The Petrie Building – Guelph, Ontario - Atlas Obscura

The Petrie Building

This building's metal facade is the last of its kind in all of Canada. 


For decades, the Petrie building was ignored, and for nearly a hundred years the upper floors were not used at all. The building fell into such a state of disrepair that it was placed on the Heritage Canada National Trust Top 10 Most Endangered Places List. The building happens to be one of only three such structures erected prior to 1890 that had stamped full sheet metal facades. Now, it’s the only remaining machine-stamped, metal-clad building in the country. 

The building was constructed in 1882 for Alexander Bain Petrie, who opened a pharmacy on the main floor. It was crowned with a huge mortar and pestle. In 2015, the building was purchased by Kirk Roberts, a principal at Tyrcathlen Partners, who set out to restore the building to its former glory. 

With a contribution of $100,000 from an Architectural Conservancy of Ontario fundraising campaign, Roberts spent nearly two years restoring the Petrie building by combining old and new elements. Some parts were cast by using existing pieces still found in the building. The pestle had to be created from scratch, as it could not be found.   

During the renovation process, some amazing discoveries were unearthed, such as the 20-foot ceiling on the fourth floor. Today, the Petrie building is a beautiful fixture in central downtown Guelph, Ontario. The inside is now home to a bridal boutique, advertising agency, and a brewing company. 

Know Before You Go

You are not far from another Atlas Obscura destination. The Family Fountain is across the street and north two blocks (on the left).

The best option for parking if no street parking is available is to use the Baker Street parking lot one street to the west and parallel to Wyndham. Install the MacKay Metres app on your phone so you can park without walking to the pay station. There are tons of good restaurants near the building, so be sure to stop for a drink or meal.  

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November 14, 2019

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