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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 4

The Big House, Lower Fort Garry

by George Ingram

Appendix A: Structural Evolution of the Big House

Many alterations were made to the Big House between 1831-32, when it was constructed, and the present century when it was occupied by the Winnipeg Motor Country Club. Annual maintenance of course brought the most frequent changes, but periodically wholesale alterations were made necessary by a shift in the role of the house. The personal whim of an occasional occupant could lead to the rearrangement of partitions throughout the house, or the preparation for some important visitor sometimes brought a complete renovation. In the present century, the requirements of the Motor Country Club necessitated the introduction of many new features.

Some of these changes can be documented. The references are sometimes oblique; and in most cases not extensive. The following record makes note of documented changes which were made to the house over the long period of occupation.

Structure: 1831-32 to 1840

In 1830, George Simpson laid out the plan for a new fort and Hudson's Bay Company establishment on the lower Red River, some 20 miles from the then existing Fort Garry at the forks of the Assiniboine and Red rivers. That fall, construction of the new fort began under the direction of Pierre Leblanc, apparently a master mason. Simpson and Leblanc probably worked out the plans for the Big House together, Simpson supplying the broad outline of his requirements, and Leblanc the practical advice necessary for construction. The house was one of the first buildings constructed; it was finished in the fall of 1832 in time for the Simpsons and other members of the Hudson's Bay Company's Red River establishment to move in for the winter.

In initial concept, the Big House was much more modest in appearance than at a later date. In plan it consisted only of the main part of the house. The annex was not constructed until 1840, and the veranda now sweeping around three sides does not appear to have been constructed until the late 1840s or early 1850s.

Documentation: 1831-32 to 1840

We are building at the Rapids, which is the highest & best situation on the River, the materials stone & lime & if the plan I have begun be followed up it will be a respectable & comfortable Establisht. I don't expect to occupy it, as it will not be habitable until the Fall of 1833. Leblanc conducts the work and the Mckenzie River men & recruits of last fall are the labourers. (HBCA, Moose Factory: Correspondence Inward, Simpson to McTavish, 10 April 1831, p. 65, B.1 35/c/2.)

I had the satisfaction of seeing the Walls of the principal building nearly up before my departure, and hope to see New Fort Garry (the only stone & lime and I may add the most respectable looking Establishment in the Indian Country) occupied next Spring. (HBCA, London Inward, Simpson to Governor and Committee, 18 July 1831, p. 377, A.12/1.)

We are exceedingly well housed here in the new building. (James Hargrave, The Hargrave Correspondence, 1821-1843 [Toronto: The Champlain Society, 1938], pp. 95-7, Thomas Simpson to James Hargrave, 19 December 1832.)

Structure: 1840-49

The Big House did not weather well in the first years after its construction. When Isobel Finlayson, the sister of Frances Simpson, arrived in the settlement in 1840, she described the house as "old and dilapidated," and George Simpson complained of the bellied appearance of the ceilings in 1841. But the defects were partially corrected in the early 1840s. In 1840, the annex or "addition" was constructed on the west side of the building connected to the old part on the first floor and basement levels. The annex was constructed of colombage pierroté (wood framing with rubble masonry fill). The rest of the house must have been renovated for Simpson appears to have stayed at the lower fort frequently on his visits to the settlement and may have held at least one meeting of the Council of the Northern Department there.

In 1846, the fort and Big House were given over for the use of the Sixth Regiment of Foot which was brought to the Red River Settlement at the request of the Hudson's Bay Company. The Big House itself was used by the officers of the regiment and by the Royal Engineers who were sent to place the defences of Upper and Lower Fort Garry in order. The troops probably used the building harshly for a sketch of the front of the house during their occupancy shows the balustrade of the porch badly broken and in need of repair.

In 1848, the troops left the lower fort and the house reverted to use by Company personnel. It was recommended for Simpson's residence in the settlement, November 1848.

Documentation: 1840-49

Little or no change has taken place here since my sister left it, the large old dwelling house built of stone, which must have been cold and comfortless, even in its best days, was standing just as in her time, but it looked old and dilapidated as well as the buildings around it. One half of it was occupied by Mr. Black, and the other by Mr. Thom (the Recorder). (Isobel Finlayson, "York Boat Journal," The Beaver, Outfit 282 [December 1951], pp. 32-5.)

We shall, I think, have sufficient accommodation for all Comers at either Fort, so that you may hold your Council at whichever you please — You need be under no apprehension on the score of the bellied appearance of the ceiling of the Lower house as you will find better accommodation in the addition, which has been built thereto, last summer, than in the old house. (HBCA, Simpson Inward, Duncan Finlayson to Simpson, 1 May 1841, p. 138, D.5/6.)

The lower fort, which is about four times the size of the upper establishment, is in process of being enclosed by loopholed walls and bastions. This is my own headquarters when I visit the settlement; and here also resides Mr. Thom, the Recorder of Rupert's Land — so named in the royal charter. (George Simpson, Narrative of a Journey Round the World During the Years 1841 and 1842 [London: Colburn, 1847], Vol. 1, p. 55.)

A dwelling house containing about 20 rooms of various sizes on the basement and first storey where the officers might be quartered. (Dale Miquelon, Lower Fort Garry: Preliminary Research Report [Ottawa: National Historic Sites Service, 1964], p. 25, Simpson to Barclay, 24 December 1845).

10 (Sept.) . . . reached the Lower Fort Garry at 1/2 past 11 o'clock at night — the rain fell heavily all day and we landed in a cold and miserable state. Rheumatism tortured me throughout the journey and I gladly found myself under a roof, — Captain Beatty of the Royal Engineers and Mr. Bird of the H. B. Company received us. But we had to sleep on the floor, as the Lower Fort had no accommodations, all having been removed and the Fort given over to Captain Beatty for the troops. (PAC, MG12, WO1, Vol. 557, pp. 199-209, Crofton to Somerset, 15 September 1846.)

Structure: 1849-70

Shortly after the officers of the Sixth Regiment left the fort in the fall of 1848, the house was assigned to the newly appointed Anglican bishop of Rupert's Land. The changes made in anticipation of his arrival were extensive; the interior of the Big House was divided into two separate units, one for the bishop and another for his chaplain. The annex was retained for the use of the Company clerk. The bishop arrived in the fall of 1849 but soon moved out to assume charge of the boys' school when the previous master died.

In the fall of 1850, the house was given over to Eden Colvile, the associate governor in Rupert's Land, and his wife; other parts of the house were used by the Company clerk and occasional visitors. During the Colvile occupancy the house took on a much more genial atmosphere. The spacious, wide veranda appears to have been added at this time and the grounds around the house were kept well groomed. The restoration to this period has assumed that some of the changes made in 1849 such as the dividing of the mess hall were removed after the bishop's short stay.

Following the departure of the Colviles, the Big House served mainly as the residence for the gentleman or clerk in charge of Lower Fort Garry with the other officers in the Red River district occasionally coming down from the upper fort to stay in the house. During this period there were no extensive changes made to the building which can be ascertained from the documents.

Documentation: 1849-70

You will make over to the Bishop, the principal house at the Lower Fort, with the exception of the wing, which it is advisable to retain for our own accommodation, it being in the meantime occupied by Mr. Black. The Communication between the wing and the main house must be walled up, thereby making two entirely distinct houses, with seperate entrances. The mess room you will please divide into two, and in appropriating the accommodation, the Bishop should be put in possession of all that part formerly occupied during the Sitting of the Councils with the front entrance, consisting of 6 rooms together with Kitchen, Servants rooms, cellars, etc. His Lordship's Chaplain can occupy that portion of the House formerly inhabited by Mr. Thom with a separate entrance, Consisting of four rooms besides Kitchen, Servants rooms and Cellars. The requisite alterations and repairs should be entered upon without delay and the residence put in order for the reception of the Bishop and his suite immediately on arrival at the Settlement. (HBCA, Simpson Outward, Simpson to Ballenden, 28 June 1849, p. 66, D.4/39.) Agreeably to your instructions when here, the large dwelling house at this place, has been completely arranged, for the accommodation of Bishop Anderson, and his Chaplain, but the furniture of the several rooms, is far from what they have been accustomed to, the deficiency may however, be afterwards prepared and completed under their own direction. (HBCA, Simpson Inward, Christie to Simpson, 24 July 1849, p. 403, D.5/25.)

Since I last wrote you matters in the Colony have gone very quietly. The Bishop and party arrived on the 3rd of October & immediately took possession of and seemed to be well pleased with their residence at the Lower Fort. He had with him one clergyman and a reader both with wives, and I was therefore under the necessity of allowing one of them to take possession of the little house occupied by Mr. Christie last year. He intends leaving it however, in a few weeks and no further occupant shall take possession until we have the pleasure of seeing you. (HBCA, Simpson Inward, Ballenden to Simpson, 29 November 1849, p. 625, D.5/26.)

Statement of pine timber to be procured at lower fort, 3 March 1851.

