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Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block

122, St. Paul Street, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2R, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/02/17

Front of 122 St. Paul Street in St. Catharines, still used for retail merchandising.; Photograph by Katie Hemsworth, 2007.
Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block
Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block in downtown St. Catharines.; Photograph by Katie Hemsworth, 2007.
Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block
"Wray's", displayed on the ground, reflects past use as Wray's store.; Photograph by Katie Hemsworth, 2007.
Wray's-Dufferin Block-Helliwell Block

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/07/30

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.

Heritage Value

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

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




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (ON)

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Designation (Part IV)

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




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Planning Department 50 Church Street City of St. Catharines L2R 7C2

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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