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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Duffin Block / Baker Block / Birt Saddlery Building (468-474 Main Street, Winnipeg)

In 1881, photographer Simon Duffin commissioned a three-storey brick and stone building at the southwest corner of Main Street at Bannatyne Avenue, designed by local architect T. H. Parr and constructed by R. D. Paterson. Duffin operated a photographic studio on the second floor until 1888 when he sold it to photographers Steele and Wing, thereafter concentrating on the sale of photographic equipment and supplies. Following Duffin’s death in 1900, the business was carried on by his brother-in-law under the name of Duffin and Company. It operated until around 1928 when it was bought out by Eastman Kodak. The space on the main floor of the building was occupied by a variety of businesses, including a tobacconist and a stationer.

Local entrepreneur W. R. Baker purchased the small shops situated immediately south of the Duffin Block and, in 1901, he constructed a three-storey brick structure on a design by architect H. S. Griffith. The main floor was occupied by a music store and jewellery, while offices on the second and third floors were used by physicians, dentists, and other professionals. In 1921, the building was purchased and renamed the Home Investment Building by a firm established by businessman Manlius Bull which operated here until 1947. A fire in the early spring of 1956 destroyed the upper two floors of the Duffin Block but the ground floor survived. The building was taken over in 1965 by Birt Saddlery, a retail outlet for tack and leather goods, and western wear.

The building complex is now a municipally-designated historic site.

Baker Block

Baker Block (June 2014)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Location (lat/long): N49.89759, W97.13906
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Manitoba Photographers: Simon Duffin (1843-1900)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Municipally Designated Historic Sites


Birt’s Saddlery (Former Baker and Duffin Blocks), 470-474 Main Street, City of Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, December 1983.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 6 December 2015

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