Description of Historic Place
The building at 2 Museum Street, commonly known as the McLeod House, is situated on the east side of Museum Street between Front Street and Centre Road in the remote northern community of Moose Factory. The McLeod House is one of several buildings within the confines of the Moose Factory Centennial Park Museum, a site that commemorates the history of the area as a Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) trading post. The one-and-a-half storey, clapboard-clad building was constructed in 1889-90 and originally served as a residence for the family of George McLeod, an HBC employee.
In July 1982, ownership of the McLeod House was transferred to the Ontario Heritage Trust, which conferred protection to the heritage elements of the house. The McLeod House is also part of a National Historic Site that was designated in 1957 to commemorate the early operations of the HBC.
Located on the east side of Museum Street between Front Street and Centre Road, the McLeod House is situated in the old fur-trading centre of Canada's oldest continually occupied English-speaking community. Although the house has been relocated from its original site, its current position within Centennial Museum Park reflects the historical setting typical of HBC workers' houses, with the front of the house facing the river. The McLeod House is situated between two other relocated buildings, the Turner House (1863-64) and the Sackabuckiskum House (1926), and forms part of a row of workers' houses that chronologically reflect three separate eras in the housing of HBC employees. Guided by historical precedent, the houses contain small yards suitable for growing vegetable gardens and are spaced far enough apart to minimize the danger of spreading fire. Other historic resources existing within the Centennial Park boundaries include the HBC Blacksmith's Shop (1849-51), the HBC Powder Magazine (1865-66), and the HBC Cemetery (ca. 1802).
The McLeod House is historically significant for its association with the McLeod Family, a family with deep roots in the operations of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) post at Moose Factory. Early in the 1820s, the HBC initiated a practice of constructing detached dwellings for its married workers. These dwellings allowed married workers the independence and privacy that would not otherwise be available in the shared accommodations offered to HBC staff. Accordingly, the McLeod House was constructed in 1889-90 by HBC carpenter William McLeod for his newly married brother, HBC shipwright George McLeod. After approximately 20 years of living in the building with his wife, George was transferred to another trading post and his brother William, the original builder of the house, took ownership in 1910. William and his wife Ellen raised ten children in that house before they eventually transferred ownership to their son, Herbert. Herbert, who lived in the house all of his life, worked for the HBC as a general labourer for 30 years and was one of the last tradesmen in Moose Factory employed by the HBC. A strong believer in preserving Moose Factory's heritage, Herbert was made the first custodian of the Centennial Park Museum and upon his death in 1981, left his house to the Ontario Heritage Trust. The house is currently operated as an interpretive museum site by the Moose Factory Tourism Association and is open to visitors during July and August.
The McLeod House utilized shipbuilding techniques in its construction. This technique is exclusive to Moose Factory, where most of the 18th and 19th century buildings were constructed by shipwrights. It is characterized by laying horizontal squared logs one over the other, pinning them together with steel spikes, and then chinking the joints with oakum, a tar and jute fibre mixture used chiefly for caulking joints in the hulls of ships. Due to the harsh climate of the area, the house was covered with clapboard siding and possessed a compact design that made it easy to build and heat. Heat from the first floor woodstove radiated through the main floor and rose naturally to the second floor where it would warm the bedroom loft. The most distinguishing feature of the McLeod House is the standing seam metal pan roofing that was installed in 1918 after being salvaged from the demolition of a c. 1811 HBC sawmill. At the time of its installation, metal roofing was highly prized for its fire-proofing properties.
Source: Trust Property Files, Ontario Heritage Trust
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the McLeod House include its:
- traditional HBC design and construction techniques using local materials and labour
- small rectangular footprint derived from the 5m and 6m lengths of its walls
- exterior clapboard siding used as weatherproofing
- overall lack of ornamentation
- asymmetrical placement of window openings on the front and rear elevations and the symmetrical placement of openings on the gable ends
- reproduced multi-paned sash windows
- understated main entrance (paneled door and wood board storm door) on the south elevation
- standing seam metal pan roof and associated fastening clips
- wooden ladder on the northern slope of the roof
- arrangement of rooms on two separate stories with the ground floor divided into a kitchen and a bedroom, and the second floor used as a sleeping loft
- one inch thick tongue-and-groove interior partition held in place by wooden cornices and baseboards
- unpainted floor boards on the first and second storeys
- floor hatch leading from the kitchen to a previously existing cellar
- exposed ceiling joists (with beaded corners) of the first floor
- paneled effect of the ceiling finish at the second storey
- 'L'-shaped corner stair without handrail
- reproduced window and door trim based on vestiges found in the house
- location within the historic fur-trading centre of Moose Factory
- positioning relative to the river
- setting on a communal plot of land devoid of fences or trees
- relationship with the HBC workers' houses and other historic buildings of the Centennial Park Museum