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Key Number: HS 54901
Site Name: A. MacDonald Building
Other Names:
Site Type: 0415 - Mercantile/Commercial: Storage or Warehouse Building


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4

Address: 10128 - 105 Avenue NW
Number: 28
Street: 101 NW
Avenue: 105 NW
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Rectangular Long Facade
Storeys: Storeys: 4 or more
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Brick
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Flat
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: None
Wall Design and Detail: None
Plain Eaves
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Unknown
Roof Trim - Verges: Not Applicable
Roof Trim Material - Verges: Unknown
Towers, Steeples and Domes: None
Dormer Type: None
Chimney Location - Side to Side: None
Roof Trim - Special Features: None
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: Wood
Window - Sill Type: Plain Slip Sill
Window - Sill Material: Wood
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Number of Sashes: One
Window - Opening Mechanism: Single or Double Hung
Window - Special Types: None
Window - Pane Arrangements: 2 over 2
Main Entrance - Location: 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: Wood
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Number of Leaves: 1
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 1
Main Entrance - Leaves - Special Feature: Glass
Main Stairs - Location and Design: None
Main Porch - Type: Closed Porch
Main Porch - Special Features: None
Main Porch - Material: Concrete
Exterior: Arched loading doors, bay west side, front entrance has columns and entablature, corbelling at top of recessed panels, south and west sides.
Brick pediment; corbelled brick cornice; metal cornice above first floor; projecting entry with paired stone pillasters; name plaque above entry; paired windows; arched loading bays with stone key stones.
The building is a well designed and sturdily built warehouse, with four floors above grade and a basement partially below it. The south facade on 105 Avenue is four bays wide and approximately square in its proportions, while the west elevation (facing 102 Street) is eleven bays long. The structure consists of standard heavy-timber construction, with wood posts and beams (running north-south and connected with mental joist hangers) and solid wood mill-construction floors made of standard pieces of lumber (likely 2' x 6') spiked or laminated together with the narrow ends exposed. The basement posts are a hefty 14' x 14' whereas those on the top floor are lighter 10' x 10'. The flat roof is sloped to drain in two places, its slope provided by trestle-like open-web wood girders supporting light joists on the top storey.
The exterior brick walls are set on a stone base; a hard red brick is used on the two principal elevations and a softer common brick (painted grey on the north side) on the other two. The wall treatment reflects the internal post-and-beam system, as the walls are articulated by a pier-and-spandrel motif whose vertical piers (between every pair of windows) on the south and west elevations coincide with the structural bays. The spandrels between the rows of wood-sash windows are recessed behind the piers. Steel columns are likely contained within the brick piers. Above the fourth-storey windows a row of brick corbels bring the window plane out to meet that of the piers, at which point there was a strong cornice. (The cornice has been removed, probably in 1983). A low peaked parapet rose behind the cornice and supported a flagpole. The north elevation has the same window pattern but the wall is planar without any projection. The windowless east elevation is brick and, as noted above, is used as base for a large painted wall sign.
