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Memorable Manitobans: Charles Henry Wheeler (1838-1917)

Click to enlarge

Charles H. Wheeler
Click to enlarge

Architect, music critic.

Born at Lutterworth, North Leicestershire, England on 23 April 1838, little is known about his early life and education except he was married to Annie Wakefield of Fairford, Gloucester in 1858. It is believed that he studied architecture and music in Birmingham, England in this same period. He continued his pursuit of his architectural career in this city and later in London for approximately twenty years.

Early in the 1880s, he began to hear favourable accounts of life in the Canadian West and decided to seek his fortune in this area. Wheeler arrived in Winnipeg with his wife and six children in February 1882. He must have been a remarkable man at age forty-four and with a large family to leave England and an established career to move to an unknown boom-town like Winnipeg. Once here, he began to work for the architectural firm of James Chisholm.

It was not long before Wheeler began to distinguish himself in his new homeland and city. In 1883, his plans for the new Holy Trinity Anglican Church (located at the corner of Graham Avenue and Donald Street) were chosen from over forty submitted sets in an international competition as the Winnipeg design for the new building. Soon afterward, Wheeler established his own firm and had many valuable architectural contracts in Winnipeg and throughout the prairie region. He also contributed to the formalization of architectural practice in Manitoba, serving in 1906 as a founding Vice-President of the Manitoba Association of Architects.

However, his successes as an architect did not detract from his other great interest, music. He was choirmaster at Knox and Zion churches and involved in several other musical pursuits in the city. In later life, he retired from his architectural career to devote himself to his love for music. Wheeler eventually became the music and drama critic for The Winnipeg Tribune, a post that he held until his death.

Wheeler died at the Winnipeg General Hospital on 7 January 1917 as a result of injuries sustained from falling on an icy sidewalk. He was buried in the St. James Cemetery.

Some of his architectural work in Manitoba included:

Building

Location

Year

Status

Euclid School

Corner of Lusted & Euclid, Winnipeg

1882

 

Holy Trinity Church

Corner of Graham & Donald, Winnipeg

1884

 

G. F. and J. Galt’s Warehouse

103 Princess corner Bannatyne, Winnipeg

1887

 

James Robertson & Company Warehouse

179 Pacific, Winnipeg

1887

 

George D. Wood & Company Warehouse

22-24 Alexander East, Winnipeg

1887

 

E. F. Stephenson Residence

11 Osborne, Winnipeg

1888

 

Home for the Incurables

Portage la Prairie

1889

 

Shaarey Zedek Synagogue

King & Henry, Winnipeg

1890

 

Home for the Incurables

3rd Street NE, Portage la Prairie

1890

 

Merchants’ Bank

11th Street & Rosser, Brandon

1890

 

A. C. Baskerville & Co. Warehouse

660 Main, Winnipeg

1890

 

Morden Methodist Church

Morden

1890

 

F. H. Mathewson Residence

432 Assiniboine, Winnipeg

1890

 

Sanford Building

291 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg

1890

 

Deaf and Dumb Institute

Portage Avenue, Winnipeg

c1891

 

Maxwell & Co. Warehouse

Winnipeg

c1891

 

E. M. Carroll Residence

Winnipeg

c1891

 

Provincial Gaol

20 Third Street SE, Portage la Prairie

c1891

 

Brandon Asylum for the Insane (addition)

First Street, Brandon

1892-1893

Destroyed by fire (November 1910)

Foulds Block

546 Main Street, Winnipeg

1892

 

St. Mary St. Alban Anglican Church

Kaleida

1892

 

John Galt Residence

Winnipeg

1892

 

R. D. Bathgate Residence

Winnipeg

1892

 

Judge Killam Residence

Winnipeg

1893

 

John Peck & Company Warehouse

33 Princess, Winnipeg

1893-1894

 

Court House

Kennedy Street, Winnipeg

1893-1894

 

Bank of Ottawa construction supervision

363 Main Street, Winnipeg

1894

 

Davis Block

Market Square, Winnipeg

1894

 

Water Works Company’s Station

Armstrong’s Point, Winnipeg

1894

 

Union Bank alterations

Main & Bannatyne, Winnipeg

1894

 

Macdonald House

61 Carlton Street, Winnipeg

1895

 

Campbell Block

532-534 Main at James, Winnipeg

1895

 

Argyle School No. 2

corner Argyle & Henry, Winnipeg

1896

Demolished

Dufferin School No. 2

Park corner Logan, Winnipeg

1896

Demolished

Assiniboine Block alterations

173 Main at York, Winnipeg

1896

 

D. T. Lennon Residence

195 Kennedy, Winnipeg

1896

 

John Plaxton Residence

226 Vaughan, Winnipeg

1896

 

R. R. Taylor Warehouse

Winnipeg

1896

 

Winnipeg Opera House

Notre Dame & Adelaide, Winnipeg

c1896

 

Winnipeg Industrial Exhibition Grandstand

Dufferin & Sinclair, Winnipeg

1900

 

Deloraine School No. 490

Deloraine

1902

 

Carman School No. 176

Carman

1902

 

Bacteriological Laboratory

Winnipeg

1906

 

Tees and Persse Block

285 Market Square, Winnipeg

?

 

A. M. Nanton Residence

Winnipeg

?

 

James Smart Residence

Brandon

?

 

R. R. Taylor Residence

Middlechurch

?

 

W. Rough Residence

Winnipeg

?

 

See also:

The Architectural Legacy of Charles H. Wheeler by Giles Bugailiskis
Manitoba History, Number 54, February 2007

The Early History of the Cauchon Block, Later the Empire Hotel by Randy Rostecki
Manitoba Pageant, Spring 1976, Volume 21, Number 3

Architect Wheeler Lives by Lillian Gibbons
Manitoba Pageant, Autumn 1978, Volume 24, Number 1

Charles Henry Wheeler, Dictionary of Canadian Biography XIV, 1,049-1,050.

Sources:

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

Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Chas. H. Wheeler dies in hospital,” Manitoba Free Press, 8 January 1917, page 5.

Buildings at the Brandon Mental Health Centre by David Butterfield and Randy Rostecki, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch, November 1988.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by J. M. Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

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

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Giles Bugailiskis.

Page revised: 28 May 2017

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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