Wednesday, 25 November 2015

As Demolition Threatens: A History of Dennistoun House at 166 Roslyn Road

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

166 Roslyn Road ca. 2011. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society website.
By 1880, Winnipeg's business leaders began to build new homes on land across the Red river in the southern portion of the city. The district came to be called Fort Rouge, after the fur trading post built in 1738 by LaVerendrye at the juncture of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

By the early 1900s, the Winnipeg Electric Company had accelerated the growth of outlying suburban districts, providing wider streets and larger lots that only the affluent could afford. Roslyn Road, the first street south of the Osborne Bridge, became the district of stately bankers' homes.

Mr. Justice Robert Maxwell Dennistoun

Mr. Justice Robert Maxwell Dennistoun. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society website and the Archives of Manitoba.
The house at 166 Roslyn Road was built in 1909 by Mr. Justice Robert Maxwell Dennistoun (sometimes spelt Dennistown), who at the time was a partner in Machray, Sharpe, and Dennistoun. Barristers and solicitors, these men kept offices in the Bank of Ottawa building at 363 Main Street.

Dennistoun was born in 1864 in Petersborough, Ontario, the son of a lawyer and the daughter of a judge. Following in the family business, he graduated with a BA from Queen's University in 1885 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1888. A specialist in corporate law, he would come to represent many influential companies throughout his career.

Dennistoun House in winter ca. 1908. Image courtesy of the Provinical Archives of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

In 1892, he married Mildred Louise Beck of Peterborough. They would go on to have five children together. Three sons - James, John, and Robert - were born in Ontario, followed by two daughters - Mildred and Mary - who were born in Manitoba.

Dennistoun moved to Winnipeg in 1907 as the western counsel for the Canadian Bank of Commerce, later becoming the Bank's solicitor for Manitoba. That same year, he was called to the Manitoba Bar, followed by the Saskatchewan Bar in 1909. He was also honoured as King's Counsel in both Ontario and Manitoba, in 1908 and 1909, respectively.
R.M. Dennistoun. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society website.

Among his many achievements, Dennistoun is known for drawing up Manitoba's first Workman's Compensation Act. He was also responsible for writing two monographs on military law, serving as the Governor of Trinity College in Port Hope, and lecturing in the University of Manitoba Law School of the day.

In 1918, Dennistoun was appointed Puisne Judge of the Manitoba Court of Appeal, a position he held until he retired in 1946, at the age of 82. During this time, he was also made Deputy Judge of the Advocate General.

Colonel R.M. Dennistoun at Tidsworth Barracks, Salisbury Plain, England ca. 1915. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the Provincial Archives of Manitoba.
Alongside his career as a lawyer and a judge, Dennistoun maintained a career in the military. He was a Major in the 57th Regiment of the Peterborough Rangers and went overseas in 1914-1919 (WWI) as a Colonel to the Canadian Expeditionary Force, for which he was later decorated. Having lost his son John in the Great War, he gave the dedication address when the bronze statue honouring the war dead was unveiled at the Legislature in 1923.

The back of 166 Roslyn Road, ca. 1908. Image courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
Highly active in his community, Dennistoun was a member of the Masons (Corinthian Lodge No. 101), the Manitoba Club, the St. Charles Country Club, and All Saints Anglican Church. He also served as President of the Canadian Club of Winnipeg (1924-1925) and Commodore of the Royal Lake of the Woods Yacht Club. Lastly, he was a member of the first Advisory Board of the Winnipeg Foundation when it was founded in 1921.

Built in 1910, the house at 216 Cockburn Street is still there today and is now used as a 5-plex. Image courtesy of Karma Property Managment website.
In 1923, the home at 166 Roslyn Road was sold and the family moved to 216 Cockburn House in Fort Rouge. Robert Maxwell Dennistoun passed away on October 10, 1952.

After the Dennistoun family left, a widow named Mrs. Gertrude Stephen purchased the house and lived there until 1946, when it was purchased by restaurant proprietor Mrs. Myrtle Hall. Mrs. Hall stayed in the house until 1972, when it was purchased by the Richardson Company and likely used as temporary quarters for visiting and relocated company executives.

