Description of Historic Place
The Archway Warehouse, a large Red River frame building, and the stone Jail and Powder Magazine Remains are former fur trade facilities built between 1837 and 1856 at Norway House, then a major northern transshipment point for the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) on the Nelson River. The provincial designation applies to the two buildings, the magazine remains and the grounds they occupy.
The Archway Warehouse, Jail and Powder Magazine Remains are exceptional nineteenth-century buildings of historical, functional and structural merit. They recall the role of the HBC fur trade in the development of western British North America, as well as the importance of Norway House in the company's vast transport network between Hudson Bay (York Factory) and interior districts. The Jail additionally is representative of HBC efforts to administer justice on the frontier in the pre-Confederation era. The strategic waterway location first drew the HBC in 1796 to establish facilities in the Norway House area for storing and shipping cargo, supplying transport crews, building York boats and trading. By the mid-1830s, the company had developed its fourth post in the area, eventually a complex of many buildings around a large quadrangular yard, of which only the Archway Warehouse, Jail and Powder Magazine Remains survive. The substantial warehouse (1840-41), the most significant and intact of the group, is the oldest warehouse of Red River frame construction in Western Canada and the oldest log structure in Manitoba on its original site. As well, its modified Georgian style, commonly used by the HBC, incorporates a rare archway that cuts through the building, doubling as the post's riverside gateway. The Jail (1855-56), a small structure built of local granite to the southeast of the warehouse, is Manitoba's oldest extant lock-up. The Powder Magazine Remains (1837-38), located some distance from the post, are the oldest in situ ruins of a stone gunpowder storage facility in Western Canada and also are notable for their cut limestone elements, unusual for the building's type, time and place.
Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minute, February 16, 1983
Key elements that define the site character of the Archway Warehouse, Jail and Powder Magazine Remains include:
- the open, flat and rocky setting on the east bank of the Nelson River's east channel at Norway House
- the in situ locations of the Archway Warehouse and Jail, marking the southwest corner of the former quadrangular HBC post
- the warehouse's visual prominence, especially from its river (west) side, and its access to the river via a wooden dock and a ramp-walkway that extends through the arch
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Georgian-style Archway Warehouse include:
- the elongated rectangular plan and oversized 1 1/2-storey height with a large and steep hipped roof
- the segmental archway cut through the centre of the building
- the minimal, symmetrically organized fenestration, limited to six main-floor openings on the east (post yard) side and one smaller central loft window on each wall
- the simple exterior finishes and details, including the horizontal lap siding, wooden window, archway and door surrounds, solid plank door with metal hardware, historic colour scheme, etc.
- the sturdy Red River frame construction, exposed in the interior, including heavy, grooved vertical posts, squared horizontal logs, beams, rafters, plank flooring, heavy iron braces, etc.
- the interior plan, including the two-section main floor separated by the archway, the high, open, full-dimension loft, etc.
Key elements that define the Jail's heritage character include:
- the compact, rectangular one-storey plan, solid, walls of local rough-cut granite blocks set on bedrock
- the steep, wood-frame hipped roof and narrow, off-centre north entrance
- the practical finishes and details, including whitewashed exterior walls, minimal openings, the date '1855' painted over the entrance, etc.
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Powder Magazine Remains include:
- the extant portions of the thick, one-storey, coursed-rubble side and rear walls, constructed of local granite and plastered on the inside
- the cut limestone quoins, door lintel and air vent lintels and surrounds