Saturday, September 6, 2014

45 Lily Street - Daniel McDonald House

Place: D. McDonald House
Address: 45 Lily Street (Map)
Architect: Unknown
Contractor: Unknown

(Source: MHS)

This house was built in 1883 for Daniel McDonald, son of John Kay MacDonald, (yes, their last names were spelled differently), president of the Confederation Life Insurance Company. Daniel was a Scottish immigrant, a farmer and a teacher in Ontario before joining the company in 1879. In 1883 he came to establish and manage its Western Canadian office.

The architect and contractor of the house are unknown. It is one of only a half-dozen remaining Queen Anne-style homes with a side turret in Winnipeg, (another is 545 Broadway - Wilson House.)

At the time, of course, there was no Disraeli Freeway. Lily Street was part of quiet, residential Point Douglas, all but a couple of its houses are now demolished. (For more on early Lily Street see this post from The Common.)

Top: ca. (source: Peel's)
Bottom: May 17, 1911, Winnipeg Tribune

Confederation Life’s first offices were just a short walk away at the Biggs Block, at 467 Main Street. It was under McDonald's tenure that the Biggs Block was demolished and the Confederation Life Building built in its place.

The McDonald family consisted of wife Isabelle and seven children, six sons and a daughter. A number of them died early, Isabelle in 1893, for instance. The 1901 and 1906 censuses list only Donald, son Benjamin (1861) and daughter Elizabeth (1866), as living at the house. McDonald's obituary in 1916 lists those two children and another son, John of San Fransisco, as surviving him.
Source: MHS

One son who died early was Donald McDonald. In 1911 he stopped a runaway horse on a city street. He brought the animal to a halt but was struck by an oncoming wagon and seriously injured. McDonald, a 25 year veteran of the Winnipeg Fire Department where he worked as an engineer, moved into his father's home to recover, but never did. He was diagnosed with cancer, (a newspaper article at the time of his death blamed the accident for the disease.) He died there 11 months later, on August 8, 1912. 

Daniel McDonald retired in 1915 and died on June 24, 1918 and is buried at St. James Cemetery.

July 6, 1942, Winnipeg Free Press

Soon after his death, the house was sold off and run as a rooming from 1920 until the late 1940s with between 6 and 8 tenants at a time. There appear to have been a number of owners. 

In 1942 the house came up for sale and was purchased by Mike Zapora, a carpenter. During his time there, maybe three years, it was him and just one other tenant. (The McDonald's always had a live-in maid so the house could have been reverted back to its original configuration.)

July 25, 2004, Winnipeg Free Press

Around 1950 Ted and Janina Drapala purchased the house. Ted was a carpenter and construction worker. The couple raised six children there. It appears that the family still rented out at least a couple of rooms to elderly gentlemen. In the 1960s there was Howard Armstrong and Yee Mah, in the 1970s Cheung Wong.

In 2004 a man broke into the house demanding money. He assaulted Mr. Drapala, 80, a number of times before jumping through the front window to escape empty-handed. It appears that the Drapalas are still alive.

Aside from the 2004 incident, the Trib and Free Press archives indicate that the house had a quiet existence, with no mentions of fires or major crimes taking place there.

45 Lily Street

My photo album of 45 Lily Street
45 Lily Street Historical Buildings Committee
Lily Street 1911 The Common

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