Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block
122, St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2R, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block is located at 122 St. Paul Street, near downtown St. Catharines. Constructed in 1857, this two-storey building has served for many years as a retail merchandising establishment.
The property was designated for its heritage value by the City of St. Catharines under By-law 86-52.
This commercial row is located on St. Paul Street, an area well known as part of St. Catharines' business community. This street has been a crucial route for trading and economic activity for hundreds of years, originally serving as an Indian trading path through the city. The building's success as a multiple retail establishment has been aided by the longevity of St. Paul Street as an economic centre.
Built around 1857 by Elias Adams, the property became known as “Dufferin Block”, marking the start of its retail function. After its purchase by Thomas Helliwell in 1866, the name was changed to “Helliwell Block” and it continued its use as a retail merchandising establishment. Beginning in 1902 for the next 50 years it functioned under the ownership of the Nihan family. After passing through a number of buyers it was also sold to the Varena Trading Company. The building has continued to serve the retail economy of St. Catharines after being known for some time as Wray's, a retail store, with “Wray's” embedded into the stone floor of the main entrance.
The Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block reflects the 19th century commercial architecture in St. Catharines. The building retains some of its original appearance although much is hidden beneath the modern siding application, especially at the roof line. The row of upper storey windows, all of which are the same in size and with a segmented head are indicative of the early detailing. Some of the original sashes with 2 over 2 glazing can still be seen although all of the sashes maintain their segmented arches of the top sash.
Source: By-law 86-52 Schedule B: "Wrays", 1986.
Character defining elements that reflect the heritage value of Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block include its:
- continued commercial use; primarily retail merchandising
- size and massing, typical of commercial 19th century architecture
- brick accents
- windows, all of the same size and shape, with some being linked at the arches
- location on St. Paul Street, a key business route in the community, originally a major Indian trading trail
- stone floor with the word “Wray's” embedded
- original details hidden beneath later added exterior cladding
Local Governments (ON)
Ontario Heritage Act
Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
50 Church Street
City of St. Catharines
Cross-Reference to Collection