MacDonald Building

Formerly:Unemployment Insurance Building
Address:344 Edmonton Street
Use:Government Offices
Original Use:Government Offices
Other Work:1977, 1990 and 1998, Interior renovations
Firms: Smith Carter Searle and Associates
Contractors:North American Buildings Ltd.

More Information

The office building was constructed for the federal government’s new regional office of the Unemployment Insurance Company. It is a late example of the federal govern-ment’s postwar expansion of social and civil services.

Architects designed the modest four-storey office block with functionality in mind—they were more concerned with how the building worked than with how it looked. The structure is of a simple steel frame that carries masonry walls on a concrete block. For aesthetic purposes, the architects covered the exterior of the building with cream brick and Tyndall limestone. Stone spandrels are a particular feature of this building instead of the more common curtain wall structure of many federal govern-ment buildings.

Smith Carter Searle (now Architecture49), a notable Winnipeg architectural firm, de-signed the building in 1958. The firm has been responsible for many of Winnipeg’s most prominent modern-era buildings.

It is not certain if the building was named for Prime Minister John A. Macdonald or his son Sir Hugh John Macdonald, former premier of the province. The building still hous-es offices.

Design Characteristics

  • Site: 250 ft. frontage x 120 ft. (76.2 x 36.58 m)
  • Plan area: 19,159 sq. ft. (1,779.87 sq. m)
  • Gross floor area: 99,217 sq. ft. (9,217.26 sq. m)
  • Foundation and basement constructed with reinforced concrete caissons, reinforced concrete basement walls and slab floor
  • Superstructure constructed with protected structural steel frame, precast concrete slab floors and roof, concrete block walls
  • Exterior constructed with face brick, tyndall stone, granite, vertical mullions of precast concrete and exposed aggregate


  • Greater Winnipeg Industrial Topics (Progress in Metropolitan Winnipeg edition), 21, 9(1961), p.11.
  • "Unemployment Insurance Commission Building, 13, 11 (November 1961), pp. 21-22.