The stately 20-room, three-story house was designed by John H.G. Russell and built in 1902 for Sir James and his family. Russell was a well-known and prolific Winnipeg architect whose work includes Knox and Westminster Churches, the Ashdown House and the Ashdown Warehouse.
After the United Church took over the property in 1929, the house was used as the girls’ residence until the early 1970s. It also housed the Headmistress and, occasionally, teachers. Various activities took place in the house over the years, such as staff meetings in the library, classes, science laboratories and school club meetings. In 1972, it housed the Headmaster and his family, a practice that continued until 1994. It is currently used for special school functions such as alumnae reunions, Board of Governors meetings and entertaining parents, staff, students and friends of the school. Sir James A.M. Aikins played a significant role in the early history of Winnipeg and western Canada and Aikins House is a monument to his achievements. Balmoral Hall School is dedicated to restoring the building to its former dignity so that the school community and the public may enjoy all it has to offer.
The house received historical designation from the City of Winnipeg in 1999, with a Grade III priority on the building conservation list. The designation includes the outside of the building, the entire main floor and stairwell and the second floor fireplaces. The Heritage Committee of the Alumnae Association restored the main floor of the house in time for the school’s centennial celebrations in 2001-02. Also completed was the restoration of the front staircase and painting & carpeting on the 2nd floor. In 2011-12, Balmoral Hall received a grant from the Winnipeg Foundation to restore the windows on the main floor of the building to the original sash window design with traditional storm windows.