A century-old historic building burned to the ground Wednesday night in what RCMP are calling a suspicious fire.
Blue Hills RCMP received a report about a fire at the The Criddle-Vane homestead around 10 p.m. Wednesday. By the time they arrived, the house was beyond saving, and the house was completely destroyed by the fire. No one was injured, and RCMP said damage estimates are not known right now.
The Criddle Vane historic site, located about 12 kilometres south of Shilo, housed the first entomological field station in western Canada, built in 1917 for the cost of $50.
Norman Criddle, one of the homestead’s many tenants, was a pioneer in the field of entomology. The Criddles and Vanes, two families from England, settled the house 1882. The two families were known for their eccentric lifestyles.
The last family members left in 1960. In 1970, the Manitoba government acquired the homestead, which includes the family home, the field station, a cemetery, and remains of landscape features like a tennis court and golf course.
In the last few years the site experienced problems with vandalism, as windows were smashed, holes were punched in walls and doors ripped off their hinges. The Criddle/Vane Homestead committee, including surviving family member Paul Criddle tried to curb the vandalism at the time while also protecting the site from the elements.
The fire is still under investigation, and RCMP are asking that anyone with information contact the Blue Hills "Brandon" RCMP detachment 204-726-7519, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, submit a secure tip online at www.manitobacrimestoppers.com or text "TIPMAN" plus your message to CRIMES (274637)