Wheeler, Charles Henry

WHEELER, Charles Henry (1838-1917), a prominent architect of Winnipeg, Manitoba, was a native of Lutterworth, Leicestershire, England, and was educated there in grammar schools. His parents encouraged him to pursue his interest in building and art; he took courses in carpentry and served as apprentice in the trades of bricklaying, painting and stone masonry. He learned the art of pattern making at the Coventry Engine and Art Metal Works, and moved to London where he became an apprentice and served as 'builder's foreman, manager and Clerk of Works' under the eminent High Victorian architect George Edmund Street (1824-81). He also worked briefly for two of London's biggest building companies Trollopes Ltd. and Thomas Cubitt & Co., and at age forty-four emigrated to Canada with his wife and six children and arrived at Winnipeg in February 1882. In this letter of introduction to the Emigration Agent there, dated April 1882, he described himself as 'a good draftsman, leveller, (and) thoroughly well up in all kinds of ironwork and engineering', and stated that he had been recently employed 'by Her Majesty's Government to superintend the erection of a Gaol in Shanghai, China for two years' (City of Winnipeg Archives, Council Correspondence for 1882-83). By early 1883, while employed in the office of James Chisholm, he had prepared designs for the competition for Holy Trinity Church, Donald Street, Winnipeg. His drawings were selected over those of sixty other submissions (Winnipeg Times, 5 May 1883, 8) and later that year he opened his own office to work on this project which was to become the most significant ecclesiastical commission of his career. He appears to have established significant professional credentials by the middle of 1884, and was called upon by the Winnipeg City Council to inspect and report on the work of Barber & Barber, architects and designers of the controversial City Hall at Winnipeg then in the course of erection. Wheeler was instrumental in having them dismissed from the job, claiming that they had failed to fulfil promised work on the completed project (G. Brooks, Plain Facts About the New City Hall, 1884, 55-6, 60-76).
His practise quickly developed and by 1886 he was sought after for designs for public schools, warehouses, and for civic, institutional and residential commissions. Assisted by his two sons Alfred W. Wheeler (later a successful architect in Minneapolis, Minn.) and Charles W. Wheeler (who practised in Port Arthur, Ont. after 1905), his major works favoured the use of the traditional Manitoba limestone in both a smooth-face and rough cut form. Externally many of his institutional designs, like that for Dufferin School, Logan Avenue (1895) and the seemingly identical Argyle School, Argyle Street (1895) appear to be symmetrical, but subtleties in the plan configuration, or in the window pattern and detailing, reveal Wheeler as an architect who favoured asymmetrical compositions, an effect which he developed and emphasized in his residential work. A most successful example of the latter is 'Dalvernet', Carlton Street (1895), the palatial home of Hugh J. Macdonald, the son of Canada's first Prime Minister. It stands today as a quintessential example of Victorian domestic architecture in western Canada, a convincing display of Wheeler's deliberate and carefully controlled handling of brick, cut stone and decorative wood elements. He enjoyed the role of critic and well as creator, and frequently offered his provocative opinions about the quality and character of the thriving architectural scene in Winnipeg and in the North West (C.A.B., x, Jan. 1897, 8; xiii, July 1900, 130). His practice flourished in the 1890's but by 1900 at age 62 his interests had turned more frequently to music and drama, and there are few architectural commissions that can be attributed to him after the turn of the century, although he continued to list himself as 'architect' in the Winnipeg city directories until 1911. He became music and drama critic for the Winnipeg Tribune in 1890 (see Daily Tribune, 2 Oct. 1890, 4), and is said to have authored an unpublished book entitled The Story of Music and Drama, 1916, dealing with the progress of musical and theatrical affairs in Winnipeg. Wheeler died in Winnipeg on 7 January 1917, and was buried there in St. James Cemetery. His funeral was held in Holy Trinity Church, a building of his own design (obituaries in Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 8 Jan. 1917, 5; Winnipeg Tribune, 8 Jan. 1917, 1, 3; biographies in G. Bryce, History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People, 1906, 478-80; C.A.B., x, Jan. 1897, 3-4; Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 1 August 1891, 13; inf. R. Rostecki)

WINNIPEG

(Commercial & Industrial works)

