Manitoba Historical Society
     Keeping history alive for over 144 years

Ross House

by H. K. Davis, Curator

Manitoba Pageant, April 1957

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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Have you ever wished that you lived in the days of Good Queen Bess. or Drake, or Radisson? The idea sounds like fun, when you don't think of how you'd miss modern things, doesn't it?

Well, nearly every day from mid-June to mid-September Mr. Baynham, my assistant and I leave our modern homes and go to Ross House where, when we go through the door, we step back through time - into the 1850s!

For Ross House is the oldest house left in Winnipeg proper, and it is the oldest Post Office in Western Canada. It was built before Manitoba was part of Canada, when people ate pemmican, or venison, or wild duck. just as we eat beef; and it was over twenty years old before the people living in it heard the whistle of the very first railway engine.

Ross House is a museum now, but when it was built in 1854 it was the new log home of William Ross, son of Chief Trader Alexander Ross of the Hudson's Bay Company and his Okanagan Indian wife. William Ross was made the first postmaster of the Colony of Assiniboia in the year 1855. Every day I think about him when I dust the desk that he used, or show people his postal scales. And do you know, we still have a special post office in this house! Yes, and if you collect stamps, you will want to mail letters or post cards in the Ross House, for we put a special stamp mark on each article mailed there, making it a special "cover" which all collectors like to keep.

Ross House is in Sir William Whyte Park, on Higgins Avenue, just across the road from the C.P.R. Station - and just across from that old locomotive mentioned earlier, the "Countess of Dufferin" - so if you come to see one, don't miss the other!

Ross House, before restoration

Ross House, today across from Canadian Pacific Railway station
Source: Manitoba Archives

The City of Winnipeg owns Ross House, but the Manitoba Historical Society maintains it - and one day soon, when you are grown-up, perhaps you will want to work on the committee that takes care of this interesting old home.

We have tried to keep it as a home, rather than just a house. There is an old organ, little oil lamps, a spinning wheel, old photograph albums, and hand-made chairs in the living room; and in the bed room there are old pieces of furniture – most of them hand-made – and of the same time period so that you can imagine that you really have stepped back to our very early days. The girls will have fun looking at the dolls that other little girls used to play with ... and how delighted the boys will be to see the real muskets and swords in the little back room we have made into a "museum within a museum"! In the kitchen there is an old Carron stove, iron pots, candle moulds and a number of things which make the modern housewife happy with what she has today!

Page revised: 19 July 2009

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