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McNaught Homestead

Beaverlodge, Near

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The McNaught Homestead cultural landscape consists of seventeen buildings situated on approximately 64.15 hectares of land. The site includes residences, barns, granaries, sheds, a garage, a pump house, a chicken coop, and a school house. The original log house on the property has been covered in stucco. The McNaught homestead is located immediately west of Highway 722, just south of Beaverlodge.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the McNaught Homestead lies in its representation of early settlement buildings in the Peace River Country, its landmark value in the region, and its association with artist Euphemia McNaught.

In 1909, members of a group of excommunicated Methodists known as the Christian Association emigrated from Ontario to the Beaverlodge area of Northern Alberta. Two years later, more settlers from central Canada, some of whom were affiliated with the Christian Association, joined them. Both groups were part of the first wave of homesteaders that set down roots in Northern Alberta from 1910 to 1914. Charles and Eliza McNaught first came to the district with the second group of settlers in 1911, though they were not affiliated with the Christian Association. During their early years on the farm, the McNaughts' farmstead included six buildings still standing on the current site: a two-storey log house, a pump house, two barns, a chicken coop, and a schoolhouse. Additional structures were added in subsequent years. One of the most complete collections of buildings dating from the first settlement wave in the Peace River Country, the McNaught Homestead has become a significant landmark in the district for its integrity and historical value.

The McNaught Homestead also possesses unique heritage value for its association with Charles and Eliza's daughter, Euphemia McNaught. Born in Ontario, Euphemia came with her family to the Beaverlodge area in 1912. A gifted artist, she graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1929. Two of her instructors at the college were Group of Seven members' J.E.H. MacDonald and Arthur Lismer. Euphemia eventually returned to the family farmstead and set up a studio in the former Appleton schoolhouse on the property. She gained provincial and national acclaim for her depictions of the Northwest Canadian landscape.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1880)


Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of the McNaught Homestead cultural landscape includes such character-defining elements as:

The McNaught's original log house:
- two-storey round log construction with dovetail corners;
- central log beam supporting floor joists and wood decking of second floor;
- fenestration pattern and original window casings and sills;
- gable roof with exposed rack overhang.

The frame pump house:
- wood framing, with simple gable roof and loft space.

Large barn:
- log construction of walls, beams, and posts with stick framing for the large gable walls above the loft floor level;
- large, pointed, Gothic arch roof with louvered cupola and bellcast eaves;
- main floor plan with centre aisle access to stalls on either side;
- large barn doors, stall fences and gates;
- pulley and rail system.

Small barn:
- log construction of main floor walls, stick framing of loft level walls;
- simple gable roof with minimal eave and rake overhangs;
- hinged access doors in the east elevation and the north gable.

Log chicken coop
- log construction with low, asymmetrical gable roof;
- fenestration pattern and access door in east gable end wall;
- interior subdivisions.

Log schoolhouse
- hewn log construction with dovetail corners;
- brick masonry fireplace, hearth and chimney;
- main access door in east gable wall and back door in west wall;
- fenestration pattern, including bank of south-facing windows;
- no interior partitions.


Location



Street Address:
Community: Beaverlodge, Near
Boundaries: Portion of NE 15-71-10-W6
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 17

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
6
6
6
6
10
10
10
10
71
71
71
71
15
15
15
15
09
10
15
16

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
55.152494 -119.442446 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type
6114418 0344731 GPS NAD 83

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2003/10/18

Historical Information

Built: 1911 to 1911
Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Learning and the Arts
Peopling the Land : Settlement
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Farm or Ranch
Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Leisure : Historic or Interpretive Site
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HISTORICAL CONTEXT

In the spring of 1909, a group of excommunicated Methodists from Ontario known as the Christian Association (or Burnsites after their leader, Nelson Burns) made their way in convoy to the western edge of the Grande Prairie in northwestern Alberta, and began to carve out homesteads. The district along the lower Beaverlodge River was just being surveyed, and this group of 31 settlers came to constitute what would become the first successful attempt at group settlement in the Peace River Country. They were soon joined by other settlers from Ontario, some of them Christian Association members, some not. Among the latter was Charles McNaught who, with his wife Eliza, arrived in the district in June 1911 to visit his brother, Sam, who had settled in the area two years earlier.

Taken by the country, Charles and Eliza also decided to try establishing a farm there, taking two quarter-sections of land off the Beaverlodge River on NE15 and SE22 TP71 R10 W6 with half-breed scrip, and one on NE25 TP70 R11 off the Red Willow River by homesteading. They decided to reside on NE15, and so they constructed a log dwelling, a barn, and other structures, and proceeded to work the land. In 1914, they received title to both NE15 and SE22.

Being at some distance from the more heavily settled areas of the south Peace River Country, around Lake Saskatoon and Grande Prairie, the settlers around the Beaverlodge constituted a tightly knit group, most of whom were members of the Christian Association. Many non-members participated in Association activities. Though the Association itself would eventually go into decline, due partly to the lack of any formal church structure, the community remained closely connected, with many families inter-marrying. The children of Charles and Eliza McNaught would remain on the family homestead for years, becoming strong pillars of the community. Indeed, three of them came to serve as local schoolteachers.

Of all the McNaught children, Euphemia would become the most famous. She was born in Glenmorris, Ontario, and traveled to the Beaverlodge district in a covered wagon with her family in 1912. Like her sisters, she enrolled at the Calgary Normal School, and upon graduation took up teaching as a profession. Her proclivity for painting had been noticed however, and upon encouragement from instructors at the Normal School, she enrolled in the Ontario College of Art, from where she graduated in 1929. Among her instructors were J.E.H. MacDonald and Arthur Lismer. Her work received favourable criticism, and she was able to finance her way through college with several scholarships. Upon graduating, she taught art at Mount Royal College and the Ontario Ladies College at Whitby, but soon returned to the family homestead near Beaverlodge. The environment of northwestern Canada soon became her principal subject, and she was able to sustain herself largely though the sale of her paintings, and by conducting art classes for local residents.

Euphemia McNaught soon became a household name throughout the Peace River Country, and, in time, she gained something of a national reputation as well, with paintings being acquired by the Alberta Art Foundation and the National Gallery. In 1977, she received the Alberta Achievement Award, and, in 1982, she became the first recipient in art of the Sir Frederick Haultain Award. In 1992, she was the focus of a special National Film Board video, and in the years that followed her work was the subject of special exhibits by the Edmonton Art Gallery and other galleries throughout the West. She passed away in 2001 at age 99.


HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the buildings constituting the McNaught Homestead is two-fold. As structural evidence of the homesteading period in the Peace River Country, they constitute one of the most complete collections of buildings in the region dating from the first settlement wave (1910-14). They are also important in constituting the home of Euphemia McNaught for most of her life, with the former Appleton School on the site having served as her studio.

(Historical Interest Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0873
Designation File: DES 1880
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 24055
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1880)
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