Keyhole Castle, one of the finest heritage homes in Canada, was built from 1911 to 1913 by Prince Albert businessman Samuel McLeod. In 1883, at the age of 30, Samuel McLeod came to Prince Albert from Winnipeg with his first wife, Elizabeth (28) and sons Frederic (6) and William (10). Originally from Prince Edward Island, McLeod had trained as a cobbler. Coming to Prince Albert, McLeod opened a mercantile store which he ran from 1888 to 1898. In 1898 McLeod sold his store and his share of a lumber business, and at the age of 45 started a second career in land development, real estate, and (federal) politics. (McLeod had already served as Mayor of Prince Albert in 1896.) McLeod’s wife, Elizabeth died in 1901, and one year later, McLeod married Elizabeth’s sister, Winnifred Biggar.
Prince Albert experienced a prolonged economic boom during the late 1890s and early 1900s. At that time, speculation on resource development, the La Colle Falls Dam project and the benefits of a proposed extension of the main CN rail line from Winnipeg through Prince Albert to Edmonton, pushed land and building values to new heights. City council in particular was so bullish on the prospects of Prince Albert, that it issued municipal bonds through the CIBC, and spent over a million dollars on infrastructure in preparation for the expected influx.
It was at the tail end of the boom that Keyhole Castle was commissioned and completed. By the summer of 1913 it was realized that most of the speculation surrounding Prince Albert’s expected growth was not to be realized. The resource development had not materialized as aggressively as supposed. The La Colle Falls Dam project was abandoned as untenable. The rail line was sent through Saskatoon rather than Prince Albert. As a result, the City of Prince Albert had to restructure its debts, and narrowly avoided bankruptcy. However, the Castle was safely built, and the McLeod fortune was largely intact. McLeod continued to live in and promote Prince Albert for the rest of his life.
Samuel McLeod commissioned Erich Wojahn from Stillwater, Minnesota as architect for the Keyhole Castle in 1910. It appears that for the period of 1911 to 1913, Mr. Wojahn supervised the building personally, having an office listed in Prince Albert’s business directories. While in Saskatchewan, he and his wife, Christina, had a child named Avalon in 1912. They moved to Tacoma, Washington in 1917 where he passed away in 1927.
Built in the Queen Anne Revival style, the home was a collection of eclectic elements, both inside and out. While the home has been pillaged over the years of some of the more transportable of its finest features, it remains largely intact. Restoration efforts on the inside were largely completed by Alan and Connie Logue, who owned the home for the last 25 years. The well crafted design of the home makes Keyhole Castle a very inviting, warm place to visit. Designed for living and entertaining, the home encourages rest, conversation and good fellowship. McLeod lived in the home until his death in early 1929. His widow, Mrs. Winnifred McLeod continued to live in the home until 1943.