Tag Archives: architect

Twelve Days of Christmas Day One

Johnson House, 446-7th Street, Brandon, MB 




Reid Dickie

In 1880, Samuel and Edwin Johnson moved from Seaforth, ON, where they ran a successful family hardware store, to Brandon with the same intention. The brothers built their store on the south east corner of Ninth Street and Rosser Avenue in 1885 and Johnson Hardware operated there until 1959. Under Edwin’s skillful management, the store prospered, making Edwin a prominent citizen of the city.

In 1904 Edwin commissioned one of Brandon’s up and coming architects, William A. Elliott, to design a home for him and his family. Elliott, who went on to design dozens of buildings all over southern Manitoba, was just making a name for himself in Brandon when approached by Johnson. The resulting house is a beauty!

Begun in 1904 and completed in 1906 by builder C. Lillington, the Johnson house is a superb example of Queen Anne Revival architecture, the dominant home design style of the period. The main focal point is the veranda that wraps around the feature corner of the Johnson house Brandonhouse. Its low pitched roof is supported by Classical columns. The veranda pediment with the cowl and anchor detailing is repeated on the dormers. The tan bricks are laid in standard running bond; all openings feature rectangular, segmented or semi-elliptical brick arches and windows have limestone sills. The oval window with its four keystones is striking. Don’t miss the pairs of sweet scroll brackets under the dormer eaves.

The house was inhabited by the Johnson family for 72 years. Beautifully maintained, right down to the patterns in the shingles around the veranda foundation, kudos to its present owners for their dedication to preserving local heritage.


Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Heritage Buildings, Houses

Manitoba Heritage Building – Municipal Building, Reston

Reid Dickie

The municipal building for the RM of Pipestone is a beauty! Located on a prominent corner in Reston, MB, it is a rare example of Italianate style used on a public building. The style, popular at the turn of the 20th century, was employed mainly on houses, rarely for civic structures. Built in 1917, Brandon architect William Alexander Elliott designed this elegant, compact two-storey place, which features many  Italianate elements including  low-pitched rooflines, wide eaves, tall windows and the small corner tower. The main entrance on the building’s south side has a rounded brick arch with stone highlights. The secondary entrance is simpler with a shed roof. The windows are a variety of shapes and sizes with the slim arched window on the west side complementing the main entrance beautifully. There is playful contrast between the striking red tapestry brick and the light coloured second floor and tower and white trim.

One of southwestern Manitoba’s most prolific architects, W. A. Elliot’s buildings include Park School, Brandon 1904 (demolished), Hamilton Hotel, Neepawa 1904 (burned), Bank of Montreal, Brandon 1905, Clark Hall, Brandon University 1906, Empire Bottling Company bottling house/warehouse, Brandon 1906, Brandon Collegiate Institute 1907, Methodist Church, now Dutch Christian Reform, Brandon 1909, Carberry Town Hall 1909, Cecil Hotel, Brandon 1910 (burned 1981), Central Fire Station, Brandon 1911, Opera House, Virden 1911, St Matthew’s Anglican Cathedral, Brandon 1912, Methodist Church, now St Paul’s United, Souris 1908. Elliot also created design plans for over 40 public schools built before WWI in Manitoba towns like Baldur, Newdale, Elkhorn, Melita, Brookdale, Rivers, Oak River, Rapid City and Reston. He also designed buildings for numerous Saskatchewan towns and cities including Moose Jaw and Arcola. Now Buddy’s Pub, this was Arcola, SK’s town hall designed by Elliot and built in 1905.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Local History, Manitoba Heritage

Manitoba Heritage Building – Brandon Central Fire Station

Reid Dickie

Brandon Central Fire Station, 7th & Princess, Brandon, MB

Brandon’s Central Fire Station began its existence in controversy as a replacement for an 1882-83 fire hall on this same site that was a High Victorian Gothic design by British architect Arthur Thomas Timewell. Timewell was deeply influenced by English architect John Ruskin, an advocate of Venetian Gothic designs. The 1911 replacement we see today was created by local architect W.A. Elliott in the Chateauesque style with an Italianate tower. It was built by A.E. Bullock for less than $40,000. The two styles integrate completely into a picturesque result.  The roofline is a swooping statement ending in the exclaiming tower! The steep pitched hipped roof with flat top is punctuated all around by small dormers with steep flared gables. A wide dormer in an eyebrow shape looks out from the front and back. The contrasting white trim on the cornice and stringcourses gives the red brick a striking appeal. The fenestration on the front elevation is a fine balance of double windows over each garage door with the dormers and eyebrow centered again above them.

The Italianate tower is a beauty. Towers were used to dry hoses and played an essential role in early fire fighting. The little invisibly pitched roof has wide eaves with huge carved brackets and pairs of arched openings with small wrought iron balconies. Beneath the balconies is a delicate bit of corbelling. The tower has corner pilasters, which give it a sturdy feeling. Originally the tower contained a large fire bell, known as “Coronation Bell” named in honour of the coronation of King George. The bell weighed 1995 kg and a base of 1.58 metres. It was removed in 1971 to reduce the stress on the tower. The brickwork around the sides on the main floor has alternating relief courses that give the building a sense of stability.

The old fire hall no longer serves its intended purpose and waits empty for its fate. Brandon now has a spiffy new fire hall, all glass and concrete, that, ironically, also came into existence with controversy. The location of the new fire hall, situated in the valley, meant that if the river flooded, access to the north part of the city would be cut off and the ability of engines to cross the crowded 18th Street bridge to get to the south part of the city was held in serious question. With this year’s flooding, the first scenario played out, forcing Brandon fire officials to station several pieces of fire fighting equipment in the lot of a car dealership north of the river in case the bridge was impassable.

Now that it’s empty, maintenance of the building seems to be lax which is a pity since it is a fine example of architectural blending producing unique results. The destiny of Central Fire Station remains in limbo. One of the campaign suggestions of Brandon’s new mayor, Shari Decter Hirst, was to use it as a micro brewery complete with brew pub which seems a suitable use as long as its heritage integrity is maintained. Recent changes in provincial liquor laws could bring that idea closer to fruition. To demolish this classic would be a crime against beauty.


Filed under Heritage Buildings, Hope, Local History




Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Graham and Donald, Winnipeg, MB

           Adding a delightful incongruence to an ever-changing downtown corner, now with the Millennium Library, cityplace and the MTS Centre as its cornermates, is Holy Trinity Anglican, a striking example of delicate High Victorian Gothic architecture. The third church on this site, construction was completed in 1884.

           This limestone church’s design marked a new level of sophistication of design for Winnipeg. Architect Charles H. Wheeler created the plan right down to the coloured stained glass clerestory windows. Wheeler’s other buildings include Dalnavert and the first Dufferin School.

               Holy Trinity’s many Gothic features present a medieval feeling with its enormous number of pinnacles, buttresses, gable ends, orbs and finials all intending to move your attention heavenward.

            The church was designated a National Heritage Site in 1990.


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Filed under Churches