Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Recently Designated: The Carnefac Block at 188 Princess 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.

188 Princess Street ca. 2014. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.

The Development of the Warehouse District 

When William Avenue became a busy thoroughfare in the early 1880s, Princess Street also became significant in the development of Winnipeg's developing warehouse district. However, this development was not restricted to national firms taking advantage of the railway with large warehouses - newer and smaller businesses claimed space there as well. These smaller business often built small structures that were later expanded as the business grew.

Princess Street looking south from Ross Avenue ca. 1903. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the M. Peterson Collection.

Two-Part Commercial Blocks 

Like the Lauzon Block, the Carnefac Block was designed as a two-part commercial block, a building style that can be traced to Roman times and developed into a popular form of urban structure throughout Europe and North America. These buildings are generally two to three storeys, with the lower level used for retail and the upper floors reserved for residential, office, or storage space.

Design & Construction of 188 Princess Street

The Carnefac Block two years after construction. Notice the large display windows, which have since been replaced. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the M. Peterson Collection.
An integral part of the streetscape of Princess Street, the Carnefac Block is an example of one of these small business structures. Built by William G. Douglas in 1901, the building houses his animal feed business with warehouse space, a showroom, and retail store. The feeding of livestock was still an important business in a city that had yet to see its first automobile and still largely depended on horses for transportation.

Basement support ca. 2015. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and M. Peterson.
The building is a solid brick structure with wood beams and posts being used for interior supports. Two metal I-beams are listed in the original City of Winnipeg Building Permit as being used at the front of the building, which in turn are supported by metal columns. Oversized wood columns and beams combined with heavy timber flooring throughout the structure provided a much greater level of support than would normally be expected in this kind of building. The total cost of construction in 1901 was $14 000 by contractors D.D. Wood and G.A. Mitchell.

Basement vault ca. 2015. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and M. Peterson.

Architect

The architect for this project was John H. G. Russell, who came to Winnipeg in the early 1890s after several years working in the United States. By 1895, he had established a private practice in Winnipeg. In a career spanning several decades, he would come to design many of the city's finest commercial, residential, institutional, and religious structures. Examples of his work include the Lake of the Woods Building (to be included in Doors Open Winnipeg 2016), Augustine Presbyterian Church, Westminster United Church, and the Royal Bank of Canada building. For a complete list, see the Memorable Manitobans section of the MHS website here.

Exterior Appearance

The Carnefac Block in 2014. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and M. Peterson.
The original front facade of this building was very different for the ground and second floors, as was common for this type of structure. The original ground level had an arched doorway at the south end which likely lead to the second floor offices of owner W.G. Douglas. Four large display windows - two on either side of the main entrance - dominated the front, with a panel of wood cladding beneath each. A corbelled brick band above the display windows divided the first and second floors.

Close up of detailing on the second floor of the front facade ca. 2014. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and M. Peterson.
The upper level has not been significantly change and was designed with six windows set in plain wooden frames with radiating brick heads and rough-cut stone lug sills. The southernmost bay on the second floor protruded slightly and an ornamental column finished the wall on the north end.

W.G. Douglas 

William Griggs Douglas. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and reproduced from Manitobans as As We See 'Em, 1908 and 1909, published c1909, by the Newspaper Cartoonists' Association of Manitoba, courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society.
William Griggs Douglas was born in Cambray, Ontario in 1863 and came west in 1881 to Brandon, where he worked as a court clerk. He moved to Winnipeg in 1882, he moved to Winnipeg and became involved in the grain trade by 1888. In partnership with his brothers, Robert A. and Thomas J. Douglas, he formed the Carnefac Stock Feed Company, which would operate out of headquarters at 188 Princess Street until 1920. A grain elevator on Arnaud Street in St. Boniface was also operated by the company.

Douglas was a Winnipeg City Councillor from 1907-1910, during which time he chaired the Police Commission and the Board of Health, and acted as Controller of City Works and Bridges. He retired to California in 1924 and remained there until his death in 1936.

