Cauchon Bloc - Empire Hotel



Built in 1881-82 at the southeast corner of Main and York, the Cauchon Block was one of Winnipeg’s most impressive commercial structures. It was designed by architect Louis-Arsène Desy for Joseph-Édouard Cauchon (1816-1885), journalist, politician, businessman, and Manitoba’s first francophone Lieutenant-Governor. When the building opened in February 1883, it had space for eight businesses at ground level and fifty offices on its three upper floors. Particularly striking and rare were the block’s pressed metal façades, designed in the Victorian Italianate style and constructed of decorative cast-iron columns and stamped galvanized iron with zinc details. These  components were produced entirely by local industry. After a recession forced transfer of the property to Dunn and Price of Québec, the Cauchon Block, was converted in 1884 into the city’s first residential apartments.
Three fires struck the premises between 1885 and 1897, causing severe damage and two deaths. The building regained prestige when it was purchased by the McLaren Brothers and transformed in 1904-05 into a first-class hotel called the Empire. Development of nearby Union Station boosted business, but also attracted competing hotels. The Empire remained open until the mid-1970s. Debate over its fate encouraged new public initiatives to preserve local heritage, but could not save the building from demolition in 1982. The Province of Manitoba and City of Winnipeg arranged with the owner to retain the metal façades, restored portions of which were installed to produce this heritage wall.


Centre du patrimoine, 340, boulevard Provencher, Saint-Boniface, (Manitoba) R2H 0G7 - T(204) 233-4888 ©2010 - Société historique de Saint-Boniface
Here is the photo of the Centre du patrimoine on Google Maps