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Leitch Residence

High River

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Leitch Residence is a 1929 one-storey, plaster-clad, single-family dwelling with decorative wood stick detailing above the
wood-frame, double-hung windows. The structure has a medium hip-gable roof, and an enclosed front porch with a matching roof. The house is located on two town lots in a residential district east of the downtown.


Heritage Value
The municipal heritage value of the Leitch Residence lies in its association with the Leitch Family; and for its Arts and Crafts influences in its design and construction.

Alfred Alexander (Ack-Ack) Leitch was born in 1894, in Manitoba. He was one of the first Canadians to join the British air force in WWI and he was the second pilot to land a plane on the aircraft carrier HMS Argus. He participated in ferrying aircraft to Murmansk and he received the British Military Cross for shooting down seven enemy planes, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for strafing enemy positions in northern France. He was seriously injured in July 1919 with a fractured skull and other injuries following his seaplane crashing into the water. Post-war, Ack was one of the experienced pilots who were the backbone of the newly created Canadian Air Force.
In 1924, Flight Lieutenant Leitch was posted to the High River Air Station as air pilot navigator. One of the roles of the air station was to fly daily forest fire patrols between Eckville and Pincher Creek. When the Prince of Wales was staying at the E.P. Ranch, Leitch made mail drops on his daily flight. In 1927, he was selected as senior officer of a year-long expedition to determine navigation routes through the northern Hudson Straits. Upon his return to High River he was Officer Commanding of the Base. From 1932-38, he was second-in-command of the Camp Borden and Trenton Air bases. A mural depicting a portrait of Ack is painted on a building in downtown High River.

His wife, Evelyn Rachel Leitch, was born in 1896 and was the granddaughter of Joseph Limoges and the daughter of Thomas Wilkinson Robertson, two of the three founders of the High River Trading Co. Thomas also bought the Highwood Ranch shortly after he married Eva Limoges and it is still owned by descents of Evelyn’s brother Joe. Evelyn was one of the first graduates of the nursing program at the High River Municipal Hospital in 1923, receiving her diploma from the Prince of Wales. She worked at the hospital in High River and during WWII she conducted home nursing programs in the community. She became one of the first female reporters in the province, working for both for the Albertan and the High River Times, and writing many human interest pieces over the years. She was the principal organizer of the committee which researched and wrote a local history book, Leaves from the Medicine Tree. She was also very active with the Catholic Church in High River.

Ack located a site for this home outside of the river’s floodway through aerial survey. There he built the one-storey, stucco clad residence that was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement has a medium hip-gable roof, with plain fascia, exposed rafters and exposed purlins. There is a small gable dormer on the right side. The enclosed porch, originally open, has a hip-roof, and slightly sloping walls. Above the porch is a horizontal window vent. There are fixed four-over-one wood-frame windows on the porch. Other windows are wood-frame, double-hung with wood storms.

The house retains the original window and door fenestrations. Between the windows and the eaves on the front façade and the porch is decorative wood stick detailing. There are two chimneys. One is brick, and the second is stucco clad. Ack had plans done up to add an addition onto the home at a later date but it never materialized. Percy Taylor was hired to finish off the living and dining rooms. Many of the original light fixtures are still in place, and were wedding gifts from cousins in Montreal. The house hosted many local celebrities, and was the centre of civic promotion and Alberta values. Joe Clark (Prime Minister of Canada, 1979-80) used to visit the home and Sue Higgins (Alderman, City of Calgary, 1977-83 and 1986-01) was once a resident. The home has housed four generations of the Leitch family, and as of 2015 it is still owned and occupied by the family.


Character-Defining Elements
Character-defining elements of the Leitch Residence include:
- mass, scale, and form of the one-storey residence;
- medium hip-gable roof, with plain fascia, exposed rafters and purlins;
- small gabled dormer on right side;
- enclosed front porch, with hip-gable roof;
- horizontal window vent in façade above porch;
- sloping walls on sides of porch;
- stucco cladding;
- original window and door fenestrations;
- wood-frame, double-hung windows with wood storms;
- fixed four-over-one wood-frame windows on porch;
- wood window trim;
- decorative wood stick detailing between the windows and eaves;
- brick chimney, and an exterior stucco clad chimney;
- location in a residential district east of the downtown; and
- setback from the street.


Location



Street Address: 228 - 2 Avenue SE
Community: High River
Boundaries: Part Lots 2 and 3, Block 100, Plan 5067DR
Contributing Resources:

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
5067DR
100
2,3


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
50.581327 -113.864390 NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2016/05/09

Historical Information

Built: 1929/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s):
Current Function(s):
Architect:
Builder:
Context:

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0432
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: Town of High River, Planning and Development Division, 309 Macleod Trail SW High River, AB T1V 1Z5
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