The final building of the Waterloo Manufacturing Western Canadian Headquarters is no more.

Remnants of Waterloo Manufacturing

Remnants of Waterloo Manufacturing

This once sprawling enterprise occupied the now vacant lot on 4th Avenue East. The final building to meet the wrecker’s ball was the machine shop. I sat down with Portage’s noted history guru, Les Green, to get some background.

Les Green

Les Green



The Waterloo steam tractor for plowing and threshing was advertised as “no other its equal”. The Western distribution plant, set up in the rail yards in Portage la Prairie, was fitting of the company’s grand Lion logo.

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The facility consisted of huge storage sheds, an assembling room, and office. All the buildings were made of local light coloured brick courtesy of the Snyder brick yard. It is interesting to compare the Portage facility to the one built in Regina during the same time period. How times change! (Although if you look at the background of the artist’s depiction of the Western Headquarters you will see that he imagined great things for Portage la Prairie too!)

The Waterloo plant was an enormous operation. The buildings had their own rail siding from the main line and 80 people worked as employees.10 Les related an anecdote to show how substantial the construction was. At a time when sewer and water were not common, neighbors would gather during storms to collect the torrents of water that would rush off the metal roofing. Waterloo specialized in steam tractors and it would appear that the company had trouble adjusting to the appearance of gasoline engines and the impact of the Great Depression on farming. By World War Two the company’s presence in Portage la Prairie was all but over. Parts of the complex endured. The Rural Municipality used the machine shop for repairs and the head office housed returning war veterans for a period of time. Eventually the McCallister family established their pea and seed company on the site, the machine shop being sold to Portage Transport Company. A fire claimed parts of the other buildings and the office complex was finally torn down in 1992.

The original door hangers June 2014

The original door hangers June 2014

Machine shop June 2014

Machine shop June 2014 – Fourth Avenue East just east of Main (3rd) St.

Artist's depiction of the building circa 1915

Artist’s depiction of the building circa 1915

“Period images from the Waterloo Machinery Catalogue 1916, Courtesy of Les Green”

waterloo toy

Die-cast metal replica of Waterloo steam tractor courtesy James Kostuchuk

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