Verandah Govs. House
X8 pieces 20 feet long
9 x 3 1/2 ins. 2/3 ea.
#15 pieces 17 feet long
8 x 3 1/2 ins. 1/9 ea.

16 pieces 10 feet long
8 x 3 1/2 ins. 1/ ea.
*8 pieces 10 feet long
6-1/2 x 3 ins. /10 ea.
XThese 8 pieces to be afterwards sawn at the fort each into 2 pieces 20 feet long 4 1/2 x 3 1/2 ins.
#These 15 pieces to be afterwards sawn each into 4 pieces 8 1/2 feet long 4 x 3 1/4 ins.
*These 8 pieces to be afterwards sawn each into 2 pieces 10 1/2 feet long, 3 x 3 1/4 ins. (PAC, MG19, A40, IIA.)

The buildings at the lower fort are somewhat older [than those at the upper fort]; the one we occupied during our stay there, the residence of the officials, being a stately old mansion with wide verandahs, lofty ceilings, heavy old fashioned furniture, with plenty of brass, even to swinging knobs on the doors, plastered walls painted green, floors bare of everything but skins, and open fireplaces in every room. (S. Hubbard Scudder, The Winnipeg Country [New York: Hodges, 1890], pp. 119-20.)

Entering through the huge gateway pierced in the centre of the east wall, facing the river, the first view is of the residence of the chief trader in command, and also of the clerks and upper class of employes under his charge. It is a long two-story stone building with a broad piazza encircling it on three sides. A square plot of green sward surrounding it is fenced in with neat railing and kept in extremely good order. A broad gravel walk leads from the gateway to the piazza. Huge shade trees border it, and beds of waving and fragrant flowers load the business air with their perfume. In this building the mess of the chief and his subordinates is held. Its hospitalities are extended in good old English style. A room is set apart for the use of the transient guest, who is free to come and go as he lists. (H. M. Robinson, The Great Fur Land [London: Sampson, Low, 1879], pp. 73-4.

Sam. Taylor plastering mess room & Mr. Watts rooms. (HBCA, Journal, 10 October 1868.)

One man continues repairing & fitting up the outside windows on big house. (HBCA, Journal, 19 November 1868.)

Two men whitewashing the rooms [Big House]. (HBCA, Journal, 20 May 1869.)

One man preparing wood for balcony at dwelling house [refs. continue to preparing wood and working on balcony at the Big House]. (HBCA, Journal, 22 June 1869.)

7 By the early 1880s, the Big House, with its sagging weathered veranda, was beginning to show its age. A children's playhouse (right) and the small cart in the foreground gave the house a familial air. (Hudson's Bay Company, Winnipeg.)

Structure: 1870-80

In 1870, the attic of the Big House was prepared for the occupancy of the officers of the Quebec Rifles who were assigned to the lower fort in the year following the Red River uprising. This appears to have been the first extensive use of the upstairs portion of the house. The area was divided into 12 bedrooms each lighted by a small skylight cut into the roof and glazed. Presumably the form of access was changed from the earlier trapdoor and ladder to a set of stairs. This same area was used by the officers of the North-West Mounted Police who came to the fort in 1873-74 when the accommodations were described as being "about as bad as they well could be."

In the remainder of the house, extensive alterations and renewals were undertaken in the ten-year period. The veranda was repaired and the paling around the front of the house may have been replaced. The roof was reshingled. On the interior, the north end of the main house was extensively altered for the occupancy of inspecting Chief Factor Robert Hamilton's family. Partitions were taken down and others installed (this may have been the period when the mess hall, as now interpreted, was divided into three rooms). Hamilton's quarters were apparently quite elaborate: the walls were papered, rooms were extensively repainted, and the floors were carpeted. The kitchen at the north end of the building may have been added at this time or later in 1879, when the house was used by James Grahame.

Included among the alterations for the Grahames was the building of a chimney. This may have been the chimney at the north end of the house which sometime late in the 19th century was extended by the addition of a brick portion.

Documentation: 1870-80

Two men hauling gravel for repairing walks in the fort. (HBCA, Journal, 16 July 1870.)

Two men preparing a partition for dwelling house. (HBCA, Journal, 20 October 1870.)

Ensuite le haut de la grande maison occuper les officiers actuellement il faut faire 12 chambres à coucher et à chaques chambre il faut unchassis car il n'y a que seul sur le toit. Les hommes de M. Hamel ont commencer a cette dernière ouvrage aujourd'hui. (PAC, RG11, 9B, Subject 429, Vol. 119, Beaupré to Braun, 26 October 1870.)

To 1 fine green paint, (HBCA, Accounts, 6 February 1871, B.303/d/51.)

Two men whitewashing and plastering the kitchen. (HBCA, Journal, 3 November 1871.)

Two carpenters preparing wood for balcony; 12 August — four men repairing the balcony at the Big House; 16 August — four men working at the balcony; 22 August — three men repairing the balcony. (HBCA, Journal, 31 July 1872.)

Two men pumping out the water from the kitchen. (HBCA, Journal, 3 June 1872.)

House carpenters continue preparing bannisters for paling round the house. (HBCA, Journal, 20 April 1872.)

Pipes p. house 14 lbs. sheet iron; 28 December, 14 3/4 lbs. sheet iron, (HBCA, Accounts, 23 December 1872, B.303/d/65.)

[A number of references to nails and other materials to repairing the veranda.] (HBCA, Accounts, 8 August to 11 September 1872.)

Got the porches taken down. (HBCA, Journal, 4 April 1873.)

Got the outside windows taken off. (HBCA, Journal, 9 April 1873.)

2 lbs. black paint, painting house. (HBCA, Accounts, 5 June 1873, B.303/d/78b.)

1 lb. green paint, painting house. (HBCA, Accounts, 6 June 1873, B.303/d/78b.)

[References to lathing and plastering which continue until 20 October.] (HBCA, Accounts, 13 September 1873, B.303/d/101.)

One man painting anti-room (HBCA, Journal, 18 December 1873.)

The barracks accommodation for the men is very good. The officers quarters are about as bad as they well could be, being merely the attics of the quarters occupied by the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company and divided from each other by wooden partitions which do not reach the ceilings. (Dale Miquelon, Lower Fort Garry: Preliminary Research Report [Ottawa: National Historic Sites Service, 1964], PAC, RG18, A/1, Item 7/74, Comptroller's Office, 7 January 1874.)

Four men taking down the partitions in the north end of the Big House. [Note: From June until well into the fall, men are involved in the alterations for the accommodation of Robert Hamilton's quarters in the Big House. The alterations cost a total of $1,600.86.] (HBCA, Journal, 22 June 1874.)

Five men papering and painting Mr. Hamilton's quarters. (HBCA, Journal, 27 August 1874.)

Two men putting down the carpets in Mr. Hamilton's quarters. (HBCA, Journal, 7 September 1874.)

Paint for Mr. Hamilton's quarters: 3 lbs. brown paint, 1/2 lb. black paint, 10 1/4 lbs. white paint, 3 lbs. red paint, 7 lbs. Spanish whiting, 1 lb. common black paint, 12 lbs. common white paint. (HBCA, Accounts, 1874, B.303/d/137.)

1 carpenter 12 days at 2.50 making porch for kitchen. (HBCA, Accounts, 19 December 1874, B.303/d/137.)

46 pounds 1 bar iron chimneys H. B. House. (HBCA, Accounts, 9 January 1876, B.303/d/157.)

14 pounds paint — yellow. (HBCA, Accounts, 20 April 1877, B.303/d/157.)

1 pound paint — red. (HBCA, Accounts, 14 May 1877, B.303/d/157.)

10 pound tin of white paint
 1 pint paint oil
55 pounds shingle nails cedar shingles
(HBCA, Accounts, 20 June 1877, B.303/d/157.)

1 lb. tin of green paint. (HBCA, Accounts, 16 July 1877, B.303/d/157.)

1 lb. tin of green paint

4 lbs of white paint. (HBCA, Accounts, 23 July 1877, B.303/d/157.)

4 lbs. of white paint. (HBCA, Accounts, 24 July 1877, B.303/d/157.)

9 Cedar shingles. (HBCA, Accounts, 16 January 1877, B.303/d/157.)

To William Johnston 9 1/3 days whitewashing and painting quarters. (HBCA, Accounts, 9 January 1877, B.303/d/118.)

1 lb. green paint, (HBCA, Accounts, 13 August 1878, B.303/d/157.)

The work on the quarters you are to occupy at G. L. is getting on nicely. The floor in the kitchen is laid and will be painted. The chimney is well under way. We are ordering down more bricks today to complete it as there were not sufficient to do so. As soon as the chimney is finished the lightning rod man will go down and put up the rod. (HBCA, Commissioner James A. Grahame, Correspondence Inward (General), G. S. McTavish to Grahame, 27 May 1879, pp. 98-9, D.14/20.)