Renovations & Tenants

Undated stencil on the second floor "Carnefac Stock Food: The Great Flesh Producer". Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and M. Peterson.
Originally, the front half of the ground floor was occupied by Carnefac Stock Food Company, for which the building was named. W. G. Douglas was owner of the company and had offices upstairs. The ground floor featured the retail store, offices, a walk-in vault, washrooms, and a public counter. Much of the ceiling was clad in ornamental tin. The rear of the floor was likely used for storage and the loading and unloading of goods.

Dairy Supplies Limited ca. 1969. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Architectural Survey.
Other tenants of the building included Johns-Manville, which sold asbestos shingles and insulation (1929) as well as Dominion General, jobbers and Northwest Mail Order (1939). Carnefac Stock Food Company owned the building until 1942, when it was sold to the manager of the Fort Rouge Jobbing Company, Samuel Koff. By the late 1940s, it was owned and occupied by Dairy Supplies Limited.


Architect's Plans for the front facade or "Front Elevation" ca. 1961. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the City of Winnipeg Plan No. 55/1961.
1961 saw a complete redesign of the ground floor facade, with squared aluminum replacing the arched doorway at the south end, and smaller openings replaced the central doorway and display windows. New "face brick" finished the look. In addition the east end of the interior was reorganized into a mix of public space with counters and private offices, all accessed using the southern entrance.

Architect's plans for the front elevation ca. 1980. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the City of Winnipeg Plan No. 1201/1980.
In 1980, the building was purchased and converted into a social club for the Winnipeg Police Athletic Association, who purchased it from Dairy Supplies Limited. The front facade from the 60s was replaced again and the ground floor windows were built to match the upper floors and the upper storey brick was sandblasted. A rough stone base was also added at this time and the 1961 door at the south end of the main facade was replaced by an arched unit.

Architect's plans for the south elevation ca. 1980. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the City of Winnipeg Plan No. 1201/1980.
 The corbelled brick band separating the first and second floors was replaced by pre-finished chocolate brown aluminum. The south facade (which faces a back lane off Princess), had two arched entrances added with the central opening accessed by a ramp and the rear unit accessed by stairs. All of the window openings on this side were also bricked in during these renovations.

Architect's rendering of the interior ca. 1980. Image courtesy of City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the City of Winnipeg Plan No. 1201/1980.
In the interior, the basement was divided into offices, washrooms, and recreation rooms. The ground floor had washrooms and serving facilities at the south end with an open seating area taking up the rest of the space. The upper floor was divided into kitchen/bar space, washrooms, and cloak rooms, along with more open seating. Further interior renovations were completed in 1983.

Original elevator ca. 2015. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and M. Peterson.

The Building Today




Ground floor ca. 2015. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and M. Peterson.
Today, the majority of the 1980s renovations remain intact. The basement features an original brick-encased walk-in vault and the ground floor includes open and office space while the second floor holds the bar/kitchen area. At the time of the City of Winnipeg's Historical Report, the original wood elevator was still in operation and a stencil of the Carnefac Company was found on the north wall of the second floor. It is now used by a congregation as a church and drop-in centre. 

Second floor ca. 2015. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and M. Peterson.

Sources & Links

A serving of food for the soul (Winnipeg Free Press April 30, 2012)
City of Winnipeg Historical Report - Long
City of Winnipeg Historical Report - Short
Virtual Heritage Winnipeg - The Carnefac Block

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1 comment:

  1. Great photos and history lesson. I really enjoy pictures that show the origins of Winnipeg, and learning about how they became what they are today. I've actually been inside the building at 188 Princess, but I can't exactly remember why...it would have been in the 1980s. The only thing I can think of is that I had an account at the Wpg Police Credit Union, and I believe it was located in this building before it moved into its present spot at the corner of William and Princess. It's not mentioned in the article, but the possible connection with the Wpg Police Athletic Association makes me think I'm right!

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