/ The Exchange
District / Princess
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Thomas Ryan (1849-1937), a native of Perth, Ontario, came
to Winnipeg in 1874 and began a retail business. Initially
in a partnership known as McFarlane and Ryan, within a
few years he became the sole proprietor. He established
an import-wholesale business that extended from the Lakehead
to the West Coast. His three brothers, Michael, James and
George eventually joined him.
He was first based in a wood-frame shop on the west side
of Main Street between present-day Bannatyne and William
avenues. In 1883 he built the first all stone building
in the city on adjacent property at 492 Main. This building
was also the first to have an electric passenger elevator.
He sold his retail operation to George and moved the wholesale
division west into the warehouse district. A brief
period was spent at Princess Street and Market Avenue before
erecting a new facility at southwest King Street and Bannatyne
Avenue in 1895. In 1906 W.W. Blair and G.W. Northwood designed
a seven-and-one-half storey brick building at 44 Princess
near Notre Dame Avenue. At the time of construction, it was
the tallest wholesale block in Winnipeg.