Maison Gabrielle-Roy National Historic Site of Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Maison Gabrielle-Roy National Historic Site of Canada is located on a narrow lot in a quiet residential neighbourhood in St. Boniface, Manitoba. The fine, large two-and-a-half storey wood-frame house was constructed in the Vernacular style and has an L-shaped plan. The house, which has been restored to its 1918 appearance, was the birthplace of Canadian writer Gabrielle Roy, who lived there until 1937. The official recognition refers to Lot 5, on which the house is located.
Maison Gabrielle-Roy was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2009 because:
- this family home, where Gabrielle Roy was born in 1909 and where she lived until 1937, was the heart of a vibrant world of people and events that deeply inspired her writing;
- this otherwise typical middle-class urban house of the period was a special place to which the author remained attached all her life, and which she described and idealized in several of her works, in particular Street of Riches (Rue Deschambault).
The heritage value of the house stems from its association with Gabrielle Roy, one of the greatest Canadian writers of the 20th century and a National Historic Person. The house is therefore not only the birthplace, but also the backdrop for Gabrielle Roy’s childhood, youth and young adulthood. All her life, she remained deeply attached to the house of her birth, particularly the attic, which is closely associated with a specific period in her life and her early interest in writing, that provided a great deal of inspiration for many of her works. As witnessed by the references and allusions in many of her books, especially Street of Riches and Enchantment and Sorrow, Gabrielle Roy was inspired not only by the house itself, but also by the events that took place there and the neighbourhood in which it stands. They offered her an inspiring microcosm which she idealized and from which she drew universal themes. Her attachment to the house is evident in many of her books and also in her personal life through her quest for similar places to live. Restored between 2001 and 2003, the house helps preserve the memory and work of this fine Canadian author.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 2008.
Key elements relating to the heritage value of the site include:
- its location on Deschambault Street in St. Boniface, Manitoba;
- its setting on a narrow lot in a quiet residential neighbourhood, separated from the street by a narrow sidewalk and a strip of grass;
- the vernacular architectural style of the house, popularized in the 20th century, as featured in its two-and-a-half storeys, its gable roof, its L-shaped plan (where the two sections of the house meet at a right angle) and its minimal exterior ornamentation;
- the cedar shingle roof with a dormer on the south side, and a gable with a window on the west side;
- the shiplap siding painted yellow to offset the white corner boards, the window and door trim and the posts on the gallery;
- the large gallery along the south and west sides of the house;
- the large openings on all sides of the house;
- the interior layout, which is as it was when the Roy family lived there, including the attic, where Gabrielle Roy’s little bedroom was located, and the summer kitchen attached to the back of the house;
- the extensive use of wood inside, including wood strip floors, wainscoting, large baseboards, picture rails, and door and window trim;
- materials, finishes and decoration associated with the period when the Roy family lived in the house, and the elements that have survived, including the French doors and some door trim;
- the old small shed attached to the garage owned by Gabrielle Roy’s father;
- landscaping features that date back to when the Roy family owned the house, including century-old trees;
- the views of the street from the attic dormer and the rest of the house and the view of the house from the street;
- the cultural associations between the property and its surroundings and the works of Gabrielle Roy.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1909/01/01 to 1937/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Gaboury, Préfontaine, Perry, Architectes
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Québec
Cross-Reference to Collection