Manitoba once boasted nearly 200 brick-making factories – many small and short-lived, some enormous and productive for decades. Over the course of 130 years, from the early 1860s to 1990, these factories turned out the billions and billions of bricks that were used to put up the very walls of thousands of our province’s landmark buildings. Manitoba Brick: A History of Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba, 1860-1990, by David Butterfield (retired Architectural Historian for the province’s Historic Resources Branch) explores this important and fascinating history.
Using comprehensive and detailed inventories of all these brick-making operations, developed by architectural historian Randy Rostecki for the Historic Resources Branch in 2010, Mr. Butterfield guides readers through a rich period of our past that has largely been forgotten.
Beginning with the first attempts at brick-making in the 1860s, and continuing up to 1990, when the last operation—Red River Brick and Tile at Lockport—closed up shop, Mr. Butterfield explores all the major historical themes, notable details and compelling anecdotes that make this aspect of our heritage so important. With a straightforward and engaging approach, he highlights the entrepreneurs who developed the yards and the skilled men and women who worked on them. He explores and explains the wealth of fascinating technologies and processes used to form and fire the bricks. And he delves into the claims for production, quality and sophistication that made Manitoba a major source for brick for much of Western Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Copiously animated with 123 photographs and illustrations, Manitoba Brick: A History of Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba, 1860-1990 is a significant addition to the ongoing exploration of our province’s industrial past.
This document is available in seven parts, for ease of download:
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Introduction (7 pages 1 MB) Download
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Context, Brick Making in the Ninteenth Century (23 pages 2.7 MB) Download
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Pioneer Era 1860-1880 (17 pages 1.5 MB) Download
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Development Era 1881-1896 (25 pages 2.5 MB) Download
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Consolidation Era 1897-1917 (41 pages 6 MB) Download
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Modern Era 1918-1990 (5 pages 1 MB) Download
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Conclusion (8 pages 1 MB) Download
Three appendices are essential features of this project. The first two are Randy Rostecki’s surveys of operations in Winnipeg and St. Boniface (Appendix 1), and of Small Urban and Rural operations (Appendix 2). A third appendix highlights the various historical claims that have attended the industry over its 130 year duration.
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Appendix 1 - Winnipeg & St. Boniface Operations (67 pages 15 MB) Download
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Appendix 2 - Small Urban & Rural Operations (172 pages 25 MB) Download
- Brick Manufacturing in Manitoba: Appendix 3 - Statistics & Charts (17 pages 1 MB) Download
Leary Brick Works
Mr. Butterfield has also undertaken a major project focusing on the last remaining historic brickyard in Manitoba. Leary Brick Works: An Exploration of a Manitoba Heritage Landmark is a 157-page study of the family, buildings and especially of the brick-making machinery, technologies and processes that defined brick-making in Manitoba 100 years ago. The full study is available on the Carman-Dufferin Community Heritage Website: http://carmandufferinheritage.ca/local%20heritage/special%20places/leary-brick-works.html