Description of Historic Place
The Dr. Woods House is a one-and-a-half storey building with an attached garage situated on two lots near Leduc's central business district. Constructed in 1927, the Dr. Woods House is a Craftsman style construction featuring a low-pitched roof, pebble dash stucco exterior, and fieldstone chimney and porch posts.
The primary heritage value of the Dr. Woods House lies in its architecture, which marries the aesthetic sensibility of the Craftsman style with the design requirements of a combined residence and doctor's office. Secondary heritage value lies in the site's representation of medical service in rural Alberta in the early twentieth century and its connection to prominent Social Credit politician Ronald Earle Ansley.
The Dr. Woods House features an elegant Craftsman style design tailored to suit the professional and personal needs of Dr. Woods and his family. The Craftsman style featured an unpretentious aesthetic and a devotion to an honest and simple expression of materials, ideals embodied in the home's low-pitched roof, pebble dash stucco exterior, fieldstone chimney and porch columns, and wealth of finely crafted interior woodworking. In order to accommodate its dual purpose as family home and doctor's office, a special wing with a separate entrance was built that included a waiting room, examining area, and easy access to bathroom facilities. The combination of professional and personal space under a single roof was not uncommon among Alberta's early medical practitioners and the Dr. Woods house is an excellend example of this type of design.
With the completion of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in 1891, huge swaths of agricultural land close to the tracks were immediately opened for settlement. The first railway siding south of Edmonton was Leduc. By 1899, the community that coalesced around the Leduc siding had reached 400 souls and was incorporated into a village. One of the first residents in the area was Dr. Robert Woods, a physician trained in central Canada who claimed a homestead in the Telford district just west of Leduc in 1902. After proving up on his homestead, Woods moved to Leduc - at that point the largest community in the district - to establish a medical practice. For many years, Woods and two other local physicians served the entire district south of Edmonton, making countless house calls to rural locations. The need for doctors to provide services throughout a large region was a common situation in Alberta's rural areas in the early twentieth century. In 1927, Woods erected a new house close to Main Street that incorporated a special wing to accommodate his medical practice.
In 1937, one year after Dr. Woods' death, the home was purchased by Ronald Earle Ansley, a former school teacher and insurance salesman who had recently been elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta as a member of the Social Credit party. A strong adherent of the "Douglasite" wing of the Social Credit movement and a powerful voice for rural Social Credit supporters, Ansley was one of the principle organizers of the backbenchers' revolt of 1937 against Premier William Aberhart. Frustrated by the lack of implementation of Social Credit ideas in provincial legislation and energized by the visit of British writer and Social Credit champion John Hargrave, the backbenchers succeeded in passing a motion of non-confidence in the leadership of Aberhart. Negotiations followed and a compromise was struck: Aberhart formed a Social Credit Board to suggest policies and the rebels agreed to allow the government to continue under the Premier's leadership. The Social Credit Board immediately drafted a range of highly controversial legislation to regulate the banking system, much of which was disallowed by the federal government. During this tumultuous period, the Dr. Woods House must have been the scene of much intense political conversation. Ansley sold the house in 1939, though he continued his political career, serving as the Chairman of the Social Credit Board, the Minister of Education, and, after a falling-out with his party, as an Independent Member of the Legislative Assembly.
Source: City of Leduc Heritage File
The character-defining elements of the Dr. Woods house include such features as:
- wood-shingled, low-pitched gable roof with gable dormer on side elevation;
- open eaves and exposed rafters;
- pebble dash stucco facing on exterior walls and roof brackets;
- sculptural stucco elements on exterior;
- fieldstone elements, including exterior chimney and porch posts;
- side porches covered by arched roofs;
- north elevation bay featuring a planter underneath the window;
- separate entrance way on east elevation to former doctor's office;
- attached garage;
- original doors, including garage doors, basement hatch doors;
- fenestration pattern and style, including original windows;
- floor plan;
- walkthrough bathroom;
- original interior details, including ceiling beams, maple and fir flooring, baseboards, trim, mouldings, doors, fixtures, hardware, fieldstone fireplace, sideboard, dumbwaiter, basement well and scribed plaster dado in bathroom;
- original trees and plantings.