Description of Historic Place
The secluded Negrych Homestead, developed between 1897 and 1910, sits on the northeast bank of the meandering Drifting River midway between Riding Mountain National Park and Duck Mountain Provincial Park. The farmstead is traversed by a trail long-used by Native peoples and subsequently by the area's Ukrainian settlers. The provincial designation applies to the site's surviving 10 log structures, a small orchard and the large parcel of land they occupy.
The impressive Negrych Homestead, comprised of the family home, bunkhouse, barns, granaries and surrounding buildings, encompasses the most complete and well-preserved set of pioneer-era Ukrainian farm structures in Canada. It also contains the oldest known residence built in the Ukrainian vernacular tradition in Manitoba. Constructed almost exclusively of natural materials, the isolated homestead illustrates mixed traditions from several areas of Ukraine through features such as its loose grouping of buildings, traditional three-room house, mud plaster walls and examples of indigenous craftsmanship and design. The 1908 bunkhouse possesses the only known Manitoba example of a traditional Eastern European-style roof, as well as a rare example of a clay bake-oven or `peech', distinctive of virtually all early Ukrainian homes. As well, a small orchard still supports a variety of fruit and herb plantings that vividly contribute to the knowledge of Ukrainian food culture. Run according to traditional practice and never introduced to modernization, the homestead was continuously occupied by Negrych family members until 1990, and since 1991 has been restored by local volunteers as a museum depicting the Ukrainian pioneer experience in Manitoba.
Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minute, May 23, 1987
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Negrych Homestead site include:
- its placement beside the Drifting River within a mix of treed areas and clearings on the inside corner of a quarter section of land, accessed by a narrow trail, 21 kilometres northeast of Gilbert Plains
- the loose organization of the farmstead, with buildings situated on both sides of the Drifting River Colonization Trail, including barns placed near the river
- the orchard, completely enclosed by a rail fence, on a gentle south-facing slope
Key elements that define the Ukrainian vernacular tradition of the site's pioneer-era buildings and equipment include:
- the structures' simple rectangular plans and box-like forms, most with medium-pitched gable roofs and distinctive proportions and fenestration, including single doors and small rectangular-shaped windows
- the honest expression of materials, including the walls' uneven hand-hewn spruce and tamarack round logs with projecting saddle-notched corners, structural members such as the poles used for rafters, coarsely cut boards, long vertical shingles in the gable ends, roofs with exposed eaves, simple joinery, etc.
- the handmade clay, straw and animal dung plaster, used for chinking and finishes on some exterior and interior walls
- the ingeniously handcrafted wooden door hinges, fastenings and locks, and handmade tools such as a scythe, flail and pounding tools
Key elements that define the heritage character of the house, the focal point of the farmstead, include:
- the dwelling's orientation toward the south with front and east-end plastered walls
- distinguishing exterior elements such as the long Carpathian-type shingles in the gable ends
- the three-room plan with a central kitchen, small west room and large east bed-sitting room with a trap door to a root cellar
- the interior finishes and materials, such as the exposed ceiling beams, white plaster walls and wooden floors
- essential furnishings such as the iron cookstove (kitchen) and cast-iron stove (sitting room), an iron bed, rocking chair and extension table, the traditional east holy wall with three religious pictures, etc.
Key elements that define the heritage character of the 1908 bunkhouse include:
- the structure's traditional Eastern European-style roof, characterized by hand-split, metre-long wooden shingles designed to allow smoke to filter through in place of a chimney
- the east-side porch/shelter, constructed from long vertical boards that lean from the ground up to the overhanging gable
- the one large room with a floor of impacted clay
- the furnishings, including the massive wood-and-clay bake-oven vented sideways through the porch, the handmade wooden bed, etc.
Key elements that define the heritage character of the well-built barns include:
- the structures' basic shelter requirements, including tightly fitted log walls, roughly constructed main-floor stalls, generous upper-level loft spaces, etc.
- the 1908 connected barn, two buildings simply joined by the extension of one's roof, with a common space for hay
- the wooden door and hinge construction with pole edges that pivot in wooden sockets