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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Nickel House (Municipality of Prairie View)

A two-storey stone residence near Solsgirth in the Municipality of Prairie View was built between 1914 and 1916 by local farmer John Richard Nicoll (1888-1927). Local lore holds that he built the house as an enticement for a woman who rejected his proposal of marriage. Nicoll was living in his stone house in 1916 but, by the time of the 1921 federal census, he was living on a farm several miles away, boarding with another single farmer. In 1926, he was back at the original family home one mile to the south, living with his father and cousin. He died a bachelor. On New Year’s Day 1927, after enjoying a holiday meal at the home of his sister, he died on the living room sofa at the age of 38 years. He was buried along with his parents in the nearby St. James Anglican Cemetery. After his death, the spelling of the family surname changed to Nickel in the 1940s.

The spacious main floor of the stone house had a living room, kitchen, and dining room. On the second floor were several bedrooms and a bathroom with bathtub and flush toilet. Walls of the attic were plastered so it could be used as additional living space. The house was heated by steam produced by a coal-fueled furnace in the basement although the lack of insulation in the exterior walls meant it was probably never a warm building in the winter. A stone set into the front of the building gives the year when it was finished. Above the front entrance are three blocks of concrete set side-by-side. The left-hand block had a raised letter J and the right block had the letter N, presumably the initials of John Nicoll.

The building is located far out in an agricultural field and must not be visited when crops are being grown.

Nickel House

Nickel House (May 2019)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Nickel House

Nickel House (May 2019)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Initials of the builder, John Nicoll, above the entrance door

Initials of the builder, John Nicoll, above the entrance door (May 2019)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Location (lat/long): N50.56859, W100.88663
denoted by symbol on the map above


Birth registration [John Nicoll], Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1901 and 1911 Canada censuses, Automated Genealogy.

1916 and 1921 Canada censuses, Ancestry.

1926 Canada census, FamilySearch.

“Card of thanks,” Birtle Eye Witness, 11 January 1927, page 5.

A View of the Birdtail: A History of the Municipality of Birtle, 1878-1974 compiled and edited by Marion W. Abra, Municipality of Birtle History Committee, 1974, page 369.

“Nickel house will be featured on Country Canada Dec. 1st,” This Week Crossroads [Shoal Lake], 30 November 2002, page 13.

Burial transcriptions, Manitoba Genealogical Society.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Carolynne Nickel.

Page revised: 1 March 2020

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