As a wildlife and nature photographer, I am always traveling the back roads and trails of Manitoba looking for birds, animals, flowers and other photos of nature that appeal to me. However there are times when I don’t find very many or any of these items, so I am always on the lookout for other items that I can take a picture or two of. When I first began taking photos, it was with a point and shoot camera my work had given me to take shots of the various places I did business with, but I also found myself taking photos of the many old buildings and other structures that dot the Canadian Prairie landscape.
Welcome to my Humble Home ~ Snow Valley, Manitoba
So began a journey of not only finding all that nature had to offer me in the way of wildlife and nature, but also a love of all those old buildings on my way to and from finding the nature shots. In my collection of photographs dating back to 2007, when I first became serious about photography other than as a hobby, I have photos of old buildings and structures that take me from Kenora, Ontario in the east, all the way to the Pacific Ocean in the West. But for today I wanted to share a few of my favourite old buildings found in Manitoba, my home Province. Mother Nature is slowly reclaiming this old house that I found in 2007 in Snow Valley, Manitoba. It has a certain appeal to it and might just be that fixer-upper you’ve been looking for.
St. Peter's Church Dynevor ~ North of Selkirk, Manitoba
One of the more famous churches in Manitoba, St. Peter’s Dynevor Anglican Church, was built between 1853 and 1854, and restored to it’s original glory in 2002 – 2003. This church was built for one of the first agricultural aboriginal settlements in Western Canada, and was also the home of Chief Peguis, who was a friend and benefactor to the Selkirk Settlers. Chief Peguis and many other members of his family are buried in the adjacent cemetery to the south and east of the church. I have photographed this old church in many seasons, with this one taken in winter being my favourite of them all.
Old Farmhouse called Poverty Hill near Ninette, Manitoba
This old farmhouse given the name “Poverty Hill” stands proudly on the top of a rise along the prairie in southwest Manitoba, not far from the town of Ninette. Built in 1882, this homestead belonged to James and Jane Russell, who farmed the quarter of land at this location. There is a commemorative plaque that was dedicated to this family in 2004, sitting on the northeast corner of the land, but other than this I have not been able to find a lot of history about this old beauty of a home or why it was abandoned and left to the elements.
Old Stone Foundation Barn in Southwest Manitoba ~ Over 115 years old.
I was out for a drive one beautiful summer day, traveling north from Killarney and meandering along the back roads as I normally do, when I happened to look to the west and this old gem of a barn caught my eye. This stone foundation barn, which has been fully restored, is now over 115 years old and still being used today. The style of this barn is such that it has an approach to access the upper level, by means of a graded ramp (that cannot be seen in this photo) on the north side. I met the owner’s wife and had a pleasant conversation with her at which time she said I was welcome to return another time to take photos of the interior, which I have yet to do, but this is on my list of places to go back to for the future.
Old Farmhouse in Southwest Manitoba
Once again, while on a road trip, this time to the southwest corner of Manitoba, on my return home I stumbled upon this old farmhouse just northeast of the town of Grande-Clairiere. Whenever I find these old buildings I make a point of taking my photos from the road, rather than walking on private property that I have not yet asked permission to go on. Many of these old farms are surrounded by farmland and often have livestock grazing in the fields, or crops that are planted and growing. So one has to respect the rights of the property owner and be happy to get a photo of the outside of the building before nature reclaims it.
Hillcrest Museum ~ Souris, Manitoba (1910)
From the summer of 2012 to 2015 I had the pleasure of living in Souris, Manitoba, just 4 houses down the street from this former home, which was built by Fred Sowden, the son of Squire Sowden, who was the founding father of the Town of Souris and the Swinging Bridge that it is so well known for. The house is now a museum, but the story told says that Fred built this house for his new bride, who missed her home in England. So Fred built this in the style of an English Castle so that she wouldn’t be so homesick. I am not sure if this is folklore or actual truth, but it is a beautifully built house that has been well looked after. I have been inside the museum as well and have many photos of the original woodwork and designs for this home.
An Old Eaton House near Forest, Manitoba
This old beauty of a perfect example of one of the Eaton Homes, that were ordered by their homes catalogue during the early 1900s and then built by the homeowner, was at the time I photographed it, a Bed and Breakfast near the town of Forest. I spent some time with the owner and had the chance to also see and photograph the entire inside of the house, which has been fully restored to its original design. Words alone cannot express the beauty of this house. One needs to see this for themselves to fully appreciate it.
An Old Stone Foundation Barn - Notre Dame de Lourdes, Manitoba
Another old stone foundation barn that I stumbled upon was just south of the town of Notre Dame de Lourdes in the Tiger Hills. I have photographed this barn a few times but love this photo I took in 2015, with it shrouded in thick fog. Just seconds after I took this picture, I could barely see in front of my face and the barn disappeared from my view for close to a half hour. This barn has also been restored and is still in use today, although I have not had an opportunity to speak with the owner to find the original date it was built. I hope to do that one of these trips back to southwest Manitoba.
Bella's Castle ~ Morden, Manitoba (1902)
Located in the Town of Morden, Bella’s Castle is a Bed & Breakfast and is one of the most beautiful examples of a field stone house I have ever seen. Built in 1902, this home has been kept up with it’s original design both inside and out. Morden is famous for it’s Corn and Apple Festival each year, and it is during one of my trips there that I found this beauty. On the same street there are a number of other stone buildings that are in just as good condition as this one, although in my opinion, not quite having the grandeur and elegance that Bella’s Castle has.
Dark skies and a sunlit old Barn, still in use along the Manitoba Prairies
In 2017, while returning home to Winnipeg from southwest Manitoba, I was watching the skies closely and hoping to beat the impending storm that was looming around me. I was travelling along the back roads southwest of Glenboro when I happened to look to the north. There was a moment where the dark skies opened up a little to the west and allowed the sun to shine through, highlighting this old barn, that looks to still be in use. I stopped to take a few quick photos and continued on my way, but the storm caught up with me so I ended up taking to the highways and so ended my day of photography.
St. Peter & Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church ~ Thalberg, Manitoba
On a beautiful sunny Spring day, a friend and I headed out to see what sights we could find. This year (2018) Old Man Winter has been hanging about a little longer than most would like to see, but Spring is slowly making headway and as the snow melts, thoughts of migrating birds and new growth of flowers comes to mind. Well this trip was mostly uneventful for either of the former (we did see a couple of different hawks, but for me they were out of the reach of my lens), but there was no shortage of old buildings to photograph. This church located in the middle of nowhere was one of the old buildings now added to my collection.
Old Homestead in Southern Manitoba
What better way to end a day, than to find another old homestead on the edge of the prairie in southern Manitoba. This one is definitely showing it’s age, but like the first photo I presented you with today, might just be that fixer-upper you are looking for. I suspect the price would be right and it comes complete with central air conditioning. I think you could have this one in good shape in no time at all then showcase it as one of Manitoba’s many restored old homes.
I will always continue taking photos of old buildings and structures wherever my journey takes me. I have some beautiful photographs of some very old, restored buildings from down in the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, but that my friends will be kept for another day of sharing.