Family Blue Prints

exterior-schmidt-houseGoing through some of my mother’s things I found these blueprints for her family home in Drake Saskatchewan.  Although my grandparents no longer lived there after I was born I still visited the house many times because my Uncle Earl and Aunt Lenora had taken over my grandparents’ farm and home. I have many fond memories of happy times with my cousins in that house and so it was great to find these blueprints. I asked my Aunt Viola the only surviving member of my mother’s immediate family if she remembered the house being built. She was 3 years old in 1925 when they moved into the house and can’t really remember a time before she lived there. My mother was born in this house shortly after her family moved in. 

My grandparents' car standing outside their farmhouse in Drake, Saskatchewan

This is how the completed home looked.  My aunt thinks my grandfather ordered the house from somewhere and it came with all the lumber pre-cut and ready to build.  I did a little research and found out this kind of house was called a mill cut house or a mail order house.  You picked a house design from a catalogue and then tens of thousands of pieces of lumber and every single other building material that you would need to construct it were loaded into box cars and sent to the customer’s hometown. In Canada the Eatons Department Store was one of the main sources of these ready to assemble homes but on the prairies various Grain Growers Associations also provided this service to its members. That makes sense because in the corner of each page of the blue prints its says Saskatchewan Grain Growers Regina. My aunt thinks my grandfather put the house together with the help of a carpenter. basement-schmidt-houseOne thing that is interesting about this floor plan of the basement is the little square labeled Dumb Waiter on the right hand side.  My mother remembers what a cool feature that was about their house. When I was interviewing her for her life story she said…… We had a dumb waiter in the kitchen.  It was behind doors and had several shelves. We could place items on there that needed to go into the basement and them lower them down with a pulley system.  This came in especially handy when my mother was canning and we had to transfer all the jars to the basement. We kept potatoes, vegetables and onions in cold storage down there.  Our basement also had our cream separator and storage areas for wood and coal and my mother’s washing machine. ground-floor-schmidt-houds

 The ground floor had my grandparent’s bedroom, a parlour, huge diningroom and kitchen. Here’s how my Mom described the diningroom. In the centre of the diningroom was a big table with lots of chairs because we had a family of six and my grandmother and uncle also lived with us as well as our hired man. We had a plate railing high up all around the dining room wall and Mom not only kept plates there but also all sorts of other knick-knacks. There was a couch by the stairway leading to the upper floor. This couch is where my father used to lie to listen to Amos and Andy on the Philco radio. He loved that show. There was a wooden sideboard on one wall for dishes and our wooden party line phone was on another wall. 

Mom said the parlor was where her parents visited with company and it had a desk for her Dad that was always covered with his papers and it is also where they kept the piano and their organ.  Mom said the kitchen had a wood stove and her Uncle Alvin who lived with them chopped the wood and kept the stove going.  Mom’s uncle had epilepsy and he was nearly blind so after his parents died in the influenza epidemic he came to live with my grandparents. upper-floor-schmidt-house

This is the upstairs floor plan.  See those stairs over on the right? Mom said…….

Wooden steps with a banister led upstairs. I remember my sisters and I used to sit on those steps holding hymnals and Bibles. My brother Earl played the role of the pastor and we pretended to have church on those steps. Beside the stairs was a beautiful stained glass window. Not many houses had them in those days. My Dad always bragged however that our house had the best of everything and I guess that included a stained glass window.

My Mom shared the bedroom right beside the stairs with her sisters. They liked to play with their dolls in the long walk in closet. One of the bedrooms upstairs was for my mother’s maternal grandmother Maria Jantz who lived with them and the other was shared by my Uncle Earl and Paul their hired man. 

Can you see the bathroom over in the right hand corner?   Mom had lots to say about that!

The bathroom was at the top of the stairs. We were one of very few families to have an indoor washroom. We had a washstand and basin. There was a claw foot bathtub. My mother heated water and filled it up every Saturday so we kids could take a bath. My sisters and I took turns bathing in the water one after the other and then my brother Earl was last. I’m sure the water was pretty cold and dirty by the time he got into it. In wintertime we brought in snow and put it in a big barrel beside the wood stove in the kitchen to melt and then used the warm water for our baths. We had an indoor toilet as well. It had a pail and my Dad took out the pail and emptied it every morning before the rest of us woke up.

I’m so glad my mother kept these blueprints.  They tell a story not only of a house but also of the family that lived in it.

Other posts……

Remembering My Grandpa 

When My Grandmother Was Twelve Years Old

My Mother’s Childhood Christmases

4 Comments

Filed under Family, History

4 responses to “Family Blue Prints

  1. Ruth Goudreau

    Wow! As a trained Architectural Technologist (NAIT grad ’80), in the days before AutoCad, you can imagine how interesting I found these blueprints to be. I scrolled up and down the blog many times while reading to be sure I knew exactly where each detail was on the print. 🙂 Thanks for sharing these. I wish I had prints of the various houses I lived in as a child. I ‘believe’ I can walk through each of the houses in my mind, and sometimes do so during bouts of insomnia, but to have the actual blueprints is precious.

  2. Dear Ruth,
    Thanks for your comment. I too can ‘walk’ through the houses of my childhood and sometimes when I am reading novels I imagine them taking place in one of my childhood homes. My parents moved lots when I was a kid so by the time I was 12 I had lived in 8 different houses. It is a rich heritage.
    MaryLou

  3. Interesting! Is the house still standing?

    • I don’t know. I should ask one of my cousins who still live in Drake. About twenty some years ago I walked through it. It was still on the same farm yard now owned by strangers and they were just using it to store their junk so I wonder if by now it hasn’t been torn down because they really weren’t looking after it. Kind of sad.

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