Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/3/2016 (452 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The restoration of one of the last remaining farmhouses on Assiniboine River (inside the city limits) continues, and on May 29, Caron House at 50 Cass St., will be part of Doors Open Winnipeg.
At a recent presentation to members of the Charleswood Historical Society, Lois Caron and her nephew Marc Caron provided a brief history of Caron House, while Burton Boryen provided an overview of the challenges involved in renovating the home.
Caron House was built in 1905 by George Caron, who, along with a distant cousin, moved from Quebec in 1880 and purchased 2,400 acres of farmland in St. Charles Parish.
Built on a four-miles-deep river lot, Caron House was a home ahead of its time — one which spoke of wealth and success. The 2.5-storey home featured a second storey balcony, fancy spindle, unique features such as curved walls on the second floor, and running water.
Constructed with Queen Anne-style brick veneer, the material was not only rich in appearance but practical for a damp climate.
The Carons established a successful operation which included a dairy farm and a cheese factory. They added a ferry crossing to get their produce across the river to St. Charles and Portage Trail. George Caron also held public office while living in Caron House with his wife and four daughters.
Following George’s death, his widow and daughters operated the farm. In 1948, Caron House was sold to the Lafleche family, who resided there until 1960. Norman and Wilma Fraser purchased and lived in Caron House until 1978, when the house was sold to the city. A number of tenants lived in the house over the next few years but fire and vandalism took its toll on a home that had been a symbol of status.
Thanks to the foresight of Verna Van Roon, Caron House was saved. Van Roon had witnessed the demolition of other historical homes and was determined that Caron House would not share the same fate. She spearheaded a movement that included lobbying city hall and fundraising campaigns to obtain grants. Her determination paid off.
In 1980, the 20-acre Caron Park was established, and preservation of the house was undertaken by the Charleswood Historical Society. In 1982, Caron House became an official historic home and by August, 198,3 guided tours of the house were being offered. In 1985, Caron House received a heritage award.
Renovating a 110-year old home is no easy task. The project included structural changes ranging from replacing floors, walls and stairs to adding insulation and electrical and plumbing upgrades. Boryen and his family have lived in Caron House during the renovations, and after 20-plus years of painstaking work, the main floor of Caron House is ready for viewing.
For more information about Caron House, visit charleswoodhistoricalsociety.com
Donna Minkus is a community correspondent for Charleswood.