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Gainer Block


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Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Gainer Block is a two-storey, rectangular red brick building constructed in 1902, situated on one urban lot on Whyte Avenue, in the historic Old Strathcona district of Edmonton.

Heritage Value
The Gainer Block is significant because it represents the early development of Strathcona, Edmonton's commercial rival on the south side of the North Saskatchewan River, at what was then the northern terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The Gainer Block thus provides structural evidence of the area's pre-World War One commercial boom, and is directly associated with John Gainer, an early entrepreneur. It remains an important part of one of Alberta's most important, intact, historic urban neighbourhoods.

The Gainer Block was built by John Gainer, who as the founding owner of Gainer Meats played a prominent role in the development of the livestock marketing industry in Western Canada. The 1902 brick Gainer Block replaced the original frame building that had housed his butcher operation since 1893, and served as office space as he established a more extensive slaughterhouse and packing plant operation to the east beside Mill Creek that same year. The Gainer Block was the second brick building to be built on Whyte Avenue, in part as a sign of status and also because of a 1902 Strathcona by-law that required brick construction in an attempt to reduce the risk of fires that had proven so destructive in many western communities.

The Gainer Block is therefore a good example of the brick commercial structures built in the province at the turn of the twentieth century.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 791)

Character-Defining Elements
Character-defining elements of the Gainer Block include:
- form, scale and massing;
- restored red brick facade;
- gable roof;
- first storey large glass display windows on either side of the recessed door, topped with small-square paned windows;
- second-storey brick arcade on double pilasters;
- four evenly spaced windows on the second storey, each topped by four rhythmical semicircular brick arches filled in with semicircular wood frame recessed panels;
- pilasters with rock-face sandstone detailing
- brick parapet including a pediment with semicircular brick detailing and honeycomb brick infill;
- partial original hardwood floors.


Street Address: 10341 to 10343 - 82 Avenue NW
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Lot 10, Block 61, Plan I
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.517762 -113.496532 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1982/04/15

Historical Information

Built: 1902 to 1902
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Office or Office Building
Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Industry : Food and Beverage Manufacturing Facility
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment

John Gainer arrived in Strathcona in 1891 and established his butcher's business shortly after. He purchased property of Whyte Avenue in 1893 and built a wood frame store on the present site of the Gainer Block. By 1902 Gainer Meats had become an exceedingly prosperous business and he could afford to build the red brick building that now stands. At the time of the Gainer Block's construction, the firm established a slaughter house/packing plant on Mill Creek. The Gainer family ceased to operate retail outlets in 1911 and sold the block in 1943, selling hte rest of the operation in the early 1970's.


Basically, the Gainer Block is a rectangular red brick box with a decorated front facade. The ground floor was devoted to retail space while the upper floor was leased office space.

The upper storey is divided into four bays by evenly spaced windows. Each window is topped by a semi-circular brick arch that dominates the window beneath it. Small semi-circular wood frame panels fill the arch and serve to lighten the overpowering presence of the brick arches. The arch of the window is echoed by the parapet detail where a larger brick arch filled with honeycomb brick work perches. This parapet detail gives the building an impression of height it does not have and adds a decorative element to the facade.

Site Data Form (May 27, 1982)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0505
Designation File: DES 0791
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 21216
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 791)
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