Logged in as user  [Login]  |
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Sharman House

Onoway, Near

Other Names:
Sharman Stone House
Sharman Stone House & Yardsite
The Sharman Stone House and Yardsite

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Sharman House is a two-storey stone building situated on 2.47 hectares of land near the Town of Onoway. The home was completed in the late 1920s and is distinguished by its picturesque exterior, which is composed of different shapes and sizes of split fieldstone. Other prominent features of the home include a hipped roof with intersecting roof ridges, hipped wall dormers, three tall stone chimneys, and a two-storey bay projecting from the southwest corner of the building. The yard includes mature evergreen trees north of the house dating from the period of construction.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Sharman House lies in the excellent craftsmanship evident in its split fieldstone construction and the home's picturesque aesthetic appeal.

The earliest settlers in the Onoway area preceded both the arrival of the Dominions Lands Survey in 1904-05 and the coming of the Northern Alberta Railway line in 1909. One of the region's pioneers was Thomas Sharman, an Irish farmer and stonemason who took up land in the district in 1903. In the process of clearing his fields, he amassed a huge collection of fieldstones. In the mid-1920s, Sharman decided to make good use of his quarry; with the assistance of his son and some local neighbours, he designed and built the Sharman House. Sharman's craftsmanship is evident in the quality of the split fieldstone masonry and the solidity of the building, which consists of two-foot thick walls set atop a board-formed concrete foundation of equal thickness. His aesthetic sensibility is reflected in the picturesque composition of the various colours and shapes of stones and in the irregular plan of the home. It is also apparent in the blending of Queen Anne and Craftsman style architectural elements Sharman incorporated into his home, including visible rafters, four-panelled wood doors, four-over-one single-hung windows, and plain fir stairs with square newels and square spindled balustrade. The well-conceived marriage of materials, craftsmanship, and architectural sensibility has imparted to the Sharman House its distinctive character and charm.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2145)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Sharman House include such features as:
- general mass, form, and scale;
- various colours and shapes of split fieldstones that compose the exterior;
- quoin-like corners;
- hipped roof with intersecting roof ridges and three tall stone chimneys;
- hipped wall dormers;
- two-storey bay projecting from the southwest corner of the building;
- visible rafters;
- fenestration pattern and style, including four-over-one single-hung windows;
- original interior elements, including four-panelled wood doors, plain fir stair with square newels and square spindled balustrade, extensive fir interior trim, cobblestone fireplace, fittings, and heating grates;
- smooth coat, plaster-like finish of interior walls;
- extant water well in basement;
- landscape elements north of the house, including mature evergreen trees in the yard.


Street Address: RR #3
Community: Onoway, Near
Boundaries: Lot 1, Block1, Plan 0525949
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1
Landscape(s) or Landscape Feature(s): 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.627706 -114.211742 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2007/07/03

Historical Information

Built: N/A
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Architect: Thomas Sharman
Builder: Thomas Sharman

When the Canadian Northern Railway extended a line through Onoway in 1909, en route to Jasper and Vancouver, much of the rich agricultural land east of Lac Ste Anne was made immediately viable for homesteading. Even before the railway arrived however, and indeed even before the Dominion Land Surveys of 1904-05, a number of settlers had taken up land in the Onoway area. One of these was Thomas Sharman, who settled on NW34 TP52 R3 W5 in 1903, in a district soon to be known as Heatherdown. Sharman had been born in Ireland, and had come to western Canada from North Dakota, where he had been a stonemason as well as a farmer. He had first attempted to homestead near Camrose, but was unsuccessful. Near Heatherdown however, he and his wife succeeded in proving up, and eventually they acquired five quarters.

As he cleared and broke his land, Sharman made a point of salvaging pristine stones that inundated his fields. Being a stonemason, he had an idea that one day these would prove useful. By the mid 1920s, he decided to use these stones for a new house. With the help of his youngest son, Lawrence, and local neighbors, he designed and built a large dwelling utilizing the material he had salvaged. He moved into his new home in about 1927, and lived there with his wife until passing away a few years later. The house and the farm were then taken over by Lawrence Sharman and his wife, Florence, who died tragically in a fire on the farm in 1936. The Field Stone House then continued to be occupied by Lawrence Sharman on his own until he moved to British Columbia in 1947. It was then acquired by Gordon Stewart, his wife Lenabelle, and their son, Lowell. With Lenabelle's death, Gordon and Lowell continued to farm the land and occupy the house as bachelors. Lowell would reside there until 1990, when he sold the quarter with the house to Thomas and Carolyne Summer. The Summers now want to turn it into a bed and breakfast.


The historical significance of the Field Stone House of Thomas Sharman lies in its representation of the settlement of the Onoway area, and of the richness of the farmland in the district. It is also significant in demonstrating the inventiveness and craftsmanship of one of Onoway's early settlers.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1338
Designation File: DES 2145
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 72621
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. 2145)
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.

Home    Contact Us    Login   Library Search

© 1995 - 2023 Government of Alberta    Copyright and Disclaimer    Privacy    Accessibility