Self-Directed Catalogue House Tour

In the early part of the twentieth century, good crops and good prices brought prosperity to western Canadian farms.  Families were eager to replace their shacks and sod houses with “real homes”. 

Recognizing a business opportunity, catalogue operations like Eatons provided the plans, lumber, hardware...even the the form of a build-your-own-house kit.   Delivered to the nearest railway station the purchaser hauled the many bits and pieces to their homestead by horse and wagon.

Some owners had the skills to construct the homes themselves, others hired qualified carpenters to do the job.

When the materials arrived at the building site and construction began, the house plans weren't necessarily followed exactly.  Pantries were sometimes made into mud rooms, two large bedrooms might end up as three smaller sleeping spaces, a covered porch might have been enclosed, or the plan reversed because it made sense to the new homeowner to take advantage of the morning sun in her kitchen.

A Self Directed Drive-by Tour of Five
Pioneers' Catalogue Homes.

Most of the homes are private residences and not open for viewing.  The exceptions are:

Prairie Bells Bed & Breakfast in Oyen  (By appointment  only 403-664-2355)

Pioneer's House at the Pioneer Museum in Oyen   (July - Aug 10am-5 pm)

Tea House in Acadia Valley, Alberta  (July-Aug 10am - 5pm)

This house began life on a farm south of Oyen but was moved to that town to be used as a convent, then a teacherage, a doctor's home and now is home to Prairie Bells Bed and Breakfast.  The original Plan 666 was adapted to include four dormers rather than one to make room for three additional bedrooms and an additional bathroom. 416 - 2nd St W  403-664-2355

Eatons featured this four bedroom house as the Model No. 666 in their 1917-18 plan book.  Earlier versions had a gable roof.  The plan included a pantry off the kitchen and convenient access to the icebox at the back door. It also specified it to be sided with fir on the first floor and shingles on the second.  It's similar to the Prairie Bells house in Oyen but notice that both builders adapted the plans to suit themselves.

This home was built on the McNeill homestead on Hwy 41 at the junction of Hwy 555. The plans were advertised in Eatons 1917-18 catalogue. At the time the materials - including shingles, hardware, doors and windows - cost $1138.  Freight charges by rail to Empress were extra.

This is a modified version of a United Grain Growers catalogue home.  The son of the homesteader who built the house in 1917 said that his father hauled the materials from the CPR station with his own horse and wagon. It was eventually sold and is still lived in by that rancher and his son. When heading west on Hwy 562 it can be seen ahead of you at the end of a jog off the main road.  Can't be seen easily when driving towards the east.

"The Grange" was featured in the Alladin House catalogue . The original design called for four small bedrooms and a balcony on the second floor. Built by a rancher as a winter home in Empress for his family, the house was sold to the Bank of Commerce to be used as the manager's accommodation.

Maps are Available at the Following Locations

Tourist Information Booth on Hwy 9 at the intersection of Hwy 41

Pioneer Museum, Main Street Oyen AB

Prairie Elevator and Tea Room, Acadia Valley AB

That's Empressive 309 Centre Street, Empress AB 403-565-0009

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