Old Montréal
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©City of Montréal, 2005

©City of Montréal

©City of Montréal, 2005
Name of the building:

Tracey-Wilson warehouse-store

Civic address:
  • 105 rue Saint-Paul Ouest
Location map:

plan de localisation

Physical characteristics:
  • Number of stories: 4
  • Principal building material: stone
  • Principal roof type: flat

For more information on the physical characteristics of the building,
please consult the list of physical characteristics.


©City of Montréal, 2005

St. Paul St., looking eastward, circa 1890.
Catalogue d'iconographies anciennes dans le Vieux-Montréal [MAC/Ville].

History of the building  

Ann Tracey and her husband Charles Wilson probably had this building erected in 1853–1854, on a lot acquired a year earlier. It was formerly the site of a store-residence destroyed in the Great Fire of June 6, 1852. Throughout its history, the warehouse-store has rarely been home to more than one tenant at a time. The first business to set up shop in the building and to fully occupy it was Brown, Swan & Co., a dry-goods wholesaler and haberdashery. It didn't stay long—just three years, from 1854 to 1857.

The construction date is not entirely certain because the building seems to have had only three storeys originally, whereas there were four (the current number) by the time it was sold in 1876. There may have been some rebuilding after another fire or, more likely, a floor was added around 1860.Throughout its history, the building has rarely been occupied by more than one tenant at a time. After passing through the hands of several more dry-goods merchants, in the 1880s and 1890s the space was home to a major Ontario-based foundry that sold stoves and furnaces there. At the turn of the 20th century, a company engaged in food processing took over, using the premises to roast coffee and grind spices, as well as for the sale of the finished products. Starting in the mid-1940s, a chemical-products firm occupied the building; it remained until around 1970. After being left vacant for a short period of time, the warehouse-store was occupied by an ornamental fountain retailer.

Restoration work was undertaken in 1987. Subsequently there was an art gallery and, more recently, a chair importing, wholesale and retail firm. As of 2005, the latter occupied most of the building, while the remainder was rented out as office space.


This warehouse-store occupies the entire lot and there is access to a common alley in the rear. It consists of four storeys, including the ground floor; the topmost floor was built a short time after the rest. The roof is flat. The common walls on both sides and at the rear are brick.

The façade consists of a cut-stone framework designed with optimum fenestration in mind. Narrow vertical elements divide the whole into three arched sections. The ground floor features pilasters and an entablature framing large windows (now plate glass but originally divided into small panes); it is very similar in design to the store-residences built in the previous decades. In 1854, the novel elements were above ground floor: the tall pilasters let the windows steal the show—–a reference to new trends in cast-iron and glass architecture in England and the United States. This particular warehouse-store was apparently among the first examples of this new type in Montreal, yet it retains much of the Neo-Classical spirit of previous decades. The arches on the top floor, built after 1859, seem in keeping with the livelier architecture seen in the 1860s, although a similar composition, designed by architect James H. Springle, was to be found on Le Moyne St. as early as 1856. The wood window frames on the intermediate floors, which blend in with those of the wider arches above, may have been modified when the top floor was added; they are certainly of the period, however.

The many large windows on the upper floors would have let plenty of daylight into showrooms where wholesale goods were displayed, while the ground-floor windows were well suited to a retail shop. The single central entrance is a reminder that the original plans called for a single occupant. Lastly, the use of interior columns (cast-iron on the two lower floors , wood on the floors above) obviates the need for load-bearing walls, affording great flexibility of use.

Initial construction  
Date of construction:


  • Charles Wilson, merchant and politician
    Biographical information available for the year 1849
    Although Charles Wilson is not listed as the owner of the property on which the building was erected, the power of attorney signed by his wife in August 1853 suggests that he instigated construction.
  • Ann Tracey (landowner, wife of Charles Wilson)
    (owner from 1853-03-05 to 1876-05-02)
    Biographical information available for the year 1849
    Ann Tracey purchased the property in March 1853. In August of that year she signed a general power of attorney naming her husband, Charles Wilson, and thus entrusting full management of her assets to him.
Original tenant or other user:
  • Brown, Swan & Co. (dry goods merchants)
    (tenant from 1854 to 1857)
Comment concerning the construction

A new building was erected on this lot in 1853–1854, as shown in the tax rolls. A photograph taken in 1859, however, shows that there were only three storeys at the time, rather than four. Was there a full reconstruction sometime after 1859, or simply the addition of an upper floor? Documentary sources provide no clear answers, but architectural analysis strongly suggests the addition of another floor after 1859.

Original function(s)  
Specific function(s):
  • wholesale trade
  • retail trade
General function(s):
  • commerce
Specific building type:
  • warehouse-store

It is clear that wholesaling was conducted. Retail sales, perhaps conducted simultaneously, are strongly suggested by the presence of ample windows.

Other construction work: building modifications  
Construction work 1:
    Date of work: circa 1860
    (between 1859 and 1876)
    Modification of the horizontal volume of the building.
    Addition of one or more storeys to the building.

    A fourth storey was added.
    While documentary sources provide no clear indication as to the exact date between 1859 and 1876, architectural analysis suggests this work took place not long after 1859, hence the "circa 1860."
Other proprietors or tenants (selective)  
  • A.A. McClary Manufrg. Co. (foundry)
    (tenant, circa 1885 to circa 1895)
    This company's production facilities were in London, Ontario. The Montréal building served as office, showroom and warehouse.

Heritage protection for the building  
The building is situated in the following protective zones:
  • Historic District of Montreal (Old Montreal) (1964-01-08) (provincial jurisdiction)
  • Secteur de valeur patrimoniale exceptionnelle Vieux-Montréal (municipal jurisdiction)
Reference numbers  



Record 1 of 1 for this property

For more information...  

For more information on the history or architecture of this building,
please consult the following sources:

  • Sources - Bâtiments 1840 à nos jours
  • Catalogue d'iconographie (1992)
  • Inventaire (1980-...) - Dossiers, 14330-0510 105, rue Saint-Paul Ouest
  • La Minerve, 13 novembre 1858, 2