Manitoba's --- Uncommon Sites and Sights

Spotlight #4 --- An old house in Fraserwood at the NW corner of the intersection of highways 7 and 231

Do you have information about the old building shown below?

Please send your comments to

Your contributions will appear at the bottom of this page
under 'Viewers' Comments" or beside the image.

Image #1 -- Note the old house to the left & behind the church.

Image #2 -- The front (south side) as seen from the west

Image #3 -- The front door

Image #4 -- The broken beam over the window to the left of the door.

Image #5 -- The corner of the house shows the overlapping of the ends of the logs. Does this feature help us identify the age of the house?

Image #6 -- The east side of the house.

-- What is the white material?
-- What is the function of the diagonal strips of wood?

Image #7 -- The west side -- Any clues here?

Image #8 -- The chimney

Viewers' Comments

John Ostwald (Victoria, B.C.) -- The logs were from a saw mill . Probably from rail way ties. The bricks on the chimney are from Toronto bricks works. The lath and plaster were used to seal the wood from weather. But there is no foundation, building sank in the gumbo. Age 1900-20 Ukrainian Homestead.
John Ostwald (Victoria, B.C.) -- The Ukrainian church was usually built on corners of family farms. As they came in large family groups with later arrivers in the same family. The sawen logs are ties and were found along the railway and the tar coatings were not in use until the 1920.

The manufacture of the doors was a 1900 development, thus the 1900-1920. Plus the free land had been claimed by 1920's. Any older and there would be nothing left. The roof is rolled tar and does not seem to cover a shake roof, planking to close together.

The same housing can be seen in Alberta, in Barkerville, a living museum east of Edmonton. The older homes had shake roofs, and the planking is 4" with 2" spacing.

The bricks are a rich red and made in the brick plant in Toronto, I was there .. Plaster has been around 3-5000 years & was used in Rome and in Egypt and with the Incas here and in massive quantity.

Ralph Mueller (Winnipeg) -- Builders (settlers ?) used a number of techniques to construct early buildings, modifying them to their new environment and materials available.

The logs are not sawn, as can be seen clearly in photo #5. They were hewn, likely with a broad ax or an adz. The log would be squared by using a broad ax with an offset handle, allowing the user to swing the tool while standing on the opposite side of the log. Also visible in photo #5 is the remaining bark, or wane on the edges. (poplar ?)

Logs were squared only to make installing the lath (the twigs installed diagonally) easier, and to reduce the amount of chink required. often, nails were driven in partway to help hold the chink.

The notching technique is simple but effective. Typically the logs had pins installed between them, best described as a dowel drilled into the lower log, installed about 3" deep, protruding vertically an equal amount, with a corresponding hole drilled into the log placed above. This would give the wall it's lateral stability.

The door in Picture #7 is probably not original, nor is the rolled roofing material. On a budget, the shakes would have split out of 24" long logs with a froe, but often sawn shingles were purchased. Further examination of original fasteners below the existing rolled roofing would reveal the original material type.

The white material on the exterior is plaster, probably a lime and sand mix, with a white wash. Some detail is missing to be certain, but the door in picture #3 appears to have been cut in later. Logs were seldom cut out like this around doors, but the photo looks as if the logs on the left side simply end at the door frame. Typically a vertical post would be installed, with a mortise and tennon joint connecting the uppermost log, and the sill. That post would have a groove notched in to accept tennons cut into all of the logs butting into it.

Panel doors have been around for a few hundred years now, and the spartan hardware may not be original, as holes can be seen about 3" above the latch, and just below. These could be holes for a thumb latch from the interior, but cast iron latches have been available for many years too, and were simpler than a thumb latch. The exposed hinges appear to be common newer style butt hinges. The exposed gain at the center is interesting, as is the missing portion of the frame at the top right hand side.

It is often deceiving when trying to date structures like this, but there are no apparent metal fasteners. The "waddle" lath is likely nailed onto the structure, so a sample of the nails used would be helpful in determining a date.

Red River Log construction is unique, because of the difficulty in locating a large quantity of long logs that had a consistent girth. Every opportunity to keep the longest timber for ceiling rafters and tying members was used, while shorter pieces were used between windows, doors and often a central post which was only installed to join the "shorties" in a wall.

Stella ? [Winnipeg/Fraserwood] (her name given to me by Bob Bohonos) -- In a telephone conversation, she related that a 'Nick Overton' resided in this house many years ago.
Craig Arsenych [?-Placerville, California] -- A number of years ago I made a trip to Gimli and took a look at some of the barns still standing. In the new construction, the diagonal boards were attached on the inside. The purpose of the diagonal boards is to keep the prairie winds out.

My ancesters brought with them their Ukrainian heritage to Canada at the turn of the century. Some of them settled in the Arborg/Gimli area, others in Fraserwood. Their last name was Humeny. For some time now, I have been researching their migration. Any information pertaining to my ancesters would be very much appreciated. My paternal grandfather was JW Arsenych a very well known man around Winnipeg and Dauphin.

Randy Tomchak [r-Winnipeg, MB.] -- I recognized this house and church but I did not know much about it until I spoke to my father and mother tonight. It belonged to James and Dora Overton (Nick as mentioned on the page already is James's brother). My father Ralph and mom Gladys Tomchak of Fraserwood indicated that this house was build by James and Nick's father. He was not able to remember the father's name. He also indicated that my mom -Gladys Tomchak- was a niece of Dora Overton.

Apparently as a small child I spent a great deal of time there (not that I remember this though!) This house was built in the 19th century (before 1900's).

Bob Bohonos [r-Winnipeg, MB.] -- Bob has forwarded an article written by his late uncle, Michael Ewanchuk, the author of several books about Ukrainian pioneers. The article states that the house was built by Tomko Obertanetz.