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McKenzie Sharland Grocery

Medicine Hat

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The McKenzie Sharland Grocery is a two-storey Edwardian commercial/residential building integrated into a residential context in the historic North (now River) Flats neighbourhood in Medicine Hat. The handsomely detailed wooden building features a false front flat parapet roof with decorative wooden cornices, wooden siding and multi-light storefront windows with a central recessed entryway. The building is located on the south side of Dominion Street.

Heritage Value
Constructed in 1912 during the height of the Edwardian era boom in the 1910s, the McKenzie Sharland Grocery is valued as a reflection of the surge of development that occurred in the Flats neighbourhood due to its proximity to the thriving local clay, milling, glassware, and greenhouse industries, among many others. The building represents the growth and evolution of the historic North Flats community and the integration of commercial buildings into the residential context in neighbourhoods in Medicine Hat. The North and South Flats neighbourhoods, established in the low-lying flats of the South Saskatchewan River, east and south of the CPR tracks, densified significantly in the 1910s. As the surrounding industries increased production, workers’ housing, commercial buildings, institutional facilities, and community spaces were developed. The quality of the building reflects the optimism and rapid growth during the Edwardian era, prior to the subsequent downturn of the local economy and the outbreak of the First World War.

The McKenzie Sharland Grocery is also significant as a long-time community commercial venture and for its association with the first and second owners: the McKenzie and Sharland families. Commercial ventures such as the grocery served both residents and visitors, and helped establish the North Flats neighbourhood as a self-sufficient community. The building was designed and built for a cost of $1,500 as a grocery with a residence above for William J. and Margaret McKenzie in 1912. The McKenzies, previously farmers in Manitoba, ran McKenzie Grocery out of the store from 1912-1924. Following William’s death in 1924, it was acquired by Leonard Arthur (Len) Sharland in 1926. Len, who immigrated from Wookey, England, married Irish-born Jessie Knight Brannen (born in 1893) in 1912 and moved to a small cottage on Balmoral Street in the North Flats neighbourhood shortly after. Len delivered groceries by truck in Medicine Hat. The Sharlands raised four children in the three-bedroom upper floor and ran the successful Len Sharland Grocery on the ground floor until 1936, when they were forced to close due to financial constraints caused by the Depression. The store was then converted to a living room and after Len’s death in 1950, their son, Leonard Charles and his wife Laurie, who married in 1955, moved into the building. The Sharlands continued to own and occupy the building until 2013. A former CPR icehouse was moved on site in 1926 to a location directly west of the grocery building. It had been re-purposed as a two-room house at some earlier period. Sharland cut a door in the front and the building was repurposed as a garage.

Furthermore, McKenzie Sharland Grocery is highly valued as an exquisitely preserved and superb example of Edwardian-era vernacular commercial architecture of the pre-First World War period. It is typical of the practical, small-scale commercial/residential buildings constructed during this period for local retail services, and served the daily convenience needs of the area’s residents for many years. The raised false front with decorative wooden cornice is a typical Edwardian commercial feature, which increased the prominence of the main façade and provided greater opportunities for signage. The large multi-light glass display windows, flanking each side of the central, recessed entryway, displayed goods and are indicative of the building’s historic retail function. Characteristic of small, neighbourhood retail establishments, the building contains a residence for the proprietor of the establishment above, and reflects the family-run nature of this type of business.

The McKenzie Sharland Grocery is situated in its original location and has a high level of intact historic integrity. The building is valued as a neighbourhood landmark that contributes to the heritage character of the River Flats (former North Flats) neighbourhood as a colourful and varied working class community with a blend of industrial, commercial, and residential dwellings.

Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage character of McKenzie Sharland Grocery include, but are not limited to its:
· Location on the south side of Dominion Street on a flat, grassed lot;
· Situation with close set-backs to the street in a residential context in the Reiver Flats neighbourhood in Medicine Hat;
· Landscaping such as: mature trees; CPR icehouse converted to a garage on the west side of property;
· Form, scale and massing as expressed by its: two-storey height; rectangular plan; low-pitched front-gabled roof with no overhands with flat roof parapet wall on front façade;
· Wooden-frame construction including its: drop and lapped wooden siding; wooden trim and cornice
· Edwardian vernacular commercial influences such as its: flase front parapet wall; wooden roof and storefront cornices with scroll-cut brackets and dentils; cornice boards; bargeboards on rear gable; cornerboards; storefront at first storey with storefront windows flanking a central recessed entryway; wooden soffits above storefront entryway; wooden drip molding over windows;
· Fenestration such as: single assembly, 1-over-1 single-hung wooden-sash windows; original wooden paneled doors with upper light and original hardware; fixed multi-light wooden-sash storefront windows with interior storms and hopper multi-light wooden-sash windows above;
· Additional elements such as: evidence of painted ghost writing stating “Len Sharland Grocery’ on upper portion of west façade; and
· Interior elements such as interior trim and wooden flooring.


Street Address: 1113 Dominion Street SE
Community: Medicine Hat
Boundaries: Lot 24, Block 9, Plan 1811251
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 2

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
N 50 02.174 -110 39.570 GPS

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2014/03/04

Historical Information

Built: 1912 to 1912
Significant Date(s) 1917 to 1936
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Current Function(s):
Builder: William J. McKenzie

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0313
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link: www.medicinehat.ca
Data Source: City of Medicine Hat, City Clerk Department, 580 - 1 Street SE Medicine Hat, AB T1A 8E6
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