Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Acadia Block is a rectangular, two-storey, flat roofed, brick commercial building, with a one-storey addition on the south elevation. It is located on a vital pedestrian and commercial street, occupying a commercial lot across from the Galt Gardens and the Carnegie Library in the Lethbridge downtown core.
The Acadia Block is significant for its association with the commercial development of Lethbridge. It is also valuable for its association with Charles Broughton Bowman.
The Acadia Block is significant for its association with the commercial development of Lethbridge. Constructed by W.R. Virtue in 1909, during a period of commercial boom, the Acadia Block fulfilled local demand for office and commercial space for Lethbridge’s growing and diversifying service economy. While the block has accommodated accountants, lawyers, and doctors, some of its first tenants were the C.B. Bowman agency, the Red Cross Book Store, and Clarke’s Ladies’ Wear. The owners C.B. Bowman and Lewis Martin Johnstone repaired the building after it was damaged by fire in 1918. The Acadia Block’s rich commercial history attests to the continued commercial viability of the building given its key location in the downtown area, its large capacity, and its attractive design.
The Acadia Block is valuable for its association with the C.B. Bowman, who came from Nova Scotia to Lethbridge in the late 1800s. He started the C.B. Bowman Agency in 1891, which dealt in insurance, loans and real estate and which moved into the Acadia Block after its construction. By 1918, Bowman is identified as co-owning the building with L.M. Johnstone. Bowman was also very active in the local community; he was mayor of Lethbridge in 1909, and held other positions with the City such as municipal councillor, City assessor and secretary treasurer, and secretary of public schools. Bowman retired in 1936. In 1926 to 1927 Leys & Wishart Grocers started business at 616 – 3 Avenue South. This single storey building is now part of 614 – 3 Avenue South as the adjoining west wall has been removed. By 1947, Yeo Quong bought out Robert Ley’s business and opened the Royal Fruit Store. Yeo Quong operated his business here until he retired in 1978.
Source: City of Lethbridge Bylaw 5599 as amended by Bylaw 5664.
The heritage value of the Acadia Block reside in the following character-defining elements:
- The form and massing;
- The common bond brickwork on the exterior;
- The commercial store front with central doorway and the cornice capping the storefront;
- The cornice on the second level, with dentils, metal frieze, and arched parapet with a large name plate reading “Acadia Building”;
- The pattern, style, and construction of all original exterior windows, especially the four semi-elliptical basket-handle arched windows and voussoirs on the second storey and the smaller, semi-circular arched window at the centre on the second storey.