Jimmy Forsyth-Department of Highways House is a rare example of a charming two storey brick house built in 1927 located on the northeast corner of McLean Street and McNaughton Avenue in North Quesnel, BC. The historic place includes the building and the parcel of land it occupies.
Jimmy Forsyth-Department of Highways House is located in North Quesnel which is an older residential neighbourhood in the city. While not in its original form, the house is a physical reminder of the people who shaped the development of Quesnel. The house was built by well- known brick layer Brick Leonard who made his bricks from the clay along the banks of the Quesnel River which brick makers and potters consider to be of the finest quality clay.
The house is named for Jimmy Forsyth who was the Road Superintendent with the Department of Highways. He lived here for many years before selling it to his employer. The Department of Highways used this house as rental accommodations for their employees working in the area.
In 1934, it was rented to well-known contractors Harker and Pawsey who lived here while they added the second storey to the house. Harker and Pawsey were local contractors who built many of the fine buildings in Quesnel that still exist today.
Arthur and Edwyna Peers also rented this house. Arthur was known locally as ‘Mike’. He did maintenance work for the Department of Highways. In 1937, Mike also had a prospecting business with D. D. Fraser. He left Quesnel when he was called up to serve in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII. When Mike returned to Quesnel, he designed the Legion Hall and helped in its construction.
Another occupant of the house was E. Herbert and Dorothy (Stimpson) Allcock. E. Herbert was known locally as ‘Bert’. In 1914, Bert was employed by the Department of Public Works. Some of his projects he worked on included the building of a highway along the unused Pacific Great Eastern Railway line. He also helped construct an eighty foot Howe Truss Bridge across the Cottonwood River at Purdy’s crossing in 1916. In 1918, Bert cut a right-of-way from Strathnaver to Cottonwood settlement.
Dorothy arrived in Quesnel by train to be a school teacher and the couple was married in 1931. They first lived on a homestead outside of Quesnel until 1934 when they moved into the city. That same year, Bert worked on the Barkerville Road as General Foreman for the North Cariboo District. Throughout his life, Bert was kept busy working for the Department of Public Works on bridges and roads, as well as the re-enforcement of the Quesnel Lake Dam. In the 1950s, Bert and Dorothy moved to Victoria.
The character-defining elements of Jimmy Forsyth-Department of Highways House include:
- sympathetic renovations occurred in 1934 and in the 1960s;
- a rare example of a brick house that is still being utilized for its original purpose;
- the first storey is constructed of double-walled brick;
- the second storey is wood frame construction;
- a covered porch with spindles and beams;
- a garage of post construction;
- simple decorative features creating farm house style charm;
- a unique contribution to the streetscape;
- a testament to the excellent craftsmanship of Brick Leonard;
- siting on a large corner lot;
- bricks made of local Quesnel River clay;
- the garage that has half timber supports and a bracketed roof;
- six-over-two windows with shutters.