Miss Davis' School Residence / Twin Oaks National Historic Site of Canada
Oakfield, St. Andrew’s Establishment for Young Ladies
Oakfield, Établissement pour jeunes filles de St. Andrew's
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Miss Davis' School Residence / Twin Oaks National Historic Site of Canada is located on one of the original river lots along River Road, approximately 10 kilometres north of the city of Winnipeg. Constructed sometime between 1853 and 1866, the former school is a large two-storey limestone structure on an extensive treed lot that was first settled as part of the earliest Red River’s Lower Settlement. The area retains its largely rural nature, despite some adjacent residential development. The designation refers to the building on its lot.
Miss Davis’ School Residence / Twin Oaks was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1962 because:
- it is a good example of a type of mid 19th-century Red River architecture.
Miss Davis’ School Residence / Twin Oaks was constructed by Duncan MacRae, a Scottish stonemason, who oversaw much of the stone construction in Red River. While the homes of several local families were built in this manner, developed by the Hudson’s Bay Company in forts and posts throughout North America, only a small number have survived along the Red River Corridor.
Responding to petitions for the education of their daughters from local families and Hudson’s Bay Company officers across Canada, the Anglican Church Missionary Society persuaded Miss Matilda Davis, the daughter of a Hudson’s Bay Company employee, who was educated in England, to open this school in conjunction with the mission of St. Andrews Anglican Church. Although some were day students, most of the girls boarded in the big house, where they received classes in French, music, drawing, dancing, needlework and deportment befitting young English ladies. Two log cabins on the property were also erected as classrooms, one of which is thought to survive on the property in a much-altered state as a garage with an office above.
The school, known as Oakfield, St. Andrew’s Establishment for Young Ladies, closed following the death of Miss Davis in 1873. It became a private residence, surviving with few changes until its new owners were obliged to undertake a restoration in 1935. Renamed Twin Oaks, the house had, in addition to major interior alterations, its stone walls repaired, a basement added, and the glazing of its ground-floor windows and front door transom altered. Twin Oaks, which underwent a second major restoration in the late 1990s, continues to serve as a private residence. The integrity of the exterior design of the limestone house is largely intact, with the original massing, form and design enduring from its earlier function as a school.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1962.
The key elements of the heritage value of this site include:
- its location on a river lot along the west bank of the Red River, the main transportation link of the early settlement;
- its vernacular design, developed by the Hudson’s Bay Company based on English country styles, for its construction of forts and posts across North America, but adapted here for local conditions and materials;
- the quality of its stonework, with its double stone wall construction of dressed local limestone with rubble fill between the walls;
- its rectangular plan, hipped roof, and symmetrical design of a five-bay façade with a central entrance;
- its medium-pitched hipped roof and gable-roofed dormers;
- its generous overall proportions with wide openings;
- its original mullions on the second-storey windows and original openings on the ground floor;
- its front door with a square-headed transom and sidelights;
- its original hand-made hardware on the ground floor windows and door;
- the surviving original interior features and finishes;
- its attic construction with original rafters and collar ties.
- viewscapes between the building, its property and the Red River.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
- Special or Training School
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection