La maison Johan-Beetz

The Johan-Beetz House is a Second Empire-inspired rural residence built in 1899. The rectangular, two-storey, boarded main building is topped by a red mansard roof with four sloping sides. The residence is surrounded on three sides by a gallery protected by eaves. It has a side annex in the same shape as the main building, with a lean-to lean-to on top. The Johan-Beetz House stands on a rocky promontory jutting into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at the mouth of the Piashti River, in the municipality of Baie-Johan-Beetz.

The property is classified as a heritage building. Protection applies to the exterior and interior of the building, not to the land.



Heritage value

The Johan-Beetz house is of heritage interest for its historical value stemming from its association with Johan Beetz (1874-1949). The latter's contribution to the socio-economic development of the locality and the North Shore was considerable. A Belgian aristocrat, Beetz immigrated to Quebec in 1897 and settled in Piastre Baie (now Baie-Johan-Beetz), where he had already acquired property. With a background in natural sciences and medicine, Beetz immediately recognized the region's strong economic potential for the fur trade. At first, he bought fox skins from trappers at high prices, thus entering into competition with the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1903, he became a pioneer in fox breeding. Through research, experimentation and cross-breeding, he established the silver fox breed. In 1910, he joined forces with Révillon et Frères, a Parisian firm that had established a network of trading posts on the North Shore. Beetz left Piastre Baie in 1922 for the Montreal suburbs. His book "L'indispensable à l'éleveur de renards argentés" (The silver fox breeder's essential) was published in 1931, and embodies the knowledge he had acquired in this field over the years. In 1968, Piastre Baie was incorporated as a municipality and adopted the toponym Baie-Johan-Beetz. The house bears witness to this exceptional man's contribution to the Côte-Nord region and to the natural sciences.

The Johan-Beetz house is also of heritage interest for its architectural value. Built in 1899, the residence was inspired by the Second Empire style. This style of French origin became popular during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III (1808-1873), notably with the construction of the New Louvre, from 1852 to 1857. First introduced in England and the United States, where it enjoyed great popularity, it appeared in Canada in the late 1860s. Widely used for public buildings, it was also employed in domestic architecture until the early 20th century. The Johan-Beetz house is representative of this style, notably for its mansard roof with four slopes, the symmetrical composition of the façade and the arrangement of openings, and the central axis formed by the main entrance topped by a large gabled dormer. The ornamentation contributes to the prestige associated with the Second Empire style, with jagged friezes decorating the soffit line and dormer gables, wooden architraves and the wrought-wood gallery railing. The residence is distinguished by its elaborate architecture, expressing the notoriety and affluence of its owner.

The Johan-Beetz house is also of heritage interest for the architectural and artistic value of its interior. The decor, distinguished by its quality and originality, includes floral and animal motifs painted in oils by Johan Beetz on door panels, as well as wallpaper imitating wainscoting. Ornamental woodwork (doorframes, skirting boards, chair rails, ceiling moldings) and a grand staircase were also added. Wooden ceilings with jointed planks reflect a style of construction characteristic of the second half of the 19th century. The richness of this interior reflects both the social background and interests of its owner.

Characteristic elements

Character-defining elements of the Johan-Beetz House related to its historical, architectural and artistic values include, in particular:
- its location on a promontory jutting into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, at the mouth of the Piashti River;
- its Second Empire-style elements, including the rectangular main building with its mansard roof, the regular, symmetrical composition of the façade and the central axis formed by the main entrance topped by a large gabled dormer;
- its materials, including rebated board exterior siding and cedar shingle roofing;
- its openings, including the double entrance door with its pointed-arched glazing, rectangular wood windows with large panes and gabled dormers on three sides;
- its decorative elements, including the jagged frieze along the break line and dormers, the corner boards, the wooden mullioned architraves and the central dormer (including the window with pointed arches);
- the polychromy of all components;
- symmetrical chimney stacks;
- the gallery encircling the house on three sides, including a sheet-metal-covered eaves and a carved wooden railing;
- the wooden sidewalk ending in a two-flight staircase leading to the rear door;
- the rectangular annex in the longitudinal extension of the house, with its mansard roof and half-hipped roof pierced by dormer windows, with the lean-to leaning against its side facade;
- its oil-painted interior decor, particularly the floral and animal motifs on certain door panels and wall sections;
- the finishing elements, including the wood panelling on the walls, the wallpaper imitating wainscoting and the board and batten ceilings;
- architectural millwork, including architraves, baseboards, chair rails and ceiling moldings;
- the grand staircase, with turned balusters, richly ornamented turned newel posts and wave-shaped stringers.