THE GIETZ HOUSE OF THE 1920S
By Farley Wuth, Curator,
Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village
Copyright, Pincher Creek & District Historical Society
The Gietz House, a rustic one-storey frame dwelling constructed in the 1920s, was located on a Mennonite homestead east of Pincher Creek. Alf and Tina Gietz owned the property for years and operated a bed and breakfast. A prominent member of the family is the Honourable Beverly McLachlin, retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, who was raised in the Pincher Creek area. The Mennonite experience on the Canadian Prairies was representative of the immigration and farming boom accompanied by religious diversification which came about after the First World War.
Featured exhibit in the dwelling are a series of stoves, lanterns and foot warmers held by the Pincher Creek and District Historical Society. Stoves from the early 1900s were versatile; they could burn either wood or coal depending on which fuel was readily available. Both resources were locally accessed in the Pincher Creek area. Some of the units served as heating devices only while cook stoves doubled in both capacities. McClary stoves were one of the more common pioneer era brand names. Barn and household lanterns provided after dark light in most frontier houses and outbuildings. Kerosene was also a common fuel utilized in a pre-electrical era. Foot warmers, which provided winter warmth in sleighs, were fueled by coal.
Large stoves such as the one seen in this circa 1910 photograph of the E. J. Mitchell drugstore on Pincher Creek’s dusty Main Street were commonly placed near the centre of any pioneer structure so that most of the interior would remain relatively warm during those cold winter days on the Canadian Prairies.