[From the week ending 24 May to the week ending 14 June 1879, a number of men were involved "cleaning kitchen for Mrs. Grahame," and "fixing kitchen," and so on for chief commissioner.] (HBCA, Accounts, Labour Book, Outfit 1879-80, B.303/d/150b.)

1 lb. red paint. (HBCA, Accounts, 10 May 1879, B.303/d/150a.)

[From week ending 22 May 1880 to week ending 5 June 1880, men were working on the chief commissioner's quarters probably preparing them for his occupancy.] (HBCA, Accounts, 1880, B.303/d/150b.)

5 bus. lime for whitewash, Hudson's Bay House. (HBCA, Accounts, 10 May 1880, B.303/d/157.)

Robert Massey 2 days whitewashing Chief Commissioner's quarters. (HBCA, Accounts, 22 May 1880, B.303/d/153.)

2 lbs. yellow paint. (HBCA, Accounts, 13 May 1880, B.303/d/157.)

Structure: 1881-90

By 1881, the Big House was 50 years old and it had not aged gracefully. Annual maintenance had not been sufficient to arrest definite structural decline. Pictures of the house from this period show a rather shabby, weathered exterior and a sagging veranda. The lower fort was declining in importance and the house would probably have fallen into ruins had not the newly appointed commissioner, J. Wrigley, taken a personal interest in its upkeep. Like Grahame before him and Chipman later, Wrigley saw in the house a comfortable home where he could move his family in the hot summer months. It was especially attractive when compared to the official residence in Winnipeg which was poorly constructed and uncomfortable from the time of its erection.

In 1885, Wrigley sent a Winnipeg architect, C. 0. Wickenden, to inspect the house to determine the repairs which would be necessary to place the house in order. Wickenden recommended that it be reshingled. that small gable windows replace the skylights installed in 1870, that the area and basement entrances at the back of the building be filled in, that the rotten basement flooring be taken up and replaced with concrete, and that the beam in the south room of the house be reinforced with a truss. Outside, he suggested that the veranda be repaired, the fence rebuilt, and that a soil pit should be built close to the wall of the house.

Many of Wickenden's suggestions were eventually carried out and presumably soon after he submitted his report. Four years later, when the damp basement was still causing problems, W. J. McLean, the chief trader living in the house, referred to a "considerable sum" which had been spent "a short time ago" in fixing the basement. And judging from the changed exterior of the house in pictures and in actual structure, the Wickenden recommendations were adopted as a package. The area was filled in. Gable windows were installed on the roof very much like those which he sketched in his report, and the beam in the south room was reinforced with a truss. Possibly the north door and window in the annex were added at this time.

After the Wickenden repairs, and possibly completing his recommendations, the veranda was repaired in 1887. On the interior of the building W. J. McLean dressed up his apartment by papering and painting extensively.

Documentation: 1881-90

HB House: 1 lb. green paint, 1/2 lb. blue. (HBCA, Accounts, 4 February 1881, B.303/d/157.)

Cash paid James Harper, repairing balcony. (HBCA, Accounts, 1 August 1882, p. 185, B.303/d/157.)

Cash paid James Harper for 16 days repairing and putting on storm windows. (HBCA, Accounts, 20 November 1882, p. 205, B.303/d/171.)

Will Western for plastering in H.B. House. (HBCA, Accounts, 22 May 1884, B.303/d/178.)

By food for 3 plasterers while repairing H.B. House. (HBCA, Accounts, 1 June 1884, B.303/d/182.)

The dwelling consists of two distinct houses built apparently at different periods and joined together by a porch or vestibule with front entrance at ground or principal floor and two rear entrances at basement level — There is a stone basement under the entire building — The principal part or house C. facing river is constructed of rubble masonry the western addition D is above basement framed & finished outside with rough cast plaster — nearly the whole of the stone heads & sills of doors and windows are fractured by settlement — those which have opened to any extent I would recommend should be replaced. These buildings C & D should be refitted and shingled in the spring and painted with metallic roof paint about September — There are some portions of the rear wall where considerable damage by settlement has taken place and the masonry needs to be repaired — The plaster to underside of roof of C. should be repaired much of it has been lathed the wrong way. This should be relathed with the old material and plastered. The roof lights which are small glazed hatches, I think should be taken off & small gables (?) run out when roof is re-shingled so that the sash could be put in vertically this would allow a winter sash to be arranged to slide inside of rafters — the hatch light could then be hung like a casement — this would cause a marked difference in the temperature of the building. The connecting porch or vestibule E is in a bad condition & has been heaved by frost — it requires to be renewed and altered. At the present time everything has to be carried to and from the trader's kitchen through the Dining room & vestibule — this might be altered with advantage by erecting a door as shown in red on No. 1 altering stairway to basement & raising roof of F. when it is renewed — The beam carrying joists over dining room has sagged over three inches. This should be made good & a light truss rod put in if necessary upon examination. The plaster of dining room walls ceiling & of other parts of C is continually scaling & is badly damaged. The floor of this room should be taken up & inch boards cut in on strips between joints in which should be placed 2" of nogging or mortar this would be brought out to the plaster behind base and the floor relaid. The basement as I understand will in the future be only used as cellarage. — The area and the three basement entrances (see F. in block plan and section on plan No. 1) are I think unnecessary. The area collecting water from the whole of the back roof & from around rear of building and allowing the frost to sink below the foundations — This section of area will at once account for the damage to walls at rear of building and in a less degree for that to the remaining walls. I think this open space should be filled up leaving only small areas to those windows to portions of cellarage where light is necessary. There are I am informed two drains from the building — one cannot at present be found and the other is frozen up — I hear that every spring after the thaw about 2 ft. of water accumulates in the cellar which seeps through the basement walls & area — the drains should therefore at once be made effective and as the old building is still to be used for residence a soil pit should be constructed & made water tight a few feet from the cellar wall.

All the sashes to windows painted where sound and glazed where necessary storm sashes being supplied to those windows where they are at present wanting.

The basement floor is for the most part rotten. This should be removed and if the item is not considered too expensive I would recommend that after the drains are put in the basement should be packed to level of present basement floor and concreted this would prevent the mink & ermine which burrow either under or through the open joints in the foundations and so assist the destruction by water & frost. . . .

New posts should be put in to carry verandah with plank feet and below line of frost. The fence around garden (G block plan) requires to be overhauled and then painted much of the work would have been in far better condition had it been protected by paint. (Lower Fort Garry: Condition of Buildings, C. O. Wickenden to Wrigley, 2 March 1885, D.19/2.)

By expense on account of C. McBean for papering in dining room. (HBCA, Accounts, 22 June 1886, B.303/d/178.)

To eavestrough to dwelling house. (HBCA, Accounts, 20 May 1886, p. 63, B.303/d/186.)

That the buildings be kept in a state of repair: the dwelling house with a view of being available as a residence and the warehouses for use in the event of more business being carried on here. That enquiries be made whether the lumber now forming partitions in the buildings formerly occupied as an asylum could not be used in carrying out the necessary repairs to verandah floors. (Suggestion with Inspection Report, March 1887, Section H, p. 72, B.235/e/22.)

[Repairs made to verandah including painting.] (HBCA, Accounts, 13 May to 25 May 1887, p. 41, B.303/d/192.)

By expense on account paid by W. J. McLean for paper for house. (HBCA, Accounts, 10 September 1887, p. 45, B.303/d/197.)

By repairs and improvements; verandah — Paid F. Robinson. (HBCA, Accounts, 24 September 1887, p. 45, B.303/d/197.)

By repairs and improvements for cash paid R. H. Gilhuly for 5 gallons of paint for verandah. (HBCA, Accounts, 27 October 1887, p. 49, B.303/d/197.)

[Various cash outlays for work and materials for repairs to the veranda.] (HBCA, Accounts, 23 May to 27 October 1887, p. 17, B.303/d/199.)

Rodk. McPherson for plastering in House. (HBCA, Accounts, 13 June 1887, p. 17, B.303/d/199.)

It is desirable that the two houses should be kept perfectly distinct, but under the circumstances I have pleasure in authorizing you to occupy one room in the house lately vacated by Mr. Ross up to the first April next. (HBCA, Commissioner Joseph Wrigley, Correspondence Outward [General], Wrigley to Mrs. McLean, 4 October 1888, p. 569, D.18/6.)

Paid Talbot and Saunders for wallpaper. (HBCA, Accounts, 28 February 1889, p. 123, B.303/d/197.)

I am sorry to learn though a considerable sum was spent a short time ago on the cellar under the house it is still very damp. What would you suggest be done? (HBCA, Commissioner Joseph Wrigley, Correspondence Outward [General], Wrigley, Comments on Inspection, 22 June 1889, p. 725, D.18/7.)

The expenditure on the cellar was incurred before I took charge at the lower fort and the repairs were, I believe, carried out under the Superintendence of the Company's architect and the clerk then in charge. I don't know whether a concrete floor was called for, certainly there is none which is very much needed. By keeping an occasional fire on, probably some or all the damp may be avoided. I think it will be well and tending to preserve the building to have the outside of the stone painted. By using the services of the labourer on part of the work, the cost should not exceed $50. (HBCA, Commissioner Joseph Wrigley, Correspondence Inward, McLean to Wrigley, 6 July 1889, D.19/16.)