The House

Designed by architect John D. Atchison, 166 Roslyn Road cost approximately $15,000 to construct. The project's contractors were the Davidson Brothers. Atchison was the most important Chicago-style architect to work in Winnipeg, designing nearly 100 buildings between 1905 and 1922. Find a complete list of the buildings he designed here, on the MHS website.

166 Roslyn Road is approximately 40 x 45 feet and has a dramatic, heavily detailed entrance. The exterior is made up of a combination of brick veneer, rough-cast plaster, and half-timbering, with limestone in the trim. The brick and rough-cast finishes contrast with the cross gables, making for a visually rich exterior.

The building's entrance repeats the gable lines in light limestone that forms an archway. This, combines with the small panes of leaded glass in the door and side transoms to complete the old-world English look of the house. A two-storey brick balcony across the back of the house would have originally been screened in on the second floor, providing a sleeping porch - a popular feature in larger homes built prior to WWI.

The Dingwall Residence at 52 Roslyn Road ca. 1976. Image courtesy of the University of Manitoba's Winnipeg Building Index.
Dennistoun House is one of the strongest examples of Atchison's style from the period, with his mixing of finishes, emphasis on the front entrance, and the variation in the roof-line, which was usually accomplishes through gables and dormers. Dingwall House, built at 52 Roslyn Road, had a similar style but furthered the Scottish baronial look. This house has since been demolished and apartments built at that address.

The front entrance to the Dingwall Residence at 52 Roslyn Road ca. 1976. Image courtesy of the University of Manitoba's Winnipeg Building Index.
The writer of the original HBC report on this building asserts its importance to the Roslyn (and Osborne Village) district, as well as its importance as a historical connection to a notable figure in Manitoba's judicial and military history. Dennistoun House is also one the few private dwellings remaining from one of Winnipeg's early affluent suburbs, many of which have been lost to new development. It was these attributes, along with the historic exterior, that lead to Dennistoun House's municipal designation in 1984.

166 Roslyn Road. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
In 2009, an application was made to have that designation removed. The Historical Buildings Committee advised against de-listing the building in a report issued on March 20, 2009. On June 2, 2009, the Standing Committee on Property and Development recommended the house be removed from the List. On June 24, 2009, Winnipeg's City Council accepted the Standing Committee's recommendation and 166 Roslyn Road was removed from Winnipeg's list of designated buildings.

This de-listing was in direct contravention of the Osborne Village Neighbourhood Plan, which seeks to discourage the demolition of historic or architecturally significant buildings or structures. Demolition is only to be an option as a last resort, when buildings are found to be structurally unsound beyond repair by an independent structural engineering report (7.1.6.A on page 27).

Dennistoun House, not long after its completion ca. 1908. Image courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.
Heritage Winnipeg, concerned by the precedent being set for heritage buildings and older neighbourhoods in Winnipeg, advocated that the decision be reversed, along with the Osborne Village Neighbourhood Association and numerous members of the community. This eventually lead to OVNA, with support from Heritage Winniepg, taking the City to court on the matter, but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful in getting the decision reversed. The details of the Judge's Decision can be found here.

People both in the neighbourhood and the city at large had much to say about the de-listing and continue to object to the project. Below are some of the comments posted on the Planners Network Manitoba Website, shortly after the de-listing:

"I'd be sad to see the old house go because it has some sentimental value, 
but also because I like how the landscape of Osborne Village reflects
 its history and its diversity" ~ Molly Johnson

"I think it is time Winnipeg got its act together and did not set up these 
"one or the other" scenarios. There are plenty of spaces to add density 
and housing downtown without sacrificing our culture and history. 
Great cities make room for both." ~ Suzanne Gessler

At the moment, Dennistoun House is being used as apartments. The project continues to move forward and the building is set to be demolished to make way for a 12-storey condominium project, pictured above. For more details about the proposed condos, check out the development company's website. For more information about the delisting of this historic building and the ensuing controversy, check out the news articles and links below.

