Historic Sites of Manitoba: McArthur Building / Childs Building (205-211 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg)

Formerly located at the northwest corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street in Winnipeg, this twelve-storey brick, steel, and terra cotta building, measuring 67 feet by 146 feet, was designed by local architect John Hamilton Gordon Russell. It was built between 1909 and 1910 at a cost of about $400,000, using structural steel provided by Dominion Bridge, by the construction firm of Carter-Halls-Aldinger, with worksite operations overseen by architect Robert Wilson, on behalf of owner John Duncan McArthur. Ready for occupancy on 1 May 1910, McArthur had an office on the second floor, with Russell occupying an 11th-floor office.

In 1921, following McArthur’s death, the building was sold to the Childs Restaurant Company which hired New York City-based architect John Chorley Westervelt (1873-1934) to design interior alterations and improvements. They were completed by the W. A. Irish and Company at a cost of around $75,000. The Childs Restaurant on the main floor, named for American brothers Samuel Childs and William Childs, was the company’s seventh Canadian location. It was opened on 29 December 1921 by George Van Vlack.

For a time, the building retained the McArthur name but was renamed the Childs Building in December 1947. The structure held its title as Winnipeg’s tallest building into the 1950s, with tenants including the law firm of Walsh Micay and Dingwall’s Jewellers.

In 1974, the building sustained heavy fire damage and, in 1981, safety concerns necessitated dismantling of the upper floor cornice and balcony. The remaining structure was demolished between 13 April and 4 July 1988, along with the adjacent Toronto-Dominion Bank and Nanton Building, to make way for the new 33-storey TD Centre.

Postcard view of Childs Building

Postcard view of Childs Building (circa 1910)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2006-0183

Childs Building at left

Childs Building at left (late 1950s)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Winnipeg - Buildings - Business - Childs Building #1.

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.89550, W97.13923
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: John Hamilton Gordon Russell (1863-1946)

Manitoba Business: Dominion Bridge Company

Manitoba Business: Carter-Halls-Aldinger / Commonwealth Construction Company

Memorable Manitobans: Robert Wilson (1855-1919)

Memorable Manitobans: John Duncan McArthur (1854-1927)

Manitoba Business: W. A. Irish and Company

Sources:

City of Winnipeg Building Permit 1058/1909, City of Winnipeg Archives.

“Will erect big building,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 January 1909, page 9.

“Site next to Queens Hotel said to now be in hand,” Winnipeg Tribune, 4 February 1909, page 1.

“G. H. G. Russell,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 April 1909, page 21.

“Previous year’s building doubled,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 August 1909, page 2.

“Rushing work to completion; Dominion Bridge Company makes record on McArthur Building,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 August 1909, page 2.

“Last storey towers up to dizzy height,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 August 1909, page 11.

“McArthur Building,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 April 1910, page 2.

City of Winnipeg Building Permit 1867/1921, City of Winnipeg Archives.

“M’Arthur Block sale expected,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 February 1921, page 1.

“Aggregate loans are $50,000 in excess of 1920,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 June 1921, page 1.

“Report shows building permits total $98,200,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 July 1921, page 1.

“New Childs’ Restaurant to be opened in the fall,” Winnipeg Tribune, 18 July 1921, page 8.

“Shortage in building,” Manitoba Free Press, 23 July 1921, page 6.

“New York not smart,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 December 1921, page 2.

“Feeds millions,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 March 1928, page 13.

“Still builds,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 May 1949, page 20.

Winnipeg fire insurance map, #275 May 1956, City of Winnipeg Archives.

“Historic building fall at famous intersection” by Vince Leah, Winnipeg Free Press Weekly West Edition, 24 April 1988, page 13.

“Walls come tumbling down,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 June 1988, page 3.

“Going, going, gone,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 July 1988, page 7.

“Plenty of gems in walk through old directory” by Vince Leah, Winnipeg Free Press Weekly West Edition, 10 March 1991, page 14.

“Winnipeg’s worst fires rekindle memories,” Mike Maunder, Winnipeg Free Press, 21 September 1997, page B5.

1981 - The Year Past, Report of the City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, City of Winnipeg.

We thank Linda Spear and Jordan Makichuk for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 24 February 2024

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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