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Macdonald Shoe Store

490 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/03/28

Primary elevation, from the east (viewed from Main Street), of the Macdonald Shoe Store, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2007
Primary Elevation
Contextual view, from the northeast, of the Macdonald Shoe Store (also showing the 1982-83 mural that has helped make the building a local landmark), Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2007
Contextual View
Secondary elevation, from the west (viewed from Market Square), of the Macdonald Shoe Store, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2007
Secondary Elevation

Other Name(s)

Macdonald Shoe Store
Banfield Block
Ryan Block
Banfield bloc
Ryan bloc

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1883/01/01 to 1883/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/01/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Macdonald Shoe Store, a one- and two-storey commercial building of mixed masonry construction and pre- and post-1900 origins, stands on an isolated site facing Main Street (front) and Market Square (rear) in Winnipeg's Historic Exchange District. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint.

Heritage Value

The Macdonald Shoe Store, a building of modest proportions and aesthetics, is a rare but heavily altered vestige of early commercial development in Winnipeg's Exchange District, a national historic site. This resilient structure emerged in 1883 as a four-storey masonry shop and warehouse with an elaborately detailed stone front. Significant changes (rear expansion, two post-fire reconstructions and partial rear demolition) have brought it to its current compact form and appearance, including a handsome yet simplified Art Deco-style stone front designed by Northwood and Chivers (1933) and a rear facade (1939) with modest Spanish Colonial Revival detailing. The store is noted for its association with three prominent business families - pioneer shoe merchants Thomas and George Ryan, household furnishings dealers A.F. and J.A. Banfield and shoe retailer T.J.A. Macdonald. Strategically situated between two downtown streets and highly visible because of its exposed setting (due to the loss by fire and demolition of its neighbours) and colourful 1982-83 north-side mural, the store is a landmark that recalls Main Street's early role as Winnipeg's principal shopping district.

Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Planning and Community Services Minutes, March 28, 1996

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the landmark character of the Macdonald Shoe Store site include:
- the mid-block location on the west side of Main Street between Bannatyne and William avenues, in proximity to other designated sites such as the Ashdown Store Building, Union Bank Building and Annex, etc.
- the building's placement flush to the Main Street sidewalk and extended west to Market Square

Key exterior elements that define the building's eclectic design and commercial function include:
- the deep, narrow and angled rectangular mass of stone and brick on a stone base, one to two storeys in height, with the south wall longer than the north
- the symmetrical Art Deco-style Main Street facade, including the ashlar limestone finish, recessed central entrance, large storefront windows, flat-headed band of upper-level openings, arcaded cornice-parapet detailing, etc.
- the Market Square facade's symmetrical alignment of flat-headed doorways and windows and its Spanish Colonial Revival elements, including stucco and concrete finishes and a shingled pseudo-roof
- the mostly unbroken south and north elevations, with minimal fenestration on the rear south side and oversized parapet walls at the front formed by remnants of the demolished third floor
- the north-side mural depicting jazz musicians, street life, 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)

1933/01/01 to 1933/12/31
1939/01/01 to 1939/12/31

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Eating or Drinking Establishment
Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building


Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer

Northwood and Chivers



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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