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Edwards Block

320 Broadway Street, Nakusp, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2010/02/23

320 Broadway Street; Village of Nakusp
Corner view, current
320 Broadway Street; Village of Nakusp
Corner view, archival
No Image

Other Name(s)

Edwards Block
Reawakening Health and Prima Materia
320 Broadway Street

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1921/01/01 to 1923/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2012/01/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Edwards Block is a one-storey wood-frame commercial building located on a corner lot on the south side of Broadway Street at 4th Avenue, in Nakusp, British Columbia. Built in 1921-1923, the building has a false front on the main façade and two side façades.

Heritage Value

Completed in 1923, the Edwards Block is valued for its important role in attracting businesses to Broadway Street and in establishing the street's pre-eminence as the major commercial street in Nakusp. Since 1892, when the town was founded, there had been competition between Bay Street and Broadway. The businesses in this building, which included a doctor's office, drug store, and telephone office, complemented the post office and bank nearby. With a large false front on the east, west, and south façades, the Edwards Block appeared to be two storeys high, with a wide canopy above the first storey to protect pedestrians from rain and snow. Large display windows attracted customers, and a corner entry emphasized the strategic location of the building at a prominent intersection facing the War Memorial and close to the major hotels. The two-storey wooden pilasters dividing the building into bays, and the wide overhanging roof with large modillions created the impression of a much more substantial building. The establishment of Nakusp's first government telephone office in the building in 1923 is a reflection of the growth of the region, as is the history of the businesses that have been housed in the block since its construction. Many of these have been health-related, including drug stores, which operated from 1923 to 1976, and health food stores, which have been in business from 1976 to the present day.

The Edwards Block is also valued for its association with Lewis J. Edwards, a prominent businessman who immigrated to Canada from Wales. At first Edwards worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was elected a Director of the Society of Notaries of B.C. in 1890, and was the second commissioned member in the province. Edwards was active in the Board of Trade, Knights of Pythias, and St. Mark's Anglican Church. He was also involved in many businesses including insurance and real estate, and worked as a Dominion telephone agent and newspaper correspondent. In 1928 he played an important role in convincing the CPR to allow lots to go on the open market for the first time in 35 years, breaking the company's monopoly on real estate in Nakusp.

The survival of the Edwards Block as a commercial building is notable. It is an important component of Nakusp's array of false-fronted wooden buildings. Their construction of wood is a reflection of the region's dependence on the timber industry and of the values of entrepreneurs who wished to create a sense of more substantial buildings without using more expensive brick or stone building materials. While this approach to commercial main streets was typical of boomtown architecture throughout the west in the late Victorian era, its continuation into the 1920s in Nakusp is unusual, a reminder that while the early 1920s was a period of considerable economic growth, it followed a decade of economic stagnation in the West Kootenays.

Source: Village of Nakusp Municipal Office, 91-1st Street NW, Nakusp, B.C. V0G 1R0

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Edwards Block include its:
-prominent corner location on the south side of Broadway
-massing of the building, with large false fronts on three façades
-lap siding
-large display windows
-cut-away corner entrance
-two-storey pilasters dividing the building into bays
-wide overhang on roof with large modillions



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Social Movements
Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation
Governing Canada
Politics and Political Processes
Building Social and Community Life
Community Organizations
Peopling the Land
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Sports and Leisure

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer

Lewis J. Edwards


Hunter Gardner, Sr.

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Village of Nakusp Municipal Office, 91-1st Street NW, Nakusp, B.C. V0G 1R0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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