News Articles

Jan. 16, 1987 - Roslyn Road was stately Bankers' Row

June 2, 2009 - Century-old home on Roslyn stripped of heritage status
June 2, 2009 - Winnipeg heritage building stripped of status, slated for destruction
June 5, 2009 - Why tear down a building dream?
June 10, 2009 - EPC approves de-listing of 101-year-old heritage home in Osborne Village
June 10, 2009 - An Osborne heritage building by any other name...
June 10, 2009 - Century-old Winnipeg home a step closer to demolition
June 24, 2009 - City council strips 101-year-old Osborne Village home of its heritage status 
Sept. 30, 2009 - Heritage battle goes to court

June 18, 2010 - Green light or no, condo sales begin
July 26, 2010 - Area residents lose appeal to save historic home
Aug. 2010 - De-designation of Winnipeg's Dennistoun House Approved

Sept. 8, 2015 - Osborne Village character homes could meet wrecking ball
Sept. 15, 2015 - Dennistoun House in Osborne Village at risk for demolition
Sept. 16, 2015 - Century-old Osborne Village homes one step closer to the wrecking ball
Oct. 13, 2015 - Osborne Village condo proposal OK'd by City of Winnipeg committee

Sources & Links 

"166 Roslyn Road: Dennistown House". Report prepared by the Historical Buildings Committee. 9 October 1984. Print.
Heritage Winnipeg Website - Updates on Dennistoun House
Manitoba Historical Society on Dennistoun House
Memorable Manitobans - Robert Maxwell Dennistoun
Sunstone Group - the planned Dennistoun Condominiums that require the demolition of 166 Roslyn Road, among others.  

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Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Armstrong's Point: A Heritage Conservation District In the Making

Guest Post by and images courtesy of Pat Thomson, resident of Armstrong's Point.
Edited by Laura McKay, on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg.
To follow up on this, or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.

Pamphlet for the Community Workshop for the Armstrong's Point Heritage Conservation District Study held on October 15.

Plans are underway to designate one of Winnipeg's oldest neighbourhoods as the City's first residential Heritage Conservation District (the Exchange District is another area that has this designation). The City of Winnipeg has completed a Heritage Conservation District Study for the area and the next phase will yield a plan proposing ways to conserve, protect, and celebrate the neighbourhood's distinct historic character.

There are many reasons why Armstrong's Point was chosen to become Winnipeg's first residential Heritage Conservation District:

1) The Unique Layout and Configuration 

The peninsula formed by a large bend in the Assiniboine River creates a distinct 22-hectare (54 acre) community with a unique streetscape and layout. The historic gateposts at the entrance to each of the neighbourhood's three streets also help to define an area with a unique streetscape and geographic boundaries.

Map of the peninsula that makes up Armstrong's Point. Image courtesy of Manitoba Archives, H3 614.411A EDC, 1906, N3383/N3384.

Prior to European contact, the area was a gathering spot for Aboriginal inhabitants. For a time, a Metis man named Joseph Peltier (Pelletier) established a camp there and thus, until the late 1840s, the peninsula was known to local residents as Peltier's Point.

In 1851, the Hudson's Bay Company granted the land to Captain Joseph Hill. When he was ordered to England for the Crimean War in 1855, he left his batman, Private James Armstrong, in charge of the property. Armstrong did not hear from Hill for several years and in 1873, he sold the land to Francis E. Cornish, soon to be Winnipeg's first mayor, for $1000.

Image courtesy of the Legislative Library of Manitoba, Winnipeg Telegram, 23 October 1909, p.10.
Armstrong died in 1874 but his son Elliot continued to live there. During their tenure, the area came to be known as Armstrong's Point. In 1880, Hill, having learned of escalating land values in Western Canada, returned to Winnipeg and re-established title to his property. In April of 1881, he sold it to land developers for $24,000, although the local press inflated the sale price to $28,000. 

The first home was built in 1882 and still remains, now known by the address 147 East Gate. Most of the large homes that give the area its distinctive character were built between 1882 and 1920. 