The two front bays on the ground floor contained offices. The different use is indicated externally by windows that are not separated by brick mullions and have smaller upper sashes, as well as by the entablatures above them. A classical entablature, supported by four rusticated pilasters, frames the entrance. The west elevation has four arched truck-loading bays.
Interior: The interior is treated as a straight-forward warehouse space, with exposed brick walls, wood floors, and an exposed wood ceiling. Few partitions interrupt the flow. The staircase and freight elevator are contained within a brick shaft near the centre of the building. The only portion to be treated at all dectoratively is the office area at the front of the ground floor, which has an attractive pressed-metal ceiling and curved caps over the columns. There is considerable evidence of changes having been made to the office partitions; this portion has recent vinyl-asbestos flooring. The original Robertson safe remains in place. (This appears to be the vault, installed by the Bowman Building Co; an undated drawing for it survives in the City of Edmonton Archives.) Concrete is used in the basement for the floor, the north and east walls, and the lower portions of the south and west walls. Two cold-storage rooms with Kelvinator refrigeration units have been installed along the east side of the basement. The building is heated by radiators and a new furnace (installed in 1987), and is protected by sprinklers.
Environment: Neighbourhood: Central McDougall Located on 105 Avenue across from CNR downtown yards. Area of changing use; industrial. The A. Macdonald Building on 105 Avenue is a prominent landmark in its neighbourhood, clearly visible from the northern portion of the central core, which lies across the former railway right-of-way. The building has always dominated its neighbours. In the period just after its construction it was the only brick warehouse north of 105 Avenue (the warehouse district was south of the tracks). The only other brick building on the north side of the tracks was the Edmonton High School at 108 Avenue at 102 Street. A number of small frame dwelling houses occupied the site before the Macdonald Building was erected; one faced 105 Avenue (formerly Columbia Avenue) and five faced 102 Street (formerly 2 Street). A block west, at 103 Street, the Alberta Milling Co. Ltd.'s large flour mill stood. The area evidently showed potential for being developed for the provisions industry, but little else happened. The neighbourhood is not prosperous, with a mixture of vacant lots and one-storey industrial buildings, although a large casino has been constructed on the next property to the north. The former railway right-of-way will be developed - Grant MacEwen College will rise west of 105 Street, while office and mixed-use buildings are anticipated closer to the warehouse site.
Condition: Fair
Alterations: Removal of Parapet from original. Windows boarded up; altered front entry door; cornice removed. Alterations have hardly changed the origianal appearance. An early but undocumented one-storey concrete addition along a part of the east side (possibly built in the 1920s; it is used to provide additional loading bays) has settled and caused local deterioration of the brick wall. Alterations were made to the elevator shaft in 1937, with R.H. Grant and Company Ltd. as contractor. In 1959, Macdonald's Consolidated enlarged the office space, providing a lunchroom and ladies' rest-room for the comfort of staff; J.C. Haddon Construction Company carried out the work. A one-storey concrete produce warehouse was built on the property to the east as an annex, but this has been demolished. The only other recorded alterations were done in 1983. A building permit 'to construct exterior alterations to an existing building' may refer to the removal of the cornice, which was replaced by a painted fascia. This task was carried out by TJC Construction Ltd.


