Chapter: Home Sweet Home


"If walls could talk..."
1895 Queen Anne style brick house, built by Charles H. Wheeler for Sir Hugh John Macdonald, the son of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald 1895 Dalnavert Building


This Queen Anne style brick house with wraparound wooden verandah was built in 1895 by architect Charles H. Wheeler for Sir Hugh John Macdonald; the only son of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Like his famous father, Hugh John had many different roles: soldier, lawyer, politician, premier of Manitoba, husband, and father.

If these walls could talk they would tell countless stories of joy and tragedy; from the happiness of family Christmases to the sadness of the death of the MacDonald’s son, Jack, from diabetes at only 19 years of age.

Dalnavert could also tell larger stories of class and gender that played out within the house. At least two servants at a time lived with the Macdonalds, but their living spaces were separate and literally a step down from the rest of the household.

Sir Hugh John Macdonald was known for his empathy towards those who appeared before him in court. However, as a man of his class and time, this empathy did not extend to those participating in the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. Immigrants arrested during the strike were sent to an internment camp and then deported.

Their daughter, Isabella, as a young woman of her time was nonetheless free to enjoy less “feminine” pursuits such as fencing and shooting pistols.

The house was designated a National Historic Site in 1990 and is now Dalnavert Museum.