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271 - 1 Street SE, Medicine Hat, Alberta, T1A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1982/11/29

William Cousins house (Sunnyholme) with family members pictured about the yard in front (circa 1900); Esplanade Archives, Medicine Hat, Image 0017.0010
View looking west
Cousins Residence Provincial Historic Resource, Medicine Hat (January 2006); Cousins Residence Provincial Historic Resource, Medicine Hat (January 2006)
View looking east
Cousins Residence Provincial Historic Resource, Medicine Hat (January 2006); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2006
View looking west

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/09/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Cousins Residence is a two and one-half storey building located on two lots in Medicine Hat, on the south side of the South Saskatchewan River. The original home features a cross-gabled roof, decorative wood detailing and shingle work in the gable end, and a projecting bay window on the side wing. A substantial flat-roofed addition was added to this original construction in 1913.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Cousins Residence lies in its association with prominent early Medicine Hat entrepreneur and politician William Cousins.

In 1883, the Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.) arrived in southeastern Alberta and established the townsite of Medicine Hat along its line. The fledgling settlement attracted immigrants to the area seeking their fortune along the track of the transcontinental line, among them young Ontarian William Cousins. Cousins arrived in Medicine Hat in 1883 with a wagon load of goods and established a general store. This initially humble enterprise - run out of a tent - was the beginning of Cousin's seventeen year career in selling general goods in Medicine Hat. In 1897, he constructed a new place of business - known locally as the "Stone Store" - which was a significant building in the community, representing the transition from the wood frame constructions of the frontier to the more impressive brick and stone buildings of a developing industrial economy. Cousins sold his business interests in 1900, but retained control of his small, though important, real estate holdings. Four years later, he had begun working full-time as a land developer. Cousins became an integral figure in southern Alberta's real estate boom from 1906 until 1912, establishing subdivisions adjacent to the townsite of Medicine Hat and in the communities of Taber, Irvine, and Saskatoon. Like other businessmen and entrepreneurs in the developing urban centres of the West, Cousins was also a significant contributor to the cultural and political life of his community. In 1907, he was elected the first mayor of the City of Medicine Hat. His ambitious plans for the city were frustrated and Cousins - disillusioned by public apathy and a hostile press - abandoned public office in 1908 after completing his second term.

When Cousins first arrived in Medicine Hat in 1883, he built a modest log structure for his residence. In 1896, he erected a far more elaborate and spacious residence in an area west of the settlement's rapidly developing downtown core. This neighbourhood had attracted many of Medicine Hat's most prominent citizens and featured a number of impressive homes. Cousin's residence was one of the grandest buildings in Medicine Hat at the time and contributed to the neighbourhood's prestigious ambience. The original Cousins' home, designed in the Stick style, expressed the picturesque aesthetic sensibilities of Victorian culture in its asymmetry - initially magnified by a front verandah wrapping around the side wing - and its decorative elements, including the woodwork and shingling in the gable end of the front and side facades. A two-storey addition was built on the side of the home in the early 1910s and the original verandah was removed, dramatically altering the home's character. Nonetheless, the Cousins Residence still evokes the social prominence of its original owner and some of the aesthetic ideals of the time.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1020)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Cousins Residence include such features as:
- mass, form, and style;
- Random Rubble foundation;
- cross-gable roof on original structure;
- gable ends supported by plain curved brackets and featuring false half-timbering and circular butted decorative shingles typical of the Stick style;
- projecting bay on side wing;
- wooden louvred shutters;
- original window sills, sashes, and storm windows;
- fenestration pattern and style;
- original interior elements, including hardwood floors, balustraded staircase and newel posts, doors and frames with rosette decorative features, baseboards and finial ornamentation, fireplace, mouldings, trims, fittings, and fixtures.




Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Governing Canada
Politics and Political Processes

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1020)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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