ROBERTSON BLOCK, Alexander Avenue, for James Robertson, 1884 (Times [Winnipeg], 19 July 1884, 4, t.c.)
FREEMAN BLOCK, Main Street, 1886 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 30 March 1886, 4, t.c.)
GALT WAREHOUSE, Princess Street at Bannatyne Avenue, for John Galt, 1887 (Winnipeg Daily Sun, 16 Feb. 1887, 3; Morning Call [Winnipeg], 22 Aug. 1887; Leonard K. Eaton, Gateway Cities & Other Essays, 1989, 91-2, illus.)
HARRIS WAREHOUSE, Market Street West, for J. W. Harris (Morning Call [Winnipeg], 10 Sept. 1887, 4)
SANFORD BLOCK, a warehouse, Bannatyne Avenue at Princess Street, 1890; altered 1942 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg] 7 Jan. 1890, 4, t.c.; Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5; Winnipeg, 1979-The Year Past, 15, illus.)
ROBERTSON BLOCK, a warehouse, McWilliam Street, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5)
CABINET HOTEL, addition of a new storey above existing building, for Mr. Arthurs, 1891 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 4 June 1891, 4)
FOULDS BLOCK, Main Street at James Street, 1892 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 8 Oct. 1892, 6, descrip.; Winnipeg, 1988-The Year Past, 1990, 43-4, illus.)
CARSCADEN & PECK BUILDING, Princess Street near Notre Dame Avenue, 1893 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 5 March 1892, 6; Winnipeg Tribune, 15 Oct. 1892, 8, descrip.; Winnipeg, 1984-The Year Past, 1986, 53-54, illus.)
DAVIS BLOCK, Market Avenue at King Street, 1894; demol. c. 1962 (C.R., 19 April 1894, 2)
CAMPBELL BLOCK, Main Street at James Avenue, 1895; addition 1900; burned 1942 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 14 May 1895, 8; C.R., xi, 18 April 1900, 3)
MAUL BLOCK, Market Street, 1896 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg] 19 Feb. 1896, 5, descrip.)
TAYLOR BLOCK, Bannatyne Avenue, for Richard R. Taylor, 1896 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 6 April 1896, 5, t.c.)
VICTORIA OPERA HOUSE, Notre Dame Avenue at Adelaide Street, 1897; burned 1926, an extensive renovation and alteration of the former Winnipeg Opera House built in 1883 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 3 March 1897, 3, descrip.; 3 Sept. 1897, 4, descrip.)
MANITOBA CLOTHING CO., Main Street, 1899 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 9 May 1899, 2, t.c.)
TRIBUNE BUILDING, McDermot Avenue, 1900; burned 1930 (City of Winnipeg b.p. 456, 11 Oct. 1900)
WINNIPEG INDUSTRIAL EXHIBITION, Grandstand Building, 1900 (C.A.B., xiii, July 1900, 130, descrip.)

(Institutional & Ecclesiastical works)

