Manitoba Historical Society
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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Cleland Block (705-707 Main Street, Winnipeg)

Located on the east side of Main Street in Winnipeg, measuring 19 feet wide by 120 feet deep, this three-storey structure was designed by James McDiarmid for owner David Cleland. Primary construction in 1901 was undertaken by James and his brother John “Jack” McDiarmid (operating as J. & J. McDiarmid) with masonry and bricklaying subcontracted to the Alsip Brothers, and was completed at a cost of about $10,000. In early 1902, a metal-clad frame stable measuring 12 feet by 20 feet was added to the rear of the two-storey structure, with McDiarmid again handling design and construction.

David Cleland was born at Scotland on 17 March 1864 and immigrated to Canada in 1895. He was involved with the sale of alcohol in Winnipeg and was appointed buying agent (1896) for the Scotland-based provisioning partnership of Telfer & Huey. Upon completion of his warehouse in 1901, he lived in the basement and ran a liquor wholesale operation from the main floor.

On 13 December 1903, his warehouse was largely wrecked by fire, with $13,000 in total losses, mostly offset with $10,000 in insurance. Once rebuilt in 1904, Cleland resumed his liquor distrubution business on the main floor. In 1905, he rented the main floor to fellow liquor merchant Joseph Carey, operating as Carey & Company, and took his business venture west, having secured an exclusivity zone to sell alcohol at Indian Head, Saskatchewan.

Around that same time, the upper two floors of the Winnipeg building were converted into apartments suites, with eight on the second level and eight more on the third level, the latter being increased to ten around 1910. Around April 1907, Cleland sold the premises to John Rickard Clements and returned to his native Scotland.

The Cleland Block remained at the site into the 1960s, by which time it no longer contained any residential suites, with its three floors being used for commercial or industrial purposes. The building was demolished in 1998 to make way for the Thunderbird House.

Cleland Block

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.90386, W97.13450
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: James McDiarmid (1855-1934)

Memorable Manitobans: John “Jack” McDiarmid (1862-1943)


City of Winnipeg Building Permit 450/1901, City of Winnipeg Archives.

City of Winnipeg Building Permit 7/1902, City of Winnipeg Archives.

1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

“Cleland Block gutted by fire,” Manitoba Free Press, 14 December 1903, page 1.

“Diary of year 1903,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 December 1903, page 28.

“Local notes [A young lad of 13 ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 15 February 1904, page 10.

“St. David's invalid port [ad],” Manitoba Free Press, 26 July 1904, page 6.

“St. David's Canadian wines [ad],” Manitoba Free Press, 4 August 1904, page 3.

“Will have monopoly,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 July 1905, page 6.

“Farewell presentation,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 September 1905, page 7.

“Liquor stock damaged,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 February 1906, page 1.

“Winnipeg 10 years ago [19 June 1896],” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 June 1906, page 10.

“Cleland Block sold,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 April 1907, page 12.

Charles E. Goad Company fonds, Fire Insurance Plans of the City of Winnipeg - Volume 1 - Sheet 9 - revised August 1906, Library and Archives Canada.

Charles E. Goad Company fonds, Fire Insurance Plans of the City of Winnipeg - Volume 1 - Sheet 9 - Revised May 1914, Library and Archives Canada.

1997-2000 The Years Past: Report of the City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, City of Winnipeg, 2000.

Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.

Preparation of this page was supported, in part, by the Gail Parvin Hammerquist Fund of the City of Winnipeg.

We thank Gordon Goldsborough for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 20 February 2023

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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