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Portage la Prairie Dominion Post Office

97 Saskatchewan Avenue, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, R1N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/01/08

Main elevations, from the northeast, of the Portage La Prairie Dominion Post Office, Portage La Prairie, 2005; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2005
Main Elevations
Wall detail of the Portage La Prairie Dominion Post Office, Portage La Prairie, 2005; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2005
Wall Detail
No Image

Other Name(s)

Portage la Prairie Dominion Post Office
Old Post Office
Portage la Prairie City Hall

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1895/01/01 to 1898/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/06/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Portage la Prairie Dominion Post Office, constructed between 1895 and 1898, and expanded in 1920, is a three-storey stone structure on Portage la Prairie's main downtown street. The municipal designation applies to the building and its lot.

Heritage Value

The striking Portage la Prairie Dominion Post Office is an exceptional example of a pre-1900 federal government building that conveys a strong image of solidity and progress. The structure also is the last extant small urban post office in Western Canada planned under the direction of Thomas Fuller, a quintessential designer who co-planned one of Ottawa's first parliament buildings and, as chief architect in the public works department (1881-97), was instrumental in establishing a distinctive identity for federal buildings. His design for the Portage la Prairie edifice combines the standard elements commonly applied to period post offices in a stately, cohesive package characterized by careful massing, robust stonework and fine Romanesque Revival and Chateau-style features. The landmark building, which fronts a downtown intersection, has proven functionally adaptable as well, initially housing a post office on the main floor, customs and inland revenue offices on the second and living quarters on the third, succeeded by judicial, police, municipal and cultural occupants.

Source: City of Portage la Prairie By-law No. 7133, January 8, 1990

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements defining the site character of the Portage la Prairie Dominion Post Office include:
- the prominent location at the southwest corner of Saskatchewan Avenue E and Royal Road S, aligned with other commercial and institutional buildings
- the structure abutting the sidewalk on two sides and fully occupying its lot

Key elements that define the post office's exterior Romanesque Revival styling include:
- the boxy three-storey form with a one-storey rear extension
- the imposing presence created through solid symmetrical facades of hammer-faced limestone and a steep, metal-clad mansard roof with bellcast eaves, gable wall dormers centred on each elevation and smaller gable dormers on the front (north) side
- the two prominent projecting entrance porches abutting the sidewalk, slightly set apart, elevated and round-arched, with pedimented parapets above centred smooth-cut stone squares and corbelled turret-like corner details, all leading to deeply recessed double doors topped by fanlights with radiating stone voussoirs
- the variety of windows throughout, deeply recessed with stone voussoirs or lintels and sills, including rectangular dormer openings, tall main- and second-floor windows with flat or segmental-arched heads, centred second-storey banks of three lights, etc.
- the details, including the wall dormers' rounded peaks, panels with smooth-cut crow-stepped edging under the eaves, centred blind oculi encased in radiating squares and pyramidal stones atop two rounded horizontal courses; also, the wooden cornice with scrolled brackets, the bell and flagpole atop the building, etc.

Key elements that define the post office's internal details and finishes include:
- the formal main-floor plan featuring open spaces near the entrances and private spaces behind
- the wall separating the west lobby from the service area, with doors connecting the two
- the intact upper-floor configurations characterized by rooms running off wide central corridors
- the third floor with maple plank floors and arched openings throughout
- the details, including the wooden staircase and carved balustrade, the main-floor wainscotting, some wooden doors and mouldings with corner blocks, the numerous vaults throughout the first and second floors featuring gold stencilling and doors hand-painted with pastoral scenes, the two basement jail cells, etc.




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (MB)

Recognition Statute

Manitoba Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Site

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Town or City Hall


Post Office

Architect / Designer

Thomas Fuller



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Portage la Prairie 97 Saskatchewan Avenue East Portage la Prairie MB R1N 0L8

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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