If it is found absolutely necessary that something be done to remedy the dampness of the cellars in the house, estimates should be previously submitted. (HBCA, Commissioner Joseph Wrigley, Correspondence Outward [General], Wrigley to McLean, 8 August 1889, p. 848-1/2, D.18/7.)

Shingling roof of kitchen
Papering and painting in house. (HBCA, Accounts, Repairs and Improvements, 1889, p. 62, B.303/d/198.)

Expense account for cash paid E. Brown for sundry repairs on dwelling house and shop. (HBCA, Accounts, 23 February 1890, p. 171, B.303/d/209.)

To 20 days taking down paper, plastering, papering and painting and fixing doors etc. in north end of dwelling house. (HBCA, Accounts, July 1890, B.303/z/4 [loose page].)

Structure: 1891-1900

C. C. Chipman, the chief commissioner who replaced Wrigley, took an even greater interest in the lower fort and Big House. Each spring he brought his family down to the fort where his children had the run of the large old house during the summer months. Consequently the house was kept in much better repair. Each year men were employed kalsomining, painting or patching the plaster. The outward appearance of the building and gardens improved markedly, and presumably so did the interior.

Old age also made more extensive work on the house necessary. In 1894, apparently under the supervision of an architect, "additional posts and underpinning" were put in the basement to support the first floor. Nine posts were added. (A post support system was included in the restoration of the Big House and annex basements. It is probable that some of this was added in 1894, although the whole chronology is uncertain for the system was again changed in the early 20th century.) Upstairs, more rooms were created by dividing a large area in the south end of the attic into five rooms. During the Chipman era, the upstairs was used as a sleeping area by the large Chipman family.

Most of the work, however, consisted of minor repairs. In 1896, lattice was added to the veranda and in 1900, the roof was completely reshingled or patched considerably. The annual repairs and extensive garden — more than 20 trees were planted around the grounds — gave the house a very pleasing appearance.

Documentation: 1891-1900

The surface water instead of being allowed to run into the basement should be conducted into the main drain, to enter the drain outside the building [dwelling house]. This may be done in an inexpensive manner. It is reported that a man in about two or three days could do this by constructing a gutter that would lead the water into the drain through a grating. (HBCA, Commissioner Joseph Wrigley, Correspondence Outward [General], Wrigley to McLean, 3 February 1891, p. 454, D.18/8.)

The method suggested for conveying surface water round the dwelling House into the main drain leading from the basement of the house out to the bank of the river can be carried out, but whether with complete success or not, I do not know but the experiment is, I think, well worth trying. Is the surface drain thus formed to remain open? (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Reports, McLean to Wrigley, 21 February 1891, p. 1, B.303/e/7.)

Complying with your request I have to report upon the damage to the buildings at Lower Fort Garry on Monday last, by the storm, and the necessary repairs. ...4) Fence round dwelling House. Much of it blown down, and many of the posts broken. This was a paling which had become very rotten, I would suggest as much cheaper, a wire fence on tamarac posts, with 3 strands of wire, a top-rail, and a 12 inch board at base. The cost should not exceed $75.00 . . . . I take the opportunity of referring to the condition of the basement of the dwelling house. It is damp and cold, causing an excessive outlay for heating the house, besides being a source of danger to health. At present no fewer than nine (9) stoves are necessary to keep the house even partially warm. A hot air furnace would cost from $150. to $200.00 and would tend to keep the cellar dry, and preserve the foundation of the house, and be much more economical. I could afford an increase of 2.50 to 3.00 pr. month rent for this necessary improvement. (HBCA, C. C. Chipman, Correspondence Inward, McLean to Chipman, 26 June 1891, D.22/1.)

To Rodk. McPherson for 49 hours work on Dwelling house. Lathing and kalsomining at 30c per hour and 200 lath, (HBCA, Accounts, 28 February 1892, p. 97, B.303/d/229.)

To customers James McCorrister for the following services in 1894

13 Days -scraping and preparing walls of house
10 Days -Kalsomining & whitewashing same
6 Days -painting floors
18 Days -cleaning and making gravel walks. . .
7 Days -making platform and porches [at house]
3 Days -cutting and fitting new shutters (were too large) [Big House?]
3 Days -making new outhouse
13 Days -painting W. Washing & papering West Wing
2 Days -putting Basement doors & windows in order

(For list of materials see File: Rent-Repairs and Improvements, Lower Fort Garry, Outfit 1894.) (HBCA, Accounts, 1894, pp. 420-1, B.303/d/246.)

With reference to the conversation which the commissioner had with you on the subject, I now write at his request to confirm what was said to you on Monday last, and to instruct you to have the following work done as soon as the weather will permit . . .

Drains: To ascertain whether they are in good working order; and if not, what is required to make them so.

Basement: To be thoroughly cleaned, straw and rubbish to be taken from the ceiling and cleaned away. Additional underpinning or supports to be put under floors in accordance with architect's instructions. To facilitate this work, a letter is enclosed to Captain Robinson of Selkirk, asking him to let the Company have the loan of one or two jack screws.

First Floor: Baseboards to be taken off, paper to be scraped off, walls and ceiling and woodwork to be well scrubbed and made ready for painters.

Attics: To be cleaned and made ready for carpenters. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Correspondence Inward, William Clark to J. H. Stanger, 8 February 1894, B.303/c/folder.)

To R. R. McDonald by expense 4 days setting posts under flooring in house, pulling down partitions. (HBCA, Accounts, 14 March 1894, p. 164, B.303/d/244.)

To Duncan McLeod by repairs and improvements, 7 days setting flooring under house and other work. (HBCA, Accounts, 31 March 1894, p. 177, B.303/d/244.)

To R. R. McDonald by repairs and improvements, 1 day setting posts under flooring and clearing up attic etc.

Repairs and improvements, paid for 9 posts used for supporting flooring in house. (HBCA, Accounts, 31 March 1894, p. 178, B.303/d/244.)

Repairs and improvements: On dwelling house, west end 3 lbs. cut nails. (HBCA, Accounts, 18 June 1894, p. 49, B.303/d/246.)

To Roderick McPherson. . . .27 hours work plastering and patching in the west end of dwelling. (HBCA, Accounts, 27 June 1894, p. 136, B.303/d/246.)

R. Moncrieff had to be paid part of what is due him on his contract for work done on the Big House occupied by the Commissioner. Several days ago the Commissioner handed me the papers re. this work instructing me to settle it . . . . the full amount of Moncrieff's contract is $267. Extras allowed by architect $25.50 and he claims $8 more. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Clarke, 21 July 1894, p. 254, B.303/b/9.)

I beg to enclose Requisition number 31 for wallpaper required for the improvement of the dwelling house here 27-1/2 double rolls of wallpaper. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Clarke, 21 August 1894, p. 279, B.303/b/9.)

Enclose requisition No. 50 . . . . The carpet and curtain fixtures are for myself and I wrote to Mr. Hall on Monday and asked him to send the twenty yards carpet. [It] is for a border around the rug in the sitting room.

20 yds. tapestry carpet .50.
2/3 doz. fixtures to pull down blinds
2/3 doz. fixtures to hold back curtains
(HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Clarke, 24 October 1894, p. 476, B.303/b/11.)

Credit William Donald — Drawing 34 loads of earth and gravel for banking around house and shop. (HBCA, Accounts, 27 October 1894, p. 214, B.303/d/246.)

Paid James McCorrister for work taking down porches and fixing doors etc. [probably storm porches]. (HBCA, Accounts, 3 April 1895, p. 365, B.303/d/246.)

Expenses, Tree planting:
Paid John T. Clarke for planting 6 spruce trees on lawn and furnishing the trees.

John T. Clarke: for 21 spruce trees and planting them in lawn. (HBCA, Accounts, 23 April 1895, pp. 384, 389, B.303/d/246.)

7 lbs. yellow ochre; 1/2 gall. Bd. oil; 1/2 gall. spirits of turpentine. (HBCA, Accounts, 14 June 1895, p. 12, B.303/d/254.)

Paid James McCorrister for making shelves in east window. (HBCA, Accounts, 31 July 1895, p. 56, B.303/d/254.)

Pd. J. Hourston for cleaning and fitting stove pipes, cleaning chimneys to 2 days. (HBCA, Accounts, 23 October 1895, p. 144, B.303/d/254.)

Paid James McCorrister for making wood box and for fitting double windows, 2-1/2 days. (HBCA, Accounts, 30 November 1895, p. 192, B.303/d/254.)

I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 17th instant, from Victoria, on this subject, and in reply to state that the work is now being performed according to your instructions, and with due regard to economy and despatch. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Chipman, 25 April 1896, p. 31, B.303/b/14.)

