Description of Historic Place
The building at 2 Museum Street, commonly known as the Sackabuckiskum 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 Sackabuckiskum House is one of several buildings within the confines of the Moose Factory Centennial Park Museum, which is a site commemorating 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 1926 and originally served as a residence for the family of Ham Sackabuckiskum, a Cree fur-trapper and HBC affiliate.
In the Fall of 1983, ownership of the Sackabuckiskum House was transferred to the Ontario Heritage Trust, thereby conferring protection to the heritage elements of the house. The Sackabuckiskum 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 Sackabuckiskum 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-built homes, with the front of the house facing the river. The Sackabuckiskum House is situated east of two other relocated buildings, the Turner House (1863-64) and the McLeod House (1889-90), and forms part of a row of 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 (c. 1802).
The Sackabuckiskum House is historically significant for its association with Ham Sackabuckiskum and the competition of the fur trade in early 20th century Moose Factory. In 1903, a French fur trading company based in Paris, the Révillion Frères, set up a trading post on the western bank of the Moose River, directly across from the existing Hudson's Bay Company's (HBC) post on Factory Island. The French traders of the Révillion Frères provided tough competition for the HBC by offering more generous compensation (in trade goods) for traders' furs. As a response, the HBC was forced to make special arrangements with trappers to retain their loyalty. It was under these circumstances that the Sackabuckiskum House was built in 1926. In an attempt to maintain the services of prominent and influential Cree fur trapper Ham Sackabuckiskum, the HBC assisted in the construction of a building to be used by the Sackabuckiskum family as a summerhouse. Although Cree fur trappers and their families led nomadic lifestyles tending to their trap lines during the winter, they often spent the summers around Moose Factory, fishing and doing odd jobs for the HBC. This tendency made the offer of a summerhouse particularly attractive. The building retained its use as a summerhouse until the death of Ham Sackabuckiskum in 1960. Facing demolition in 1983, the house was acquired by the Ontario Heritage Trust and moved to the Centennial Park Museum, where it currently operates as an interpretive museum run by the Moose Factory Tourism Association. The Sackabuckiskum House is the only surviving Cree summerhouse in Moose Factory.
The Sackabuckiskum House was one of the first buildings in Moose Factory to utilize balloon-frame construction; a technique in which wall studs rise the full height of the building rather than the height of a single storey. Built by Ham Sackabuckiskum with the assistance of HBC workers, the house retained the traditional proportions and window and door locations of the 19th century log homes built a century earlier by HBC staff. The only variation from the traditional design was the dormer window located centrally on the front facade of the building. Although the main components of the building were constructed from local resources, certain materials, such as the asphalt roofing and the glass for the windows, were not available in Moose Factory. To collect these supplies, Ham Sackabuckiskum paddled his canoe 180km to Smokey Falls, the nearest community where they could be purchased. Ham then paddled back to Moose Factory with the supplies in his canoe while navigating the challenges of several sets of rapids. It is believed that former HBC carpenter William McLeod built the windows and doors of the Sackabuckiskum House.
Source: Trust Property Files, Ontario Heritage Trust
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Sackabuckiskum 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
- balloon frame structural system with exterior clapboard siding
- exterior colour scheme using traditional HBC corporate colours for the period (white exteriors with red trim and roof)
- overall lack of ornamentation
- asymmetrical placement of window openings on the front and rear elevations and the symmetrical placement of window openings on the gable end
- multi-paned sash windows and thick muntin bars (reproductions based on originals)
- dormer window located centrally on the south facade
- understated main entrance (paneled door with window in upper half and wood board storm door) on the south elevation
- red asphalt roll roofing
- double-floor layout with single room on the ground floor and a bedroom on the second floor
- 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