Hamiota Mansion consumed in freak fire

A Hamiota landmark visible from both Highways 21 and 24 - The Mansion - went up in flames this week. On Tuesday, May 7, the Hamiota Volunteer Fire Department was called to the fire at around 4 p.m. Owner of the property, Ross Gray has reason to believe the cause of the blaze is suspicious. But he’s leaving that up to the RCMP.

“We’re not just sure whether it was totally accidental.,” says Gray, owner of the property. There was nothing of monetary value, no insurance claims either. The biggest thing was the grass fire that got away and that was a bit of a concern, for sure.”

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Located less than three miles from town, the Atkinson House as named on the Manitoba Historical Society (MHS) website was consumed on Tuesday, May 7. By the next day, just cement tile walls remained standing on the charred yard.

Hamiota’s three fire trucks and two fire trucks from Kenton battled the fire, not to save the old structure that was burning with hot fury, but to protect the neighbourhood of a handful of families, a feedlot and the Hamiota nuisance grounds nearby.

“It was an awful hot fire in a hurry,” said Gray. There were neighbours on the scene with tractors and discers helping to fireguard against the runaway blaze that breezy afternoon.

“A spark flew across into the edge of the slough where they couldn’t get to it with the fire truck. So it got away then, we had to be pretty careful.”

By 8 p.m. Tuesday evening the joint fire departments had the blaze extinguished.

Beloved for its magnificence, this lone sentinel of opulence on the flat Hamiota prairie was also a bit of a wonder, originally equipped with an indoor toilet, large fireplaces, grand staircases, and a dumbwaiter.

Over the years it was also a party site. With evidence inside of a “campfire” lit years ago, it’s a wonder it survived until now. A wrap-around veranda has been down for some years.

The abandoned family home has been explored by the curious, and is well-known by Manitoba historians.

The Mansion has been the subject of photographers and artists. One of the latest paintings, doubltless to become more famous now, was done by Hamiota artist Elaine Rawlings.

This story will be updated as more details come to light.

© Virden Empire-Advance

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