Repairs and Improvements: On commissioners residence, Pd. James McCorrister for 3-1/2 days painting etc. (HBCA, Accounts, 21 May 1896, p. 63, B.303/d/258b.)

Repairs and Improvements: Pd. W. Lyons for 1/2 load sand to make mortar for patching, plastering residence. (HBCA, Accounts, 26 May 1896, p. 67, B.303/d/258b.)

Repairs and Improvements: Commissioner's Residence 2 prs. butt hinges . . . 2 tins red paint, 2 tins black paint, 1 tin green paint, 3 tins grey paint, 10 tins grey paint, 1 tin green paint, 35 lbs. yellow ochre. (HBCA, Accounts, 30 May 1896, p. 71, B.303/d/258b.)

Repairs and Improvements: Making lattice work on verandah. Pd. Jas. McCorrister 6-1/2 days. (HBCA, Accounts, 20 June 1896, p. 96, B.303/d/258b.)

General Charges: Commissioner's residence

4 Sept. Paid Hooker and Company for lumber for eavestroughing — Paid Hooker and Company for lumber for seat in water closet. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, 7 November 1896, p. 131, B.303/b/16.)

Repairs and Improvements: Paid James McCorrister, for repairing and fitting double windows on Commissioner's house, dwelling house, office and shop. (HBCA, Accounts, 13 November 1896, p. 251, B.303/d/258b.)

I beg to acknowledge the receipt this date of your letter of the 11th instant with reference to the necessary repairs to be made on your residence and in reply to state that the work is already begun. I had put a careful man to work at whitewashing the little kitchen and the ceilings of the three rooms. The kitchen is done ceiling and walls; and the ceilings of the three rooms will be finished tomorrow and cracks repaired near the chimney in the school room.

The alabastine will be put on the three rooms as soon as possible, but if we had a better kalsomine brush than those that we have, a better job could be made of the walls.

We have not yet received the paint for the verandah, but there should be no difficulty in mixing it thoroughly here, and putting it on a uniform color. The verandah both ends and front contains about 107 square yards, and the front alone, about 70 square yards, with the dimensions a painter would know how much paint would be wanted for the work intended to be done.

In the garden we have sown peas, beans, tomatoes, onions, turnips, parsnips, beets, carrots two kinds, lettuce two kinds, and planted 150 cabbage plants and 24 cauliflower plants, and some potatoes. Any other plants that may be required could probably be had at the Selkirk greenhouses. We are careful to leave the plants covered at night when there are indications of low temperature.

I will see that all the outhouses be put in proper order with the least possible delay.

The north kitchen porch is falling more away from the house on account of the foundation being rotten, and crumbling down. I intended to have it raised, and a new foundation placed under it, as we have timber here suitable for that purpose. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Chipman, 13 May 1897, pp. 183-4, B.303/b/14.)

Improvement: Painting verandah etc.
3-1/4 tins pearl grey paint

1/2 tin brown paint; 1-1/2 gal. paint oil; 1/2 gal. turpentine. (HBCA, Accounts, 28 May 1897, p. 390, B.303/d/258b.)

Pd. J. Clouston
repairs on eavestroughing; repairs on range; putting pipes in rain barrels, (HBCA, Accounts, 29 May 1897, p. 391, B.303/d/258b.)

Pd. James McCorrister, Kalsomining Commissioners house 3-1/2 days, (HBCA, Accounts, 31 May 1897, p. 392, B.303/d/258b.)

Pd. James McCorrister, 10-1/2 days last May kalsomining and finishing lower rooms in Commissioners house. (HBCA, Accounts, 2 July 1897, p. 51, B.303/d/272.)

To Roderick McPherson
Kalsomining Commissioners house 40 hours. (HBCA, Accounts, August 1897, p. 141, B.303/d/259.)

Lower Fort Garry Improvements:
Banking around the Commissioner's residence under verandah and bank around shop all with gravel. (HBCA, Accounts, 28 October 1897, p. 120, B.303/d/263.)

Painting shutters and doors etc. (HBCA, Accounts, 30 October 1897, p. 121, B.303/d/263.)

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th instant, in which you are pleased to impart the good news of your family's arrival here about the middle of May. May they have a good voyage. In reply I beg to say that the garden will be attended to at once, and flowers put in as desired. The lawn has all been rolled up, and appears to have been improved by the top dressing of last fall. [wants authority] . . . to repair or renew the foundation of the verandah. We could have it finished before your family arrive, and would not be the cause of any inconvenience to them. Last fall we had gravel filled in under the verandah in all the hollows; and up against the basement sloping outward and last month we had the snow all shovelled about eight feet back and no water got into the basement this spring. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Chipman, 20 April 1898, p. 270, B.303/b/14.)

One bu. lime; whitewashing lattice on verandah. (HBCA, Accounts, 19 May 1898, p. 271, B.303/d/263.)

To H. M. Johnston — fitting key for commissioner's house. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, 9 June 1898, p. 422, B.303/b/16.)

Jas. Clarke — placing hitching posts. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, 27 July 1898, p. 422, B.303/b/16.)

H. M. Johnston — bolts and rings for hitching posts. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, 6 August 1898, p. 422, B.303/b/16.)

James McCorrister, repairing roof of commissioner's house. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, 9 August 1898, p. 422, B.303/b/16.)

Flooring and dividing large room in official residence at Lower Fort Garry.

I beg to enclose rough sketch of the proposed subdivision of the large room upstairs in the official residence and also an approximate estimate of the cost of the work, $165.00. The most delay will be in adjusting the beams on the old uneven floor, but I think that the two men now here should be able to finish the work in ten days. Arrangements are made to have the lathing and plastering done as soon as the partition frames are up. Had we not better adhere to the dotted line in room no. 3 on account of the necessary lighting? Kindly mention any alteration you may choose to make and the work will be done as you direct. I will go to Selkirk today and will be at the telephone at 4. p.m. to receive any instructions you may have to give in connection with the work. [In comparing the floor plan attached to the above letter with the division of the second floor during the Motor Country Club period, it appears quite evident that Stanger was referring to the area in the south end of the upstairs of the main house. The alterations were carried out as he proposed with only minor variations.] (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Chipman, 4 June 1900, pp. 533-6, B.303/b/16.)

Rodk. McPherson, Plastering rooms in south end of Commissioner's residence. Patching old plaster. (HBCA, Accounts, 18 June 1900, p. 89, B.303/d/278.)

I will have the glass and crockery unpacked and put in the kitchen. I had all the windows closed when the rain began, and will have fires put on daily until you arrive.

I went to examine the house this morning and found that upstairs, at the chimneys, some wet had got in, with the exception of small wet spot in one or two places the whole upstairs is dry. There is one small wet spot at chimney in room off dining room at wall. The new rooms are now about dry, that is the paint. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Chipman, 7 July 1900, p. 561, B.303/b/16.)

Colin McKenzie
Laying14 1/5shingles

42 1/4days painting

16 1/4days at commissioner's house

Rodk. McKenzie
Laying14 1/8shingles

27 1/4days painting etc.

14 1/4days at commissioner's house

(HBCA, Accounts, November 1900, p. 107, B.303/d/272.)

Structure: 1901-11

Between 1901 and 1911, when the Hudson's Bay Company closed down its operations at Lower Fort Garry, the Big House continued to receive maintenance repairs. The veranda required frequent attention and on the interior of the house, kalsomining, painting and papering were undertaken almost annually.

In 1910, J. Braidwood, a Company inspector, made an extensive examination of all the buildings at the lower fort. From his report it was evident that quite elaborate repairs to the house would have to be undertaken. The building had settled significantly. The summer kitchen at the north end of the house would have to be replaced, the veranda rebuilt, the house braced, the chimneys cut off at the level of the roof, and the old nagging problem of inadequate drainage solved. Braidwood also recommended that inside plumbing be installed and that a dormer should be constructed above the stairs in the annex to supply more light and room at the top of the stairs. Many of the floors throughout both the house and the annex would have to be replaced.

It is unknown how many or when the repairs recommended by Braidwood were actually carried out. Some at least appear to have been undertaken. Mrs. Sequin (née Stanger), who lived in the house at the time, mentioned that a great deal of money was spent on repairs immediately before the fort closed in 1911. The dormer over the stairs in the annex was installed at this time, and many of the floors throughout the house possibly received an additional layer of flooring. Inside plumbing may also have been introduced.

Documentation: 1901-11

We will have the walks rolled, as directed and the roller forwarded to Winnipeg on Tuesday. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Chipman, 12 April 1901, p. 742, B.303/b/16.)

The man sent here nearly finished the papering and painting and was to have commenced the kalsomining and painting in your house this week, but he has not returned from Winnipeg since that day. He appears to be a very competent workman, and would make a good job of the rooms in the south end.

The shingling has been commenced, and should be finished in about two weeks. That part between the houses that caused so much inconvenience by leaking has been repaired and did not leak any during the heavy rain today. (HBCA, Lower Fort Garry, Copy Books of Letters, Stanger to Chipman, 4 June 1901, p. 40, B.303/b/17.)

