292 Water Street
Canadian Silver Fox Breeders' Association Building
Links and documents
1927/01/01 to 1928/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The three-storey brick building at 292 Water Street was built in 1927-28 as the headquarters of the Canadian Silver Fox Breeders' Association. It is located on the south side of Water Street west of the intersection of Water and Summer Streets. The structure features stone accents on the facade which include stone sills, beltcourse, and in the voussoir above the door and window on either side of the first storey. The registration includes the building and its lot.
The brick building at 292 Water Street has significant municipal, provincial and national historical value as the former national headquarters of the Canadian Silver Fox Breeders' Association. The fox farming industry of the earlier twentieth century began and prospered on Prince Edward Island and had great impact on the fur industry in North America. This building symbolizes Summerside's and Prince Edward Island's prominent place in the world wide fox industry when international buyers and local producers met in Summerside to fill orders for the fashion centres of New York, Paris, and London. The building also has heritage value as the home of various businesses since the 1950s.
The Canadian Silver Fox Breeders' Association was formed in 1920 to bring together breeders of the famously coveted silver fox whose pelts were in high demand for the fashion industry. The Association's first office was located on Queen Street in the Journal Publishing building. However, it gradually became evident that special facilities were needed to handle the co-operative pelt marketing business of the members.
The foundation for the three-storey brick building was completed in November 1927 and work on the upper levels began with Albert Baker in charge, using the architectural plans of Chappell and Hunter of Charlottetown. The Association moved into their new facility in May 1928. The ground floor housed the offices, boardroom, and book vault as well as a 16 by 28 foot vault that could hold several thousand fox pelts. An elevator near the back of the building gave access to the other floors. The second storey was devoted to a waiting room, receiving room, and grading room for the silver fox furs. The third storey was used for hanging pelts and for a storage and work area. There was additional storage space in the basement and another large vault. After November 1928, the basement also contained an electric drum which could clean up to 100 fox pelts at one time.
The expanding business of the Association necessitated enlargement of the building in 1937 under the supervision of the original contractor, Mr. Baker. An addition on the south end was built of brick walls reinforced inside with concrete to accommodate four new vaults, one on each floor. Each vault measured 28 by 16 feet and was fitted with doors of steel. The original two vaults constructed in 1928 were converted to office space.
The fox industry began to decline in the 1940s resulting in a drop in the number of fox ranchers. The Association decided to lease the second floor of the building. The first tenants were the Household Finance Corporation and Armstrong Insurance Claims. In 1963, the third floor was renovated for the Association offices and the ground level was leased to a branch of the Bank of Montreal until 1976.
In April 1978, the Association sold the building and set up an office in the Holman Homestead at 286 Fitzroy Street. The new owner was the office supply company of H.M. Simpson Ltd., followed in 1986 by a holding company that constructed the National Bank immediately to the east of 292 Water Street. The buildings share a common wall and a passageway on the third level connects the office space. The former Fox Breeders' headquarters now houses various commercial tenants. It stands as a reminder of the heyday of the fox industry that brought wealth to many investors in the area and added a new dimension to the economy of Prince Edward Island.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of the building is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the three-storey brick elevation with flat roof (the original parapet wall has been removed)
- the typical 1920s commercial style, close to the street, with large plate glass windows
- the north façade featuring stone geometric voussoir decoration on top of front door and opposite window
- the placement of the windows and door
- the stone beltcourse across the top of the first floor storefront windows and door
- the continuing contribution of the north (front) facade to the streetscape and the contribution of the south elevation overlooking the high traffic Confederation Trail and Waterfront area
Prince Edward Island
City of Summerside
Heritage Conservation Bylaw SS-20
Registered Historic Place (Summerside)
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
- Animal Products Processing Facility
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profiles
Cross-Reference to Collection