Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Barnes Lait (1855-1928)

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William Barnes Lait
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Architect and superintendent.

Born at Folkestone, England on 30 May 1855, son of William Lait and Mary Anne Barnes, he left school at the age of 17 years to article for four years with an artitect at Birmingham after which he worked in his father’s architectural firm until 1890 when he emigrated to Canada. He spent two years in Toronto before coming to Winnipeg in 1892. From 1892 to 1896 he worked as superintendent and general assistant to George Browne. In 1897 he started his own architectural practice, during which he supervised the construction of the University of Manitoba, Bank of Hamilton, and other Winnipeg buildings. In 1882 he married Alice Nellie Louisa Gray Robinson (1867-1913) of London, England. They had twelve children, including William Chapman Lait (1884-?), Edward Lait (1889-?), Percy Lait (1893-1893), Frederick Lait (1895-1895), Arthur Percy Lait (1897-?), and James Leonard Lait (1900-?). He was a member of the Sons of England Benevolent Society and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He died at the St. Boniface Hospital on 8 March 1928, following a three-month bout with cancer.

Some of his architectural works in Manitoba included:





Mariaggi Hotel

231 McDermot Avenue, Winnipeg



Graham House

137 Scott Street, Winnipeg



Boissevain Land Titles Building

North Railway Street, Boissevain



Spera House

61 Furby Street, Winnipeg


Moved to 2 Middle Gate (1929)

Glines Block

344½ Portage Avenue, Winnipeg


Demolished (?)

Steele Block

360 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg


Demolished (?)


1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

“Tenders [Glines Block],” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 April 1904, page 2.

A History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People by Prof. George Bryce, Toronto: The Canadian History Company, 1906.

Death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“William B. Lait dies after long illness,” Manitoba Free Press, 9 March 1928, page 2.

“W. B. Lait, well-known architect here, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 March 1928, page 3.

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 21 May 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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