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House of Comoy

150 Princess Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1979/06/18

Primary elevation, from the east, of the House of Comoy, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2006
Primary Elevation
Contextual view, from the east, of the House of Comoy and other buildings that make up the Red River College Princess Street Campus, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2006
Contextual View
Detail view of the House of Comoy, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2006

Other Name(s)

House of Comoy
Bawlf Block
Red River College Princess Street Campus
Collège Red River campus de la rue Princess
Édifice Bawlf

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1882/01/01 to 1882/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/05/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The House of Comoy is the restored east facade of a modestly sized, three-storey brick building constructed in 1882 and now attached to a modern college complex in Winnipeg's historic Exchange District. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the east wall on its footprint.

Heritage Value

The House of Comoy, a flamboyant Victorian-era building prolifically detailed in metal and brick, is part of a significant pre-1900 Winnipeg streetscape preserved in situ in facade form. The Italianate-style commercial structure, nearly identical in appearance to the facade on its south side, also designed by Charles and Earle Barber, features a lively display of bracketed pediments, patterned brickwork, cast-iron ornamentation and paired windows. It was part of a mixed-use building erected during the city's first major boom on bustling Princess Street, west of Market Square and City Hall, by Nicholas Bawlf, a pioneer in the prairie grain trade who also developed two other properties at the northern end of the block. Virtually unaltered from 1882, the House of Comoy is now one of five facades, representing some of the earliest development in the Exchange District National Historic Site of Canada, that have been integrated into the east wall of Red River College's downtown campus, an innovative complex blending historic and contemporary construction.

Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Environment Minutes, June 18, 1979

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the site character of the House of Comoy include:
- its location on the west side of Princess Street, across from the civic precinct and aligned flush to the public sidewalk
- its historical and physical relationships with the four other designated facades within its streetscape, including its seamless attachment to its adjacent twin at 146 Princess Street
- its two-dimensional profile, distinguished spatially, architecturally and materially from the modern construction to which it is attached

Key elements that define the facade's ornate Italianate style include:
- its brick construction and three-storey height, rising to a decorative, oversized metal entablature and flat roof
- its symmetrical composition into three bays, with the centre bay emphasized by three ornamented metal pediments found on the first and third floors and at the roofline
- the generous east-facing fenestration, including paired windows on the side bays, round-headed and set in Venetian-style arches on the third floor, and single openings in the centre bay
- the storefront windows with curved transoms that complement the double-door main entrance and the single door to the south
- the extensive use of enriched metalwork to frame the ground floor and the upper-level windows
- the array of fine details, including brick corbel courses; elegantly layered brick pilasters; the entablature's brackets, geometric motifs, mouldings; flutes, modillions, sunbursts and floral designs; the name 'BAWLF BLOCK' and date '1882' embossed in the arched window head beneath the third-floor pediment; etc.

Key elements that define the building's surviving interior features include:
- original materials used in new situations in the ground floor of the new building, including interior partitions of dark wood, massive square posts, wainscotting, a beaded ceiling, coil radiators and a vault door




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

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Post-Secondary Institution


Commerce / Commercial Services

Architect / Designer

Charles and Earle Barber


Nicholas Bawlf

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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