Image of Ghost Signs remaining on the Ryan Block at 44 Princess Street
Image of Ghost Signs on north side of Ryan Block at 44 Princess Street

Thomas Ryan Boots & Shoes

Address:44 Princess Street
Original Use:Warehouse
Architects:George W. Northwood
William W. Blair

More Information

Thomas Ryan moved to Winnipeg in 1874 and made a name for himself importing boots, shoes and rubber goods from England and the United States. Originally called McFarlane and Ryan, he went on to take over the business with his three brothers and constructed Winnipeg’s first all-stone building at 492 Main Street to sell their wares.

The business quickly expanded with branches in Edmonton and Calgary, with Ryan dubbed the Shoe King by contemporaries. Outgrowing his original location, and a second he constructed at the corner of King Street and Bannatyne Avenue, Ryan built a seven-storey warehouse at 44 Princess, which was the tallest wholesale block in the city at the time. However, in 1928, upon Ryan’s retirement, operations ceased and the building was sold to new owners.

The Ryan Block’s heavy timber ‘mill’ construction structural frame is clad with red brick and stone trim. It has an interesting mix of architectural elements: the symmetry and detailing of the Classical Revival Style; the arched openings and rough textures and belt course of the Richardsonian Romanesque Style; and a flat roofline, embellished ground and top floors and regular window arrangements on the middle storeys.

Large Signlast:

44 Princess Street is home to the largest ghost signs in the Exchange District. The building has six-storey ads on both the north and south sides of the structure, advertising everything from movie theatres and milk companies to auto repair businesses.

More information on 44 Princess Street.

Design Characteristics

Style:Classical Revival
Richardsonian Romanesque
  • Ghost Signs on north and south sides of the building
  • Stone foundation on concrete footings
  • Facade of red pressed brick and stone trim
  • Oversized arched openings with keystones
  • Stone cornice
  • Corbelled brick