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|166 Roslyn Road ca. 2011. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society website.|
By the early 1900s, the Winnipeg Electric Company had accelerated the growth of outlying suburban districts, providing wider streets and larger lots that only the affluent could afford. Roslyn Road, the first street south of the Osborne Bridge, became the district of stately bankers' homes.
Mr. Justice Robert Maxwell Dennistoun
|Mr. Justice Robert Maxwell Dennistoun. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society website and the Archives of Manitoba.|
Dennistoun was born in 1864 in Petersborough, Ontario, the son of a lawyer and the daughter of a judge. Following in the family business, he graduated with a BA from Queen's University in 1885 and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1888. A specialist in corporate law, he would come to represent many influential companies throughout his career.
|Dennistoun House in winter ca. 1908. Image courtesy of the Provinical Archives of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.|
In 1892, he married Mildred Louise Beck of Peterborough. They would go on to have five children together. Three sons - James, John, and Robert - were born in Ontario, followed by two daughters - Mildred and Mary - who were born in Manitoba.
Dennistoun moved to Winnipeg in 1907 as the western counsel for the Canadian Bank of Commerce, later becoming the Bank's solicitor for Manitoba. That same year, he was called to the Manitoba Bar, followed by the Saskatchewan Bar in 1909. He was also honoured as King's Counsel in both Ontario and Manitoba, in 1908 and 1909, respectively.
|R.M. Dennistoun. Image courtesy of the Manitoba Historical Society website.|
Among his many achievements, Dennistoun is known for drawing up Manitoba's first Workman's Compensation Act. He was also responsible for writing two monographs on military law, serving as the Governor of Trinity College in Port Hope, and lecturing in the University of Manitoba Law School of the day.
In 1918, Dennistoun was appointed Puisne Judge of the Manitoba Court of Appeal, a position he held until he retired in 1946, at the age of 82. During this time, he was also made Deputy Judge of the Advocate General.
|Colonel R.M. Dennistoun at Tidsworth Barracks, Salisbury Plain, England ca. 1915. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report and the Provincial Archives of Manitoba.|
|The back of 166 Roslyn Road, ca. 1908. Image courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.|
|Built in 1910, the house at 216 Cockburn Street is still there today and is now used as a 5-plex. Image courtesy of Karma Property Managment website.|
After the Dennistoun family left, a widow named Mrs. Gertrude Stephen purchased the house and lived there until 1946, when it was purchased by restaurant proprietor Mrs. Myrtle Hall. Mrs. Hall stayed in the house until 1972, when it was purchased by the Richardson Company and likely used as temporary quarters for visiting and relocated company executives.
The HouseDesigned by architect John D. Atchison, 166 Roslyn Road cost approximately $15,000 to construct. The project's contractors were the Davidson Brothers. Atchison was the most important Chicago-style architect to work in Winnipeg, designing nearly 100 buildings between 1905 and 1922. Find a complete list of the buildings he designed here, on the MHS website.
166 Roslyn Road is approximately 40 x 45 feet and has a dramatic, heavily detailed entrance. The exterior is made up of a combination of brick veneer, rough-cast plaster, and half-timbering, with limestone in the trim. The brick and rough-cast finishes contrast with the cross gables, making for a visually rich exterior.
The building's entrance repeats the gable lines in light limestone that forms an archway. This, combines with the small panes of leaded glass in the door and side transoms to complete the old-world English look of the house. A two-storey brick balcony across the back of the house would have originally been screened in on the second floor, providing a sleeping porch - a popular feature in larger homes built prior to WWI.
|The Dingwall Residence at 52 Roslyn Road ca. 1976. Image courtesy of the University of Manitoba's Winnipeg Building Index.|
|The front entrance to the Dingwall Residence at 52 Roslyn Road ca. 1976. Image courtesy of the University of Manitoba's Winnipeg Building Index.|
|166 Roslyn Road. Image courtesy of the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.|
This de-listing was in direct contravention of the Osborne Village Neighbourhood Plan, which seeks to discourage the demolition of historic or architecturally significant buildings or structures. Demolition is only to be an option as a last resort, when buildings are found to be structurally unsound beyond repair by an independent structural engineering report (7.1.6.A on page 27).
|Dennistoun House, not long after its completion ca. 1908. Image courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg Historical Report.|
People both in the neighbourhood and the city at large had much to say about the de-listing and continue to object to the project. Below are some of the comments posted on the Planners Network Manitoba Website, shortly after the de-listing:
"I'd be sad to see the old house go because it has some sentimental value,
but also because I like how the landscape of Osborne Village reflects
its history and its diversity" ~ Molly Johnson
"I think it is time Winnipeg got its act together and did not set up these
"one or the other" scenarios. There are plenty of spaces to add density
and housing downtown without sacrificing our culture and history.
Great cities make room for both." ~ Suzanne Gessler
News ArticlesJan. 16, 1987 - Roslyn Road was stately Bankers' Row
June 2, 2009 - Century-old home on Roslyn stripped of heritage status
June 2, 2009 - Winnipeg heritage building stripped of status, slated for destruction
June 5, 2009 - Why tear down a building dream?
June 10, 2009 - EPC approves de-listing of 101-year-old heritage home in Osborne Village
June 10, 2009 - An Osborne heritage building by any other name...
June 10, 2009 - Century-old Winnipeg home a step closer to demolition
June 24, 2009 - City council strips 101-year-old Osborne Village home of its heritage status
Sept. 30, 2009 - Heritage battle goes to court
June 18, 2010 - Green light or no, condo sales begin
July 26, 2010 - Area residents lose appeal to save historic home
Aug. 2010 - De-designation of Winnipeg's Dennistoun House Approved
Sept. 8, 2015 - Osborne Village character homes could meet wrecking ball
Sept. 15, 2015 - Dennistoun House in Osborne Village at risk for demolition
Sept. 16, 2015 - Century-old Osborne Village homes one step closer to the wrecking ball
Oct. 13, 2015 - Osborne Village condo proposal OK'd by City of Winnipeg committee
Sources & Links"166 Roslyn Road: Dennistown House". Report prepared by the Historical Buildings Committee. 9 October 1984. Print.
Heritage Winnipeg Website - Updates on Dennistoun House
Manitoba Historical Society on Dennistoun House
Memorable Manitobans - Robert Maxwell Dennistoun
Sunstone Group - the planned Dennistoun Condominiums that require the demolition of 166 Roslyn Road, among others.
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