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Margaret Laurence House

312 First Avenue, Neepawa, Manitoba, R0J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1987/06/26

View of main elevation of the Margaret Laurence House, Neepawa, 2005; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2005
Main Elevation
Context view of the Margaret Laurence House, Neepawa, 2005; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2005
No Image

Other Name(s)

Margaret Laurence House
John Simpson House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1894/01/01 to 1894/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/01/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Margaret Laurence House is a two-storey brick dwelling constructed in 1894 and situated in a residential area of Neepawa. The site's provincial designation applies to the house and its yard.

Heritage Value

Internationally acclaimed author Margaret Laurence (1926-87) spent her formative years in this large brick home, which served as a backdrop to many powerful descriptive passages in her award-winning fiction, as did the town of Neepawa, recreated as the community of Manawaka. The home's builder, Laurence's grandfather John Simpson, also became a model for several of her characters. The stately house, now a museum that pays tribute to Laurence's career, is an important example of a building type popular in Manitoba between 1890 and 1910, the Italianate villa in this case, a modest version of the style.

Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minute, June 26, 1987

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Margaret Laurence House site include:
- its corner location in a residential area that borders Neepawa's business district and its placement, facing east, within a large grassed area outlined with low hedges, mature trees and a straight sidewalk

Key elements that define the building's modest Italianate-style exterior include:
- the irregular plan featuring shallow two-storey pavilions on the south and east sides, sheltered by an expansive truncated hipped roof, low pitched, with broad overhanging eaves
- the buff brick walls and stone foundation and the spacious verandah, accessed by wide steps, with its wooden details, such as modest Tuscan columns, lattice skirting, eave brackets and white balustrade
- an abundance of tall rectangular windows with segmental arches and decorative brick heads

Key internal elements that define the building's heritage character and its connections to Margaret Laurence include:
- the side-hall plan with the modest foyer housing the staircase and doorways opening into a brightly lit set of three rooms connected by wide passageways
- functional materials and details such as the hardwood floors, the moderately detailed, stained wood baseboards and trim on doors and windows, the open staircase with its unobtrusive but tasteful balustrade and panelling, etc.
- noteworthy features such as the two intricate wooden room dividers that separate the main-floor front rooms, crafted in oak by John Simpson; the round stained-glass window in the southeast entrance door; and the brass and etched-glass pendant light fixtures found in several rooms
- the small second-floor room overlooking the street, adjacent to Margaret Laurence's bedroom and which she referred to as her 'reading room'
- a hole in the kitchen ceiling, constructed for a stovepipe, which is featured in fictional accounts of life in the house




Recognition Authority

Province of Manitoba

Recognition Statute

Manitoba Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Heritage Site

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts

Function - Category and Type




Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Main Floor, 213 Notre Dame Avenue Winnipeg MB R3B 1N3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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