Winnipeg Architecture Foundation



Union Bank Tower

Formerly:Former Union Bank Building and Annex National Historic Site of Canada
Former Union Bank Building and Annex
Address:500-504 Main Street
Use:University residence and culinary institute
Original Use:Bank and office tower
Constructed:Tower, 1903-94
Annex, 1921
Architects:Darling and Pearson with W. Percy Over
Tours:Part of the QR Code Tour

More Information

The former Union Bank Building/Annex is located on the west side of Main St. at the point where it curves southwards from Winnipeg's historic City Hall. Together with the Confederation Life Assurance Building (also a skyscraper and National Historic Site) across Main Street on the east side, the Union Bank comprises the towering gateway to Winnipeg's historic financial district. It is composed of a 10 storey tower with a single storey annex on the southern edge of the building.

Winnipeg's former Union Bank Building/Annex National Historic Site was designated in 1996 because

- its main block, erected in 1903-04, is the first skyscraper in western Canada and illustrates many of the architectural and engineering developments of its time;

- the building speaks to the key role played by finance in the expansion of the West in the period 1896-1914, while the takeover of the Union Bank by Royal Bank in 1925 is illustrative of the process of regional alienation;

- its siting at the northern edge of the financial district made it an important civic and corporate symbol of the role of Winnipeg and of the Union Bank in the economy of the West.

Designed by the Toronto architectural firm of Darling and Pearson, this bank follows the classical palazzo model, one of two Beaux Arts-inspired forms used for early skyscrapers -- buildings of greater than 5 storeys supported entirely by a structural iron or steel frame. It was built on a floating platform by the George A. Fuller Construction Co. of New York. In 1921 a single storey annex was added to the original 10 storey tower to accommodate the Union Bank's savings department. From 1925-1966 this building was occupied as the main branch of the Royal Bank in Winnipeg.


HSMBC Minute, June 1996

For further information:

Canada's Historic Places

Design Characteristics


Links & Related Buildings