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Carlton Building

354 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2002/09/10

Contextual view, from the northwest, of the Carlton Building, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2006
Contextual View
View, from the north, of the Carlton Building, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2006
Primary Elevation
Wall detail of the Carlton Building, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2006
Wall Detail

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1912/01/01 to 1912/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/11/21

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Carlton Building, a three-storey retail-office structure erected in 1912, occupies a prominent Portage Avenue corner in a part of downtown Winnipeg that has been extensively redeveloped since the mid-1950s. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint.

Heritage Value

The Carlton Building is one of Winnipeg's fine examples of the use of terra cotta. The building's primary facades - north and west - are impressive renderings carried out in this expressive material, in this case in a Renaissance Revival style. Designed by the important Winnipeg architect John D. Atchison for the real estate and insurance firm of Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner Ltd., the building was the long-time home, from the early 1920s until the late 1980s, of the luxury clothing store Holt Renfrew and Co. Located at a corner site, the Carlton Building is also a good example of the kind of building that once marked a 10-block stretch of Portage Avenue from about 1910 to 1980 when this was Winnipeg's thriving retail artery.

Source: City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Minutes, September 10, 2002

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Carlton Building site include:
- its location at the southeast corner of Portage Avenue and Carlton Street, giving prominence to the north and west facades

Key elements that define the building's Renaissance Revival style and exquisite use of terra cotta include:
- the three-storey height, rectangular plan and flat roof
- the symmetrical composition and horizontal emphasis of each facade, defined with paired upper windows (on the north facade on each storey including a wider, centrally located, single window), the large display windows on the ground floor of the west side set in intricate metal frames, the deeply incised joints of the terra cotta blocks, the belt course dividing the ground and upper floors, etc.
- the dynamic arrangement of facade features, created through the use of the window openings (each a vertical rectangular shape linked vertically into pairs with spandrels) and wall elements (alternating wide and narrow pilasters and mullions, with scalloped edges on each window side, and on the third storey also formed into segmental arches)
- the richly embellished roofline, including a complete entablature with a frieze and paired brackets supporting the modillioned overhanging cornice
- the use of terra cotta on both primary facades, in imitation of cut stone on major elements, and in detail work in floral motifs above the west-side ground-floor windows, in the spandrel panels and in the frieze, all carried out in a cream colour except for the belt course in light green




Recognition Authority

City of Winnipeg

Recognition Statute

City of Winnipeg Act

Recognition Type

Winnipeg Landmark 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


Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

John D. Atchison



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

15-30 Fort Street Winnipeg MB

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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