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GAIL PERRY, WINNIPEG ARCHITECTURE FOUNDATION
I consider Portage Ave to be my neighbourhood. I walk to work
down Portage Ave every day regardless of weather and regardless
of the season. To walk down Portage Ave can be exulting it's
often the highlight of my day.
When I walk down Portage Ave
I can see some of the buildings that were built at the turn
of the century. And I can visualise what Winnipeg was like,
when it was an up and coming city, the city of the future,
one of the fastest and largest growing cities in North America.
My favourite building on Portage
Ave is the Bank of Nova Scotia. The bank of Nova Scotia is
really a landmark on Portage Ave the only domed building for
example on the street. The role of ornamentation in the early
20th century was really to draw the public's attention to
the building. It's a beautiful example of terra cotta in Winnipeg.
The building is dotted with shields that are the corporate
seals of the Bank of Nova Scotia. And you can see a schooner
and beneath that a fish, and then a plough, so this ornamentation
is saying, this is the Bank of Nova Scotia, this is our corporate
image, you have arrived on Portage Ave.
I can't believe that as recently
as the 1980s that this was a building to be demolished. The
Bank of Nova Scotia has really had a new life it's now a government
owned building and a public space where people can now go
into the banking hall and actually marvel at the beautiful
interior, for example the cofferred ceiling and the gold leaf
and beautiful brass fittings.
The Paris building across the road from the Bank of Nova Scotia
is another example of terra cotta in Winnipeg this is a prominent
building in terms of its height. But it's really the ornamentation
that catches your eye. This is terra cotta that mimics stone
cut stone and is extremely elaborate in terms of its decoration.
There's a band of angels on the
5th floor of the Paris building and this used to be the top
the building and to prove it you can see the cornice line
right above and there is a cornice above that where the building
was actually expanded in 1917. There are a number of angels
on the Paris building including right underneath the vaulted
cornice at the very top. In fact there are a lot of sinister
figures up there some with nasty faces which are really worth
the effort of looking. My favourite feature of ornamentation
on the Paris building is not an angel at all, it's the bare
breasted women you see on the second floor.
The Curry building was built in 1915 in fact it was built
the same time as first phase of the Paris building was being
built despite the fact that this was WW1. So there was a lot
of activity in Winnipeg at that time. The Curry building takes
its name from the people that founded it: the Curry family.
It's a commercial building. It's still a viable building.
When you look at the Curry building you can really feel the
thrust of the horizontal. The Curry building is made of an
exquisite terra cotta that is made to look like granite so
it's got a dappled buff colour with splotches of black and
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