Historic Sites of Manitoba: Carlton Building / Holt Renfrew Building (354 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg)
The three-storey Carlton Building (named for the adjacent Carlton Street) was designed by Winnipeg architect John Danley Atchison and constructed in 1912 by the Sutherland Construction Company at a cost of about $110,000. It was built for the local financial investment firm of Oldfield, Kirby and Gardner, which owned it until 1954. The building originally contained four stores on its street-level floor and 26 professional and business offices on other floors. The signature tenant was Holt Renfrew and Company which occupied most of the main floor for over 70 years. Other building occupants through the years have included tailors Story and Story, Dr. Jaeger’s Sanitary Woolen System Company, The Clothes Shop, Canada Department of Agriculture, and D’Allaird’s Limited.
In 1916, alterations to the building, including the installation of a sprinkler system, was done by the Sutherland Construction Company at a cost of about $20,000. Further alterations in 1927 were designed by John Nelson Semmens and built by the construction firm of Fraser and MacDonald at a cost of about $20,000. Renovations to the Holt Renfrew store, also designed by Semmens and built by Fraser and MacDonald, were scheduled to start in 1927 but were delayed until 1928. They were done at a cost of about $6,000. Further renovations to the Holt Renfrew store in 1937 were designed by Semmens and built by contractor R. N. Wyatt at a cost of about $3,000. In 1942, work on storefront and interior alterations, were designed by the architectural firm of Moody and Moore and were built at a cost of about $28,500.
Further renovations were made in 1988-1989 to integrate the building into the downtown skywalk system. Around this time, Holt Renfrew relocated to the Portage Place shopping mall.
The building is a municipally-designated historic site (2002).
Photos & Coordinates
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 1399/1912, City of Winnipeg Archives.
“New building for Portage Ave,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 May 1912, page 11.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 1028/1916, City of Winnipeg Archives.
“City & District,” Manitoba Free Press, 28 October 1916, page 5.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 160/1927, City of Winnipeg Archives.
“Altering portage avenue fronts to meet demands of retail stores,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 April 1927, page 24.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 3978/1928, City of Winnipeg Archives.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 1601/1937, City of Winnipeg Archives.
“Winnipeg building permits are up 36 percent over 1936,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 July 1937, page 11.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 881/1942, City of Winnipeg Archives.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 914/1942, City of Winnipeg Archives.
“Holt, Renfrew's new store streamlined,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 July 1942, page 15.
354 Portage Avenue, Carlton Building, Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, July 2002.
We thank Jordan Makichuk for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and George Penner.
Page revised: 27 December 2022