Historic Sites of Manitoba: Lang House (Municipality of Pembina)
An abandoned two-storey stone house located far into an agricultural field in the Rural Municipality of Pembina, southeast of La Riviere, was built by mason Jim Willox for David Lang (sometimes spelled Laing), who came from around Montreal in May 1879 and established a farm here that he called “Burnbrae.” Willox built a number of stone residences in the district during the 1890s but few of them have survived because of the builder’s lack of experience with the area’s blue-clay soil. It seems sturdy but tends to flow slowly unless the foundations of buildings are deep or the building is relatively Iight. It is believed the Lang House was Willox’s last commission before his departure to England to attend Queen Victoria’s 1897 Diamond Jubilee celebration.
Located on a site near a creek that became known as Lang’s Ravine, construction of the building began in 1896 and was completed in February 1897. Measuring 33 feet by 35 feet, it was constructed at a cost of $2,500 and was reported to contain some of the most beautiful woodwork and finest staircase in the area. The Langs, who had no family, were famous for their house parties and dances. Catherine B. Christie Lang died in 1913 and was buried in the nearby McKenzie Cemetery. David Lang returned to Quebec and died around 1923. The house and property was sold to the Moore family who lived here until the late 1950s or early 1960s.
In late 1979, heavy dimensional lumber was salvaged from the house’s interior, along with fine cedar paneling and the staircase. The front door was recycled as the main entrance into a honey house at a nearby farm. The building was burned and demolished in the spring of 2017 and all vestiges are now gone.
Turning Leaves: A History of La Riviere and District by La Riviere Historical Book Society, 1979, page 185. [Legislative Library of Manitoba, F5649.L38 Tur]
Dominion Land Grants, Library and Archives Canada.
We thank Brad Scharf, Chris Thompson, Diana Vodden, and Ken Cudmore for providing additional information used here.
Page revised: 17 April 2019
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