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Key Number: HS 4863
Site Name: Ramsey Block
Other Names:
Site Type: 0412 - Mercantile/Commercial: General Retail Store


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4

Address: 10048 - 101A Avenue
Number: 48
Street: 100
Avenue: 101A
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Rectangular Short Facade
Storeys: Storeys: 4 or more
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Poured Concrete
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Flat
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Double Semi-Detached, Non-Related
Wings: None
Wall Design and Detail: Spandrel
Wall Design and Detail: Entablature
Wall Design and Detail: Plain Parapet
Wall Design and Detail: Inscription or Date Stone
Plain Eaves
Roof Trim - Verges: Not Applicable
Roof Trim Material - Verges: None
Dormer Type: None
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Other
Chimney Location - Front to Rear: Other
Chimney Stack Material: Unknown
Chimney Stack Massing: Other
Roof Trim - Special Features: Balustrade
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Concrete
Window - Sill Type: Plain Slip Sill
Window - Sill Material: Concrete
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Flat Transom, Single Light
Window - Number of Sashes: One
Window - Opening Mechanism: Pivoted
Window - Special Types: None
Main Entrance - Location: Off-Centre (Facade)
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening Material: Tile or Terra Cotta
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Flat Transom, Single Light
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 1
Main Entrance - Leaves - Special Feature: Glass
Main Stairs - Location and Design: None
Main Stairs - Direction: None
Main Porch - Type: None
Main Porch - Special Features: None
Main Porch - Material: None
Main Porch - Height: None
Exterior: Pier and spandrel, entablature with decorated frieze, balustrade, decorated panels.
Parapet with balustrade; cornice featuring carved swag, and egg and dart detailing; stone facade with chicago windows; wood pivot windows with dentil details; pressed metal cornice above store fronts.
The Ramsey Block provides a well-proportioned four-storey facade which combines elements of the Chicago School with classical details from the eclectic Commercial style. The extensive use of glass and its division into six parts for each structural bay emphasize the modernity of the Chicago School, but the classical cornice and balustrade, as well as other stone details, hark back to the traditional. Limestone.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Neighbourhood: Downtown Property Features: None Located on Rice St. / Howard st. The Ramsey Block relates well to the Kelly Exchange Building, and to the pedestrian by virtue of its small scale. A return to retail activity as this location would enhance the Rice-Howard Mall. The podium of the new Scotia Place is in scale to the Ramsey and Kelly Buildings, and they provide an attractive contrast to the reflectivity and architectural and pedestrian sterility of Scotia Place.
Condition: N/A
Alterations: Apparent Alterations and/or Additions: Wall Apparent Alterations and/or Additions: Window Apparent Alterations and/or Additions: Door Site: Original


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
Usage: Usage Date:
Mercantile/Commercial: Office or Administration Bldg
Mercantile/Commercial: Office or Administration Bldg
Governmental: Public Safety and Service
Owner: Owner Date:
James Ramsey

Architect: Magoon and McDonald
Builder: Read & MacDonald & Brewster
Craftsman: N/A
History: James Ramsey Ltd. original owner. Ramsey operated a department store in main floors of Tegler building Erected as part of Ramsey's department store complex facade differs from adjoining structure through on insurance maps only one structure is indicated.
Housed furniture and house furnishings.
Bought by provincial Government in 1939 to be used by Workmen's Compensation Board.
***** Born in Imlay City, Michigan, April 4, 1864, James Ramsey son of John and Agnes (nee Davidson) Ramsey, both natives of Scotland. Came to Canada in 1868. Attended public schools in Oxford county, Ont.
Employed in general store, Plattsville, Ont., 1877-1884. Had commercial interests in Toronto, Montreal, Guelph and New York before coming to Edmonton in 1911. Established one of the largest department stores in western Canada, James Ramsey, Limited. Store was sold to T. Eaton Company in 1929. Is credited with bringing the one-cent piece into circulation in Edmonton by pricing his merchandise in odd cents.
Until his time the one-cent piece was a curiosity in Edmonton since everything was priced in multiples of fives. Director of CNP and H.H. Coper Company. President of Edmonton Stock Yards Limited. Made honorary lieutenant-colonel of Edmonton Regiment. Retired from business in 1928. Member of Masonic Order, Edmonton Club, Canadian Club; president, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. A Conservative; represented district of Edmonton in Alberta Legislature, 1917-1921. A Methodist. Married to Clara Alice Reynolds, Oct. 1, 1884. Three children. Wife Clara died on January 18, 1931. Remarried to wife of Milton R. Jennings. Two children. Died on December 25, 1939 at his winter home at Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahamas.

*** From the beginning, the Ramsey Building was intended as an extension to the neighbouring Kelly Block. Nevertheless, it does not resemble the Kelly Block closely in style or in height. Built at a cost of $150,000 in 1927 for James Ramsey, Edmonton's 'Merchant Prince', this was the last extension he made to his already large department store before selling the business (but not the building) to the T. Eaton Company in 1929. It was designed by the firm of Magoon and MacDonald, one of Edmonton's most active and successful architectural offices.
The lower portion of this building emphasizes the horizontal, providing a solid-looking base for the building. Strong vertical elements divide the facade into two bays which are in turn divided into the three-part windows characteristic of the Chicago Commercial Style. The cornice and parapet capping the Ramsey Building are smaller than is generally found in that style, however, making this a unique and interesting design.