2) The Long Association of Armstrong's Point with Prominent Winnipeggers

The builders and buyers of the impressive new homes in Armstrong's Point were some of Winnipeg's leading citizens. The families of important merchants, businessmen, lawyers, architects, engineers, doctors, dentists, and educators all made their homes there. Names such as Bannatyne Eden, Stobart, Kaye, McMeans, Sutherland, Tupper, Riley, Ryan, Waghorn, Ruttan, McIntyre, Glasgow, and Blair are still recognized today as important founding families of Winnipeg.

186 West Gate was the second home in Armstrong's Point built by Robert T. Riley, head of Northern Trust. His first was at 90 East Gate. Image courtesy of Denis Buchan.
Robert T. Riley in a political cartoon. Image courtesy of Manitobans as We See'em on the Manitoba Historical Society website.

Thomas Ryan's home at 5 East Gate. Image courtesy of the Legislative Library, Town Topics, 21 March 1908, P.10.
Thomas Ryan in a political cartoon. Image courtesy of Manitobans As We See'em on the Manitoba Historical Society website.

Daniel McIntyre's home at 123 Middle Gate. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Archives, Winnipeg-Homes-Daniel McIntyre-1, c1910.

Daniel McIntyre. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Archives.

3) The Protection of Significant Historical Assets

One of the main reasons for designating a community as a Heritage Conservation District is to protect its historic assets and conserve and celebrate the neighbourhood's significant character. Since the beginning of Armstrong's Point as a residential community in the late 19th century, several important buildings have been lost. 

The Lost Treasures of Armstrong's Point

158 West Gate - Demolished 1950

158 West Gate under construction in 1883. It was later demolished in 1950. Image courtesy of Randy Rostecki.
A. G. B. Bannatyne was an early Winnipeg merchant, philanthropist, and politician who built a large home at 158 West Gate in 1883-5. It originally cost over $38,000, had 30 rooms, and was constructed of local limestone trimmed with red sandstone imported from Duluth. Bannatyne ran into financial difficulties and was deeply in debt when he died in 1889. 
A. G. B. Bannatyne (1829-1891). Image courtesy of Men of Canada Vol. 3, P. 301.

His widow, Annie, was the Metis daughter of another prominent merchant named William Isbister, and lived in the house until 1899 when it was sold to James Stewart Tupper. Tupper was a prominent lawyer and the son of Sir Charles Tupper,  a one-time Prime Minister of Canada. He named the home Ravenscourt. 

Postcard image of Bannatyne's Castle at 158 West Gate.
Tupper's widow lived there until 1929 when it was rented for use as a boys' school, called Ravencourt Boys School. In 1935, growing enrollment at Ravenscourt forced the school to move to a larger and more suitable site in the Wildwood area of Fort Garry. The home was then rented by a girls' school, the Convent of the Sacred Heart, who stayed until 1949 when the City of Winnipeg seized the home for property taxes. Soon after, the City demolished the home.

86 West Gate - Demolished 1989

Convent of the Sacred Heart ca. 1951. Image courtesy of the Western Canadian Pictorial Index.
The home at 86 West Gate was built in 1901 for W. Rockley Kaye from a design by architect Walter Chesterton. This copy of an English country house was described in a 1989 report of the City's Historical Buildings Committee as having been "one of the area's and the city's most beautiful homes". 

Westgate Mennonite Collegiate ca. 1964. Image courtesy of the Westgate Mennonite Collegiate Website.
When 158 West Gate was demolished in 1950, the Convent of the Sacred Heart girls' school moved to 86 West Gate. However, by 1964, their enrollment had grown to almost 200 students and they moved to a larger site in Charleswood. The home at 86 West Gate was then sold to Westgate Mennonite Collegiate and was demolished when the Collegiate made a second major expansion in 1989. 

Westgate Mennonite Collegiate today.