HOLY TRINITY ANGLICAN CHURCH, Donald Street, 1883-84 ; with School and Clubhouse addition 1912 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 2 June 1883, 4, t.c.; 14 Aug. 1883, 8, descrip.; 26 Aug. 1884, 4; C.A.B., x, Jan. 1897, 5, descrip. & illus.; City of Winnipeg b.p. 823, 1912)
CENTRAL SCHOOL NO. 2 (later Victoria School), Ellen Street near William Avenue, 1889 (Winnipeg Daily Sun, 16 April 1889, 29 May 1889, t.c.)
SHAAREY ZEDEK SYNAGOGUE, King Street, 1889-90 (Manitoba Free Press, 17 Aug. 1889, 4, t.c.)
DEAF AND DUMB INSTITUTE, Portage Avenue at Sherbrooke Street, 1889; burned 1891; rebuilt 1892 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 26 Oct. 1889, 4, descrip.; 8 Oct. 1892, 3, descrip.)
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, a new Sunday School building, 1891 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 4 June 1891, 4)
ISOLATION HOSPITAL, Bannatyne Avenue, adjacent to the Winnipeg General Hospital, 1892 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 8 Oct. 1892, 3, descrip; 21 Jan. 1893, 5, descrip.)
COURT HOUSE, Kennedy Street near Broadway, 1893-94; demol. 1965; a commission obtained in a competition (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 25 March 1893, 8, descrip.; Weekly Nor'Wester [Winnipeg], 27 Dec. 1894; C.A.B., vii, April 1894, 53)
ARGYLE SCHOOL, Argyle Street near Henry Avenue, 1895-96; demol. 1956 (Nor'Wester [Winnipeg], 13 Feb. 1895, 2, t.c.)
DUFFERIN SCHOOL, Alexander Avenue near Isabel Street, 1895-96; demol. 1936 (City of Winnipeg b.p. 896, 23 Jan. 1896)
KEELEY INSTITUTE, Roslyn Road, 1896; demol. 1933, conversion of the existing 'Bower Hall', the former residence of A.W. Ross built in 1882 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 12 Aug. 1896, 8)
BACTERIOLOGICAL RESEARCH BUILDING, University of Manitoba Medical College, McDermot Avenue, 1897 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 29 July 1897, 6, t.c.)
WINNIPEG LODGING AND COFFEE HOUSE, Lombard Avenue, 1898, later called the Grange Hotel (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 20 May 1898, 8, descrip.)
CITY QUARANTINE HOSPITAL, near Brookside Cemetery, 1906-07 (Free Press [Winnipeg], 6 Dec. 1906, 48, 50, descrip. & illus.)

(Residential works)

ROSLYN ROAD, residence for F. B. Ross, 1884-85 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 2 Oct. 1884, 2, t.c.)
FORT ROUGE, residence for G.F. Stevens, 1888 (C.A.B., i, Aug. 1888, 7)
VAUGHAN STREET, residence for W.S. Rough, 1889 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 28 May 1889, 4, t.c.)
FORT ROUGE, large residence for G.F. Galt, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5)
ASSINIBOINE AVENUE, residence for F.H. Mathewson, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 16 April 1890, 4, t.c.; 19 April 1890, 5)
BALMORAL STREET, residence for A.E. Ferte, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5)
DONALD STREET, residence for A.H. Van Etten, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5)
BALMORAL STREET, double house for Alexander V. McClenaghan, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5)
RIVER AVENUE, residence for Montague Aldous, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 13 June 1890, 4, t.c.)
EDMONTON STREET, at Qu'Appelle Avenue, residence for J.G. Carroll, 1891 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 14 Feb. 1891, 8)
GRAHAM AVENUE, residence for Hon. James A. Smart, Minister of Public Works, 1891 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 4 June 1891, 4)
KENNEDY STREET, residence for Joseph Wolfe, 1891 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 17 June 1891, 4)
RIVER AVENUE near Clarke Street, residence for John Galt, 1891-92 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 6 Dec. 1890, 6; 8 Oct. 1892, 3, 6, descrip.)
KENNEDY STREET, at St. Mary Avenue, residence for William Bathgate, 1892 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 5 March 1892, 6; 8 Oct. 1892, 3, 6, descrip. & illus.)
ARMSTRONG'S POINT, residence for M.R. O'Loughlin, 1892 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 5 March 1892, 6)
JAFFRAY TERRACE, St. Mary Avenue, renovation of an existing terrace of seven houses, 1892 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 8 Oct. 1892, 6)
LILY STREET, residence for William M. Ronald, 1893; demol. 1970 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 20 Jan. 1893, 5)
DONALD STREET, a residence for himself, 1893; demol. 1978; Wheeler occupied this house until 1907 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg] 20 Jan. 1893, 5)
GEORGE AVENUE, residence for James Burridge, 1893 (Winnipeg Tribune, 10 April 1893, 8)
EDMONTON STREET, residence for J. Perkins, 1893 (Winnipeg Tribune, 10 April 1893, 8)
McDERMOTT AVENUE, residence for George K. Kirkland, 1893 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 11 April 1893, 6)
KENNEDY STREET, a double house for Dennis T. Lennon, 1893 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 19 June 1893, 8, t.c.; 19 Feb. 1896; C.A.B., xi, Nov. 1898, 189, descrip. & illus.)
ROSLYN ROAD, residence for Judge Albert C. Killam, 1893; demol. 1929 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 12 June 1893, 6)
CARLETON STREET, 'Dalnavert', residence for Hugh J. Macdonald, 1895; restored 1974 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 27 March 1895, 8; C.A.B., xi, Jan. 1898, illus.; Winnipeg, 1980-The Year Past, 1981, 25-27, illus.)
VAUGHAN STREET, residence for George W. Plaxton, 1896 (C.R., 27 Aug. 1896, 2)

