Historic Sites of Manitoba: Canadian Bank of Commerce Building / Millennium Centre (389 Main Street, Winnipeg)
The present structure at 389 Main Street, constructed in 1910, is the third Bank of Commerce building to occupy the site. In 1893, on its arrival in Winnipeg, the bank leased space in the Bannatyne Block that once stood here and opened a branch under manager F. H. Mathewson. Six years later, the bank purchased then demolished the block and hired the Toronto architectural firm of Darling and Pearson, assisted by local architect Charles H. Wheeler, to design a replacement. Its first manager was John Aird, who later served in the bank’s senior management. By 1910, the building was no longer large enough so it was dismantled carefully and moved to Regina where it was re-erected. Adjacent properties had been purchased quietly so a new, larger building could be erected at a cost of about $750,000. It opened officially in October 1912, with public banking space on the main floor and administrative offices on the second to fourth floors. The bank’s solicitors, Machray, Dennistoun, Lock and Crawley, were on the fifth floor, and a caretaker’s suite, restaurant, and washrooms were on the six floor. A list of bank employees who served during the First World War is inscribed on a wall, and those who were killed are given below.
Relatively few renovations were made to the building through the years. In 1969, the bank relocated to the nearby Richardson Building and left this building vacant. Following public outcry, it was saved from demolition by the City of Winnipeg and, in 1979, became a municipally-designated historic site. In 2000, the building was donated by Marwest Management Canada Limited to the newly-formed 389 Main Street Heritage Corporation. With modest renovations supported by a donation from the W. H. & S. E. Loewen Foundation, the building was re-christened as the Millennium Centre. It now hosts weddings, banquets, and other events.
A memorial tablet to the staff of the Winnipeg Branch of the Canadian Bank of Commerce who served in the First World War was unveiled by Governor General Sir Julian H. G. Byng of Vimy at a ceremony on 15 October 1923. The names of the 91 Winnipeg employees who served in the war are inscribed on the memorial with 17 of those identified as having been killed. The tablet was designed by Toronto sculptor W. S. Allward, who also designed the Vimy Memorial in France, and was built by the Winnipeg Marble and Tile Company. It is set in the wall of the building’s main entrance.
Photos & Coordinates
First World War Casualties
“Baron Byng, of Vimy, unveils war memorials,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 October 1923, pages 1, 3.
389 Main Street, The Canadian Bank of Commerce, Winnipeg Historical Buildings Committee, December 1980.
For the names of First World War casualities from Manitoba who do not appear on any physical monument in the province, see the Manitoba Historical Society War Memorial. If you know of a name that is omitted from this list, please contact the MHS War Memorial Researcher Darryl Toews (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Soldiers of the First World War - Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Canadian Virtual War Memorial, Veterans Affairs Canada.
Financial support for research reported on this page was provided by the Manitoba Heritage Grants Program (2015-2016).
We thank Terry Webber for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 11 January 2020
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