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started

Usage: Usage Date:

Owner: Owner Date:
A. MacDonald

Architect: Unknown
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: 1920 Offices of MacDonald-Cooper Ltd., The A. MacDonald Company Ltd. now Western Grocers Ltd. 1913 - July: Alexander MacDonald of Winnipeg purchased lots 231-232 for $36,000 1913 - A. MacDonald Co. of Winnipeg constructed new warehouse to replace one built in 1905 on corner of 102 Avenue and 103 Street Company becomes MacDonald's Consolidated

The handsome red brick four-storey building at the corner of 105 Avenue and 102 Street has been a prominent landmark in the district north of the CNR right-of-way since it was built at the end of the building boom that preceded the First World War. The A. Macdonald Building, as it is known, most recently served as a warehouse. For most of its life however, its history has been closely related to that of the provision of food to the residents of Edmonton. Several inter-related wholesale grocery firms were important parts of the building's past: the A. Macdonald Company, H.H. Cooper and Company, Macdonald-Cooper Ltd., and Macdonald's Consolidated Limited. The Winnipeg-based A. Macdonald Company had branches in Kenora, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Lethbridge, Fernie, Nelson, and Vancouver (as well as Edmonton). In 1910, the president of the company was A. Macdonald and its vicepresident was J.C. Macdonald. The A. Macdonald Building on 105 Avenue was erected in 1913 or 1914. Although no primary documents relating to its construction have been found -- nor has its architect been identified -- the date of construction is quite certain. It first appeared in the Henderson's Directory in 1914, and is first seen in the Goad Fire Insurance Atlas in the August 1914 revisions, although not in the May 1913 edition. Both the new structure on 105 Avenue and the earlier building on 103 Street operated under the Macdonald name for a period of time, although the sources are confusing as to the exact proprietors. It is unclear whether the two operations were branches of the same firm or if they competed. The 1914 directory identifies the occupant of the 105 Avenue building as Macdonald's Consolidated Limited, successors to H.H. Cooper and Company, Wholesale Grocers; and the occupant of the 103 Street building as The A. Macdonald Company Limited, Wholesale Grocers, yet the 105 Avenue building (which was just built) has the name 'A. MACDONALD BUILDING' inscribed over its entrace. (By 1919 the building on 103 Street was occupied by Western Grocers and the Macdonald name was associated only with the 105 Avenue structure). Cooper evidently was a partner in the operation, because he is noted as haven been the principal of Macdonald-Cooper Ltd. and of H.H. Cooper and Company. Nor did the H.H. Cooper Company disappear with the arrival of Macdonald's Consolidated; Cooper's obituary says that he served as president of H.H. Cooper wholesale grocery from 1927. The confusion over the relationship between the firms extends to the physical evidence. The 105 Avenue building has a painted wall sign on the east side that reads: 'Macdonald's Consolidated Limited, Wholesale Grocers -- Fruit Merchants' and there are ghosts of previous signs beneath it, one of which says 'H.H. Cooper Wholesale Grocers' and another that includes 'Tea Importers'. What is clear is that Macdonald's Consolidated Limited, with Harry H. Cooper as its local manager, operated out of the A. Macdonald Building for many years. Macdonald's Consolidated had become a subsidiary of Canada Safeway Limited some time before 1954, buying and shipping produce to Safeway stores as well as to independent grocers. Officials at Canada Safeway Ltd. are also unsure about the genealogy of their company (the early company records were lost in a fire), but they believe that Safeway acquired the A. Macdonald Company in 1936, at the same time that they purchased Twiggly Wiggly Ltd. Macdonald's Consolidated remains a Safeway subsidiary today. (Safeway Stores Ltd. began operations in Canada in 1929 with its head office in Winnipeg; the first stores in Edmonton were opened in that year. The name Canada Safeway Ltd. was adopted in 1947.) In 1965, Macdonald's Conslidated built a new Edmonton perishable foods warehouse -- touted as the most modern west of the Great Lakes -- at 14040-125 Avenue. This move left the A. Macdonald Building vacant. It was sold in July 1971 to Philip H. May of Edmonton, and he sold it ten days later to the present owner. The design of this building was one of the most distinguished among Edmonton's warehouses. Most buildings of this type were treated externally in one of two ways: either with a flush facade having windows 'punched' in, or with pier-and-spandrel articulation. Among the latter, the A. Macdonald Building was one of the tallest and most attractively designed; it was rivalled only by the design of the five-storey Great West Saddlery Building, which still stands on 104 Street. The A. Macdonald Building on 103 Street lay between these two manners in the elaboration of its treatment. 1904 - Harry H. Cooper comes to Edmonton from Winnipeg to be branch manager of the A. Macdonald Company. c.1905-6 - The A. Macdonald Company occupies (and may have built) a warehouse at 10182 - 103 Street. 1913-14 - The A. Macdonald Building is built on 105 Avenue. Harry H. Cooper remains the manager of several related wholesale grocery firms: the A. Macdonald Company, Macdonald's Consolidated Limited, H.H. Cooper and Company, and Macdonald-Cooper Ltd. All seem to have operated from this building at some time during the 1910s and 20s. c.1920 - A one-storey addition is constructed along the east side of the building. 1937 - 7 October. A building permit is received for alterations to the elevator shaft. Work is valued at $2,000. R.H. Grant and Co. Ltd. is the contractor. 1949 - Harry H. Cooper retires. (He died in November 1954). 1959 - 20 April. A building permit is received for alterations to the offices. J.C. Haddon Construction is the contractor. 1965 - Macdonald's Consolidated Limited builds a new perishable foods warehouse at 14040 - 125 Avenue, presumably leaving the A. Macdonald Building vacant. 1971 - 12 July. Philip H. May of Edmonton purchases the A. Macdonald Building. 1971 - 22 July. The A. Macdonald Building is resold. 1983 - 2 September. A building permit is received for exterior alterations (likely the removal of the cornice). TJC Construction Ltd. is the contractor. c.1989 - The owner vacates the A. Macdonald Building.  

