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James Ryan Shop

Elliston, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1998/10/17

View of left gable end of James Ryan Shop, Elliston, before restoration, circa 2004.; Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, file # M-035-014, Elliston - James Ryan Shop
James Ryan Shop, Elliston
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Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/02/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The James Ryan Store is a three storey building with a mid-pitched gable roof. Built in 1900, this property was used by James Ryan as a merchants store, providing goods to Elliston and the surrounding region. It is located in Elliston, Newfoundland. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The James Ryan Store has been designated a Registerd Heritage Structure because of its historical, architectural, and social values.

The James Ryan Store is historically valuable for its associations with the Ryan family and the mercantile trade in Newfoundland. The Ryan’s were the principle merchants on the Bonavista-Trinity Peninsula from around 1850 onwards. James Ryan began as a supplier for the inshore fishery and eventually expanded, building one of his many stores in Elliston. The Ryan Store was one of only a few businesses that survived the bank crash of 1895, and it grew in to a very prosperous trade that lasted in to the twentieth century. The Mercantile trade was historically important to Elliston because of the communities’ heavy reliance on the local inshore cod fishery. Up until 1950, the locals sold their cod to the town merchants such as James Ryan, who in turn supplied them with everyday necessities and work supplies. As one would expect, the mercantile trade in the community of Elliston play an important role in its survival.

Architecturally, the James Ryan store is significant because it is of a sort now found only in scattered locations throughout the province; it is a rare and good example of the shape and style of mercantile buildings in Newfoundland. A three-story 19th century mercantile structure with a sharp peak gable roof, the James Ryan Shop is typical of commercial buildings on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and the trademark style of the James Ryan Ltd. firm. The interior of the building is original, retaining all furnishings and structures that reflect its use as a mercantile store.

Socially, the James Ryan store is valuable because it is a reminder of a time when the fishery dominated everyday activities and merchants were the lifeblood of the community. The store is located in the business district of town and was an active meeting place when in operation. For the local fish dealers, James Ryan store provided and outlet for them to unload their fish, making Elliston a prosperous community.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, unnumbered property file, Elliston - James Ryan Shop

Character-Defining Elements

All original features representative of late 19th and early 20th century mercantile design, including:
-narrow clapboard;
-original windows and window placement;
-storefront picture windows;
-original wooden doors and door placement;
-mid-pitched gable roof;
-wide corner boards;
-wooden roof shingles;
-raincaps over windows;
-foundation; and,
-massing, orientation, dimensions.

All those existing interior features that reflect the commercial nature of the building, including:
-"JAMES RYAN LTD." sign on gable end;
-streetside location; and,
-any remaining original furnishings.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador 1 Springdale Street, P.O. Box 5171 St. John’s, NL A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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