*** The Ramsey Block was constructed in 1927 as part of James Ramsey's expansion of his department store business empire which was the largest in the City. Ramsey came to Edmonton in 1911 and opened a store on the main floor of the Tegler Building. Known as the 'Merchant Prince' of Edmonton, Ramsey's commercial interests included warehousing, merchandising, and production; and he was instrumental in the establishment of Edmonton's stockyards. Ramsey was an Alderman from 1915 to 1916 and a Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly from 1917 to 1921. His empire came to a close in January 1929 when T. Eaton Co. purchased the stock and goodwill of Ramsey's Department Store as part of the largest business deal in Edmonton's history.
The Ramsey Block was erected in 1927 to house the funiture and home furnishings deparments of Ramsey's store. The building was designed by Magoon and MacDonald and ercted by H.G. Macdonald Ltd. at a cost of $150,000. The building together with the Kelly Exchange Block were sold to the Provincial Government in 1939 for $162,000. The site has been owned by the Allarco Group since 1971.

*** James Ramsey first opened up shop in Edmonton in the controversial Tegler Building, built between 1911 and 1912.
It was to be 14 more years, however, before this young Ontario-born entrepreneur actually owned his permises, the Kelly-Ramsey block.
This block, located at 10160 101A Avenue, is actually two buildings, the Kelly Block (1915) having been built first for Ramsey's flourishing department store business.
(Little is known of John Kelly, but he seems to have been a local blacksmith, Edmonton alderman from 1895-96, and a resident of what later became known as the Dr. Chatham Manor on 107th Street, south of Jasper Avenue).
Ramsey, by contrast, had one of the highest personal profiles in the early history of Edmonton, a politician (city alderman, 1915-16, and Conservative MLA, 1917-21), entrepreneur and world traveller with 800,000 miles to his credit by 1928.
Ramsey came to Edmonton after an apprenticeship as a retailer with his father in Ontario. Edmonton was the city in Western Canada with the best business prospects, he told an Edmoton Bulletin reporter.
The doors to the James Ramsey Department Store had first opened in September 1911 with newspaper accounts describing how 'crowds thronged through the store from sun-up to close'.
The store brought a new touch of class to the city. 'Everything in style, quality, price and service' was there to lure the shopper to this boomtime merchadising mart, according to the Bulletin of 21, 1921.
They were crying 'Growth and Expansion' even then. Ramsey's ever-expanding department store was a fitting model: Grocery and meat departments were heralded in 1915 as the latest additions to the store. For this, John Kelly built the block on the corner of 101A Avenue and 100A Street. A fine brick building, it featured solid maple floors and the 'dernier cri' in flooring - linoleum.
Soon even this building became too small for business. In 1927, the Ramsey Building opened, selling the latest furnishings from Europe, the the United States and Central Canada. Built at a cost of $150,000, this addition was clad with an extravagant granite facing.
It featured large expanses of windows and not one but two Otis elevators.
The J. Ramsey Department Store's name disappeared from Edmonton downtown in 1928 when the T. Eaton Company bought out the business.

*** James Ramsey succumbs at winter home. Merchant Prince dies suddenly at Nassau, aged 75.
For many years a leading busines man of this city and in recent years Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Edmonton Regiment, James Ramsey died suddenly at his winter home at Cable Beach, Nassau, Bahama Islands. Mrs. Ramsey was at his bedside when death came.
From 1911 to 1930 he was one of this city's outstantding and most successful businessmen and in 1929 he sold out his business of James Ramsey to the T. Eaton Company (Western) Limited. He had lived in retirement since that time.
In 1911 he decided to come west and settled here, establishing the firm of James Ramsey, Ltd. His business flourished on the ground floor of the Tegler Building, corner of 101 Street and 102 Avenue.
Soon after the World War he built the Ramsey building, corner of 100A Street and 101A Avenue, which, with the Kelly building, purchased by him soon after its erection, recently were sold by Col. Ramsey to the provincial government.

*** Building permit #303 May 25, 1927, James Ramsay Ltd., architect MacDonald, builder H.G. Macdonald.
born in Michigan 1864;
came to Ontario 1868;
came to Edmomton 1911;
opened store on Main floor of Tegler Blg. with 18,000 sq ft. of floor space;
alderman 1915-1916; member of Legislative Assembly 1911-1921;
died Dec. 26, 1939 in Nassau Bahamas at his winter home.

EJ Nov. 20/28 in 1927 Ramsay erected now four storey building for furniture and house funiture for $150,000;
- 'growing pains'. Sale of stock 'goodwill' to T. Eaton Co. largest in Edmonton history - $1 million.

EB Nov. 20/28 by 1928 floor space company 175,552 sq.ft. with 332 employees when opened in 1911 had 18,000 sq.ft. 60 employes and $19,000 capital.

EJ Dec 4/40 Complex (includes Kelley Building) purchased by provincial government for $162,000.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List

Register: A28
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1992/11/26


Alberta Register of Historic Places:
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