History of Bleak House
After his father’s (John Inkster) death, Colin Inkster decided to build Bleak House as a small farm within the confines of the Seven Oaks property, which was 3 miles north of the new city.
The Honorable “Sheriff” Colin Inkster was born in Kildonan on August 3, 1843. He was educated at St. John’s College. In 1870 he succeeded his father in the position of Minister of Warden of St. John’s Cathedral. He held this position for 64 years.
On March 16, 1871 Colin married Anne Tait. During their marriage they had 12 children, 5 surviving to adulthood. In that same year Colin became one of the first legislative councillors or Manitoba. During his parliamentary service he served two years as the Speaker of the House, in which he cast the deciding vote in 1876 to abolish the Upper House. Colin Inkster died in September 1934 from pneumonia at the age of 91 years.
Bleak House Construction
Bleak House was built in a manner similar to that of Seven Oaks. The house is of log construction with an overlay of siding. The house is two stories, with wood siding built on a full stone foundation. It was built in two sections set at right angles to each other. Originally Bleak House was heated by stoves and it contained three chimneys. The interior has been altered but there still remain some hints of its earlier appearance. The barns and outbuildings from the farm period are gone but a handsome little summerhouse still remains, just west of the house.
What’s in a name?
There are a couple of stories concerning the name of the house. One story about the origination of Bleak House’s name it that Sybil (daughter of Colin and Anne) names it because of the lack of trees on the property. The second story is that Bleak House was named for the county in the Orkneys Islands where the Inksters originated.
Current use of the House
Sybil Inkster, the youngest child of Colin and Anne, willed Bleak House to the City of West Kildonan in 1973 after her death specifically for the “quiet enjoyment of people”. The city approved that the seniors in the community use the house. Bleak House Centre officially opened on October 20, 1978. Bleak House Centre has developed because of the work, cooperation and commitment of many people. Our programs are open to all adults and include a unique variety of events and activities. A list of these programs can be discovered on our website.