Winnipeg Architecture Foundation



166 Portage Avenue East

Formerly:Manitoba Telephone Building
Address:166 Portage Avenue East
Architects:A. D. Melville
Contractors:J. McDiarmid Company, Limited

More Information

Built in 1931-32, this block was designed by local architect Alex D. Melville to house the Manitoba Telephone System. Containing the phone company’s administrative offices and a core-area phone exchange with 6,600 lines, the building was clad in Tyndall limestone. Paralleling the similarly styled Power Building (further west on Portage Avenue) the Manitoba Telephone System Building made use of an exaggeratedly vertical and spare neo-Gothic style known at times as the "modern Perpendicular Gothic." Notably, this Winnipeg building’s ornament includes the carved initials of the phone company stretched tall atop the façade’s second floor.

Inside that the building Art Deco styling was evident in the spaces occupied by the CKY radio studios. During the period of the building's construction, CKY was Canada’s only provincially government-owned monopoly radio station. Engaged in cutting-edge technology, CKY was the sort of client which called for modern-oriented design. Its studios featured such Art Deco elements as geometric floor and wall patterning and radio-evoking lightening bolt metal grille-work.

Cables, conduits and electrical fixtures for this building were supplied by Northern Electric, with linoleum flooring supplied by T. Eaton Co. The general contractor was the J. McDiarmid Company, Limited, with the steel substructure erected by Dominion Bridge. The Manitoba Tyndall limestone exterior cladding was supplied by Western Stone Company Limited.

Design Characteristics

  • Tyndall limestone cladding
  • Streamlined neo-Gothic design