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 contractor brothers James Michel Kelly and John 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.

It is a provincially-designated (July 1994) and municipally-designated (February 2018) historic building.

St. John’s Telephone Exchange Building

St. John’s Telephone Exchange Building (1912)
Source: Manitoba Telephone System Collection #31, Archives of Manitoba

St. John's Telephone Exchange Building

St. John’s Telephone Exchange Building (May 2013)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

St. John's Telephone Exchange Building

St. John’s Telephone Exchange Building (May 2020)
Source: George Penner

Site Coordinates (lat/long): N49.91749, W97.13900
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Memorable Manitobans: James Michel Kelly (1873-1969)

MHS Centennial Business: Manitoba Government Telephones / Telephone System / MTS Allstream Inc.

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Provincially Designated Historic Sites

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Municipally Designated Historic Sites

MHS Centennial Business: Manitoba Government Telephones / Manitoba Telephone System / MTS Allstream / Bell MTS


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: 29 March 2024

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