Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Places

Buildings

Assiniboia Downs Race Track

Address:3975 Portage Avenue
Original Use:Horse Racing Track
Constructed:1958
Architects:Green Blankstein Russell
Firms:Green Blankstein Russell

More Information

Green Blankstein Russell were the architects of the 1958 Assiniboia Downs race track, with James Enterprise Ltd. as the builders and Borger Bros Ltd. as the contractors. Work on the race track began September 18, 1957, a little over a year after the Polo Park race track closed its doors. The new race track, with an expected cost of $4,000,000, was designed to seat 5,000 and have facilities for 600 horses.

Over 200,000 yards of earth had to be removed for construction. The structure is of reinforced concrete construction and has a steel cantilever roof. The track is over 80 feet wide and was made with a base of compact clay topped with eight inches of rolled sand to permit for quick drying when it rained.

Assiniboia Downs opened on June 10, 1958 with 6,500 attendees. The track was described as “posh” and even called “Western Canada’s Finest Race Track.” The project only ended up costing $2.5 million. A local newspaper reported that someone got stuck in an elevator on the opening day, but that an employee responded saying “Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it. If you start to worry about everything that went wrong around here today, you’ll go crazy!” Despite the many hiccups, folks were overall happy with the opening.

Design Characteristics

  • Reinforced concrete construction
  • Steel cantilever roof
  • Built on a 200 acre site
  •  

Sources

  • “Start to Build New Race Track—‘Assiniboia Downs,’” Winnipeg Free Press, September 17, 1957
  • “Track Opening Hits Snag, But Big Prices Thrill Fans,” Winnipeg Free Press, June 11, 1958
  • “Just About Everything Took Place At Track,” Winnipeg Free Press, June 11, 1958