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William Brown House

3180 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2000/02/01

Primary elevations, from the northeast, of the William Brown House, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2007
Primary Elevations
Contextual view, from the west, of the William Brown House, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2007
Contextual View
Detail view of the William Brown House, Winnipeg, 2007; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2007

Other Name(s)

St. James-Assiniboia Historical Museum
Musée historique St. James-Assiniboia
William Brown House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1856/01/01 to 1856/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

William Brown House is a 1 1/2-storey log dwelling built in ca. 1856 on an Assiniboine River farm lot west of the City of Winnipeg and relocated more than a century later to Winnipeg where it is part of the Historical Museum of St. James-Assiniboia. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint, the interior layout and original interior elements.

Heritage Value

William Brown House is an excellent and rare example of a mid-nineteenth-century Red River frame structure, a method of log construction commonly used in the fur trade and early agricultural settlement in Manitoba. The straightforward, well-crafted home was designed and built by William Brown, who came to Rupert's Land from Scotland (Orkney Islands) to serve with the Hudson's Bay Company as a cook and labourer. Upon his retirement in 1841, Brown began farming in the Red River Settlement, first along the Red River in St. John's parish, then on property on the Assiniboine River at Headingley. It was on the latter property that he built this house of hand-hewn oak logs, a sturdy structure that remained in family hands until 1967. Later acquired by the City of Winnipeg, the dwelling now serves as an impressive display of pioneer workmanship and domestic life on a museum site beside the former Assiniboia Municipal Hall.

Source: City of Winnipeg Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development Minutes, February 1, 2000

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the Red River frame building tradition of the William Brown House include:
- its rectangular shape, 1 1/2-storey height and simple side-gable roof with wood shingles and a chimney at each end
- the hand-hewn squared oak logs with tapered ends, laid horizontally, secured between grooved vertical logs tenoned at the corners and at various joints along log sills, and chinked to fill gaps
- the front and rear doorways, centred on the long sides and placed between two vertical logs
- the rectangular window openings cut out of the walls and finished with plain, slightly pedimented wooden casings and wood sills
- the placement of the windows, including openings on either side of the front door, two main-floor windows on both short sides, two openings in each gable end and one window next to the rear door
- the minimal ornamentation and uncomplicated detailing, including whitewashed walls, wood siding on the upper gable ends, etc.

Key elements that define the dwelling's interior heritage character include:
- the organization of the main and upper floors around an unpretentious central wooden staircase with simple wooden risers, balusters and handrail
- the three main-floor rooms consisting of a parlour and kitchen to the right of the staircase and a large living-dining room to the left, with a root cellar under the stairs accessed by a kitchen door
- the upper bedrooms, two on each side of the central stairway accessed off a narrow hallway, all with low angled ceilings
- the straightforward materials and finishes, such as plank flooring, wood ceilings on the main floor, wood trim, lath-and-plaster walls, etc.




Recognition Authority

City of Winnipeg

Recognition Statute

City of Winnipeg Act

Recognition Type

Winnipeg Landmark Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type




Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

William Brown


William Brown

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

15-30 Fort Street Winnipeg MB

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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