Hudson's Bay House
HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY FACTOR'S HOUSE
Old Bay House
Links and documents
1906/01/01 to 1908/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Hudson's Bay Company Factor's House is a two-and-one-half storey wood frame building constructed in 1906 to 1908, located on one lot in Fort Vermilion.
The Hudson's Bay Company Factor's House is significant as the only structural remnant of the fur trade that operated in the area from the late eighteenth century. As the residence of Hudson's Bay Company factors from 1908 until 1940, it stands in the northern reaches of the H.B.C.'s emporium and reflects the dominance of the H.B.C. in the far-flung community, which was at the time the largest between Edmonton and the Yukon. The Factor's House is also significant for its architectural style, the first dwelling of its kind to be constructed in northern Alberta.
The Hudson's Bay Company Factor's House is part of a fur trade history that dates back to 1788, when the North West Company (N.W.C.) established a post on the flats of the Peace River. It attracted Beaver, Slavey, and Cree First Nations as well as Metis free traders. Fort Vermilion became one of the most important posts in the northwest because it allowed access to the furs of the boreal forest and to hunting (and later farming) on the open parkland around the fort. Accordingly, in 1830 the Hudson's Bay Company built a provisions post here to supply bison and moose meat to canoe and boat brigades and other posts like Fort Chipewyan and Dunvegan. Fort Vermilion served as the Company's chief post on the Peace River until 1878.
The Factor's House is one of three remaining factors' houses in Alberta and the only one on its original site. The factors at Fort Vermilion influenced both the fur trade and the emerging agricultural economy throughout the northwest, and their residence was an important gathering place for business and social activities. When completed it was one of the largest and most fashionable residences in the northwest, by which time Fort Vermilion was a key commercial centre with a company farm and mills serving the growing settlement of the Peace district.
The Hudson's Bay Company Factor's House is a wood frame building made from timber processed at the Fort Vermilion H.B.C. sawmill, a step in the evolution of construction of H.B.C. posts. There are no other fur trade structures of this type, size or age in northern Alberta. The Factor's House is a significant visual landmark in Fort Vermilion and, viewed from the Peace River, recalls the critical role played by the Peace as a transportation route in the fur trade.
(Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, File: Des. 384)
The heritage value of the Hudson's Bay Company Factor's House resides in such character-defining elements as:
- continued location on its original site;
- balloon-frame construction;
- an irregular footprint in the shape of "T", scale and massing
- 4" V-joint tongue-and-groove siding over 8" shiplap sheathing boards;
- cross-gabled, steeply-pitched roof with brackets and return;
- L-shaped rubble foundation wall with a full basement
- a fenestration pattern which includes bay windows with a segmented hipped roof on the south and east elevations, and half-round windows in the east-west gables
- two square corbeled-masonry chimneys;
- wooden shingle roof
- boxed soffits and dentiled frieze, with a plain frieze on the gable end
- original newel posts and interior staircase;
- an interior layout with four bedrooms, a den, dining and living rooms, kitchen, pantry, sitting room, sewing area, and indoor bathroom;
- the remains of an L-shaped verandah with an upper balcony on the north side;
- views of the Peace River.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
1908/01/01 to 1940/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Extraction and Production
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 384)
Cross-Reference to Collection