 1883 due to unstable soil (they filled in Cook's Creek and thought it would hold). So what changed to allow us to still have a handful of buildings from the late 1870's and a quite a few from the 1880's that still stand?
The Chicago Fire. Chicago had experienced the same issues with their soil before the fire, but builders there had the opportunity to rebuild the "White City" with all new engineering knowledge. They developed caisson "floating" foundations. Those building techniques were imported here and much larger buildings were constructed, many of which still stand. Although Winnipeg and Chicago don't seem connected now - the whole rail line world went from Toronto to Detroit to Chicago to St, Paul and then to Winnipeg. All building materials and grains went back and forth until the the early 1910's.
Although I can't know what my maternal Great Grandmother may have seen in the Peck Building basement, I can turn to a much bigger building project - in fact the largest one undertaken in Winnipeg before WW II - the Eaton's store.
Eaton's became the largest retailer in Canada shortly after the Winnipeg store was built. My paternal Great Grandfather was hired by Timothy Eaton in the 1890 as an actuary in Toronto.
He moved his way up to head of merchandising and was the guy who convinced T. Eaton to expand to Winnipeg rather than Montreal. In 1902 they broke ground. The basement/foundation there was mostly dug out by men with shovels and leveled with horses hauling railroad ties to flatten the soil. Piles and caissons were used to support the massive structure. My Great Grandfather was present for all phases of the construction and additions. He worked at that store from 1905 until he retired in 1939 as VP. My grandfather worked there almost his entire life until he retired in 1966 also as VP. My Dad worked there until 1977. I can safely say my Dad was in every corner of that building and it was all Eaton's built. No previous structures.
Eaton's went under in the 90's and the site was rebuilt into our current hockey arena. It's still the largest footprint of any downtown building in Winnipeg.
I think I can confidently say that Winnipeg has no previously built structures that were incorporated into major buildings. There are weird earthen mounds of unknown provenance, but they were removed and generally regarded as "cursed". If there are anomalies in Europe or Asia that's a different story. From all I've researched on cities in Canada, or even Detroit and Chicago, they all follow a very similar 19th century/early 20th century pattern of building development as Winnipeg (albeit on a much larger scale).
As a "mudflood" capital of North America, Winnipeg seems to have failed the test of the theory.