Hauling stones and placing them.
(HBCA, Accounts, 31 July 1901, p. 137, B.303/d/278.)

Expenses of E. Ward painting at Commissioners residence. (HBCA, Accounts, 31 August 1902, p. 186, B.303/d/278.)

To J. McCorrister
18 days at verandah raising, repairing and painting
2 trips to Selkirk for verandah lumber
1 trip to St. Andrews for scaffolding.
(HBCA, Accounts, August 1903, p. 151, B.303/d/272.)

To Mr. Colin McKenzie for 1-1/2 days painting at 2.75 day at verandah. (HBCA, Accounts, 1903, p. 150, B.303/d/272.)

Repairs on Commissioner's House and grounds
Jas. McCorrister kalsomining 8 days 16.00
H. G. Birston repairing fence 8 days
(HBCA, Accounts, 31 May 1904, p. 262, B.303/d/278.)

[There are no extensive repairs mentioned in the accounts for the years 1905-11.]

The buildings at Lower Fort Garry have for some years required sundry annual repairs and their condition is now such that a special examination has been made, and submitted herewith is report on the several repairs and improvements necessary to make the buildings mentioned wind and watertight and to render them safe and efficient ....


This building is in a dilapidated condition and although small repairs have been made from time to time, the walls have so settled and the supports decayed to such an extent that, repairs are necessary for the protection of the property now rapidly increasing in value.

The cellars were examined and the various supports to be renewed and strengthened noted. The flooring in the main floor is completely worn and has settled with the building and the giving way of several supports. The flooring will require to be lifted when new supports are being placed in position and a new floor laid down in its place properly levelled.

There is a small lean-to on the North side of the main building which is in such disrepair as to be useless. It is recommended that this be torn down and a serviceable frame structure 16 x 20 put up in its place. The verandah which has been temporarily repaired annually requires to be re-built with the exception of the roof. The flooring, supports and pillars are worn and rotted, the whole structure being unsafe.

Two strong iron braces to run the full length of the building are required to strengthen the structure.

The causes of the settling of the walls of this building are:—

1. The weight caused by two heavy stone chimneys not in use which will require to be removed.

2. Inflow of water to the cellars without any means of draining it off, leaving the soil on which the foundations rest in such a moist condition as to cause the wall to settle. This is most apparent at the end where the rain water runs from the roof with no means of carrying it away.

The repairs to the supports, flooring etc. would not be fully efficient unless means are taken to drain off water and so prevent further settling of the walls.

To do this it is recommended that a drain be laid from the cellar to the river and that a large tank be placed in the cellar to receive all the water coming from the roof with an overflow pipe connected with the drain.


[Annex plus one room]

The flooring in two of the rooms requires to be relaid as the present ones are worn out.

To give more light and room at the head of the stairway, it is recommended that a small window be conveniently placed in the roof.

With the drain proposed in operation it will be well to install a pump in the kitchen of the manager's House, connected with a cellar cistern.

Following herewith is a detailed list of repairs and improvements required giving an estimate of cost of same.


Repair, Plaster and Tint walls — $12.

Repair and level joists, relay with new B.C. fir 1 x 4, flooring the front and back hall, Dining & Bedroom adjoining, Schoolroom, kitchen and Servants Dining Room — $328.

Renew Verandah from roof down, including Posts, floor and supports from end to end but not to touch roof or shingles, Floors and Posts painted —$291.

Remove old lean-to and shed outside present kitchen, and build new summer kitchen 16 x 20 8 to 12, lean-to roof, frame built shiplap and siding on Cedar posts, shingle roof, plaster inside new walls, metallic ceiling painted — $435.40

Remove two chimneys level with roof, repair shingles — $50.

Excavate below frost line and lay 8 inch sewer pipe from house to 10 feet in river — $500.

Install W.C. in back room, sink in kitchen, sink upstairs, pipes and fittings — $250.
one only pump to kitchen sink — $20.

Erect three only galvanized iron cisterns with covers and manholes, taps and overflow to drain — $350.

Install one only W.C., one only sink, force Pump, pipes, lead or copper lined cistern in roof, and overflow waste pipes etc. — $230.

Relay floor of kitchen and large bedroom upstairs, new sash, bedroom and kitchen, Dormer window head of staircase — $97.50

(HBCA, Stores Correspondence, Case No. 5, Lower Fort Garry, 1910, Report of J. Braidwood, 14 January 1910, 518/1.)

Structure: 1913-51

In 1913, the Motor Country Club of Winnipeg leased the fort and grounds of Lower Fort Garry from the Hudson's Bay Company. The Big House was used as the clubhouse and as such accommodated the bar, dining room, some changing rooms and staff quarters.

Many changes were made to the structure in the 50 years of occupation. A new veranda, wider and more substantial than the original, was added to the front and south end of the building, and at the north end a new kitchen was constructed. A rear veranda was added connecting the link with the rear entrance to the building. Inside, plumbing fixtures and bathrooms were installed to give an increased capacity to accommodate the club. A number of other changes were made to make the house more suitable for the club's activities.

The building was beginning to suffer badly from old age. The repairs carried out in annual maintenance became more and more frequent. The problem of settling, especially in the southwest corner, required constant attention. The auxiliary posts in the basement were changed and supplemented. New floors were laid over the old and the roof was reshingled. The plaster on the main floor was patched frequently. The alterations of the Motor Country Club were numerous; but it is to the club's credit that it maintained the building in a reasonably good condition at a time when old age was bringing rapid decline.

Documentation: 1913-51

Lean-to (link between the two main buildings). We intend replacing and extending it to cover the rear entrance of the club building floor in Mr. Mitchell's part [annex] is so uneven we intend laying a hardwood floor on top of the present one. (HBC Land Department Files, Winnipeg, 4 April 1914. All documentation in this section is from the source given above, save one, which will be noted. Only the date will be given.)

Company consents to building of new verandah. (9 May 1917.)

— To put up new verandah

— paint tables, chairs, sash, back verandah

— repairing wall paper

— shelving in kitchen

— repairing doors, refitting screens. (31 May 1917.)

— roof leaking so that the water has softened ground under foundations at the rear of the sitting room, next to entry between sitting room and ball room.

— floor uneven. (12 October 1920.)

— ground floor west and north elevations of the proposed new kitchen and verandah extension approved.

— Approval given for the removal of the wooden partition between the two small dining rooms off the present main dining room on the understanding that the removal of this partition will not take away any necessary support to the ceiling. (14 March 1923.)

— repairs required to the stairs and floor

— one door in the wall is not required and a couple of windows together with this door can advantageously be boarded up and closed. (15 May 1925.)

Big House: rapid settling of the walls between the sitting room and ball room of the club house in that some of the cracks in the walls are opening quickly. (15 July 1925.)

Big House inspected: the following repairs are necessary

— replace seven footings and install seven supporting wooden posts and necessary sill above to support the ground floor

— repair lath and plaster after above

— examine curved floor at foot of basement stairs — bulged

— repair floor where necessary in pantry and dining room

— repair leaks in roof. (8 July 1927.)

Andrews and son — building contractors to do following:

1) remove three beams 8" x 8" x 16' and 7 posts 8" x 8" x 7' and replace with B.C. fir timber same to be set on concrete footings.

2) replace all lath and plaster broken when beams are removed — also repair two patches now broken.

3) repair dormers etc.

4) remove raised floor at foot of basement stair and install solid concrete floor. (15 July 1927.)

small fire in the sitting room caused igniting of some wood trimming around the concrete hearth. M.C.C. to install an electric fireplace. (10 July 1928.)

Fireplace in the ball room has pushed away from the waIl. (28 August 1930.)

1931 Estimate for repairs.

— water seeping into basement from a south west direction.

— result has caused a bad settlement

— the posts supporting the building where this settlement is taking place show bad signs of dry rot

— dig trench and lay weeping tile

— rebuild areas on south side and fill in all defects of wall and stucco around windows

— interior of the basement at the foot of the stairway

— Dig out and underpin the left hand side of doorway and fill in with concrete

— door on ground floor leading to hall leading to dance floor: jack up and straighten head and jack up and straighten the stairway below it.

— rear of bar room: fill in holes level off accumulation of loose earth

— Dig out the wooden posts which carry the beams and put in cement footings.

— build up the window now falling out

— open up areas at points detailed and place wood gratings under porch

— erect posts and beams in basement independent of structure and install new joists where necessary.

— rear of bar room: ventilate, level earth, and cut down posts and place proper sill under.

The club opened up the fireplaces at the right and left of the basement stairs which will greatly improve the ventilation . . . . In the right hand room a tyndall stone floor has been laid making this room available for afternoon teas and light lunches (has not done anything about the W. Wall) . . . . The club has also with your consent hung the penitentiary door on the opening leading from the basement corridor to the right hand room referred to. (6 April 1931.)

4) install two areaways and windows as specified.

5) remove garden service pipe and provide ventilation from under verandah into the building.

