Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/3/2021 (299 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I rolled up to 257 Trent Ave. on an unseasonably warm and windy Saturday. As I looked at the picturesque 1914 house, an explosive gust of wind blew open the exterior screen door and held it open against the house.
OK then, I thought, and walked up to the house, which is for now sale. Its original wide lot is now divided into two parcels with for sale signs on each.
The screen door remained curiously pinned open in the strong breeze, and I stepped onto the solid and level porch. Its open porch walls and four pillars are decorated with delicate, hand-done and milled spans of white wood trim that contrast dramatically with red cedar shingles. (Shingles can last decades because they are made of tightly grained wood and contain a natural, and sometimes added preservative.)
Overhead, there is a peaked roof and pediment, which is an imposing triangle structure with a stylized base first seen in public buildings of ancient Greece. (Throughout time, pediments have remained grand, signature architectural statements).
This home had always captured my eye. It is, in miniature, suggestive of the grand, late-19th century New England seaside retreat houses. According to Architectural Digest, nothing says New England charm quite like shingle-style houses, which also incorporate asymmetricality and combinations of ancient Greek design.
The open screen door revealed an interior door with 15 glass panes, and a door handle plate edged with ancient Greek egg and dart design.
Cupping my hands to the window, I could see the brick fireplace in the small home - another surprise discovered by looking up the address on the city’s assessment roster.
Who lived in such a home?
When it was built in 1914, the home’s owner was listed as Albert W. Sartin - a carpenter for the Brown and Rutherford Company. (By then, the B&R Co. was a fast growing, premier construction supply manufacturer that had begun in Winnipeg in the 1870’s as the first planing mill in the West. In 2017 it became a division of Gillfor Distribution Inc.)
That explained a lot.
As a carpenter familiar with the latest and best supplies for Winnipeg’s burgeoning neighbourhoods, it was likely Sartin who clad the home’s walls with the early and expensive red cedar shingles and applied the uniquely stylized trim. The porch sills are planed for water run off. He would have been familiar with the installation of decorative leaded glass windows, one of which is at the front of the house.
The Prince Edward School archives contain remembrances of his son Alex who attended in the early 1920s. Alex described his memories growing up in East Kildonan as fond ones. He and his brother George were both born in the Trent house.
A majestic towering oak sits at the very centre of the (now) eastern parcel; another oak stands closer to the street directly in front of the house.
Could Albert Sartin have planted these? Calculated from their circumference, they are both over 100 years old.
I pulled the screen door shut, clicking it closed and out of the wind.
Shirley Kowalchuk is a Winnipeg writer who loves her childhood home of East Kildonan where she still resides. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Correspondent — East Kildonan
Shirley Kowalchuk is a Winnipeg writer who loves her childhood home of East Kildonan, where she still resides. She can be reached at email@example.com