It has been a fixture on Kenaston for more than 50 years. The Inland Cement plant was constructed in 1963 and completed in 1965. In a few more weeks the large buildings responsible for build Portland cement (a type of concrete) will be gone forever. City Mix continues to operate in adjacent buildings and cement is made in a building by a rail spur line by Inland Lehigh.
The location of the cement plant was no accident as nearby clay was quarried from what is now the Fort Whyte lakes. From 1913 to 1992 clay was dug up and holes left that were 60 feet deep. Things slows by late 1980s and by 1994 the Kenaston plant and cement/quarry site near present-day Forth Whyte shut down.
The quarry site is a distribution center now with several buildings and rail connections. The Kenaston plant has sat empty since 1994 although cement trucks continue to come to the next door Lehigh plant. Several Canadian and Hollywood production companies have filmed in the cavernous building over the years including last year. It lent itself to a horror or dystopian future milieu.
Until the 1980s Kenaston was a two lane road primarily built to go to the cement plant and rail yards. Linden Woods was not yet built and held the Van Wellingham dairy farm. Driving down Waverley, there was an unobstructed view all the way west to Kenaston, the cement plants and beyond.
The cement plant will soon be gone as will the Kapyong Barracks which are rapidly being torn down. Rumours about about what will go where the cement plant is. Easiest would more offices for the Terracon Business Park but there has also been talk of restaurants and a hotel to take advantage of proximity to IKEA.
Industrial buildings are never architectural gems, especially ones abandoned and spray painted. It does mark the end of an area for a building that represents what Kenaston used to be: an industrial service road. It has grown to much more and the plant’s demolition was inevitable. Still, when you drive by, remember that the land used for cement was tomorrow’s gift as Fort Whyte and for one of Winnipeg’s biggest commercial roads.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations