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Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company Building

102 - 4th Street, Wawanesa, Manitoba, R0K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1991/03/11

View of main facade of the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. Building, Wawanesa, 2005; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2005
Main Facade
View of the signage on the original building of the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. Building, Wawanesa, 2005; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2005
No Image

Other Name(s)

Sipiweske Museum
Musée Sipiweski
Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company Building

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1901/01/01 to 1901/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/01/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The one-storey Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. Building, built in 1901, is a solid brick commercial structure set prominently on the main business street of the village of Wawanesa. The municipal designation applies to the building, now home to the Sipiweske Museum, and its grounds.

Heritage Value

The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. Building, constructed as the head office of a rapidly expanding local enterprise that now functions across Canada, is a fine representative example of an early twentieth-century rural commercial building. The structure's confident facade, simple but detailed brickwork, and corner location reflect both the optimism of the company's early officers and the practical instincts that allowed them to prosper. Established in 1896 by Alonzo Fowler Kempton and Charles Kerr, Wawanesa Mutual is now one of Canada's largest property and casualty insurers. The firm, which continues to be a mainstay of the Wawanesa-area economy, also sells life insurance and operates branches in the United States through associated companies.

Source: Village of Wawanesa By-law No. 411, March 11, 1991

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the character of the Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. Building site include:
- the structure's corner location on three lots at the southern end of Wawanesa's main commercial street, facing west toward the company's current head office

Key elements that define the building's modest design include:
- the irregular one-storey massing, beginning with the simple rectangular form of the original structure, which is set back from the sidewalk about a metre, augmented on the south side by the larger addition abutting the sidewalk and built to conform to the obtuse angle of the corner location
- the rooflines reflecting the building's two-stage development, flat on the original structure and step-topped on the addition, with a low-pitched extension of the taller addition roof over the original building and a centrally located skylight
- the yellow brick construction with decorative details such as segmental arches over windows and doors, pilasters with capitals on the corners and side elevations and flanking the addition's main entrance, corbel tables along the parapets and eaves and hood-mouldings over the addition's front windows
- other detailing such as the 'THE WAWANESA MUTUAL INSURANCE CO.' sign on the original building, rusticated stone sills, the stone step at the addition's front entrance and stone lintels over the remnants of basement window openings

Key elements that define the building's reconstructed interior include:
- features such as the large two-part vault with compartments on the main floor and in the basement, their interiors surfaced in brick and concrete and the main-floor section accessed by a thick iron door bearing the manufacturer's name; two original pendant light fixtures; the exposed stone foundation in the basement; etc.




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (MB)

Recognition Statute

Manitoba Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Site

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

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

The Village of Wawanesa 106 - 4th Street Wawanesa MB R0K 2G0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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