Shaver House, Killarney area, MB
As I drove along the dusty country road toward the Shaver house north of Killarney I started to get the giddy sensation that arises when I approach something living and vital yet stationary and settled. Sacred places usually create that sense in me, sometimes buildings do, too.
As if painted directly on the prairie blue, a wondrous and unlikely vision, that switched back and forth between Italianate and Gothic Revival styles like a 2-D postcard, took shape against the distance. I was fascinated and curious, as ever.
Here’s an example of what prairie success did to an Ontario-born farmer, Arthur Shaver, who came to the Hullett area in 1889. Successful at farming and committed to a new and growing community, he served on Hullett’s first school board when it began in 1892. By the turn-of-the-century Shaver was ready to build.
Situated on a small rise overlooking rolling farm land to the south, Arthur Shaver built a house that recognized his success, his talent and his humanity. Two and a half storeys in tan brick, fanciful, one-of-a-kind design and decoration – a unique, top-notch quality house that the Shaver family made their home for several generations thereafter starting in 1901.
The wise old house and its tidy and tended grounds turns out to be a bed and breakfast called La Belle Vie (The Good Life) run by friendly and sociable Pam and Paul La Pierre. We sat next to the above-ground pool and rear sun room, both of which felt very compatible with Shaver’s dream, and shared some thoughts on the house and farm. The La Pierre’s, by loving and maintaining the house and sharing it with travelers, respect and enhance the heritage value of the place, located on the original Shaver farm.
I enjoy staying at curious bed and breakfasts and meant to get back to the area and spend a night living La Belle Vie, but, alas, it didn’t happen. Added to next summer’s list. My words and video then are about the exterior only.
What an exterior!! The generous rectangular massing has a shallow pedimented gable on the front and a wing on the east side. Scrolled bargeboard accentuates the pediment. The hip roof is cut with two dormers and the wide eaves are supported by scrolled brackets. Painted bricks add flair and interest to the house with stars, quoins on the corners and the detailed colour contrast highlighting the windows.
For an all-around view of the Shaver house, watch my 2:12 video.