Bell Farm House

Title: Bell Farmhouse and part of the round stone barn, north of Indian Head, with Mr. Adair in the doorway next to Major Bell in his black jacket and hat (see detail at right).

Date: c.1883

Photographer: Hall and Lowe, Artists and Photographers

461 Main Street, Winnipeg

Source: Saskatchewan Archives Board: RA 4900-1

Comments: This photo shows the farmhouse shortly after it was constructed - possibly in the fall of 1883, as the fieldstone construction is still very evident, and the harvest is underwy. By 1884, when Montreal photographer William F. Notman also recorded this building, the house had been covered with plaster and scored to look like rows of cut stones. A verandah had also been added across the front of the house by that time.

A long wing extends at the back of the house. The hipped roof was covered with sheet metal, and a wooden feature similar to a Widow's Walk crown the main roof. A total of five brick chimneys with corbelled brickwork at the tops were incorporated in the house, which was constructed under the direction of contractor A.J. Osment.

The barbed wire fence was also used as part of Major Bell's communication system. In 1884 Major Bell installed telephones on the farm, which used the wire fence lines to link him with the 27 cottages built throughout this 53,000 acre corporate farm. This was one of only two telephone systems operational in the North-West Territories at that time. The other was in Regina, connecting Government House with the North-West Mounted Police barracks.

Due to the massive size of the house, it is likely that the front was occupied by Major William Bell and his family, while the rear portion accommodated servants and various hired help associated with the various barns, stables, warehouse and blacksmith shop located nearby.