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Maccoy Homestead

High River

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Maccoy Homestead is comprised of multiple buildings and landscape features situated on, but distinct from, Sheppard Family Park in High River. The oldest building on the homestead is an 1883 one-storey, white-washed log house. A frame addition was constructed in the early 1920s when the Sheppard family bought the homestead. Other structures built by the Sheppard family in 1925 or later include a guest house, coal/garden shed, garage and outhouse. A concrete-lined root cellar is dug into an embankment to the north-east of the cabin, while a small bridge directly west of the cabin crosses the Little Bow River. The landscape features that complete the site include both natural (cottonwood trees) and man-made (garden) elements. The site is located at 1201 – 5th Street SE in High River.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Maccoy Homestead rests in its strong representation of the contribution of women’s labour to the success of homesteading and agriculture in rural Alberta. Further, the Maccoy Homestead provides an excellent example of the evolution of a farmstead in the southern Alberta foothills.

The Maccoy Homestead strongly reflects the importance of women’s labour in rural Alberta through its association with Ruth Maccoy and her mother Evelyn Sheppard, who moved onto the homestead with Evelyn’s husband Henry Sheppard, Jr., in 1925. For decades, the labour of Ruth and Evelyn was essential to both the self-sufficiency and commercial success of the homestead – they maintained the household, participated in the market economy (through the production and sale of eggs and dairy products), and assisted with many of the activities and duties associated with large-scale commercial agriculture. The majority of the extant structures on the homestead date from the 1920s, and the particular significance of women’s labour is manifest in the completeness of the domestic landscape, including the log cabin and 1925 attachment that served as the main residence, the surrounding gardens that were cultivated by Evelyn and Ruth, the garden/coal shed, and the root cellar. Further, documentary evidence from the 1920s through the 1950s yields significant insight into the range of physical labour performed by Evelyn and especially Ruth on the homestead, including ploughing fields, hauling manure, raking hay, driving horse teams and digging ditches. The site’s association with women’s labour is further anchored by Ruth’s long and continuous residence on the homestead; after Henry died in 1954 and Evelyn died in 1959, Ruth lived alone on the site and maintained a self-sufficient homestead until her own passing in 1995. The labour contribution of women was thus essential to the success of the homestead, and the heritage value of the site is communicated through the extant structures and landscape elements, particularly those associated with the domestic economy.

Further, the Maccoy Homestead provides an excellent example of the evolution of a farmstead in the Alberta foothills region. The oldest building on the homestead is the log cabin, which dates back to 1883 and was originally built as a fishing cabin for a local resident. In 1887, the property was sold to William Iken who used the site to breed Clydesdales. The homestead continued to be used as a horse-breeding farm until it was sold to the Sheppard family in the early 1920s. The frame addition to the cabin (built in 1925) and the extant outbuildings (built after 1925 and likely before 1940) reflect the homestead’s transition from a small horse ranch to a self-sufficient mixed farm that could accommodate a family. The different buildings and construction materials, and in particular the juxtaposition of the log cabin and later addition, reflect the evolving needs and resources of the settlers who occupied the homestead. The buildings provide an effective illustration of the range of activities that took place on the site since the late nineteenth century. Other structures, including a bunkhouse, bedding barn, cow shed, and corral, provide additional context but are not included in this designation. While these structures are still in their original location, they have been impacted by the addition of extraneous buildings moved to Sheppard Park.


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Maccoy Homestead include, but are not limited, to:
- location in a historic yard;
- relationship of residence (cabin and addition) to other extant historic structures, including coal/garden shed, guest house, and garage;
- historic garden enclosed by a painted wood picket fence;
- natural landscape elements, including the cottonwood trees; and
- board-formed concrete root cellar, dug out of an embankment.

The character-defining elements specific to the 1883 cabin include, but are not limited to:
- hand hewn logs with axe markings and half-dovetail joints;
- interior and exterior whitewash; and
- hand-dug cellar.

The character-defining elements specific to the 1925 addition include, but are not limited to:
- floor plan, consisting of an L-shaped living room and separate bedroom; and
- interior finishes of painted tongue-and-groove board walls and ceilings, wood floors, and window and door casings.


Location



Street Address: 1201 - 5 Street SE
Community: High River
Boundaries: Lot 2, Block 3, Plan 1410433
Contributing Resources: Collection

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
29
18
36


PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
1410433
3
2


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2015/10/14

Historical Information

Built: 1883 to 1925
Significant Date(s) 1925 to 1995
Theme(s) Peopling the Land : Settlement
Historic Function(s):
Current Function(s):
Architect:
Builder:
Context:
The Maccoy Homestead is comprised of multiple buildings and landscape features situated on (but distinct from) Sheppard Family Park in High River. The oldest building on the site is an 1883 one-storey, white-washed log cabin, originally built as a fishing cabin. A frame addition was constructed in the early 1920s when the Sheppard family bought the homestead. Other structures build by the Sheppard family after 1925 include a guest house, coal/garden shed, garage and outhouse. A concrete-lined root cellar is dug into an embankment to the north-east of the cabin, while a small bridge directly west of the cabin crosses the Little Bow River. The landscape features that complete the site include both natural (cottonwood trees) and man-made (gardens) elements.

The log cabin was built in 1883 for Andy Bell, who moved to the High River district from Montreal and used the new cabin as a base for fishing. Bell remained in High River for four years and then sold it to William Ikim, who bred Clydesdales on the site for the nearby ranches. The site was then acquired in the early 1920s by Henry Sheppard, Jr., who moved there with his new wife Evelyn and her ten-year-old daughter Ruth Maccoy (Evelyn’s first husband had died in the Great War: Ruth kept her father’s last name of Maccoy). The three lived on the homestead for the rest of their lives; Henry died in 1954, Evelyn in 1959, and Ruth in 1995.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1376
Designation File: DES 2316
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: Source: Alberta Culture and Tourism, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2316)
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