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William (Billy) Wheeler House Registered Heritage Structure

Keels, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2007/09/28

Front facade of the William (Billy) Wheeler House, Keels, NL, 2005; Peggy Bulger/HFNL 2006
William (Billy) Wheeler House, Keels
Rear facade of the William (Billy) Wheeler House, Keels, NL, 2005; Peggy Bulger/HFNL 2006
William (Billy) Wheeler House, Keels
Interior staircase of the William (Billy) Wheeler House, Keels, NL, 2005; Peggy Bulger/HFNL 2006
Staircase, William (Billy) Wheeler House, Keels

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/19

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The William (Billy) Wheeler House is a vernacular, two-storey house built on a stone and post foundation and situated on a barren outcrop of rock, overlooking the water in Keels, Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The William (Billy) Wheeler House has been designated a Registered Heritage Structure because it has historic and aesthetic values.

The William (Billy) Wheeler House is historically valuable because of its association with the second owner, Billy Wheeler (1891-1964). Wheeler’s father built the house circa 1890 and upon his death in 1917 Billy took ownership of the house. Billy Wheeler is regarded as one of the premier vernacular furniture makers in Newfoundland, and he was also known as an innovative fishing-boat maker. When Billy inherited the house he began to make improvements and craft furniture for the house. Billy Wheeler has been described as innovative; a person who had a knack for creating one-of-a-kind pieces without taking measurements or using prescribed patterns. His work is truly unique, and the William (Billy) Wheeler House is a tangible reminder of his creative influence.

The William (Billy) Wheeler House is aesthetically valuable because of its vernacular style of architecture. The house, built on a rock and wood-post foundation, is a simple, two-storey, biscuit-box shaped building with a rear extension. The house has narrow wood clapboard and wooden windows and a truncated gable roof. Billy added his own personal style to the decorations as he embellished the house his father built. He used various motifs generously, such as diamond shapes, lozenges, and keyhole shapes. His style is noteworthy for the way in which he integrated these details, and in the way they compliment one another. This house is also noteworthy as an excellent example of nineteenth-century outport architecture, with a symmetrical hall and parlor plan. It is reminiscent of a type of architecture that was once common in Newfoundland outports, but is gradually being replaced with more modern architecture.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, designated at a meeting held September 28, 2007, Minutes 60.

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements of the outport, vernacular style of architecture, including:
-narrow wood clapboard;
-mid-pitch gable roof with diamond-shaped shingles in the gables;
-Billy Wheeler hand-crafted embellishments, including diamond motifs, lozenges and keyhole shapes;
-wooden windows with original trim, including dentils;
-window and door openings;
-curving Billy Wheeler bannister with keyhole motif;
-any remaining Billy Wheeler original crafted pieces, including the built-in cabinet; and
-two-storey construction, orientation and dimensions of house.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer



Joseph Wheeler

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, PO Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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