Influential citizens John A. McDougall and Richard Secord erected this four-storey office block in 1905 on the location that stills bears its name over 100 years later.

The Empire Block, on the northeast corner of Jasper and 101 Street, was a basic rectangular building elegantly adorned with classic Edwardian elements. Primarily clad in red brick, the banded main floor, arched doorways, and window details were stone. Oversized keystones capped the entrances and circular ornamentation appeared on the third level. A large cornice topped the structure. The many mid-level windows were more pronounced with two-storey pilasters and stone voissoirs; those at street level were capped with exaggerated lintels. The main façade featured a corner entrance, and understated arched window and door treatments looked out onto Jasper Avenue.

 McDougall opened a fur trading and retail business on this site when he arrived in Edmonton from Ontario in 1879. Secord worked as a clerk in McDougall’s store for a time. The two formed the McDougall and Secord Ltd. company in 1897 and then built the Empire Block as an investment on this prominent corner of Jasper Avenue. The top floors contained offices while the Bank of Nova Scotia and subsequent drug stores, barber shops, hat cleaners, jeweller, tobacconists, and opticians were located on the main floor. The newly formed Alberta Government had its first offices in the Empire Block in 1905. Liggett’s Owl Drug Store, which was taken over by Tamblyn Drug’s, was the longest main floor tenant of the building, residing there for about fifty years beginning in 1920. A four-storey addition was built on the north side in 1920. In 1942 a fire gutted the top two floors and resulted in extensive water damage on the lower levels. Completely renovated with a new roof, new woodwork, ceilings, and floors, the block reopened in 1943. Edmonton’s oldest privately-owned business, McDougall & Secord, Ltd., still own this corner of Edmonton by way of the Empire Building, an eleven-storey office tower built in 1963. 




Designation Status




Year Built




Architectural Styles


Character Defining Elements

Rectangular footprint , Three storeys or more , Brick structure , Flat roof , Cornice , Date stone , Dentil , Keystone , Lintel , Parapet , Pilaster , String course , Voussoirs


Subscribe to our newsletter