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Trethewey House

2313 Ware Street, Abbotsford, British Columbia, V2S, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/05/04

Exterior view of the Trethewey House, 1940; MSA Museum Society
Front elevation
Exterior view of Trethewey House; Donald Luxton and Associates, 2005
Front elevation
Interior view of the Trethewey House; Donald Luxton and Associates, 2005
Front parlour

Other Name(s)

Trethewey House
MSA Museum
Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford Museum

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/09/01

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Trethewey House is a grand one and one-half storey plus basement, wood-frame Craftsman house. It is situated on a large lot in central Abbotsford, to the east of Clearbrook near Mill Lake, with a landmark stand of Douglas fir trees at the front of the property. The house and its property are now the home of the MSA Museum Society. The interior and exterior of the house have been restored and it is now used for interpretive purposes.

Heritage Value

Constructed in 1920, the Trethewey House is significant as the most substantial historic house in the Mill Lake area, and for its sophisticated Craftsman-style architecture, which retains a high degree of original integrity. In addition to the typical Craftsman style features, such as bracketed eaves and exposed rafters, the house is distinguished by sophisticated wooden detailing, such as ridge caps and finials. Befitting the timber baron for whom it was constructed, the house was built of materials obtained locally from Trethewey's mill, including the interior fir mouldings, panelled walls, pocket doors and beamed ceilings, specified to be of the highest quality. The buff-coloured brick and crackle-glazed clay tile used in the chimney and fireplaces were made with clay mined on nearby Sumas Mountain and manufactured at the nearby Clayburn brickworks. The interior is notable for its intact character, exhibiting advanced technological features such as original electric light fixtures, central heating, and a built-in vacuum system, which reflect the status of the original owners in this rural community.

The Trethewey House is additionally significant as once being home to the prominent Trethewey family. The house was constructed by Joseph Ogle Trethewey (died 1928), proprietor of the large, local lumber mill, the Abbotsford Lumber Company, and his family. The Trethewey family was instrumental in the early development of Abbotsford; the mill was a major employer in the area and its activities changed the landscape from forest to field. Initially prominent in England for their involvement in mining ventures, the Trethewey family pursued many entrepreneurial enterprises after settling in Canada. The Tretheweys were well known for their community spirit. Characteristic of their philanthropy, the family donated this house to the City of Abbotsford for use as a museum.

The heritage value of the Trethewey House also lies in its educational and interpretive value. Designated as a heritage site in 1983, the house has been restored to its circa 1925 interior and exterior appearance, and is an important cultural site for the interpretation of Abbotsford's history to the public.

Source: City of Abbotsford

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Trethewey House include its:
- location on its original site, with associated landscape elements such as grassed lawns, gardens, a mature stand of Douglas fir trees and a Butternut tree at the front of the property
- residential form, scale and massing as expressed by its one and one-half storey plus basement, regular rectangular plan
- cross-gabled roof with gabled roof dormers; cedar shingle roof cladding with ridge caps and wooden finials; and extended bargeboards with scroll-cut ends
- wood-frame construction with lapped siding (first storey) and coursed shingle siding (upper storey and foundation level)
- Craftsman style features such as: exposed purlins and rafter ends; triangular eave brackets; cobblestone chimneys (one internal and one external), porch railing and pier supports; stuccoed and half-timbered gable peaks; square verandah piers; and bay windows supported by exposed beams
- asymmetrical fenestration exhibiting a variety of wooden-sash window types including: double-hung, picture and casement windows, with translucent glass transom lights; and smaller, square, fixed sash windows
- interior elements: including the original room layout and configuration; fir finishing such as mouldings, doors, staircase banister, beamed ceilings, 3/4 height panelling, and floors; original electric light fixtures (ceiling lights and sconces); brick chimneypiece with keystone detail and tiled hearths displaying an orange and green crackle glaze; built-in features such as window benches and library bookcases with leaded glass doors; original bathtub; cast iron kitchen sink; and hardware for the built-in vacuum system and central heating



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.967

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type




Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer



Joseph Ogle Trethewey

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Abbotsford

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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