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Utility Building

164 Princess Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1979/06/18

Primary elevation, from the southeast, of the Utility Building, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2006
Primary Elevation
Contextual view, from the southeast, of the Utility Building 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 of the Utility Building, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage,Tourism and Sport, 2006

Other Name(s)

Utility Building
Bawlf Grain Exchange
Red River College Princess Street Campus
Collège Red River campus de la rue Princess
Échange de grain de Bawlf

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1892/01/01 to 1902/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/05/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Utility Building consists of two restored four-storey facades (east and north) of a brick retail-office block built in 1892, expanded by one floor in 1902 and now part of a modern educational facility in Winnipeg's historic Exchange District. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the east and north walls on their footprints.

Heritage Value

The Utility Building is significant as the northern anchor of a rare pre-1900 streetscape preserved in situ in facade form to recall the type of early commercial development that occurred near Winnipeg's City Hall in the Exchange District National Historic Site, including the central role played by the agricultural industry. The mixed-use structure, Classical in its composition and subdued detailing, was the first purpose-built headquarters of the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange, which became one of the major markets for grain in the world. Designed by C.A. Barber, whose firm planned two earlier buildings at the south end of the streetscape, the structure was given a more modest exterior than its neighbours, but was finely appointed within to accommodate the exchange's trading floor, offices and display space for farm implement dealers. It was the first of two buildings (the other being 160 Princess Street) erected for the exchange by one of its founders, Nicholas Bawlf. The surviving facades, which retain their original openings and details, now form the highly visible northeast corner of Red River College's downtown campus.

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

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the site character of the Utility Building include:
- its corner location at southwest Princess Street and Elgin Avenue, across from the civic precinct and with two facades (east and north) flush to the public sidewalks
- its historical and physical relationships with the four designated facades to the south, including the structure at 160 Princess Street
- its three-dimensional profile, distinguished spatially, architecturally and materially from the modern construction to which it is attached

Key elements that define the facades' sparse but elegant Classical Revival style include:
- the blocky rectangular massing and flat roof
- the generally flat, symmetrically composed walls of buff brick, crowned by a shallow metal cornice with modillions and dentils, an abbreviated east-side pediment and urn accents at the corners
- the brightly lit main floor, including on the east side the central entrance flanked by large storefronts with display windows, transoms and double-door entrances, cast-iron columns and lintels, etc.
- the extensive upper-storey fenestration, notably the second and third storeys' single flat-headed openings alternating between paired windows in segmental-arched surrounds of cast iron, and the distinctive arrangement of lintelled windows in singles and pairs on the fourth-floor addition
- the restrained yet fanciful details, including stars, scrolled oak leaves and geometric ornament in the cast-iron surrounds, metal medallions with floral motifs, patterned and corbelled fourth-floor brickwork, rough-cut limestone sills and main-floor banding elements, the east-side flagpole, 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
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Post-Secondary Institution


Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

C.A. Barber



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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