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James Ryan Shop Municipal Heritage Building

Elliston, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/04/10

Exterior photo view of left gable end and rear of James Ryan Shop, Elliston, 2006/03/26; L Maynard, HFNL, 2007
James Ryan Shop, Elliston, 2006/03/26
Exterior photo view of left gable end and front of James Ryan Shop, Elliston, 2006/03/26; L Maynard, HFNL, 2007
James Ryan Shop, Elliston, 2006/03/26
Exterior photo view of front and right gable end of James Ryan Shop, Elliston, 2006/03/26; L Maynard, HFNL, 2007
James Ryan Shop, Elliston, 2006/03/26

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The James Ryan Store is a two-and-a-half-storey, wooden, white painted, mercantile style building with a steeply pitched roof, storefront windows, and visible stone foundation. It is located at #016-022 Main Street, Elliston. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The James Ryan Shop, also once known as Elliston Adventure, has been designated because of its historic, architectural, and cultural values.

James Ryan Shop is historically valuable for its associations with the Ryan family and the mercantile trade in Newfoundland. The Ryans were the principal merchants on the Bonavista-Trinity Peninsula from around 1850 into the twentieth century. James Ryan began as a supplier for the inshore fishery and eventually expanded, building one of his many stores in Elliston (then called Bird Island Cove). The mercantile trade was historically important to Elliston because of the community's heavy reliance on the local inshore cod fishery. Residents sold cod to merchants such as James Ryan, who in turn supplied them with everyday necessities and work supplies.

The existing James Ryan Shop was built circa 1900 and is architecturally significant because it is a rare and good example of a style of mercantile buildings now found only in scattered locations in Newfoundland. The solid-looking, two-and-a-half-storey, rectangular, 19th century mercantile structure with its peaked gable roof is in the trademark style of the James Ryan Ltd. firm. It retains its wooden cladding, cornerboards, doors and roofing shingles, along with its telltale storefront windows and other windows. "JAMES RYAN LTD" lettering is attached to the left side of the building. The interior retains the shelving that reflects its original use as a store.

James Ryan Shop is culturally valuable because it is a reminder of a time when the fishery dominated everyday activities and merchants were the lifeblood of the community. The store is located in the old business district of town and was an active meeting place when in operation. James Ryan Shop provided an outlet for local dealers to unload their fish, making Elliston a prosperous community. The Ryan firm exited the fish trade in the 1950s, but continued to operate James Ryan Shop at Elliston as a general store until 1978. The building fell into disrepair, but has undergone restoration towards its adaptive reuse as a cultural centre and retains is visual prominence in Elliston's cultural landscape.

Source: Town of Elliston Town Council Meeting Minutes of 2007/04/10

Character-Defining Elements

All original features representative of late 19th and early 20th century mercantile design, including:

-narrow clapboard siding;
-original size and style windows and window placement;
-storefront picture windows;
-original style wooden doors and door placement;
-steeply pitched gable roof;
-wide cornerboards;
-wooden roof shingles;
-raincaps over windows;
-stone foundation;
-and massing, orientation, dimensions.

All those existing interior features that reflect the original commercial function of the building, including:

-"JAMES RYAN LTD." on gable end;
-and streetside location.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type




Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer



Robert Ryder

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of Elliston, PO Box 115, Elliston, NL, A

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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