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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Refinery Building / McCabe Grain Elevator and Feed Plant (542 Plinguet Street, Winnipeg)

Link to:
Photos & Coordinates | Sources

The buildings at this site on Plinguet Street in St. Boniface (now part of Winnipeg) were designed by the architectural firm of Northwood and Chivers and constructed in 1925 by Carter-Halls-Aldinger. A three-storey brick and concrete structure was intended for use as a whisky distillery to be operated by the federally-incorporated Manitoba Refinery Company Limited, itself founded around January 1925.

An adjacent low building was to be used as a whisky maturation warehouse, and a 30,000-bushel grain elevator beside the warehouse was used for storing barley needed in the fermentation process. With a daily production capacity of 1,500 gallons, and a staff of about 70 people, through the late 1920s the facility made a Scotch-type whisky called Black Watch, a bourbon-type whisky called Clearbrook, and a gin called Blackfriars.

In 1927, the facility was sold to the newly-formed Montreal-based firm of National Distilleries Limited. It operated under this name until the early 1930s when it became Mid-West Distillers. The company soon fell into receivership and the distilling equipment was sold and moved to Boston, Massachusetts where it was reassembled for use there. It is believed the brick walls of the distillery building were dismantled to facilitate removal of the equipment, leaving a bare concrete skeleton that remains standing today.

The site was sold to McCabe Grain and, in 1935, the former whisky warehouse and grain elevator were converted into a mill and feed plant under the name of Shamrock Elevator, with some $15,000 to $20,000 in additions and alterations undertaken by contractor R. O. Benell of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. The concrete skeleton of the distillery was used as a grain-cleaning warehouse. It replaced the Shamrock Elevator at the corner of Tache Avenue at Hebert Street which had burned in April 1935.

The facility operated during much of the late 20th century. The McCabe grain elevator has since been removed. The original warehouse and elevator are presently used for miscellaneous storage. The concrete skeleton appears unused.

Photos & Coordinates

Former Manitoba Refinery whisky distillery

Former Manitoba Refinery whisky distillery (c1970)
Source: Archives of Manitoba, Architectural Survey - Winnipeg, Plinguet Street, No. 23/70.

Former Manitoba Refinery whisky distillery

Former Manitoba Refinery whisky distillery (April 2017)
Source: Nathan Kramer

Former Manitoba Refinery whisky distillery

Former Manitoba Refinery whisky distillery (September 2017)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Former McCabe warehouse and grain elevator

Former McCabe warehouse and grain elevator (October 2015)
Source: Jean McManus

Former McCabe grain elevator with warehouse and whisky distillery in background

Former McCabe grain elevator with warehouse and whisky distillery in background (October 2015)
Source: Jean McManus

Former Manitoba Refinery whisky distillery

Former Manitoba Refinery whisky distillery (September 2022)
Source: George Penner

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.89196, W97.10221
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Manitoba Business: Northwood and Chivers / Northwood Chivers and Casey

Manitoba Business: Carter-Halls-Aldinger

Manitoba Business: McCabe Elevator Company / McCabe Brothers Grain Company / McCabe Grain Company

Historic Sites of Manitoba: McCabe Grain Elevator and Seed Cleaning Plant (627 Plinguet Street, Winnipeg)

Memorable Manitobans: William Trevor Gwyn (1880-1944)


“Petites notes,” La Liberte, 18 March 1925, page 9.

“Work on new refinery to be started today,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 March 1925, page 10.

“Record building year expected,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 March 1925, page 8.

“Workman falls from scaffold, likely to die,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 May 1925, page 1.

“Reorganization and dismissals are suggested,” Sherbrook Daily Record, 19 June 1925, page 11.

“[Charged with unlawfully importing liquor into the province of Manitoba ...],” Manitoba Free Press, 9 October 1925, page 9.

“107 Manitoba companies are formed in year,” Winnipeg Tribune, 3 February 1926, page 3.

[advertisement], Manitoba Free Press, 6 May 1926, page 17.

“Black watch rare old liquer wisky [ad],” Manitoba Free Press, 2 June 1926, page 2.

“Rapid industrial growth of St. Boniface places cathedral city in forefront of many busy Canadian industrial centres,” Manitoba Free Press, 19 June 1926, page 27.

“Montreal group buys Manitoba Refinery Co.,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 September 1927, page 16.

“Boston company buys distillery in St. Boniface,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 December 1933, page 2.

“Elevator fire-swept and 70,000 bushels of grain destroyed,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 April 1935, page 1.

“Elevator fire,” Winnipeg Free Press, 15 April 1935, page 4.

“Fire destroys grain elevator in St. Boniface,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 April 1935, page 5.

“Photo caption] As flames swept elevator,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 April 1935, page 3.

“Building notes [McCabe Bros.],” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 September 1935, page 4.

“City briefs [The Shamrock Elevator...],” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 September 1935, page 3.

“Shamrock Elevator,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 May 1936, page 17.

“Ensure success with Victoria brand feeds,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 August 1936, page 18.

“Drill through wall to vault to get $60,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 August 1937, page 4.

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

We thank John Maroweitch, Jean McManus, and George Penner for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Jordan Makichuk, Gordon Goldsborough, and Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 27 September 2022

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