Historic Sites of Manitoba: Case Building (125 Higgins Avenue, Winnipeg)
The J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company was founded by Jerome Increase Case (1819-1891) in 1842 to manufacture agricultural implements, threshing machines, farm steam engines, and tractors, with headquarters at Racine, Wisconsin. In 1880, partners in the firm included Case, Stephen Bull, Massena B. Erskine, and Robert H. Baker, all of Racine. The company had around 1500 employees at the time it expanded to Winnipeg around 1891 and obtained a provincial operating license in September 1892. Its initial presence was at 285 James Street, later at 81 Water Street, and early local agents included Henry Shaver Westbrook (1892-?) and the Fairchild Company (1896-?).
The company’s capital stock increased to $1 million (September 1892), $2 million (January 1894), $5 million (May 1907), and $40 million (December 1911), and it secured federal incorporation around May 1912. The Winnipeg offices served initially as its Canadian headquarters, and later for western Canadian operations. In 1902, Edwin L. Macvicar became the firm’s provincial manager. Around 1904, rumours suggested the company was going to expand its local footprint and built a factory in Winnipeg. A four-acre site off Higgins Avenue was reportedly purchased for a warehouse and distribution centre but it is unknown whether or not this development was undertaken. Around 1907, the company expanded to Fort William, Ontario.
The company was renamed as the J. I. Case Company in 1928 and, the following year, it commissioned an office building and warehouse at the northwest corner of Higgins Avenue and May Street (now Waterfront Drive). The work was tendered to the contracting partnership of Borrowman & Jamieson to be based on architectural designs of Racine-based Frank Hoffman. With a three-month completion deadline, work began on 10 May 1929 and involved a crew of some 75 labourers. The original structure measured 100 feet along Higgins to a depth of 200 feet and, for ease of supply logistics, backed onto the Canadian Pacific Railway’s main line. The structure, completed at a cost of between $114,000 and $150,000, had a basement and was built of reinforced concrete and steel, with walls of brick and masonry. It was later expanded.
The company vacated the premises in the early 1960s.
Photos & Maps
Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 26C - J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company , GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.
Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 45J - J.I. Case Company Limited, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.
Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 45J - J.I. Case Threshing Machine Company Limited, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.
“The J. I. Case Implement Company,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 31 March 1891, page 5.
“J. I. Case [...],” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 17 October 1891, page 3.
“Jerome I. Case dead,” Appleton Post [Appleton, Wisconsin], 24 December 1891, page 2.
“Notice,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 30 September 1892, page 3.
“Revival of business,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 February 1894, page 1.
“The reportorial round [We have just witnessed the trial of the J. I. Case Threshing Machine Company’s ...],” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 10 June 1890, page 4.
“J. I. Case agents,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 13 July 1899, page 5.
“Grain Standards Board,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 25 October 1899, page 8.
“The J. I. Case Threshing Machine Co.” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 27 July 1900, page 5.
“J. I. Case Threshing Machine,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 2 August 1901, page 5.
“Notice,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 15 June 1902, page 4.
“Blaze at Racine,” Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 1 June 1903, page 5.
“City and General [The J. I. Case Company ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 8 July 1904, page 9.
“No Case factory here,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 September 1905, page 15.
“Facttory [sic] at Fort William,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 May 1907, page 12.
“What's behind your stock [Case Threshing Machine Company],” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 May 1929, page 22.
“J. I. Case Co. to build new $114,000 warehouse,” Winnipeg Tribune, 16 May 1929, page 21.
“Permits continue to show increase over last year,” Manitoba Free Press, 18 may 1929, page 55.
“Work started on warehouse for J. I. Case Co.” Winnipeg Tribune, 1 June 1929, page 27.
“Big warehouse for J.I. Case nearly finished,” Winnipeg Tribune, 20 July 1929, page 8.
“Workman is injured by falling scaffold,” Manitoba Free Press, 9 August 1929, page 1.
“Saskatoon warehouse is destroyed by fire,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 December 1929, page 3.
“What's behind your stock?” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 4 February 1930, page 17.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 30 April 2019
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