From the Mather-Walls collection

Mather-Walls House, Kenora

Photo: Mather-Walls House, Kenora

The “pay table,” handmade by John Walls

Photo: The “pay table,” handmade by John Walls


Simonette Seon-Milette

Cultural objects

Published Date: Jun 12, 2008

Perched on a hill in the town of Keewatin (now Kenora) stands a majestic Queen-Anne style house known as Mather-Walls House. This cream-and-chocolate-coloured two-storey wood house, built in 1889, has a picturesque roofline, large verandas and numerous windows – some containing brightly coloured glass inserts. The interior is built around a central hall plan. Fine decorative trims and hardware enhance the character of the individual rooms.

The Ontario Heritage Trust purchased Mather-Walls House and its contents from Margaret Edna Walls in 1975. She was the third child born to John Walls and Elizabeth Link. John Walls purchased the house from the Mather family in 1906. Walls was the foreman for the Keewatin Lumber Company.

The Walls collection is an eclectic blend of 19th- and 20th-century household furnishings, many of which are believed to be from the time the Walls family lived in the house. Of particular interest is a simple, elegant painted pine table handmade by John Walls. According to written accounts, this table was referred to as the “pay table.” Mrs. Jean Roy, eldest daughter of John Walls, stated that the mill’s pay was carried home by her father in a pail and taken up to a second-floor bedroom where it was placed on the pay table in front of the corner windows. She was responsible for sealing all the pay envelopes and received 10 cents for her work.

Mather-Walls House and its collection are vestiges of the lives lived by two distinct families in northern Ontario. Mather-Walls is operated by the Lake of the Woods Historical Society.