6) install extra joists supported by auxiliary posts and beams. (11 July 1931.)

main building basement some earth piled in the west room and this accumulation of earth will tend to rot the posts at the base. M.C.C. The piling of the earth in the west room of the main building basement — when work of improving the basement room to the right at the foot of the stairs was done last spring the earth was to be removed. M.C.C. says that the earth was there before the club took possession. (16 June 1931.)

The light fixtures which hung in the Big House during the occupancy of the M.C.C. were actually made from two in the historical exhibit of the H.B.C. (4 April 1931.)

The roof to be reshingled with cedar shingles. (6 April 1931.)

In the main entrance hall is an old oil lamp of the weighted pulley type. It was located by accident in a stable loft at Little Britain where it had been stored for many years by Alfred Franks, a former employee of the Hudson's Bay Company. (The Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 16 May 1931, Magazine section.)

— front verandah settling badly

— usual sinking of the wall around the doorway between the lounge room and the ballroom. (1 June 1935.)

Inspection of the house by Chivers:

South west corner settling in the wall by the doorway to the lounge.

— recommends boring into ground with an auger to depth of 6' and filling with concrete. On top of this foundation place 4" x 6" oak posts and then on top of these posts over the bar doorway 4 x 6 beam on the interior, the purpose of this being to carry the load of the cross beams supporting the ground floor. These cross beams project into the wall and he considers that the transferring of loads on these beams to the new foundations will prevent further settlement. (12 October 1935.)

West wall repairs do not seem to be standing up — cracks appearing. (15 June 1936.)

laying of water pipes from Club House to laundry. (13 March 1936.)

roof poor — should be reshingled. (3 July 1940.)

reshingling of the Big House/ south and east sides of roof. (August 1942.)

Club laid asphalt walk from Big House to circular driveway (east). (16 May 1947.)

Bad settlement in N.W. Corner of the kitchen in Big House — the cedar piles rotted out. (16 June 1947.)

Moody & Moore arrive with John Miller & Son to install a series of concrete surface footings under the internal beams and also at the exterior walls. Jack floor, level same, install new wood posts from the existing beam system to the new concrete footings, will also be advised to ensure even support of kitchen area. (16 July 1948.)

New showers etc. installed; new men's wash room; new golfers dressing room. (31 March 1948.)

Rear verandah slipping away from the Big House. (1 June 1948.)

new kitchen foundation. (28 November 1949.)

various repairs to north kitchen wing and to the rear verandah. (1950.)

Structure: 1951-65

When the lower fort was given to the federal government in 1951, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development undertook annual maintenance although the Motor Country Club continued to lease the fort grounds and buildings. Apart from the frequent repairs which were made necessary by the old age of the house, the department carried out two rather extensive and destructive alterations. In the basement, the existing floors, which do not appear to have been original, were removed, some earth excavated and a concrete slab poured. Unfortunately, this removed any evidence which may have survived of earlier flooring. During the restoration of the house, Mr. Paul Rudko, the contractor who undertook the repairs, was interviewed and as much information as he could recall was collected and used in designing the floors in the restoration. The department also replaced the flooring in the west half of the first floor of the main house, installing new joists at the same time. This also removed valuable information which would have been used in the restoration. Mr. Rudko, who also carried out this work, could remember little concerning the original markings. The replacement floor and joists were retained in the restoration for the joists were hidden from view by the board ceiling in the basement and the flooring at ground level.

Documentation: 1951 to Restoration

Replaced boxed-in steps at the south east corner of the residence and painted steps, repaired main steps, installed two hand rails and painted them, repaired pillars under main verandah patched and plastered walls at the bottom of basement stairway, repaired and relined coal shute, repaired doors, replaced lights in windows, repaired hand rails and stairs to basement, repaired walls in beverage room, put two beams in main well, painted eavestroughing and conductor pipes at rear of building. (Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, National Parks Correspondence Files, 7 October 1954.)

Proposed for the fiscal year 1957-8

1) A concrete floor in the basement of the clubhouse building. It is considered that the floor should cover the entire area within the foundation walls of the building with the possible exception of the tavern room. This room is excepted on the provision that the floor of this area is in reasonably good shape. The floor should be placed at an elevation to provide normal head room. It is considered that the foundation walls are to a depth in excess of the proposed floor slab. If not, the possibility of underpinning these walls should be examined and estimated. A sump pump is required. (Ibid., 20 July 1956.)

Proposed for the estimates 1957-8

1) Concrete floor in basement of the Factor's residence of clubhouse building. We have measured the entire area within the foundation walls with the exception of the tavern rooms which only require minor repair work in two small spots. Placing a 5" concrete slab will require 25 yds. of floor slab, and weeping tile around the two main sections for drainage to a sump pit or the present sewage system. To provide head room of 6' it will be necessary to excavate to a depth of 12" to 15" over the full area. This will be the expensive part of the work as there is only one small window from which the earth can be removed from the basement and the earth will have to be handled three times and hauled away and dumped outside the Fort. The foundation walls are below the floor slab and in my opinion it will not be necessary to consider underpinning the walls. I estimate that with 5" concrete slab it will require 25 yds. concrete, 25 yds. crushed stone or gravel 5" thick, 300 lineal feet 4" weeping tile, earth excavation 12" to 15" and I estimate it will cost $1400.00 to do this work. (Ibid., 28 July 1956.)

Wilkin's Report, 19 December 1956
Factor's Residence

This building has a long history of alterations and additions.. . . Generally speaking the building is in good structural condition apart from the west wing which is not so good, although there is quite a lot of work required to be done to keep water out of various places.

West Verandah. Entering the building on the west side there is a small verandah built with a timber floor and glazed walls. The floor has settled through a supporting beams having rotted through exposure to damp, work is in hand repairing the beam and posts under this verandah using treated lumber. The beams should be boxed in from the outside and the path sloped away from the building to keep the water out.

Verandah. The basement stairs which lead from this verandah are not straight having settled a little bit with the main stone wall of the house at this place. The timber floor of the small lobby at the bottom of the stairs also slopes because of this settlement, but this is not uncommon in buildings such as this, and I do not think that anything need be done about it. The only thing that can be done about the wall is to excavate down to the footings in order to inspect their soundness and decide whether they require underpinning.

The room to the right from the lobby is a bar which has a stone floor. There are three small windows in this room which let in a lot of water in spring. The water drains across the stone floor out into the lobby where it goes underneath the wooden floor then across into the other bar on the other side of the lobby and under the wood floor in this room as well. The water amounts to several inches each year, the caretaker's remedy, so he tells me, is to take up a few floor boards in the bar, dig out a pit in the dirt sub-floor and put in a sump pump to get rid of the water. This is hardly a satisfactory arrangement, and first of all the water should be prevented from getting into the basement, then the underside of the timber floors ought to be inspected to see what condition they are in after this sort of treatment over a number of years. Whatever their condition, the safest thing to do would be to replace timber floors with stone flags to avoid future maintenance cost due to rising damp — stone being suggested in preference to concrete for its better appearance (and in preference to timber in order to save a good deal of excavation).

The water gets in round the window frames as the concrete light wells outside the building below grade are not properly drained nor are the floors of the wells far enough below the level of the window sills. Therefore the floors of the wells should be lowered and small pipes put into each of them to drain the water away to a soak pit.

The stone walls and stone flag floor in the room to the right of the lobby are all in good condition.

Where the ends of the wood ground floor joists in this room are built into the outside walls there are signs of rotting with consequent loss in strength through damp penetrating the wall and soaking into the timbers. This problem is encountered in quite a number of the buildings in the Fort and is quite serious. Eventually the ends of the joists will rot away until finally the joist will fail. As in most cases the joists are of very heavy timbers (in this room they are 6" x 8" oak) and the deterioration is very slow the life of the floors is comparatively long — these joists have been in position now for about 120 years and will last for a good many years to come, but the condition does exist and if possible some way of keeping the joists dry should be found. At the moment I know of no way in which this can be done but I hope to find an answer after making some enquiries.

The coal cellar is situated behind the fireplace being partitioned off from the rest of the room. It is in a very rough condition as is the adjacent space under the verandah and the rubbish needs to be cleaned out, the main partition requires re-fixing and re-plastering, and the floors cementing.

The second bar on the other side of the lobby has a timber floor which should be opened up and inspected for soundness. No water actually enters through the windows in this room as they are all under the verandah. No repair work is required in this room apart from filling some small cracks in the stone fireplace. The wood joists in the floor above show no signs of rot.

The rest of the basement space is entered from this bar, and is divided lengthways down the centre by a stone wall, the right hand side is further divided by wood partitions into small rooms. The first two are used as locker rooms, have a concrete floor. Walls (as far as may be seen) and ceiling timbers are in good condition. The remainder of the basement, except a small area on which the water tanks stand, has a dirt floor which is susceptible to rising damp causing deterioration to the woodwork. All of this area requires a new concrete floor laid on gravel after sufficient excavation has been made to allow a reasonable head room over the new floor. A sump pump is required and should be located close to the water tanks with the discharge led to a soakaway south of the building.

