Historic Sites of Manitoba: McDermot’s Corners / Bodega Hotel / O’Connor Hotel / Farmer Building / Victory Building (333 Main Street, Winnipeg)
According to early historian Alexander Ross, this site on the east side of Main Street in Winnipeg, near its intersection with Portage Avenue immediately between the Bank of Montreal Building and the National Trust Building, was once occupied by a log cabin built by Andrew McDermot. Known in the mid-19th century as McDermot’s Corners, the site was later the original home of the Manitoba Club and upon which the Bodega Hotel was later erected. The hotel was subsequently purchased by W. J. “Billy” O’Connor and renamed the O’Connor Hotel. In January 1909, the site was purchased by Hamilton, Ontario barrister and investor T. D. J. Farmer (1863-1934) who “believe[d] the best thing in the city [of Winnipeg] in the way of real estate is Main street south and east from Portage to the new Fort Garry depot.” Farmer purchased the 98-foot frontage property from Hilliard Taylor for around $196,000, then one of the largest real estate transactions in Winnipeg’s history.
The O’Connor Hotel would be replaced in 1910 with the Farmer Block, based on a design by local architect W. W. Blair and built at a cost of $113,000 by the contracting firm of C. W. Sharp & Son. The structure featured a stone facade and fireproof interior made of steel, concrete, and brick. Brick and steel work began mid-August 1910. The four-storey structure opened around April 1911 with commercial space on the ground floor and residential suites on the upper two floors.
By the end of the First World War, the building was owned by the Canadian Fire Insurance Company (CFIC) and the Northern Trust Company. On 14 December 1918, the CFIC announced the renaming of the structure to the Victory Building, in commemoration of the Allied victory end and their employees who served in military forces overseas. The building would later host the law firm of Munson, Allan, Laird, Davis, Haffner, Hobkirk, Munson, Allan, Loadner, Patton, and MacInnes. The building’s final tenant was the Canadian Indemnity Company which moved out in early 1979. The 24,000-square-foot building was considered unsuccessfully for heritage status and it was demolished in the spring of 1980. The site is now occupied by an office tower.
McPhillips Insurance Plans of the City of Winnipeg, Province of Manitoba, 1880. [Library and Archives Canada]
“Farmer Block begun,” Winnipeg Tribune, 9 April 1908, page 3.
“The new Farmer Block,” Manitoba Free Press, 23 May 1908, page 6.
“Hamilton man buys Main St. property,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 January 1909, page 1.
“Likes Winnipeg,” Manitoba Free Press, 13 November 1909, page 40.
“Permit issued for the Farmer Block,” Manitoba Free Press, 4 June 1910, page 5.
“W. J. O’Connor dies at beach,” Winnipeg Tribune, 6 July 1910, page 1.
“Local notes [Farmers’ Block], Manitoba Free Press, 11 August 1910, page 2.
“Part office to let,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 April 1911, page 2.
“We have moved,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 April 1911, page 28.
“Moving to 333 Main,” Winnipeg Tribune, 27 October 1911, page 8.
“Birthday congratulations,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 February 1916, page 18.
“Farmer Building is now Victory Building,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 December 1918, page 3.
“The Victory Building,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 December 1918, page 6.
“Picked up in passing [T. D. J. Farmer],” Lethbridge Herald, 28 April 1934, page 4.
“Farmer Block,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 March 1939, page 3.
“Plate commemorates law firm,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 May 1946, page 11.
“Farming in pioneer days,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 June 1964, page 22.
“For rent - Victory Building,” Winnipeg Free Press, 30 June 1979, page 36.
“Potential buyer wants old building - to wreck,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 November 1979, page 19.
“Salvage material from commercial building,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 April 1980, page 45.
“Defeat for victory,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 July 1980, page 5.
“Upper tiers,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 September 1980, page 11.
“Our mistake,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 October 1980, page 2.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 26 April 2015
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