Men's House

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Selkirk, Manitoba
Exterior photo © Kate MacFarlane, AHB, 1989.
Exterior photo
© Kate MacFarlane, AHB, 1989.
Exterior photo © Kate MacFarlane, AHB, 1989.Exterior photo © P&NRO, 1989.Exterior photo © Kate MacFarlane, AHB, 1989.
Address : Highway 9, Selkirk, Manitoba

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1990-05-24
Dates:
  • 1850 to 1854 (Construction)

Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 89-004
DFRP Number: 12705 00

Description of Historic Place

The Men’s House, located west of the Big House at Lower Fort Garry, is a modest, ‘T’-shaped utilitarian building with a low-pitched hip roof. The detailing of the building is minimal with plain doors and small simple windows. It was constructed using the colombage pierroté method of construction and finished in stucco. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Men’s House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Men’s House is associated with the continued development of Lower Fort Garry as a trans-shipment depot and agricultural supply center for the Canadian fur trade. The construction of the Men’s House relates to the peak period of occupation of the fort and the need for more housing. Lower Fort Garry was established in 1830 as an administrative center for the Northern Department of the Fur Trade, after the amalgamation of the Husdon Bay Company and the North West Company in 1821.

Architectural Value
The Men’s House is a good example of a modest utilitarian design of domestic scale. The excellent functional quality of the building is reflected in the simple massing of the ‘T’ shaped plan, the colombage pierroté construction and the size and arrangement of the doors and windows. This reflects one of three traditional building techniques used within the fort.

Environmental Value
The Men’s House is compatible with the adjacent buildings and the historic character of the fort setting. The Men’s House is familiar to visitors as one of the interpreted areas of the fort.



Sources:
Kate MacFarlane, Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, Selkirk, Manitoba, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report, 89-004.

Men’s House, Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, Selkirk, Manitoba, Heritage Character Statement, 89-004.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Men’s House should be respected, for example:

Its simple utilitarian design of domestic scale, and craftsmanship for example:
The simple massing of the ‘T’-shaped building and roof profile that consists of a hipped roof with gabled dormers and a central chimney. The size and arrangement of doors and windows. The colombage pierroté that consists of timber framing, rubble infill, and stucco finish. The surviving early interior finishes.

The manner in which the Men’s House is compatible with the historic character of its Fort setting and is a familiar building at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, as evidenced by:
Its scale, utilitarian form and design make it compatible with the other structures at the Fort. Its popularity with visitors as one of the interpreted areas of the Fort.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.

The Men's House at Lower Fort Garry was constructed in 1850-54, with an annex built by 1858. Initially it was a group residence for unmarried male servants of the Hudson's Bay Company. The Men's House also served as a women's ward for the provincial lunatic asylum from 1885-86, followed by use as a stable, storage, ice-house and garage. Currently it is used for interpretive purposes. It is thought to have possibly been constructed by Belonie Gilbeault. The structure was restored in the early 1970s. Parks Canada is the custodian. See FHBRO Building Report 89-04.

Reasons for Designation
The Men's House was designated Recognized because of its architectural significance, its environmental importance, and its historical associations.

Lower Fort Garry was established in 1830 as an administrative center for the Northern Department of the fur trade, after the amalgamation of the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company in 1821. The buildings at the fort represent a range of fur trade building traditions and construction techniques.

The Men's House is of domestic scale and simple in design, reflecting a modest utilitarian construction tradition. The colombage pierroté wall construction is original, while renovations in the 1970s replaced the foundation, main flooring, windows and doors.

The relationship of the Men's House to the adjacent buildings is relatively unchanged. The Men's House has a visual similarity to the annex of the Big House and is familiar as one of the interpreted areas of the fort.

The construction of the Men's House relates to the peak period of occupation of the fort and the need for more housing. It is associated with the continued development of the fort as a trans-shipment depot and agricultural supply center for the fur trade.

Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Men's House resides in the building's form, its overall proportions, construction materials, architectural details, surviving interior layout, and the relationship to the site and setting.

The building is a simple one-and-a-half storey structure with a "T" shaped plan. The hipped roof with gabled dormers has a central chimney. The simple massing, the roof profile and the footprint reflect the utilitarian style. The modest design has functionally-located doors and windows in an uneven five bay rhythm on the main facade. This informal order typifies the local building tradition and should be retained.

The stucco walls on a stone foundation reflect one of three traditional building techniques used within the fort. Colombage pierroté consists of timber framing, rubble infill, and stucco finish. The building was renovated in the early 1970s with a new foundation, main floor, and wood shingled roof. The structural system should be respected in any intervention, and the exterior materials merit conservation expertise and regular maintenance.

The small size of the windows and simple design of the doors are typical of the utilitarian style. The wood multi-paned sash windows and plank doors are recent but follow the original configurations and should be maintained.

The structure has retained the early back-to-back double "L" planning of the early dwelling. Restoration to the 1850s period enhanced the two-part division of space and this should be maintained. The largely original second floor and surviving early interior finishes should be preserved and maintained.

The simple landscape treatment is in keeping with the simple character of the fort landscape generally, and should be maintained without embellishment.