Description of Historic Place
The Wilkie and District Museum is a Municipal Heritage Property located along First Avenue East in the Town of Wilkie. The property features six wood-frame, one-and two-storey structures constructed between 1910 and 1985, and one example of 1970s railway rolling stock. Formerly used used for residential, commercial and public purposes, these buildings and structures have been collected on this site for use as a museum complex.
The heritage value of the Wilkie and District Museum lies in the association its constituent buildings and structures have with the civil, commercial and agricultural development of the Wilkie area. The Town/Fire Hall, Municipal Building and Schoolhouse, are significant for their role as public buildings in the community. The Wilkie Fire Hall was built in 1910 and in 1932, an addition was added to serve as Town Office. The building continued to be used as a Fire Hall until 1979, even after the Town Office portion of the building was donated to the Wilkie Museum in 1977. In 1980, the Fire Hall was converted into the primary building for the Wilkie Museum, continuing its role as a public building and featuring exhibits, office space and meeting rooms. The Municipal Building originally stood in the Village of Cavell to serve as the office of the Rural Municipality of Reford. In 1948, the Municipality moved the building to Wilkie and based its operations there until 1972. The building was incorporated into the Wilkie Museum in 1980.
The Schoolhouse was originally built to serve the Coblenz School District (re-named Cavell School District in 1916). The building was re-constructed in 1940 and served as a school until 1960. The building served as a social and recreational centre for Cavell until 1984, when it was moved to Wilkie to become part of the Wilkie Museum.
The Wilkie Press Building, the Blacksmith Shop and the railway caboose are associated with the commerical development of the community. The Wilkie Press Building was built in 1912 by A. D. Mackenzie, the editor of the Wilkie Tribune. In 1913, Mackenzie sold his operations to his rivals, Ernest Norman Carter and William George, the editors of the Wilkie Press. The Wilkie Press operated out of the building until 1981, when the newspaper moved to another location and donated the building to the Wilkie Museum. As the base of operations for the local newspaper, the Wilkie Press Building played a prominent role in the community. The museum houses exhibits concerning the history of journalism in the area, including the original printing press and other artifacts related to newspaper publishing during Wilkie’s history.
The Blacksmith Shop was built and donated to the Museum in 1985, and represents the type of blacksmith shop operated in Wilkie in the first part of the twentieth century. The site also features a former Canadian Pacific Railway caboose, which reflects the importance of railway transportation to the community. The caboose, which sits on a section of railway track, is of 1970s vintage, and was donated to the museum in 1997.
The Settler's House is an example of an early farm building and residence in the area. The building was originally constructed as an ice house prior to being converted to a residence by its owner. The building was donated to the Museum in 1999.
The heritage value of the Wilkie and District Museum also lies in the vernacular architecture and historical integrity of its structures. The buildings feature rectangular forms and wood-frame construction and most have gable roofs, all of which were typical of small-town architecture in the early twentieth century. Additionally, some of the buildings feature stucco exteriors and one has a boomtown front, also typical exterior forms of the period. Two of these buildings, the Town Hall/Fire Hall and the Wilkie Press Building, stand on their original locations and are recognized as landmarks in the community. The Fire Hall’s two-storey, large, white clapboard construction, with attached bell-and-hose tower and a large garage, made it one of the most prominent buildings in Wilkie, which it remains today. The Town/Fire Hall also retains its garage doors, flag pole, and interior floor plan. The Wilkie Press Building retains its original boomtown architecture, including a simple rectangular design, wood construction and false front.
Town of Wilkie Bylaw 7-85.
The heritage value of the Wilkie and District Museum resides in the following character-defining elements:
-those elements of the Fire Hall/Town Hall that represent its role as a public building dedicated to fire protection and civic administration in Wilkie, such as the fire truck garage and doors and the bell-and-hose tower and the trim and spatial arrangement of the council meeting room;
-those elements of Coblenz/Cavell School that reflect its use as a public building dedicated to education, including its open interior room, bank of windows on the side of the building and interior blackboard;
-those elements of the Wilkie Press Building that reflect its association with commercial development as the base of operations of a local newspaper, such as the original printing press;
-those elements of the railway caboose that represent its connection to commercial development through rail transportation to the Wilkie area, such as its placement on railway tracks, original form and standard paint scheme;
-those elements of the Settler’s House that represent its role as an early farm building and residence, such as its rectangular form and wood-frame construction;
-those elements of the Fire Hall/Town Hall that reflect its vernacular architecture and historical integrity, including its original two-storey, clapboard structure, large garage, council meeting chamber, bell-and-hose tower with attached flag pole and its position on its original location;
-those elements of the Municipal Building that reflect vernacular architecture, such as its simple rectangular form and wood-frame construction with a stucco exterior;
-those elements that represent the vernacular architecture and historical integrity of the Wilkie Press Building, including its simple wood-frame construction, boomtown false front and position on its original location.