Among the measures taken by Wilfrid Laurier to develop the northern portions of the North West Territories around the turn of the 20 th century was committing the Dominion government to the assistance of the Canadian Northern Railway in its endeavor to reach the Pacific Ocean.   With influence from the new Minister of the Interior, Edmonton’s Frank Oliver, it was assured that this railroad would intersect Edmonton.   When the grade for the new line was surveyed north of 104 th (then Mackenzie) Avenue in the downtown core in 1904, it was evident that much of the property off the grade would be given over to warehouse development.   Though it was then uncertain in what direction the Canadian Northern would extend out of Edmonton, it was assured that this line would open up considerable portions of the young city’s vast hinterland to the west and north.   Considerable quantities of equipment, goods and food products were certain to soon be on their way from Edmonton as these areas became settled.
As the line was being completed, a “warehouse district” began to develop in downtown Edmonton west of 103 rd Street and south of the new rail line, along three avenues which were named for the great rivers of the Northwest, the Peace, the Athabasca and the Mackenzie.   Among the companies to grasp the advantage of establishing a wholesale business in this district was the A. Macdonald Company, headquartered in Winnipeg.   In 1905, this company set up a large brick warehouse on the west side of 103 rd Street just south of Athabasca (102 nd ) Avenue.   Its manager was Harry H. Cooper of Hamilton, who had served the company for years.   In addition to warehousing, the A. Macdonald Company operated a mail order business from these premises and also leased a portion of the building to other firms.
In 1910, the Canadian Northern began to extend a line west from Edmonton towards the Yellowhead Pass; it would eventually go on to Vancouver.   A year later they extended a branch line to Athabasca, and another one to Onoway and eventually Whitecourt.   Though their projected line for the Peace River district fell through, another company, the Edmonton, Dunvegan & British Columbia Railway began to construct a line to this region in 1912.   The E,D & BC line was directly connected to the Canadian Northern line at the City’s northwest boundary.   As a result, the warehouse district of downtown Edmonton was made to expand even more, and soon facilities were developed on the north side of the track, along 105 th Avenue.
Among the firms to establish a new warehouse along the north side of 105 th Avenue was the A. Macdonald Company.   During 1913-14, it erected a new large decorative four-storey warehouse and office building just west of the City’s main north-south artery, 101 st Street.   This put the company closer to the railway tracks than it had been before.   Though date of construction cannot be exactly pinpointed, the facility appears in the Henderson’s Directory for 1914.   It was identified as Macdonald’s Consolidated Ltd., reflecting a corporate change which had recently occurred in the company.   Due no doubt to the enormous expansion of business in Edmonton, Harry Cooper was able to invest heavily in the firm himself, and establish what appears to have been his own branch of the company, or possibly a subsidiary company.   Originally called H.H. Cooper & Co., it soon became known as Macdonald’s Consolidated.   The new building on 105 th Avenue however had (and has) the name “A. Macdonald Building” inscribed over its entrance.   Nonetheless, for 35 years it would be the centre of the wholesaling and distribution business of Harry H. Cooper and Macdonald’s Consolidated.
Over the years, Macdonald’s Consolidated played a major role in the distribution of goods and foods, to the regions north and west of Edmonton.   During this time, Hooper became a prominent and much recognized member of the city’s business community, serving terms as President of the Edmonton Board of Trade and the Chamber of Commerce.   He served the city in other ways as well, becoming Chair of the Board of Governors of both the University of Alberta Hospital and the Alberta Division of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.   He retired in 1949, but before he passed away in 1954, Macdonald’s Consolidated became a subsidiary of Canada Safeway Ltd.   In 1965, they built a new and larger facility at 14040-125 th Avenue, which reflected the fact that most manufactured foods were now being shipped out of Edmonton by truck and not rail.   The A. Macdonald Building on 105 th Avenue was thus left vacant until sold to Philip H. May in 1971.   May immediately sold it to Worthington Properties Ltd., who, over the years, leased it to various interests.

The historical significance of the A. Macdonald Building lies in its provision of structural evidence of the tremendous commercial growth of Edmonton in the years leading up to World War I, and also of the role which Edmonton played as a distributor of goods and supplies – and, in this case, mainly food products – to the developing regions to the north and the west.   In this regard, the building is also representative of the central role played by the Canadian Northern Railway in the development of Edmonton.   In 1919, the Canadian Northern was amalgamated with the Grand Trunk to form Canadian National.   The A. Macdonald structure is important too in its representation of a certain stylish aspect of Edmonton’s downtown warehouse district, where the buildings were not all monotonous in design.   The manager and principal owner of Macdonald’s Consolidated is also important not only in developing his company and helping make its name a household name in Edmonton, but in his community activities as well.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal Historic Resource
Provincial Historic Resource
Register: A13
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1993/01/05


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0832
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