~ Rumely Warehouse ~
244-226 Pacific Avenue, Saskatoon Saskatchewan

In April 1912, at the height of the Saskatoon building boom, plans for a splendid new warehouse were announced in the Phoenix. It was to be a new storage depot of the M. Rumely Co., a farm implement and machinery manufacturer based in Indiana. Today it is more usual to locate heavy machinery storage in sprawling one-storey warehousing on cheaper land well away from the city centre. In 1912 however, it was thought important to be at the centre, close to the rail yards. The Rumely warehouse was built on a spur line of the railway, relatively near the city centre, with five floors and a massive elevator.

From the start, the owners clearly intended this to be a superior kind of warehouse. Leading experts were brought in from outside. The architects were Hill and Woltersdorf of Chicago and the contractors, Carter, Hall, Aldinger were based in Winnipeg. As the building rose, the project caught the attention of the press. Perhaps rumours of war in Europe, or just a vivid imagination brought the idea of fortifications to the mind of one journalist. In any case, he wrote in the Phoenix that the new Rumely building could be made into an impregnable fortress if "its windows were no so numerous and large."

The large windows on the ground floor were designed for the showroom and offices. On the floors above, used only for storage, the windows were much smaller. The floors, made of single concrete slabs not less than nine inches thick, could support a load of 650 pounds per square foot. The elevator was 12 by 25 feet square. Together the strong floors and the large elevator made it possible to store heavy machinery on the upper floors.

The Rumely Company fell on hard times after the building was built. It went into receivership in 1915 and was reorganized as the Advance-Thresher Company. The new company had the misfortune to become involved with sales to Russia. During and after the Russian Revolution of 1918, foreign debts were frequently left unpaid. By 1931, the company was sold and became part of the new Allis-Chalmers Rumely Co.

During World War II, units of the Royal Canadian Ordinance Corps were stationed in part of the building. The Rumely company continued in the building until 1960.

The original bronze plaques which once ornamented the front door have long since disappeared but the big R monograms near the roof remain. The building itself stands four square, Saskatoon's best example of the classical North American warehouse architecture that is part of our cityscapes.


Source: Saving Our City ~ Saskatoon's Protected Heritage Structures
Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee, City of Saskatoon