44 Princess Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3A, Canada
Links and documents
1906/01/01 to 1907/12/31
Listed on the Canadian Register:
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.
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
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.
City of Winnipeg
City of Winnipeg Act
Winnipeg Landmark Heritage Structure
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
Location of Supporting Documentation
15-30 Fort Street Winnipeg MB
Cross-Reference to Collection