Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Louis Arsene Désy (1856-1924)

Architect, engineer.

Born at St. Cuthbert, Berthier County, Quebec on 28 March 1856, he was educated at the Jacques Cartier Normal School (Montreal) and the College of Joliette. He came to Winnipeg in 1880 and worked as an architect until 1885. During this period he designed the stations along the Canadian Pacific Railway between Winnipeg and Vancouver. From 1885 to 1887, he was an architect and construction supervisor at Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul in Minnesota. He returned to Montreal in early 1888 and did architectural work for a short time before switching to mechanical engineering. He had several inventions, including an excavating machine. He was the mechanical superintendent for the Montreal Harbour Commissioners, in charge of dredge and wharf improvements (1894-1901), dredging superintendent for the St. Lawrence Channel and Lake St. Peter (1901-1904), dredging superintendent at Kashmir, India (1905-1910), and consulting engineer for the Bucyrus Company in the operation of dredges on the New York State Barge Canal (1910-1911). He designed and operated a dredge (1911-1914) and carried out contracts on his own account (1914-1916). During the First World War, from 1916 to 1918, he was Chief Engineer for Limburners Limited, a manufacturer of shells and fuses. He ended his career with a return to architecture, designing and building apartment blocks in Montreal. He died at Ste. Madelaine d’Outrement, Quebec in 1924.

Some of his architectural works in Manitoba included:

Building

Location

Year

Status

St. Mary’s Academy Building

Notre Dame Street East, Winnipeg

1880

Demolished (1959)

Cauchon Block

171 Main Street, Winnipeg

1883

Demolished (1981)

Sources:

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

We thank Marcel Désy for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 25 June 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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