Historic Sites of Manitoba: Bemis Brothers Bag Company Building / Bag Factory Apartments (311 Alexander Avenue, Winnipeg)

The Bemis Brothers Bag Company (BBBC) began as the J. M. Bemis & Company as founded by Judson Moss Bemis at St. Louis, Missouri in 1858. In 1873, the venture was joined by his brother, Stephen Allen Bemis, and thus the BBBC was established. It was incorporated at St. Louis on 18 May 1885, and the two Bemis brothers were joined by partners J. G. Marriott [of St. Louis, MO], Chester Simmons [of Minneapolis, MN], and Alice C. Bemis [of Colorado Springs, CO]. Its initial capital stock of $350,000 was increase heavily during the first few decades; to .75 million (1889), 1.0 million (1895), 1.25 million (1898), 1.6 million (1900), 3.2 million (1902), 4.0 million (1905), 5.0 million (1906), 8.0 million (1910), 10.0 million (1917), and 20.0 million (1922). During this period of growth, BBBC located their head office at Boston, Massachusetts and sought to expand internationally. Winnipeg was chosen as the site for their first Canadian factory and warehouse.

On 7 April 1906, the company acquired an operating license under the Foreign Corporations Act of Manitoba and commissioned the factory upon designs of their own architect; W. H. Lester. Work was overseen by Mr. Stenerwald and the factory erected by day labour. This six-storey structure was purportedly the first within the city to be erected entirely from reinforced concrete and steel. It was built at a cost of at least $60,000. The site was also serviced via a spur track running parallel its southeast elevation. The first few BBBC Managers were George C. Watson (1906-?), James Harold Willard (1908-?), and Watler Axel Lawson (1919-?).

It has been converted to an apartment building.

Bemis Brothers Bag Company Building / Bag Factory Apartments

Bemis Brothers Bag Company Building / Bag Factory Apartments (June 2017)
Source: George Penner

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.90290, W97.14008
denoted by symbol on the map above


Bemis Bag Company Building, 311 Alexander Avenue, Peterson Projects, January 2007.

“Notice,” Manitoba Free Press, 5 May 1906, page 18.

“Building trades’ strike spreading,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 September 1906, page 1.

“Bemis Bro. Bag Co.,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 December 1906, page 17.

Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 86B - Bemis Brothers Bag Company, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.

Orders-in-Council (EC 0003B), Order-in-Council #10681, GR1530, Archives of Manitoba.

Historical Timeline, Bemis 150th Anniversary.

This page was prepared by George Penner and Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 11 December 2020

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