UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Red River architecture, 1812-1870 Wade, Jill


The thesis is concerned with the architecture of the Red River Settlement between 1812 when the Selkirk settlers first arrived at Red River and 1870 when the province of Manitoba entered Confederation. Its objectives are (i) to establish the stylistic influences on Red River architecture and (ii) to examine the place of that architecture in the Red River environment. Research consisted of field work and examination of written and pictorial material. Almost all the extant buildings were visited, photographed, and, in some instances, measured. Primary and secondary source materials relating to the history and the architectural history of the Red River Settlement were used, and original and reproduced pictorial material was examined. It has been concluded that the common log construction in the Red River Settlement was the Hudson's Bay style, also known as the Red River frame, the "poteaux sur sole", and "pièce sur pièce". The Hudson's Bay style was used in the trade of the North West Company and later the Hudson's Bay Company, and it was adopted by the first settlers at Red River from the fur traders who preceded them in the area. It was used in houses and churches, as well as outbuildings, stores, and schools. It became outmoded after 1870 when different log construction methods, architectural styles, and building materials were introduced by settlers from Ontario. It has also been concluded that the large stone and wood houses of the Red River Settlement were built in an architectural style associated with the Hudson's Bay Company. The style originated in the Anglo-Norman buildings of French Canada and in the laird's house of eighteenth century Scotland. At Red River, it was adopted for the homes of the natural aristocracy of the settlement from the fur trade buildings which were built at Upper Fort Garry and Lower Fort Garry after 1830. Church architecture in Red River was influenced by the contemporary architecture of French Canada and England. The Roman Catholic churches were built in the style of Thomas Baillairge, whereas the Anglican churches integrated Gothic Revival detail with the box-like form common to Red River buildings. The Presbyterian churches tended to follow the style of the Anglican churches with some minor adaptations. The primary influences on Red River architecture were thus British and French Canadian in origin. The Red River Settlement was essentially a riverside village. Its buildings stood in a row along the banks of the rivers. The linear arrangement was relieved by the winding rivers and punctuated by the different types of architecture, by the location of important buildings on the bends of the rivers, and by the concentration of buildings in the forts, missions and farm-yards.

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