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Ryan Block

44 Princess Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1998/09/22

Primary elevation, from the east, of the Ryan Block, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2007
Primary Elevation
Entrance of the Ryan Block, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2007
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1906/01/01 to 1907/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Ryan Block, built in 1906-07, is a seven-storey warehouse-office facility of brick and heavy timber construction in Winnipeg's Exchange District. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint.

Heritage Value

The Ryan Block is the last in a series of major physical investments made in Winnipeg's downtown warehouse district by pioneer entrepreneur and civic leader Thomas Ryan to accommodate his ever-expanding shoe business. From the mid-1870s to 1928, Ryan turned a modest shoemaking shop into a wholesale-retail empire that marketed goods across the West. His 1906 warehouse, Neo-Classical in its proportions with some Romanesque Revival details and the tallest wholesale block in its area at the time of construction, typifies the persistent westward migration of downtown commercial facilities due in part to the success of early wholesalers like Ryan. The building's utilitarian design by Blair and Northwood met immediate needs for showroom and storage space but also anticipated future conversion to offices, a reflection of Ryan's keen business foresight. Now in mixed use, this facility remains a highly visible presence near the southwestern gateway of the Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada.

Source: City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Minutes, September 22, 1998

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Ryan Block site include:
- the west Princess Street location near the Notre Dame Avenue intersection, amid and looming above commercial and warehouse structures of similar vintage, including across the street the Peck Building, another designated City of Winnipeg site
- the structure's placement next to the public sidewalk, contributing to a continuous built edge

Key elements that define the block's simplified composite architectural style include:
- the basic rectangular massing of solid brick walls, stone foundation and flat roof
- the classically proportioned front (east) facade of red pressed brick with smooth-cut stone highlights, symmetrically organized and column-like, including a Romanesque Revival base of three large round-arched openings with prominent brick voussoirs and vermiculated keystones, a five-storey mid-section containing three bays of paired windows separated by brick pilasters, and a distinctive top floor with round-arched openings in the recessed centre bay
- the largely rectangular windows throughout featuring smooth-cut stone sills and brick heads, etc.
- the details, including the smooth-cut stone trim in the cornice, belt courses, coping and pilaster bases and capitals, the patterned, panelled, channelled and corbelled brickwork, the simple brick parapet, etc.
- the painted signage on the north and south walls, most notably the Ryan company signage on the upper north side

Key elements that define the block's functional interior include:
- the informal plan organized around the exposed grid of squared wooden posts and beams
- the front and rear staircases with basic wooden balustrades
- the details, including some exposed brick walls and plank ceilings, some plank floors and pressed tin ceiling finishes, the freight elevator, etc.




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
Office or Office Building


Commerce / Commercial Services

Architect / Designer

Blair and Northwood



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

15-30 Fort Street Winnipeg MB

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

Aerial view

Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada

Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada is located in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba. The site consists of a densely built, turn-of -the-century warehousing and business…


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