Historic Sites of Manitoba: Bank of Nova Scotia Building / A. A. Heaps Building (254 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg)

Constructed on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg, between 1908 and 1910, by the firm of Thomas Kelly and Sons, this was the first building designed as a bank to be erected away from “Bankers’ Row” on Main Street. The elegant façade is terra cotta manufactured in England and hung on a frame of steel. Architects were the Toronto firm of Darling and Pearson, famous across Canada for bank design, including several structures in Winnipeg. The exuberant detail employed here stands in contrast to the austere classicism of their Bank of Commerce at 389 Main Street. The sweep of the façade with its high dome and corner portal was an effective solution to the design difficulties of a narrow site.

A 1930-1931 addition by Winnipeg architects Lewis H. Jordan and Walter Percy Over matched perfectly the Baroque Revival detail and doubled the frontage on Portage Avenue. The building is a monument to the skill of its architects and the importance of banking to Winnipeg’s economy by the early 1900s.

In 1987, a plaque was attached to the north exterior façade by the Manitoba Heritage Council. Another plaque inside provides biographical details about Abraham Albert Heaps. In 2009, the building was recognized with a Heritage Winnipeg Preservation Award.

Bank of Nova Scotia Building

Bank of Nova Scotia Building (March 1980)
Source: University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, Winnipeg Tribune Collection, PC 18/601/18-601-004

Bank of Nova Scotia Building

Bank of Nova Scotia Building (July 2014)
Source: George Penner

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.89428, W97.14122
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Manitoba Business: Kelly Brothers / Manitoba Construction Company / Kelly Brothers and Mitchell / Thomas Kelly and Sons

Memorable Manitobans: Abraham Albert Heaps (1885-1954)


City of Winnipeg Building Permit 588/1908, City of Winnipeg Archives.

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

Information for this page was provided by The City of Winnipeg’s Planning, Property and Development Department, which acknowledges the contribution of the Government of Manitoba through its Heritage Grants Program.

We thank George Penner and Darryl Resch for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 18 April 2024

Historic Sites of Manitoba

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