Description of Historic Place
The Louis Riel House, a distinguished structure in the community of St. Vital, is an L-shaped plan house with pitched roofs, restored as closely as possible to its 1886 appearance of vernacular Métis design. Built of Red River frame construction, it features balanced, symmetrical elevations, and has a clean unornamented character. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Louis Riel House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Louis Riel House is associated with the descendents of Gaboury-Lagimodiere, Riel Boucher, a very prominent Métis family in the Red River settlement area. The Louis Riel House is a rare surviving example representing Métis settlement of land in Canada, particularly of the ‘river lot’ system adopted on the Red River in Manitoba.
The Louis Riel House is a good restored example of an 1880s era vernacular Métis structure. The house’s basic massing, form, structural and architectural design correspond typically to 19th-century French Métis residential forms and specifically to Red River frame Métis houses. The building features balanced, symmetrical elevations and has an unornamented character. The Red River frame is one of the only surviving elements of the building.
The Louis Riel House is compatible with its residential neighbourhood and enhances the area with its large, open site. Well known both within the City of Winnipeg and within the broader Métis community, the Riel House is a regional landmark.
Sources: Fiona Mackintosh, Riel House, Riel House National Historic Site, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report, 99-057; Riel House, Riel House National Historic Site, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Heritage Character Statement, 99-057.
The following character-defining elements of the Louis Riel House should be respected.
Its restored example of an 1880s era vernacular Métis structure, for example:
-the basic massing of the rectangular building with an L-shaped plan formed by the rectangular, one-and-a-half storey main house and the small one-storey annex;
-the pitched roofs of the main building and the annex, covered with wood shingles;
-the symmetrical appearance of the building achieved through the arrangement of windows and doors;
-the Red River frame construction;
-the fieldstone foundation; and,
-the functional nature of interior spaces and finishes.
The manner in which the Louis Riel House is compatible with its residential neighbourhood and is a regional landmark as evidenced by:
-its domestic appearance, which makes it compatible with its suburban neighbourhood;
-its prominence within the St. Vital community as one of the larger homes on River Road; and,
-its well known historical associations in the region and its role as a Museum and National Historic Site of Canada which is a destination for visitors.