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Massey Building

294 William Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/09/12

Primary elevation, from the north, of the Massey Building, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2006
Primary Elevation
Contextual view, from the northwest, of the Massey Building (far right), Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2006
Contextual View
Secondary elevation, from the southwest, of the Massey Building, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2006
Secondary Elevation

Other Name(s)

Massey Manufacturing Company
Massey Harris Block
Massey-Harris Company Limited
Massey-Harris Building
Massey Manufacturing Company
Immeuble Massey Harris
Massey-Harris Company Limited
Massey Building
Bâtiment Massey-Harris

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1885/01/01 to 1885/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/01/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Massey Building consists of two adjoining masonry structures erected between 1885 and 1904 in Winnipeg's Exchange District, a national historic site of Canada. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint and the following interior elements: pressed tin ceilings, oak staircase and balustrade, oak panelling and wainscotting, exposed beams and any other original exposed woodwork.

Heritage Value

The handsome Massey Building is an excellent example of Italianate commercial architecture, a dignified design by George Browne that befitted the structure's role as regional headquarters of the Massey Manufacturing Co. This Ontario-based farm implement firm was an early entrant to the developing prairie market and, with its 1891 merger with A. Harris, Son & Co., became one of Canada's largest and most important producers of farm machinery. Its solidly constructed Winnipeg building, strategically situated across from the city's public market and near its grain exchange and other agriculturally related enterprises, was more than doubled in floor space by a 1904 warehouse addition of complementary yet simpler design by S.F. Peters. The complex housed the Massey-Harris Co.'s equipment assembly and marketing activities until the 1940s, then was later converted to office and educational uses. The 1885 building still retains much of its interior finishes and is the most intact of the pre-1900 structures that remain from Winnipeg's original Market Square commercial centre.

Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Environment Minutes, September 12, 1983

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the Massey Building's historic Market Square site include:
- its location flush to the sidewalks and rear lane at the southeast corner of Princess Street and William Avenue, with period warehouses and commercial structures nearby, especially to the south along Princess Street

Key elements that define the two buildings' solid construction, complementary exterior designs and warehouse function include:
- their basic rectangular massing, heavy wood post-and-beam construction, solid brick bearing walls, stone foundations and flat rooflines with parapets
- the symmetrical placement of their openings within bays divided by brick pilasters
- their similar materials and details, including light-coloured brick finishes on all elevations, rusticated stone bases, smooth stone sills, upper-level corbelled and geometric brickwork, rear loading dock wood rails, etc.

Key elements that define the exterior character and Italianate style of the 1885 building include:
- its three-storey height and asymmetry of its two-bay north facade
- the rhythmic arrangement of openings from the basement to the top floor on the north and west sides, including tall segmental-arched and wide round-arched openings with elaborate keystones on the main floor and single rectangular windows vertically aligned above, segmental-arched on the second floor and flat-headed on the third, also with stone keystones
- details such as the primary facades' banded and channelled brickwork, brick stringcourses, hood-moulding, sawtoothed ornamentation and raised pilaster caps, etc.
- the rear elevation with its modest stringcourses, a few openings beneath segmental-arched heads, etc.

Key elements that define the straightforward exterior character of the 1904 addition include:
- its four-storey height and minimal detailing and symmetrical front, including a central entrance with double wood and glass doors, large main-floor windows and paired segmental-arched openings on the upper levels
- the well-lit east and rear elevations, the former with paired flat-headed windows on the second to fourth floors, the latter with single and paired segmental-arched openings between brick pilasters

Key elements that define the complex's interior heritage character include:
- the fine materials and finishes, such as the 1885 building's surviving V-joint board panelling, stained and varnished woodwork, oak staircase, pressed tin ceilings, 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


Post-Secondary Institution


Commerce / Commercial Services

Architect / Designer

George Browne



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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