The Cornish Bath at West Gate and Cornish - Demolished 1931

The Cornish Public Bath ca. 1929. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg, Park Department.
The Cornish Public Bath, a public swimming pool, was built at the same time as the Cornish Public Library in 1915. The site for the two buildings and the surrounding parkland were once occupied by the Winnipeg Water Works Company, which in 1882, started drawing and distributing water from the Assiniboine River. Although the Cornish Library has just celebrated its centenary, the Cornish Bath had foundation problems from the time it was built. It closed in 1929 and was demolished in 1931. The northbound span of the Maryland Bridge now covers the former site of the Cornish Public Bath.

93 Middle Gate - Destroyed by Fire 1973

93 Middle Gate ca. 1914. Image courtesy of the Legislative Library of Manitoba, Gas Power Age, April 1914.
James Ryan Sr. (1852-1937) was a principal of the Ryan and Fares Horse Exchange. He built an impressive brick and frame residence at 93 Middle Gate in 1910. His son, James Ryan Jr. built a home next door at 99 Middle Gate, also in 1910. In 1973, John and Margaret Kilgour owned the home at 93 Middle Gate when a fire destroyed it.

Political cartoon of James Ryan Sr. Image courtesy of Manitobans As We See'em on the Manitoba Historical Society website.

Next Steps in Establishing Armstrong's Point as a Heritage Conservation District

A consulting group called HTFC has completed its study of the historic Armstrong's Point community. The findings and recommendations of the Heritage Conservation District Study will now be submitted to the City of Winnipeg and, if approved, the Armstrong's Point HCD Plan will be prepared. 

According to the consultants, "the HCD Plan content may include policies and guidelines concerning future alterations to existing properties and new construction, landscape and streetscape elements, views and vistas, the tree canopy, and public works, etc. In addition, the HCD Plan will include an implementation section that outlines any necessary changes to the City of Winnipeg's development procedures, regulations, and capital programs".

Before too long, Winnipeg may soon designate its first residential Heritage Conservation District designed to conserve and celebrate the unique and very special neighbourhood known as Armstrong's Point.

About the Author

Pat Thomson has lived in Armstrong's point since 1982 and is a former President of the Armstrong's Point Association. During her time in Armstrong's Point, Pat has made a point of collecting articles and files (from past-presidents, for example) about the area. Several years ago, she realized she had accumulated a lot of valuable information and established the Armstrong's Point Archives, which she continues to maintain. Pat has a B.A. (Hons) and M.Sc. from the University of Toronto.

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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

First World War Digital Memorial Coming Soon to Winnipeg's Union Station (VIA Rail Canada)

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


Winnipeg's Union Station will soon be host to a digital display commemorating the First World War and those Canadians who lost their lives as members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. 

Aimed at acknowledging the 100th anniversary of Canada's involvement in WWI - which began in 1914, although Canadians did not participate until early in 1915 - the digitally-enhanced memorial will be housed in the VIA Rail Canada rotunda from approximately February 2016 until the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, on November 11, 2018. Additionally, the content will be made available for broader public access on a website later this year. 

Councillor Bryan Mayes was the driving force behind Heritage Winnipeg's involvement in the project, creating a unique and long-term memorial in a high traffic area, as well as in a building that had a pivotal role in World War I. To date, the Councillors from the City of Winnipeg have donated $30,000 in support of the project, making up about half of the funds needed to complete the memorial.
Union Station (123 Main Street) ca. 1915 courtesy of the Manitoba Archives N8378.
Winnipeg's Union Station is one of the largest and most prominent structures in the city's built heritage inventory. Built at the corner of Broadway and Main Street between 1908 and 1911, the station established itself as a key transportation hub for goods and immigrants arriving in Western Canada at the turn of the twentieth century. 

With the start of the WWI, the railways became even more important, carrying troops to training camps and transport ships, as well as bringing them home when the war was over. Canadian railways were also used to facilitate the wartime economy, transporting workers and products across the country. 

WWI Trench Fighting Demo in Winnipeg. Image taken by L.B. Foote, courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Manitoba.

