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F. Sowden House

26 Crescent Avenue, Souris, Manitoba, R0K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/11/05

View of the main, north elevation of the F. Sowden House, Souris 2004; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2005
North Elevation
View of the tower of the F. Sowden House, Souris 2004; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2005
View of decorative brickwork of the F. Sowden House, Souris 2004; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2005
Brick Detail

Other Name(s)

F. Sowden House
Squire Hall
Hillcrest Museum
Hall Squire
Musée Hillcrest

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1910/01/01 to 1911/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/07/12

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

From a bend on the Souris River, the two-storey F. Sowden House surveys picturesque views of Souris's landmark suspension footbridge, traffic bridge and stretches of gently sloping riverbank. The fortress-like structure, built in 1910, stands out from neighbouring residences with its imposing size and massive brick facades. The municipal designation applies to the house and the land upon which it sits.

Heritage Value

The F. Sowden House stands as a testament to the optimism and ambition of pioneering families arriving in southwestern Manitoba around the turn of the twentieth century. The home is a unique `prairie castle' commissioned by members of a locally prominent family, Fred and Maud Sowden, the son and daughter-in-law of Squire Sowden, a businessman and founder of Souris. Meant to recall the castles of Maud's childhood in England and India, the structure conveys an image of strength and solidity with its crenellated towers. The fanciful, yet sophisticated design, conceived by local architect Carter Brindle, is strikingly distinct from the architectural landscape of the area.

Source: Town of Souris By-law No. 1591, November 5, 1990

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the site's heritage character include:
- the prominent location on the west bank of the Souris River, with views to the suspension footbridge built by the family
- the spacious curved planters, landscaped grounds with walkways and finely detailed metal yardlight

Key elements that define the building's external heritage character include:
- the grand size and appearance, with a two-storey square volume massed in undulating brick facades dominated by crenellated towers and extended by double-height wooden porches
- details including a rubble-stone base, parapet railings of simply carved wood and numerous applications of decorative brickwork, including heavy corbelling, a series of horizontal bands of brick stringcourse on the ground level and vertical indents in the top halves of the pilasters
- the large, multiple openings, including the round-arched main entrance, the arched windows with stained-glass and the Palladian-style and coloured-glass bull's eye windows on the west facade, all featuring protruding sills and prominent keystones

Key elements that define the building's interior composition, finishes and details, and the connection to the Sowden family, include:
- the centrally planned layout featuring spacious well-lit rooms, especially the main-floor billiard room running the length of the east side with French doors, and two of the five upstairs bedrooms with similar access to balconies
- the fine period woodwork as seen in the centrally located grand staircase banister, the verandah balustrades and spindles, the built-in wooden furniture, and a chair belonging to Maud Sowden etc.
- the luxurious materials, including stained- and etched-glass windows, pressed tin ceilings throughout the main floor, hardwood floors and period wallpaper of intricate designs




Recognition Authority

Local Governments (MB)

Recognition Statute

Manitoba Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Site

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type




Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

Carter Brindle



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Civic Centre, 100-2nd Street South, Souris, MB R0K 2C0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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