Dennistoun House - 166 Roslyn Road

Century-old Osborne Village home could be bulldozed for development (CTV News September 15, 2015)
End of the line looms for historic Dennistoun House (Winnipeg Free Press September 8, 2015)
"Residents wishing to ask questions or register objections can attend the meeting at 6pm at City Hall on Sept. 16"


Robert Maxwell Dennistoun was a specialist in corporate law and came to Winnipeg in 1907 to represent several influential corporations. He drew up Manitoba’s first workman’s compensation act. In addition to a respected career as a lawyer and judge, Dennistoun kept a parallel military career.

The Honorable Robert Maxwell Dennistoun commissioned prominent architect John Atchinson to design a house for his family in 1908 at 166 Roslyn Road in the Osborne Village area of Winnipeg. Atchinson had designed a large number of prominent Winnipeg buildings by that time. He designed Dennistoun house in Tudor style, commonly used for upper-class residences between 1890 and 1940 in North America.

Distinguishing features of the Tudor style are:

  • Steep-pitched roof on cross gable
  • Decorative half timbering with an infill of stucco
  • Portions of the walls finished in brick veneer
  • Elaborate gothic arched entranceway with quoins of stone
  • Doors and side transoms are glazed with leaded glass in small panes

Winnipeg declared Dennistoun House a grade 3 historic building on its Buildings Conservation List in 1984 due to its architectural significance and integrity. It was also placed on the list based on the historical interest surrounding the man who erected it and its importance of the surrounding area, which during the early 1900’s became the district of stately banker’s homes.

In 1977 the house was bought and converted into a five-unit rental property.

When this owner passed in 2006 the heirs decided they were no longer operating this building as a rental property. A development team on behalf of the owners applied to the city for the delisting of the Dennistoun House.

The City’s Historical Buildings Committee inspected Dennistoun House and concluded it was a good example of the Tudor style designed by Mr. Atchinson and the heritage values of the house had not changed since its listing in 1984. The HBC recommended the Dennistoun House not be delisted.

On June 2 2009, “the Standing Committee did not concur with the recommendation of the HBC and recommended instead that Dennistoun House be removed from the Building Conservation List; that no demolition permits be issued before building permits are issued; and that City officials be authorized to implement the intent of this recommendation”.

The city’s Executive Policy Committee agreed with the Standing Committee.

The matter went to Council on June 24 2009. Council was given all materials generated or considered for the application to delist including:

-       HBC’s March 20 2009 letter

-       Report dated October 9, 1984

-       The Standing Policy Committee and Executive Policy Committee minutes of meetings

-       Any presentations given to these committee’s

-       Developer’s report that included City’s Planning Property and Development department’s response, a letter from an architect regarding the feasibility of integrating Dennistoun House into the Development and newspaper reports

-       Written submissions and petition from a number of citizens

-       Delegations for and against the recommendation also addressed City Council in person including Ms. Lukovich of Osborne Village Neighborhood Association and the Executive Director of Heritage Winnipeg who were against the recommendation

City Council was made aware of the “impact its decision may have on the neighborhood, and from a policy or precedent standpoint” as well as the Osborne Village Plan.

City Council decided by a majority vote to concur with the recommendation made by the Standing Policy Committee and agreed to by the Executive Policy Committee, to remove Dennistoun House from the Buildings Conservation List. This decision enables the historic homes potential for demolition and replacement with a condominium complex.

Members of the Osborne Village Neighborhood Association with the support of Heritage Winnipeg sought a judicial review for an order to quash the decision made by city council.

A strong argument was made in regards to the heritage element of the Osborne Village Plan on demolition of historic buildings:

7.1.6.A             Discourage the demolition of historic or architecturally significant buildings or structures. Demolition shall be considered as a last resort, and should only be considered when buildings are determined to be structurally unsound beyond repair by an independent structural engineering report. Economic viability should not be the sole determining factor;

7.1.6.B            Prior to consideration of a proposal for the demolition of a historic building or structure, a formal independent consultant’s report on the physical condition and economic viability of retaining the building should be prepared for review by the City. The consultant’s report is to be carried out at the expense of the applicant.

In July 2010 The Judge found that the “requirements of section 7.1.6 of the Osborne Village Plan were not mandatory but rather permissive and intended to be subjectively assessed by City Council” in making their opinion. He also found City Councils decision to delist to be “consistent” with both Plan Winnipeg and the Osborne Village Plan. Furthermore he found that City Council acted within its jurisdiction in removing Dennistoun House from the list and dismissed the application.

For further information on either the Judge’s decision or the Historical Report please click on the links below.


The Judge’s decision July 2010

Historical Buildings Committee Report October 9, 1984


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