The stone walls throughout this part of the basement are in good condition requiring no repair work at present. The joists in the ground floor exposed in the basement on both sides of the centre wall have been affected by the damp and the outer wood is rotted. This should be scraped off until sound wood is reached and should then be treated with wood preservative. Where the joist has rotted too far it should be taken out and replaced.

The wood lintels over the two windows in the right hand side of the basement are in bad condition and should be replaced.

Even when the concrete floor is laid in this section there will still be damp from the condensation on the water tanks and pipe runs, so I think it would be advisable to install a small mechanical ventilator to provide a continuous movement of air. Alternatively a small heating unit could be installed but this would mean that the space could not be used as a cold store as it is at the moment and ventilation is still required, otherwise ideal conditions for dry rot are created — (there are no signs of dry rot in the Fort at the moment).

The left hand side of the basement is used as a gardeners store for bulbs, plants and for vegetables. The lintel of one of the two windows in bad condition and needs replacing. Three of the timber posts have rotted and need replacement.

At one end of the room there is the stone base of an old oven which can be taken out.

There is a sump in this part which drains across the basement and into the drainage system. This should be left in when the concrete floor is laid.

Ground Floor. The ground floor of the building houses the main rooms of the Country Club which have been kept in good state of repair and decoration so that little work is required.

The verandah extends the full length of the building on the south side and about half way along the west side. Structurally it is quite sound, all the timber in floors, walls being in good condition with no signs of rot or leaking. The roof has two rafters which failed last winter with an exceptional snow load. They have been repaired with a plywood splice but should be replaced. The roof rafters are 6" x 2" at 20 inch centres and they have a clear span of 12 ft. 6 inches. They are therefore too small to take a normal roof loading and should be strengthened. This can be done by introducing a purlin at mid span supporting it with braces every 10 feet.

The appearance of the verandah has altered radically since the time it was built, it originally having no glazing to the walls, the doors were different and space beneath the floor was open.

The door from the verandah to the main building leads into a small lobby. The floor of which slopes but is not loose. This has been caused by settlement to the same stone wall which caused the basement stairs to dip to one side. The floor cannot be inspected from the under side as a plaster board ceiling has been built in the basement. Part of this should be opened up for a closer inspection. The amount of settlement in the doorway into the dining room has been rather exaggerated, it is the lintel in this case which has sagged rather than the floor. It could be repaired by putting in a new lintel but I imagine it is being left as a feature.

The only work required in the big room on the ground floor of the north wing is to take down the fireplace brick work, rebuild, plaster and paint it.

The corner fireplace in the room in the south side is a dreadful thing of plaster and stone which could well be taken out and something more in the style of the other fireplaces built.

The doorframe on the doorway between the main hall and the small lobby on the west side needs re-fixing.

The living quarters and kitchens, the latter built in 1922, require no maintenance work at the present time.

There are two old wood stoves in good condition in this part of the building which are not in use and which could be put either in the museum or the restored fur store. One of them is built into a position between two bedrooms, half of the stove in each room, the other is standing on the verandah.

Second Floor. The second floor of the main building is divided into bedrooms occupied in the summer by the female staff. There are nine rooms and a suite of bathrooms and lavatories. Repair work is confined to small plaster patches and cracks in most of the rooms, and a general check on all the roof flashings round chimneys and dormers as there are signs of leaks in these places, the only bad leak being through the stonework of the chimney into the bathroom where the plaster is bad, and one bedroom. The flashings will probably need renewing and the chimney capping made good with cement mortar.

The provision of fire escape is not good and I doubt if it conforms to the by-laws. There is one escape rope from a dormer window on the north side in addition to the central staircase; the other dormers open above the sloping roof of the verandah but this can hardly be classed as an escape exit.

The main roof timbers and shingle covering are in sound condition.

The north wing of the building houses the male staff on the first floor with an entrance into a small lobby from the outside on the ground floor. This part of the building is not in good condition and the floor in the small entrance should be taken up and re-laid as it slopes badly and is loose in places. The staircase also slopes dangerously and should be taken out and re-built completely. When the new staircase is designed, more space should be given to it if possible as the present one is far too steep. The plaster work is in poor condition and most of it will have to be taken off and re-done.

The upper floor of the wing containing three bedrooms and bathroom is just as bad and there is plenty of work to be done.

The floor on the landing and corridor need to be opened up and the joists either levelled and re-fixed or replaced. The floors in the rooms are sound.

Damp is entering down the stonework of the chimney which probably needs re-capping and re-flashing, and the plaster on the chimney should be taken off and re-done. Plaster patching in the rooms is required and the dormer roof and sill flashings should be checked.

The ceilings and walls (which are wood panelled) are quite sound.

The remarks about fire escape apply to this part of the building as there is only a rope secured to a roof member and led out of a dormer window as a secondary means of exit.

The oil stove in one of the bedrooms with its flue going into the stone chimney looks quite a fire hazard and the walls and ceiling near to it should be lined with asbestos board.

The electric wiring should be examined by an electrician as it looks dangerous to me and a new installation is probably required.

The roof space is inaccessible and cannot be examined without opening a section of the ceiling.

Exterior. The outside of the factor's residence present an attractive and well kept appearance. The paint work and stucco is well maintained and the roof coverings are in good condition.

The main part of the building has solid limestone walls which were not stuccoed originally. The walls of the west wing are constructed with timber posts and beams with stone infilling similar to the R.N.W.M.P. building. The kitchen addition on the north side is of timber frame construction. One patch of stucco on the north wall near the kitchen door is loose and should be hacked back to a firm edge and re-stuccoed.

The west wing has too much ivy growing on it, quite a lot of which could be cut down to prevent it damaging the stucco or roof shingles.

There were no dormer windows in the original buildings, the upper floors being lit by sky-lights.

Excavation work has started in the basement of the Factor's residence and . . . I suggest that after excavation has been completed we place a 5" subfloor of gravel with weeping tile placed around the walls of the two basement sections with a catchbasin in the east section and two catchbasins in the west section leading to the existing sewer in the south end of the west section of the basement and then the placing of 5 concrete floor over the full area. (Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, National Parks Correspondence Files, 25 February 1957.)

Big House: north wing

— ground floor, take up floor and relay

— build in new staircase

— 1st floor — replace landing joists and boards, flashing and capping to chimney and dormers

— replaster throughout as necessary

— discussion later of failing beams. (Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, National Parks Correspondence Files, 1958-9, Proposed Estimates.)

— replacement of six main floor beams

— replacement of floor in basement of Factor's residence and repairs to the main floor. (Ibid., 1958-59, Repairs done in Big House.)

Examination of the work proposed on the floor of the basement bar room in the Factor's Residence shows this floor to have been supported on now decayed wooden sills on wet earth with no chance of ventilation. We have been thinking of replacing the floor as it was and using treated sills but I now suggest it would be better to pour a concrete slab on a gravel base. The concrete slab would have to be covered with a wooden floor for the sake of authenticity but drainage can be provided in the gravel base and this type of construction would be more permanent and satisfactory. There has been flooding in this area by surface water in the spring and we propose to do some work to tighten up and drain window wells to help prevent this. (Ibid., 10 March 1959.)

Specification for the replacement of the floor in the Bar room. Removing present rotted flooring and floor joists, doing necessary excavation work, placing 3" layer gravel under 6" concrete slab, placing 2" x 3" sleeper imbedded in concrete so that the new floor can be nailed to them. Supplying all labour and materials with the exception 1 x 4" fir flooring which has already been purchased and would be used. Laying new floor staining and oiling, placing drainage tile, catch basin and sump connected to main sewage system.

Hall: supply all labour and materials purchase of additional 1 x 4" fir flooring and other materials required completed similar to above and disposal of rotted materials from basement. (Ibid., 1 April 1959.)

Renewal of the floor 1st floor, west side: specification

— Supplying all materials and labour for repair work to west half of the main floor of the Factor's residence including removal and replacement of existing floors with new 6 x 8" floor beams spaced 4' centres subfloor 2 x 6" tongue and groove fir and 1 x 4" flooring. Floor to be levelled and floor beams imbedded 10" in west and centre main masonry walls. Partition walls on main floor to be fitted to new floor. Any damage . . . responsibility of contractor. (Ibid., 7 October 1959.)

Replacement of main floor west side:

Completed: the major repair job of replacing the main floor in the west half of the Factor's residence. This floor was completely removed and new floor beams sub-flooring and flooring put in. The main floor and floor beams had rotted and sloped six inches to the west main wall, the levelling of the floor necessitated the changing of the wash basins and toilets in the Ladies wash room, plumbing in the kitchen and new electrical outlets in the rooms. This was rather a ticklish job as the partition walls in the various rooms had to be supported when the main floor and supports were completely removed, however, all work was completed with a minimum of disturbance. (Ibid., 11 January 1960.)

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