Manitoba Historical Society
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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Grand Opera House / Traders Building (814 Main Street, Winnipeg)

Link to:
Photos & Coordinates | Sources

This three-storey brick building on Main Street in Winnipeg was built as a public theatre for the Grand Opera House Company. On 14 October 1908, the company had been granted a charter of incorporation via Letters Patent under the Manitoba Joint Stock Companies Act. Its founding partners were architect brothers Alexander D. Melville and William N. Melville, on whose plans the building was based, and contractors Charles Edward Gate, Harry Frith-Smith, and Ernest Gibbons.

The 57-foot wide by 120-foot deep structure was constructed between October and December 1908 by contractor Robert Grant (carpentry) and Ernest Gibbons (masonry). Built at a cost of about $50,000, and initially two storeys in height, its initial seating capacity was 1,200 people. A third floor was added later. The theatre opened on 25 December 1908 with the play “The Rose of the Rancho.”

In 1919 the name was changed to the Traders Building.

The former Grand Opera House

The former Grand Opera House (1970)
Source: City of Winnipeg (via Winnipeg Free Press)

Removing the cornice of the former Grand Opera House

Removing the cornice of the former Grand Opera House (June 2017)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

The former Grand Opera House

The former Grand Opera House (no date)
Source: Kerrin Asmundson

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.90787, W97.13407
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: Alexander D. Melville (1873-1949)


City of Winnipeg Building Permit 1316/1908, City of Winnipeg Archives.

“Permit for new theatre in Winnipeg,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 October 1908, page 1.

“New theatre being rushed,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 October 1908, page 2.

“Grand Opera House opening,” Winnipeg Tribune, 12 December 1908, page 20.

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

“Grand Opera House opening,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 December 1908, page 9.

“Musical news of the day [The opening of the Grand Opera House in the north end ...],” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 December 1908, page 9.

“Two city theatres likely to clash,” Manitoba Free Press, 26 December 1908, page 24.

“Grand Opera House [ad],” Manitoba Free Press, 28 December 1908, page 8.

Companies Office corporation documents (CCA 0059), 99G - Grand Opera House Company, GR6427, Archives of Manitoba.

Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.

Preparation of this page was supported, in part, by the Gail Parvin Hammerquist Fund of the City of Winnipeg.

We thank Jordan Makichuk for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough, Nathan Kramer, and Kerrin Asmundson.

Page revised: 10 October 2022

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