Description of Historic Place
Seven Oaks Museum, built in 1851-53, is a two-storey log dwelling with attached summer kitchen located in a residential area of north Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint.
Seven Oaks Museum superbly illustrates nineteenth-century life in the Red River Settlement, being the earliest remaining river lot dwelling and one of the oldest surviving residences in Manitoba. Designed and built as a family home by John Inkster, former Hudson's Bay Company employee, farmer, businessman and community leader, the structure illustrates Winnipeg's early architectural roots, and is a simplified expression of the then popular Georgian style. It also is an excellent and rare example of lap-joint construction. Among the building's other exceptional features are a cut-stone foundation, stone-lined cellar and imported glass window panes and door hinges enhancing otherwise humble appointments. The dwelling, the second on the site inhabited by the Inksters, takes its name from a nearby stand of seven oak trees that marked the site of the 1816 Battle of Seven Oaks. Occupied by family members until 1912, the restored structure, augmented with a section of the earlier 1826 Red River frame log house that acted as a summer kitchen, now serves as a museum. The other half of the 1826 house, which also stands on the site, was reused by the Inksters as a store and post office.
Source: City of Winnipeg Committee on Planning and Community Services Minute, March 17, 1997
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Seven Oaks Museum site include:
- the house's location in a park-like setting, oriented to the west bank of the Red River, with various outbuildings composing the site, including the Red River frame log store south of the house (another part of the Inksters' original cabin)
Key elements that define the dwelling's exterior character and Georgian architecture include:
- the symmetrical, box-like massing under a steeply pitched, cedar-shingled hip roof punctuated by single dormers on each end
- the lap-joint log construction with walls of mostly whipsawn and hand-carved, squared oak logs, laid horizontally with joints secured by tree nails and sheathed in milled horizontal siding
- the unadorned main (east) facade divided into five bays, including a central entrance with decorative top and side lights
- the multi-paned double-hung windows throughout with simple wooden surrounds and sills, including 12-over-12-pane sashes on the main floor and six-over-six-pane sashes above
- the details, including the basic one-storey verandah on three elevations, the stone foundation, etc.
- the one-storey kitchen on the north end, of Red River frame log construction with a gable roof, modest, deeply set windows on three sides and a single (west) door
Key elements that define the house's straightforward interior layout, finishes and details include:
- the formal nine-room plan with the main floor arranged into a series of common rooms, including an entrance hall, parlour and dining and breakfast rooms, and the second floor holding the bedrooms and a bathing area
- the wide, uneven wood plank floors and panelled basswood ceilings throughout
- the unpretentious U-shaped staircase with simple wooden risers, balusters and handrail
- the modest yet functional details, including main-floor walls insulated with five centimetres of buffalo hair, fur and plaster, the stone-lined cellar accessed through a trap door, hand-cut mouldings and wooden doors throughout (many with original hardware), panelled walls on the second floor, stone-cut pipe holders, etc.