Manitoba Historical Society
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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Garry Telephone Exchange Building (474 Hargrave Street, Winnipeg)

Until 1906, many small, competing telephone companies provided unreliable service to Manitobans. Recognizing the growing importance of communications, the Conservative government of Sir Rodmond Roblin created Manitoba Government Telephones as the first provincially owned telephone system in Canada. Creation of this public utility marked a significant step in the emergence of a mixed public and private economy in Manitoba.

This building, designed by provincial architect Samuel Hooper, was begun in 1907 and completed in 1908. It was the first exchange erected by the new company. It served as headquarters and as a visual symbol of the Manitoba Telephone System until 1932, when head office demands outgrew the building. Following the construction of new headquarters on Portage Avenue East, the “Garry” continued to function as one of the main downtown exchanges.

Declared surplus in 1952, the building was converted into a garment factory two years later. During 1986-1987, it was converted to cooperative housing. In 1989, a commemorative plaque was mounted on the northeast corner of the building by the Manitoba Heritage Council. In January 2017, the four-storey brick and stone building became a municipally-designated historic site.

Postcard view of the Garry Telephone Exchange Building

Postcard view of the Garry Telephone Exchange Building (no date)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough, 2022-0025

Garry Telephone Exchange Building

Garry Telephone Exchange Building (no date)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Manitoba Telephone System Collection 1-1

Garry Telephone Exchange Building

Garry Telephone Exchange Building (April 2011)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Garry Telephone Exchange Building

Garry Telephone Exchange Building (February 2021)
Source: George Penner

Garry Telephone Exchange Building

Garry Telephone Exchange Building (October 2022)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Manitoba Heritage Council plaque

Manitoba Heritage Council plaque (February 2016)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.89840, W97.14483
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

MHS Centennial Business: Manitoba Government Telephones / Telephone System / MTS Allstream Inc.

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Provincially Designated Historic Sites

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Municipally Designated Historic Sites

MHS Centennial Business: Manitoba Government Telephones / Manitoba Telephone System / MTS Allstream / Bell MTS


“Winnipeg’s big building development during 1908,” Winnipeg Tribune, 19 December 1908, page 31.

Information for this page was provided by The City of Winnipeg’s Planning, Property and Development Department, which acknowledges the contribution of the Government of Manitoba through its Heritage Grants Program.

Garry Telephone Exchange Building, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.

We thank George Penner and Darryl Resch for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 14 October 2022

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