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Portage Avenue:
Dreams of Castles
in the Sky


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Page 4

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.


GAIL PERRY
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.

CURRY BUILDING
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 grey.

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