Wednesday, 26 November 2014

William E. Milner House at 51 Balmoral Street

Article by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.


Front facade. Photo courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
Front facade. Photo courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

Brief History

1865 - William Edwin Milner is born in Brampton, Ontario, where he would eventually serve as mayor for four years prior to his move to Winnipeg.


1893 - William H. Milner, eldest son of William E. and Charlotte Milner, is born in Brampton, ON.

1903 - Land originally granted to James Spence is subdivided into 63 lots along the south side of Balmoral and the east side of Spence Street.  James Spence was an ex-Hudson's Bay Company employee who had farmed the property for many years. 


North facade. Photo courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
North facade. Photo courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.


1907 - William E. Milner moves to Winnipeg as the new western manager of the Maple Leaf Flour Mills Company, bringing his family along with him.  

1909 - A house is built for William E. Milner and family at what is now 51 Balmoral Street. The work was completed by local contractor George W. Ford for a cost of $8000. It is constructed based on a revival of the Dutch Colonial style (1905-1912) that was originally used in the 18th century Dutch colonies of present-day New Jersey and New York. Common elements of these homes were a gambrel roof, spacious verandah, exterior chimney, and four distinct sides. 

1916 - William E. Milner becomes the director of the Maple Leaf Flour Mills Company, as well as the president of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange.

1921 - William E. Milner is appointed managing secretary of the Winnipeg Board of Trade.

July 1, 1942 - William E. Milner dies, leaving behind his wife Charlotte and their two sons, William and Roy. The house remains under the care and ownership of Charlotte.



Milner House from the south, 1992. Photo courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
Milner House from the south, 1992. Photo courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.


1952 - Charlotte sells the family home to her eldest son, William H. Milner.

1970s - Many of the other homes along the east side of Balmoral are demolished as part of an expansion by Great West Life Assurance. 

1990 - William H. Milner passes away and Milner House is sold to the Great West Life Assurance Company, who initially intended to demolish it to make way for a parking lot.

June 1992 - The Historical Buildings Committee evaluates 51 Balmoral at the request of the owner to determine heritage status. The house is deemed worthy of heritage designation (Grade III at the time), but official designation is not pursued.

1994 - Great West Life receives approval for a conditional parking lot along the east side of Balmoral Street, from Broadway to Mostyn Place. All remaining properties in this area are demolished, save Milner House, which could not receive approval due to its ambiguous heritage status. As such, the 1992 recommendation to heritage status went forward. Records note strong objection to demolition by community members as well as owner opposition to listing the building.

August 9, 1995 - The house receives heritage designation from the city of Winnipeg, prohibiting its demolition. Numerous uses for the building are explored but none deemed satisfactory by the owner. There is talk of relocating the structure but nothing material comes of these discussions.


West facade of Milner House, 1992. Photo courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
West facade of Milner House, 1992. Photo courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

1999 - A detached garage at the rear of the building is demolished.

2011 - An engineering report states that while the vacant building has continued to deteriorate, there do not appear to be new structural concerns and ongoing issues are primarily cosmetic ex: the roof, foundation movement due to lack of heating, cracking plaster, etc. Heritage Winnipeg speaks in opposition of a plan to de-list the property (remove its heritage designation). Winnipeg Free Press articles:  
End near for historic home?
Milner House keeps its heritage designation
Heritage House saved, for now

June 27, 2013 - CBC News: Debate over Milner House's future resurfaces

September 16, 2014 - Winnipeg Free Press article: GWL given extension to repair home on Balmoral Street

Sources & Links

City of Winnipeg Historical Report (Short)
City of Winnipeg Historical Report (Long)
Heritage Winnipeg on Milner House
Manitoba Historical Society on Milner House
MHS Memorable Manitobans: William E. Milner
West End Dumplings Blog article including Milner House 

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