ELSEWHERE

TACOMA, WASHINGTON, Trinity Anglican Church (Manitoba Sun [Winnipeg], 3 Aug. 1888, 4)
PORT ARTHUR, ONT., High School, 1888 (Morning Call [Winnipeg], 15 Aug., 26 Sept. 1888, 4)
MOOSOMIN, SASK., Methodist Church, 1889 (Regina Leader, 21 Jan 1890, 1)
PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MAN., Home for Incurables, 1889-90; demol. (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 14 June 1890, 4, illus. & descrip.; MPA, Manitoba Public Works Records, RG 18, File A2; Manitoba, Early Architecture of Portage la Prairie, 1983, illus.)
BRANDON, MAN., Merchant's Bank, Rosser Avenue at Eleventh Street, 1890 (Brandon Mail, 13 Nov. 1890, 1; C.A.B., x, Jan. 1897, 3-4; Manitoba, Brandon: An Architectural Walking Tour, 1982, illus.)
REGINA, SASK., Smith-Ferguson Hardware Co. Block, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 29 March 1890, 6, t.c.; 19 April 1890, 5)
MOOSOMIN, SASK., large hotel for an unnamed client, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5) KENORA, ONT., residence for Mr. Marjack, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5)
KENORA, ONT., commercial block for William Clougher, 1890 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 3 July 1890, 2, t.c.)
PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MAN., Gaol, 1891 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 19 April 1890, 5; 13 May 1891, 4, t.c.; Manitoba, Early Architecture of Portage la Prairie, 1983, illus.)
MORDEN, MAN., Methodist Church, 1891 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 20 July 1891, 4, t.c.)
KENORA, ONT., hotel and public hall for George Drewery, 1891 (Winnipeg Daily Tribune, 8 Sept. 1891, 4, t.c.)
MOOSOMIN, SASK., Union Bank, 1891 (G. Bryce, History of Manitoba: Its Resources and People, 1906, 479)
BRANDON, MAN., residence for Hon. James A. Smart, 1892 (Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 5 March 1892, 6)
MANITOU, MAN., Winram Memorial Anglican Church, also called St. Mary-St. Alban Anglican Church, 1892 (C.R., iii, 2 April 1892, 1; Winnipge Tribune, 6 July 1892, 2, t.c.)
KENORA, ONT., St. Alban's Anglican Church, First Street North, 1892-93; burned 1917 (C.R., iii, 23 April 1892, 1)
BRANDON, MAN., major addition to the Insane Asylum, 1st Street North, 1892; burned 1910 (Winnipeg Tribune, 3 May 1892, 8; 30 Sept. 1892, 2, descrip.; Brandon Mail, 5 May 1892, 4)
GRENFELL, SASK., commercial block for Osmund Skrine, 1892 (Winnipeg Tribune, 26 Aug. 1892, 8)
GRETNA, MAN., residence for E. Winkler, 1893 (Winnipeg Tribune, 30 March 1893, 4, t.c.)
REGINA, SASK., St. Paul's Anglican Church, 1895 (Qu'Appelle Crusader [Regina], Sept. 1967, 2)
PRINCE ALBERT, SASK., High School, c. 1896 (C.A.B., Jan. 1897, 3-4)
DELORAINE, MAN., Public School, 1901 (C.R., xii, 10 July 1901, 3)
CARMAN, MAN., Public School, 1902 (C.R., xiii, 12 March 1902, 2; Manitoba Free Press [Winnipeg], 5 April 1902, 6)
FORT WILLIAM, ONT., Roman Catholic Separate School, 1902 (C.R., xiii, 16 April 1902, 2)
RAINY RIVER, ONT., Public School, 1905 (C.R., xvi, 31 May 1905, 7)