My Houses page features 41 classic Manitoba homes in 21 communities. There are a few instances where prairie houses overlap with artistic vision creating an entirely new way of seeing the architecture and the land. Today I feature two such sites, both of which succumbed to fire for very different reasons.
The Criddle/Vane story is unique among prairie settlement. Eccentric Percy Criddle loaded his wife, mistress and nine children up and moved them from the finery of London to the bald Canadian landscape in 1882. Years of hardship ensued. Four more children were born on the homestead. The family had wide and varied interests – music, art, sports, astronomy, entomology – and pursued them all with vigor making the site a hotbed of artistic and scientific activity for decades. About 1900 Percy built a huge two story wooden house with eight bedrooms on the second floor. It stood for 115 years on what is now Criddle/Vane Provincial Park. Alas, arsonists set the old pile on fire in June 2014 and nothing remains of the structure. Luckily I had shot several videos of the houses. This report is a tour of the house’s interior. Four a more complete tour of the park check out this report.
The Doll House by Heather Benning
As a succinct statement on the collapse of the family farm Saskatchewan artist Heather Benning created The Doll House in 2007. She modified a long abandoned wooden frame farm house on Highway #2 just east of the Saskatchewan border. This report provides detail on the project along with its destiny.
Saskatchewan artist Heather Benning set her artwork The Dollhouse on fire this week, burning it to the ground. It stood since 2007 next to Manitoba Highway #2 near the Saskatchewan border, evoking wonder and nostalgia while making a statement on the abandonment of the family farm. Heather says the destruction of the piece completes the circle, “From a ruin to a work of art … to a ruin again.” She documented the fire and plans an exhibition called The Death of The Dollhouse.
For background on The Dollhouse check out my post and my video. By the way, this video appeared on the National Post website today. I am in no way connected with the National Post. The video was used without permission or even a request for such. I thank Heather and the Reston Recorder for the picture of the fire. To freedom…
The house is gone. Find out why here.
A chilling monument to the decline of the prairie farm stands next to Manitoba Highway #2 just a few miles east of the Saskatchewan border. The 2007 art project by Saskatchewan artist Heather Benning is called The Doll House. Heather took an old abandoned farmhouse, removed the rear wall completely, furnished the place with stuff from the late 1960s when it was last inhabited and covered the open wall with plexiglas – instant doll house! The name is only one of the many ironies the project evokes. The loneliness of prairie pioneer women who could go months without seeing another woman struck me. The location would have been bleak if not desolate although Highway #2 was once a trail. The house is about a hundred years old now and Heather says it will remain an art project until it falls down. Here’s my video report on The Doll House.