Want to contribute? Donations to this project can be made using the button on the left - just specify in the memo line that you would like your donation to go to the First World War Digital Memorial Project. Donations can also be made by contacting the Heritage Winnipeg office at 204-942-2663 or 


Over 600,000 men and women enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-918) as soldiers, nurses, and chaplains. At war's end 64,944 Canadian military personnel, alongside 2,000 civilians, lost their lives. An additional 149,732 were injured in the sixth deadliest conflict in world history.

Canada, as a dominion of the British Empire, had automatically entered the war on August 4, 1914, when Britain declared war against Germany in support of its Russian and French allies. The Canadian Expeditionary Force, however, didn't land in France until early in 1915, after a massive enlistment and training movement. The CEF consisted of barely 3,000 men when war was declared, so many months of recruitment, training, and arms production was required to ready Canada's military for war.

On February 4, 1915, Private Guy Dwyer became the first Canadian combat casualty of the war. 


A mock up of what the memorial will look like, courtesy of Pattern Interactive.
Developed by Pattern Interactive, the First World War Digital Memorial will recognize the major offensive battles that Canada's Expeditionary Force participated in, listing the name, rank, and unit of each individual that was killed. The names will be displayed on the 100th anniversary of the month in which they lost their lives. The names of those individuals who lost their lives in smaller engagements will also be included, referencing the locations where they were killed, rather than the battle.

In addition to commemorating those who served our country and lost their lives as a result, it is hoped that this memorial will be a reminder to the public, children and youth in particular, as to the true cost of warfare. We need to remember why it is that we mark Remembrance Day each year and why peace isn't something we should take for granted.


The Canadian Encyclopedia on the First World War
Councillors unite for First World War digital commemoration project (Metro News April 8, 2015)
First World War Memorial Gets 100% Approval (On the Line - Winnipeg October 16, 2015)

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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Heritage On Main: The Cadomin Building at 280 Main Street

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

280 Main Street ca. 1920. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Archives and Greg Agnew.
In 1906, the completion of the T. Eaton Company store shifted the retail centre of Winnipeg from Main Street to Portage Avenue. However, despite this shift, businesses continued to build along Main Street north of Portage, particularly along what is known as "Banker's Row" - roughly the area of Main Street from Portage to William Avenue - where the opulent regional headquarters of the country's major banks stood.

280 Main Street today - home of CDI College. The six bays that were originally entrances to businesses have been filled in with windows and cement.
South of Portage, Main Street continued as it had for decades, as the home for hotels, small shops, and apartment blocks. The Cadomin Building joined this group in 1912, constructed as a modest two-part commercial block.

This multi-use style of building can be traced back to Roman times and was immensely popular throughout both Europe and North America. The first and upper floors of these buildings are divided both in function and occasionally in exterior design, with the lower levels reserved for retail while the upper floors housed residential, office, or storage space.

280 Main Street ca. 1920. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Archives and Greg Agnew.
Designed by architect John Danley Atchison, the Cadomin Building was constructed for a total cost of $50,000 in 1912. The steel frame structure was 100 x 120 x 39 feet (30.5 x 36.6 x 11.9 metres). Plaster and tin was used for accenting materials at the roof, along with concrete accents throughout. The exterior walls were made of tapestry brick.

John Danly Atchison ca. 1913. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society Memorable Manitobans website.
Atchison was a very well-known architect and also designed Dennistoun House, the Kennedy Building, the Canada Permanent Building, Manitoba School for the Deaf, the Curry Building, and the Bank of Hamilton, among others.  A list of Atchison's other Winnipeg buildings can be found here.
A cartoon of John Danley Atchison, ca. 1908/1909. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society Memorable Manitobans website.
The 1912 plans called for a symmetrical Main Street façade with six bays. On the ground floor, these made up the entrances to five retail shops and a large display window. Two centrally located doors provided access to two of the shops, as well as to the staircase that lead to the second floor offices.

