Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Downtown Places - 333 Portage Avenue

Place: Former Bank of Commerce
Address: 333 Portage Avenue Map
Opened: November 1958


The north-west corner of Portage and Hargrave was the scene of Winnipeg's most disastrous fires.

June 8, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

In the early hours of June 8, 1954 the Times Building at 333 Portage Avenue caught fire. Winds gusting to 115 kph sent burning debris throughout the downtown. By daybreak it was clear that three buildings were destroyed: the Time Building (333 Portage); the Dismorr Block (327 Portage); the Edwards Block (325 Portage). The Norlyn Building (309 Hargrave) and Affleck Block (317 Portage) sustained serious damage.

Dozens of other buildings were also damaged.

The heat was so intense that Eaton's lost hundreds of windows. Quick thinking night staff are credited with saving the building by hanging fire hoses out the windows and from the roof, maintaining a curtain of water across the facade.

Another building impacted was the Mitchell Copp Building, then a Bank of Commerce branch. Heat and debris broke a number of windows and caused the skylight ceiling to collapse.

Nov 8, 1958, Winnipeg Free Press

333 Portage

The Time Building lot sat vacant for three years until the Canadian Bank of Commerce (now CIBC) built a branch there in 1958. Modern and sleek with much of the facade taken up by glass, it makes for a simple yet impressive structure. It also boasted a drive-though teller at the rear.

In the 1990's CIBC relocated and since that time it has been a nightclub and a temporary Royal Bank location while the Manitoba Hydro Tower was being built.

333 Portage

In winter 2010, 333 Portage became temporary television studios for the neighbouring Aboriginal People's Television Network's coverage of the Winter Olympics.

In 2010 APTN purchased 333 Portage Avenue and as now announced plans for an expansion to their headquarters that includes 333 Portage Avenue. The project is still awaiting final board approval.


In September 2010 the national network announced that it had purchased the building and will expand their operations to include 333 Portage.

Time Building fire related:
The Great Time Building Fire Wpg Time Machine
Fire Fighters Museum photos: here, here, here and here.
Tribune photos: here, here and here.

APTN Related
APTN To Televise Diverse Coverage CTV Olympics
APTN announces Major Expansion to Headquarters APTN (pdf)
APTN boosts rebirth of Portage Avenue Winnipeg Free Press

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