Fraser homestead a North Kildonan treasure
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 01/11/2021 (328 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As a teenager, when Chris Von Schindler had some extra cash she would treat herself to an issue of Victoria Magazine, a publication that showcased charming older homes. She dreamed of having a stately character house to decorate. In spring 2012, she and her husband found that house.
“We had at that point lived in Wolseley for nearly 20 years, loved it and had no intention of leaving. Enter two giant rescue dogs that needed a bigger yard than the homes Wolseley could provide. My husband had grown up in the North Kildonan area and was aware of the Fraser’s Grove community.”
When the house came up for sale, the couple made arrangements to view it with Von Schindler’s mother-in-law, to ensure there was sufficient space for her should the day come when she needed live-in support.
“We toured this beautiful but well lived-in home together and agreed that it was a special find. It wasn’t until we climbed to the third-floor art studio that I knew that I was home. As an artist myself, who has always lived in smaller quarters, I had always dreamt of a creative space all of my own. We looked at each other and knew that this was home,” Von Schindler said.
According to Jim Smith of the North East Winnipeg Historical Society, Fraser’s Grove Park and surrounding area has a history dating back to the 1830s.
The park was named after William Fraser, son of original Selkirk Settlers. Fraser was the treasurer of the committee that formed the Presbyterian Church in Kildonan, a member of the second provisional government formed by Louis Riel in 1870, and later served in the Manitoba legislature. He was the chairman and treasurer of the committee to establish Manitoba College, one of the founding colleges of the University of Winnipeg, and also served as reeve of the Municipality of Kildonan.
Around 1880, the Frasers purchased Kildonan Parish Lot 69, part of the park property and built a home there. In 1912 his son‐in‐law tore down the house and replaced it with the larger home that is now 116 Fraser’s Grove.
“It was clear that the home was more historic than the 1960s homes that surround it, but we didn’t realize that this was the Fraser homestead until we were told by a neighbour,” Von Schindler said.
“It is the only home on the street that faces west instead of north. It is also the only multi-storey, making giving driving instructions to new visitors very easy. The home has had only four owners, as far as we know. This means that it was reasonably cared for and many original features remain. This is both a blessing and a curse. Hundred-year-old features such as leaded windows certainly add beauty, if not fuel efficiency, to the property.”
The 2,350-square-foot-home with the third-floor art studio has four bedrooms, and two-and-a-half bathrooms.
“It has been renovated by previous owners but in a manner very respectful to its history and many original features, including oak trim and working pocket doors, remain.”
The carved wood, floor-to-ceiling 360-degree fireplace mantle is Von Schindler’s favourite feature.
“It is my muse that has allowed me to live out my Victoria Magazine decoration fantasies and dress it up for every season.”
The stately Fraser’s Grove home will be ready for its next chapter come spring.
“We have determined that provision of live-in support to an older family member is best done from a single-storey home. We have loved being here and only hope the next family honours her heritage as they make it their own.”
Janine LeGal is a freelance writer who loves Winnipeg’s homes and architecture. If you have a suggestion for a house to be featured in this column, please contact her at: email@example.com
St. Boniface community correspondent
Janine LeGal is a community correspondent for St. Boniface who also writes the These Old Houses column for our Community Homes section.