Saskatoon’s Marr Residence will get its Nationwide Historic Website plaque
One of the descendants of Alexander Marr was in Saskatoon Sunday for the unveiling of a plaque marking the historic Marr Residence’s newly-gained spot among the list of Canada’s National Historic Sites.
Everitt, behind the house, moments before the ceremony. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)
Donna Everitt, the great-granddaughter of Marr, traveled to the city with family to attend the event, which took place in the backyard of the house on 11th Street.
Marr, a stonemason, built the small house in 1884 back when the lot it sits on offered a direct view of the South Saskatchewan River. Constructed with lumber floated down river from Medicine Hat, it was the eighth or ninth house to be built in the new community.
One year later, the house made its claim to fame by serving as a field hospital for wounded Canadian troops coming from the Battle of Batoche, the decisive fight of the North-West Rebellion.
The Marr house, built in 1884, still stands on its original lot on 11th Street. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)
It was also the first site where Canadian nurses were employed by the Canadian military.
“Who knew that you could pack that much into one little house?” said Saskatoon City archivist Jeff O’Brien.
“And it’s right here, still standing, exactly where they put it all those years ago.”
Della Greer, who chairs the board that maintains and operates the house as a tourist attraction, attended the unveiling dressed in garb appropriate to the time when the residence was built.
Della Greer, who chairs the board the maintainers the home, dressed in period-appropriate garb for the ceremony. (Guy Quenneville/CBC )
She said the board began seeking the national heritage designation from Parks Canada in 2009, with the process entailing much paperwork.
Though the house has enjoyed municipal heritage status since 1982 (and has technically had its new national title since last year), Sunday’s official ceremony stood to position the house even greater in the minds of visitors, said Greer.
“What it does is get us national recognition and we’re listed in the book of National Historic Sites to see,” she said.
The newly-unveiled plagque, which will be installed to the left side of the house. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)
Asked if the board has received any pushback from local indigenous groups about seeking the new designation, Greer said no, and added that the home features a room detailing the history of the rebellion.
O’Brien used his remarks as an opportunity to dispel one myth about the house.
“Legend even has it that Louis Riel himself may have slept here at the Marr House when he was being taken down to Regina for trial. Probably he didn’t. It’s a good story, but it’s just a story.”