House Page 11

Great Canadian Houses

Louis Riel (Lagimodière) House, Winnipeg, Manitoba - 1885

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A fabulous historic Canadian house, bespeaking a Great Canadian tragedy, is the "Louis Riel" house in St. Vital, a neighbourhood in southern Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is actually the house of Louis Riel's mother, nee Lagimodière.

But Louis, grew up here, and later he, his wife, and two children, spent time here.

It is also the place where Louis, after he was hanged, lay inside as thousands of Métis men, women, and children, came to pay their last respects, before carrying him out the door and then ten miles north to the Basilica of St. Boniface where he was laid to rest.

The one-and-a-half storey house, like almost all the Métis houses in the Red River colony at the time, was built in the pièce-en-pièce style (see Fort St. James) but, like many Canadian log houses, was later covered over with siding, partly to protect the logs from deteriorating further, but also, one guesses, to hide the humble origins of a family who, in spite of every effort, in the Canadian wilderness, had not really done well enough, to build a new frame or stone house from scratch..

Louis Riel (Lagimodière) House, St. Vital, Winnipeg, Manitoba c 1885
Orig. pièce-en-pièce log house, covered with siding
Found - St. Vital, Winnipeg, MB

The main room left, viewed from the door, top, uses up most of the main floor, and was probably where Louis Riel was laid out as hundreds of people filed in to pay their last respects. The narrow staircase to the upper floor is on the far left. Two small bedrooms open to the right, each with a window below.

In the back is the door to the summer kitchen right, where cooking was done during the hot summer days to keep the heat out of the main living quarters of the house. Below, the summer kitchen addition that was a fixture on nineteenth century Canadian houses.

Mourners probably came in on the left, passed the stove in the summer kitchen and came out the door on the right.

Louis Riel's wife, Marguerite, whom he had married in 1881, stayed in the house with his two children Jean-Louis, and Angélique, after he was buried. But she died, inside, within months. Angélique died at 14 of diptheria; Jean-Louis in a buggy accident in his 20s.








Louis Riel, his wife and children, are buried in this modest plot on the banks of the Red River in front of the ruins of St. Boniface Cathedral.






Below the newest monument to him in front of the Manitoba Legislature.

The Canadian Government of the day - motivated by not a little racism - considered him a terrorist to be hunted down and killed.

Today he is considered The Founder of Manitoba. Below right, just metres from his grave, another memorial, in front of the oldest building in Winnipeg, the pièce-en-pièce constructed nun's convent building. In front are the mill stones once used by Louis Riel's father.

















Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005