Historic Sites of Manitoba: St. John’s Telephone Exchange Building (405 Burrows Avenue, Winnipeg)
The Manitoba Government Telephone System was created in January 1908 when the provincial government led by Rodmond Palen Roblin purchased the Manitoba assets of the Bell Telephone Company of Canada, as well as those of smaller companies operating in the province. A single Bell exchange was soon replaced by several exchanges in various parts of Winnipeg. Buildings for the Garry, Sherbrook, and West exchanges survive, along with the one for the St. John’s area.
The building was designed by provincial architect Samuel Hooper and constructed between 1910 and 1911 by J. M. Kelly and J. J. Kelly. As telephone technology changed, the building was enlarged in 1922 (designed by John Manuel) and 1947 to accommodate new equipment. The facility closed in 1990 and, three years later, the building was taken over by the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation and renovated in residential space. In February 2018, it became a municipally-designated historic building.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 2706/1910, City of Winnipeg Archives.
City of Winnipeg Building Permit 1501/1922, City of Winnipeg Archives.
St. John's Telephone Exchange Building, 405 Burrows Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.
Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, 1800-1950 by Robert G. Hill, Toronto.
We thank George Penner and Murray Peterson for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 17 February 2023