A Visit to the Negrych Homestead: The Best Preserved Pioneer Homestead in Canada!

Ever since Gordon Goldsborough spoke at the MHV last fall, sharing his Manitoba exploration adventures, Andrew and I have wanted to see the site that Gordon said was the very best one of all: the Negrych Homestead by Gilbert Plains.

The homestead is about 10 miles north of Gilbert Plains in Western Manitoba and is a National Historic Site of Canada! It’s quite remote, which may be why it’s also so well-preserved. After winding down a very long road, you’ll arrive at what is perhaps the best-preserved Ukrainian pioneer homestead in Canada, a collection of more than ten log buildings built in the late 1800s/early 1900s. It was a real treat to visit this place!

I will let the pictures and the plaques do the talking here. Join me for a tour!

We have arrived! You can see the billowing dust that our car kicked up on the road.
We begin the drive to the homestead!
The sign I’m standing next to says: “The Negrych Pioneer Homestead signifies a remarkable set of Ukrainian folk buildings that provide a glimpse into a vanished way of life. Originally part of the Drifting River Colonization Trail, the winding lane is bordered by poplar and spruce leading to what is recognized as the most complete and best preserved Ukrainian farmstead in Canada. These buildings are maintained to original condition and are true examples of prairie vernacular architecture. Amongst the ten buildings are unique and extremely rare features, including the only Canadian example of a long single Carpathian roof and a rare fully preserved working clay oven — the massive log and clay cook stove that was once the heart of every Ukrainian home.”
This plaque says: “Wasyl Negrych Homestead, Venlaw. This farmstead was developed between 1897 and 1910 by Wasyl and Anna Negrych and their children. It possesses the oldest known residence in Manitoba built in the Ukrainian vernacular tradition, as well as the most complete set of original pioneer-era farm buildings. The ten surviving log buildings were constructed almost exclusively of natural materials gathered on the homestead. The structures feature many examples of ingenious folk design and quality craftsmanship associated with the self-reliant tradition of Ukrainian peasant society, such as the hand-crafted wooden door-hinges and latches. The 1908 bunkhouse contains a rare example of a handmade clay bake-oven or ‘peech’. It also possesses the only known Manitoba example of a traditional eastern European style roof, characterized by handsplit, metre-long wooden shingles. The Negrych family members were avid horticulturalists and maintained several orchards and gardens. The primary orchard still supports a variety of the original fruit, berry and herb plantings. In 1991, Gilbert Plains area residents organized to preserve and restore the Negrych Homestead as a tribute to the family and the Ukrainian pioneer experience in Manitoba.”
Pig barn
In the pig barn fence
Inside barn
Inside granary
Inside bunkhouse
Inside the orchard, they grew rhubarb!
More barns
Inside the barn(s)
I think this is the house, and another bunk house.
Log construction!
Ice house
The pioneer trail continues to the left, down the hill.

The main house

Anne Negrych and Stephen Negrych (brother and sister). Plus you can see me & Andrew’s reflections in the photograph, along with the summer student who showed us around the site!
Kept track of harvests in the granary!
Retired implements.
Following the trail back to the road.

I’m not sure how many visitors they get, but we were there at 3:30 in the afternoon on a Friday and we were just the second visitors of the day. It costs only $5 for adults to visit and is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. It’s not too far from Riding Mountain National Park, Dauphin, or Asessippi, so seek it out!