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Key Number: HS 39878
Site Name: McDonald Stopping House
Other Names: MacDonald Farmhouse
Site Type: 0101 - Residential: Single Dwelling
1206 - Communications: Post Office


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
58 19 4

Address: N/A
Number: N/A
Street: N/A
Avenue: N/A
Near Town: Waskatenau


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape:
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: N/A
Interior: N/A
Environment: N/A
Condition: N/A
Alterations: 1917 - siding put on over logs.


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Post Office/Store/Residence
Post Office/Residence

Owner: Owner Date:

Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Built 1907 or 1908 used as a home. Used as a store also 1909. Used as a post office and store, and home. Used as a post office and home 1916. Used as a home 1920. Present home of the MacDonalds.
RESOURCE S. A. MacDonald House, Store and Pine Creek Post Office
ADDRESS Victoria Trail, near Waskatenau
BUILT 1908
DESIGNATION STATUS Registered Historic Resource


In its relatively intact condition, the MacDonald Residence is a good example of the pre-railway privately-run stopping point that served travelers on the Victoria Trail and North Saskatchewan river, the mail system, and local consumers. As such it became a community center and played an important role in the history of the area.
* * *
S. A. McDonald built this house in 1908 to serve as a family home, post office and general store. The store is generally credited to be the first general store in this area of the Victoria Trail. It served as an important community centre. Samuel MacDonald traveled west from southern Ontario to homestead near Warspite in 1906. In 1908 he acquired the additional parcel of land on which his house stands. The house reflects the design of southern Ontario farm houses and provides a direct reminder of the cultural persistence of such cultural traditions in the pioneer West.

* * *
Description of Historic Place

The McDonald Stopping House is a one and one-half storey log house with a steeply-pitched gable roof, a wrap-around verandah and a one storey lean-to addition at the rear. A modern wing, which is not included in the designation, was added to the rear of the house in 1993. The house, which was built in 1909 and improved over the following eight years, is located in a natural setting with a large yard and numerous trees alongside the historic Victoria Trail. Remnants of a wagon path leading to the site from the trail are still visible. The site is located in the County of Smoky Lake near the village of Waskatenau on the north side of the North Saskatchewan River.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the McDonald Stopping House lies in its historical association with the Victoria Trail, its function as a stopping house along this historic route and its role as an important commercial centre for settlers and travellers in the region.

The founding of Victoria Settlement in the early 1860s and the Hudson's Bay Company post at Fort Victoria (now Pakan) soon after, created a significant amount of travel on the trail between these locations and Fort Edmonton. Along this historic path, which became known as the Victoria Trail, numerous stopping houses were established. Operated mainly by farmers to generate supplementary income, these facilities offered travelers shelter for the night and occasionally provided meals and other goods and services needed on long overland journeys. These stopping houses often became important local commercial and social centres. One such facility on the Victoria Trail was operated by the McDonald family.

In 1908, after successfully proving up a homestead near Warspite, S. A. McDonald filed on a new homestead adjacent to the Victoria Trail where he built a small log frame, one and one half-storey building to be used as a residence and a general store. In 1909, he proved up this homestead, married his wife Janet and opened the store. The McDonald farmstead, being approximately 30 kilometres from the Victoria Settlement, also became an ideal stop for travellers along the Victoria Trail. Sam and Janet McDonald soon began operating a stopping house from their homestead and a coach house was constructed on the site to meet traveller's needs. Also due to its ideal location, the increased traffic and Sam McDonald's political connections, a number of other services were soon offered from the building. The Pine Creek Post Office relocated here in 1913 followed by a sub-agency of the Edmonton Dominion Land Office. The multitude of services offered made the stopping house a frequent gathering place for area residents. The success of the McDonald business operations can be read in the changes made to the physical structure of the buildings over the years. The log structure was expanded and improved between 1911 and 1920. A one-storey shed roofed lean-to at the rear; originally used for storage and later as a kitchen, was added by 1913. In 1917, bevelled cedar siding was installed over the logs on the exterior walls and a wrap-around porch was added to the south (front) and east sides. The interior of the house was also improved by adding high quality wood strip flooring, beaverboard cladding on the walls and high quality fir wainscoting, window and door frames and other millwork. These additions and improvements made the house resemble typical farm houses in areas of Southwestern Ontario, where McDonald had lived before migrating to Western Canada.

Soon after these additions and improvements were made the fortunes of the McDonald businesses declined. The Canadian Northern Railway had constructed a line into the Pine Creek area and had surveyed a town site a short distance to the north at Waskatenau. The arrival of the more comfortable and efficient railway drew travellers away from the river and Victoria Trail. This decrease in traffic ended the McDonald homestead's role as a stopping house. Additionally, Waskatenau became the new commercial service point for the district and the post office and land titles office relocated there in 1920. Soon after the loss of these offices, the McDonald family also closed their general store. With their businesses in decline, they shifted their attention to full-scale farming and constructed a number of outbuildings to support this endeavour. By 1940, the coach house was dismantled and its construction materials were used to build a granary.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1843)


Status: Status Date:

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1990/11/29


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0709
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