When the Great Lakes Métis began to build their own,
they could choose between the wigwam form used by the Ojibway and the
small cabin used in Quebec and in the trading posts. Their choices
varied according to their abilities. A wealthy free-trader might have
built a two-storey Red River style house, while an engagee who
was doing well might build a nice, two room dove-tailed style cabin.
When the Métis began to form their own communities as free-traders,
or buffalo hunters, or as colonizers, they took these two forms of
construction with them. They are found as widely separated as the house
in Fort Vermilion historic park, and the Ewan Moberly homestead in
Jasper National Park.
The interior of such homes was generally rather sparsely furnished.
Heat and cooking facilities were provided by a stone and clay fireplace,
sometimes placed in a corner and sometimes on a centre wall.
On the other hand, the children of HBC traders seemed to have used
Aboriginal style housing or tents. The family had to be more mobile in
the north to pursue hunting and trapping. When they did settle, they
could not adopt the timber frame style of building found in the Bay
posts. They seem to have adapted the timber frame and ‘pièce sur
pièce’ construction, resulting in the Red River style. Even the
larger buildings in Fort Edmonton were built using that style of
construction. When they had to build with logs, they used the
Scandinavian style corners.