Fire at the Scott Block, 272 Main Street, March 23, 1914. You can see the Cadomin Building in the foreground. Reproduced from V. Leah, Alarm of Fire [Winnipeg: Firefighters Burn Fund, 1982], p. 75
The first and second floors were separated by a wide band of tapestry brick, decorated with small concrete ornaments. The south wall was shared by the Scott Block (272 Main Street) and in 1948, a 50 x 51 foot (15.3 x 15.6 metre) addition was added for $14,000. In the original plans, the ground floor was divided up into eight stores, with the largest at over 2200 square feet (206.8 metres), located in the northeast corner. The other shops varied in size and two vaults were also located on this floor.

272 Main Street, after its recent facade restoration, for which it won an Annual Preservation Award in 2014.
The second floor was accessed through the grand Main Street staircase, or by a small stairwell at the northwest corner, via a Graham Avenue entrance. Twelve separate offices branched off a main hallway, and there were two sets of men's and women's washrooms and two more large vaults on this floor.
The second floor ca. 2003 when the City Report was prepared. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.
 The Cadomin Building was originally owned by the Canadian Dominion Development Company, who was also the Contractor. A real estate and investment firm, the company established their Canadian headquarters in the building.

Second floor windows, ca. 2003. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.
Early ground floor tenants included milliners Floy and Hazelle Jones, coal and billiard supplier J.D. Clark Company, the Winnipeg Map and Blue Print Company, and Nordheimer Piano and Music Company. Second floor tenants included photographers Foote and James, Dominion Pottery, the Canadian Club, and the Theosophical Society.

Roof detailing on the Cadomin Building, ca. 2003. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.
In the 1920s, the Italian Consultate was a tenant, along with contractors William Newman Company and J.P. Tremblay. The Canadian Dominion Development Company occupied the building until 1929 when they moved their offices too Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Charles H. Wilson, founder and president (1883-1924) of Wilson's Furniture. Reproduced from Wilson's of Winnipeg, 100th Anniversary [Winnipeg: Wilson's Furniture, 1983], p.1
In 1974, the Wilson Furniture Company moved into the Cadomin after renovations converted the building into a furniture showroom. The company was founded in 1883 by Charles H. Wilson, a cabinet maker from Shelbourne, Ontario. Wilson's previous building had been expropriated to make way for the Trizec development, leading to the move.

C. H. Wilson Furniture Store on Market Avenue ca. 1887. Reproduced from Wilson's of Winnipeg, 100th Anniversary [Winnipeg: Wilson's Furniture, 1983], p. 2

Undated photo of a Wilson's Furniture truck prior to their move to 280 Main Street. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.
Later alterations to the exterior of the building were extensive - the southern three bays of the Main Street façade were filled in with unsympathetic stucco panels, large metal display windows replaced the northern openings, and a large metal sign was added above the ground floor openings. A new entrance was also added at the northeast corner of the building. The upper floors remained mostly unchanged from the original design.

Wilson's Furniture in the Cadomin Building, ca. 1978. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.
Wilson's Furniture in 2003. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.
In 2003, when the City of Winnipeg's Historical Report was prepared, both the ground and second floors were being used to display furniture. New acoustic tile ceilings had been hung on both levels and new lighting installed. The original Main Street staircase to the second floor had been altered to branch off to the side, rather than ending directly on Main Street. 

The main floor being used to display furniture, ca. 2003. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.

ca. 2003. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.

ca. 2003. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.
The only original materials left in the interior were the floor radiators and baseboards along the north and east walls of the second floor. The second floor windows and roof have not been altered from the original design.

The staircase to the second floor ca. 2003. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.

The staircase to the second floor ca. 2003. Image courtesy of Murray Peterson, City of Winnipeg.
In 2003, the Cadomin building was evaluated for heritage designation after the Wilson Furniture Company closed its doors. As per the news  article below, the building was not designated, as the committee wished to leave demolition as a possibility for redevelopment.

Click here to read the Winnipeg Free Press article ca 2003.

280 Main Street Today

Today, 280 Main Street is the home of CDI College. A post-secondary institution, the college focuses on preparing students for careers in business, technology, art and design, and healthcare. There are 26 other locations for the college across Canada, serving communities from British Columbia to Ontario.

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