Like most Red Deerians, you probably thought the McIntosh house, now the McIntosh Bed and Breakfast at 4631 Ross St., was already a designated historic building.
It’s been advertised as a historic landmark with Victorian hospitality since at least 1990. But it really only happened officially this year, said owner Trudy Madole.
“Everybody thought it (the municipal historic designation) had already been done, but a year and a half ago or more I got this letter from the City. At first I ignored it. No, it’s historically designated, I thought. But the City phoned me and said no, it’s our mistake. So it all had to be done again (paperwork, approval by City council, etc.), but it’s gone through now.”
There’s even a new historic plaque out front celebrating the new designation.
Madole, who bought the house, complete with some period furnishings, in 1998, said, “I love it, it seems to have a really nice atmosphere. I like people and I’ve met people from almost everywhere, all different kinds.” The 107-year-old building features three guest bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, antique furnishings and charming historic interior decoration.
The house was built in 1906 by Julius McIntosh, a Red Deer bricklayer, generally known as ‘Mac.’
He lived there until 1917 with his wife Annie and the first three of their five children. That section of Ross Street was little more than a trail then, and the nearby McIntosh hill, muddy after a heavy rain, was a real obstacle for travellers, whether on foot, horse or in a car.
On a clear day the family would describe their great view from the house to the west, including the far off mountains. The McIntosh children could gather wild berries in the nearby woods along the Waskasoo Creek.
The house also features double brick walls, with corner quoins, artistic concrete blocks, fish scale shingles and a lovely wrap-around veranda. The house was well-known to nearby residents for the fresh milk provided by a cow kept in the back yard, now the parking lot for guests.
It’s not generally known that McIntosh’s grandfather Allen and great grandfather John helped develop the famous McIntosh apple in Ontario in 1811.
“His grandfather and great grandfather had this farm and by chance found this seedling, grew it up and found that everyone loved those apples. The grandfather was more the marketing guy and he learned how to graft. Everybody’s heard of McIntosh apples,” said Madole.
Julius McIntosh, born in 1874 in Owen Sound, Ontario, learned the bricklaying trade at 16.
He moved to Manitoba, then back to Ontario, but in 1900 came to Alberta. He tried Calgary first, where they didn’t need bricklayers at the time, and was heading for Edmonton to try his luck there. But he got off the train when it stopped in Red Deer; and ended up staying in the area for the rest of his life.
He laid bricks for many of the City’s early schools, homes and buildings, like the Leonard Gaetz Memorial Church (destroyed by fire in 1955) and historic buildings like the Armoury (now the children’s wing of the downtown library). He retired from bricklaying at the age of 83 in 1957, dying in 1973, three months short of his 99th birthday.