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History of Traffic Signals

1920's - 1930's

1922: Committee on Public Improvements recommends appointing City Engineer to represent the City on the Canadian Engineering Standards Association's Sectional Committee on Traffic Signals for Highways.

1926, September: Traffic signal installed and tested at the corner of Main Street and Higgins Avenue. "All unsuspecting the traffic approached the sign and wondered what had struck the street."

1926, October: Two additional signals installed at the corners of Portage Avenue and Donald Street, and Portage Avenue and Hargrave Street. Chief of Police, C. H. Newton, refers to it as the "American Traffic Bobby" system.

1927, April: New traffic signal installed at the corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street. "The red light means 'stop;' the amber gives warning of change, and the green signal beckons to proceed."

1928: Installation of additional traffic signals for an estimated cost of $2,250 to be placed at Selkirk Avenue and Main Street, Selkirk Avenue and Salter Street, Ellice Avenue and Donald Street.

1928: Two additional traffic signal lights to be installed at the corner River Avenue and Osborne Street, for an estimated cost of $230.

1940's - 1950's

1945: The Signals Department was formed on September 24th, 1945 by Order of Council, and was located in the Central Police Station building on Rupert Avenue. At that time the department had a staff of fifteen persons.

1948: Modernization and Extension of Traffic Signal System – Council Minutes

1952: City Municipal Manual reports 73 total signalized intersections in the City.


1962: City Municipal Manual reports 191 total signalized intersections in the City, including two railway actuated signals and 17 pedestrian actuated (school patrol) signals. In August 1962 the department moved into the Signals Building at 147 James Avenue.

1963: Mayor Stephen Juba officially opens the James Avenue City Signals building at a reception and luncheon February 6, 1963, at the Royal Alexandra Hotel. Event programme

1966: Proposal made for relocation of Signals Department Yard from the Public Safety Building to City-owned land on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Tecumseh Street. Property was purchased from Midland Railway Company in 1956.

1969: From the City Municipal Manual, "It is interesting to note the ever increasing use of electronics in all phases of communications, including traffic control, and in this respect the department has electronics and traffic signal laboratories equipped with the latest testing facilities."

* Credit to University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections (UMASC) and Winnipeg Tribune

** Credit to City of Winnipeg Transit Department

Last update: February 7, 2019

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