Reford, Robert Wilson
Estevan Lodge, C.1940
Les Amis des Jardins de Métis Collection
Stephen liked to build and left a legacy of extraordinary buildings. He is probably the only figure in Canadian history who built four buildings that are today national historic sites: Estevan Lodge in Grand-Métis, Matamajaw in Causapscal, the George Stephen House in Montréal and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montréal.
George Stephen bought the fishing rights on the Metis River, probably so that he could have a camp closer to Montreal and nearer to the Intercolonial Railway and its line to and from his home. Building Estevan must have been a vast enterprise, it began in 1886 and was completed by the following summer. The timbers were likely cut and prepared off site and shipped by rail to the nearby station in St-Octave-de-Métis. The windows were certainly made elsewhere, because they have his name stencilled on the frames, suggesting they were packed and sent to the property, most probably from the manufacturer in Montréal. The identity of the architect is unknown, but the accounting for the project suggests that he was paid just $200, while the project manager was paid more than $6,000, a vast sum in 1886.George Stephen’s accounts show that he had invested more than $76,000 in the river, buildings, grounds and improvements.
Estevan is the name that George Stephen gave to his fishing lodge at Grand-Métis. The name comes from the cable code that Stephen used when he was the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway for his confidential telegraphs with the railway’s General Manager, William Van Horne.