Historic Sites of Manitoba: Emerson Customs Building / Emerson Hospital (26 Main Street, Emerson, Municipality of Emerson-Franklin)

The original part of this one-storey brick building on Main Street in Emerson, intended as a Canada Customs and Immigration Building, was designed by Thomas William Fuller (1865-1951), Chief Architect for the Department of Public Works at Ottawa. It was built between 1928 and 1929 by contractor Robert Nicholas Wyatt at a cost of about $45,000.

After clearing customs, visitors to Canada were welcomed at a 1½-storey, wood frame and stucco, Tudor-style house built in 1928 by the T. Eaton Company. Then, they crossed the Red River on a modified railway bridge.

In 1954, after Canada Customs moved to a newly-constructed facility, the building was converted into a ten-bed hospital. It was opened officially on 3 August 1955. The Eatons welcome centre was moved away and later demolished. The original Emerson port-of-entry sign is visible on the east side of the hospital, facing the street, and several additions through the years have changed the overall footprint of the building.

Emerson Customs Building with Eatons welcome centre to left

Emerson Customs Building with Eatons welcome centre to left (c1940)
Source: Peel's Prairie Provinces, Postcard 313

The former Emerson Customs Building

The former Emerson Customs Building (April 2020)
Source: George Penner

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.00499, W97.21602
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: Robert Nicholas Wyatt (1877-1954)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Emerson Customs Building / Pembina-Emerson Area Plaque (Emerson, Municipality of Emerson-Franklin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Dominion Post Office Building (11 Main Street, Emerson, Municipality of Emerson-Franklin)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Emerson Customs Building (Boundary Avenue, Emerson, Municipality of Emerson-Franklin)

Manitoba Business: T. Eaton Company


“$250,000 asked for building in estimates,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 May 1928, page 6.

“Total of $367,000 for Manitoba includes $250,000 for D.S.C.R Hospital,” Manitoba Free Press, 28 May 1928, page 1.

“Work to start soon on Emerson Building” Manitoba Free Press, 1 October 1928, page 12.

“Sealed tenders,” Manitoba Free Press, 19 October 1928, page 19.

“Tenders called for new Emerson public building,” Manitoba Free Press, 27 October 1928, page 9.

“Contract have been awarded by the Dominion Government,” Manitoba Free Press, 15 November 1928, page 5.

“Contract is awarded for Emerson customs building,” Manitoba Free Press, 7 December 1928, page 18.

“Hospital is opened at Emerson,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 August 1955, page 3.

Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, 1800-1950 by Robert G. Hill, Toronto.

We thank Wayne Arseny, George Penner, and S. Goldsborough for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Jordan Makichuk and Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 25 June 2023

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