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Introduction

Whether you are a visitor to our community, are researching your family roots, need background on an historic building or are just interested in local history, this website is your one-stop source of information on our heritage. 

The site offers you a glimpse of the history of Dufferin Municipality from the pre-settlement era to the post–1870 influx of homesteading families, and from the arrival of the railways to the rise and decline of the small towns and communities along its path.

You will also discover the wealth of historic buildings, cairns, plaques and other heritage resources that our communities have to offer.

Let us know of any omissions or errors. If you have information or photos you’d like to share, please contact us. Check out this site each month for our Special Features, including vintage photos from the area.

Please visit our Acknowledgements page, which recognizes the many people who contributed towards making the website possible, including the backbone of any endeavour—the volunteers who contributed material, researched, edited or proofread content, and gave in so many ways of their time and talents.

News and Events October 2020

Hopeland School History. The one-room rural school is an important part of local heritage. The Schools section of our website shows the location and provides a brief history of 29 schools that have served the educational needs of children in the Carman/Dufferin area. Local schools also served as the social hub of the district. In the year 2000, former students and teachers from Hopeland S.D. #2279 gathered for a school reunion. In honour of the event, organizer Bob Briggs compiled a history of the school.

The book includes school records, board minutes, photos and information on former teachers and students. It provides insight into life in the small rural school and surrounding community between the school’s opening in 1937 and its closure in 1966. The history is now online.

Caroll McGill. We were all saddened this past month by the loss of Caroll McGill, one of our most dedicated long-time supporters of local heritage.  
 

Caroll McGill at Wellness Fair 

Caroll served for many years on the board of the Dufferin Historical Museum and was one of the most active volunteers in every local heritage event. She recently contributed a history of the fifth-generation McGill family to the Homesteads and Family Farms section of our website.

Caroll also was active in the community with organizations such as the Garden Club. One of her special interests was in native plants which she cultivated and tended in the Museum grounds.
This is one aspect of our heritage that we haven’t yet examined. What plants are indigenous to this region of Manitoba and how have they been used? We had just contacted Caroll this spring for guidance on researching native plants when COVID-19 brought our activities to a halt.

Although most of us are aware that plants and herbs played an important role in Indigenous healing and as part of seasonal diet, we are sadly short on specifics. We have slightly more information about wild fruits that early settlers gathered and plants they used for medicinal purposes. Over the next few months, we’ll be exploring this topic in more depth. Where possible, we’ll draw upon local sources of knowledge and experience. We are hoping one of our local plant enthusiasts will agree to help us on this journey. Two of the local resources we’ll be consulting are Caroll McGill’s notes from the Museum and a small volume titled “Wild Plants of Central North America for Food and Medicine", written and illustrated by our late local Roseisle artist Stephen Jackson and Linda Prine, published in 1978 by Peguis Publishers. 

We are pleased to dedicate this native plant series to the memory of our heritage colleague, Caroll McGill.

Our 1870 Heritage - Native plants. A feature of heritage that often escapes our attention is the impact of the socio-economic and cultural changes on the local environment. The current pandemic has focused attention on the outdoors and on home gardening. This, along with a growing concern over climate change, is reflected in growing interest in native or heritage plants. These are plants that grow naturally in an areas opposed to "exotics" that have been imported from other countries. "Indigenous" plants are native to a particular region.
 
Organizations such as the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) and the Invasive Species Council of Manitoba (ISCM) are in the forefront of public education on the significance of native plants and on what not to plant. They point out that native plants are a product of the balance of nature that develops over time in a particular area or ecosystem. As such, they are part of our natural heritage. Heritage plants usually survive longer than non-native species and need less tending, because they are hardier and more disease resistant.

A concern with non-indigenous species is that they can become weeds in areas where they aren’t originally from, and can take over habitats. CWF notes that this in turn can “alter the whole ecosystem by not being the plant that species like birds or small mammals feed off, they can change ground water levels by taking up too much water, and they can cross pollinate with the indigenous species, creating hybrids.” For more information, visit the CWF site.

The ISCM provides a list of plants many of us have in our gardens that are not recommended for local planting. We are likely all familiar with invasive plant species such as leafy spurge that proliferate in our ditches and non-cultivated land.

Over the coming months we’ll be profiling some of our native plants that both Indigenous Peoples and early European settlers used for food and for healing. Our recent interest was sparked in part by stories of how early families used local plants in home remedies. We heard for example of a grandmother who healed a severe burn on her foot by using a salve of Balm of Gilead buds steeped in lard (News and Events, March 2018). Those buds, by the way, are the sticky black poplar buds that litter the ground and stick to your shoes each spring.

Please note that many plants may be harmful. Always seek advice from your health care provider before trying a plant for medicinal purposes.
 
It’s a bit late in the year to begin a series based on foraging for local plants. But there is one shrub that still stands out amongst the fast-disappearing fall foliage - the high bush cranberry. 

Native Plants - High Bush Cranberry

High bush cranberries (Viburnum trilobum) are one of the wild fruits found in this region as well as other parts of Canada. Indigenous peoples added cranberries to pemmican; they also used them as a dye. From the time of the early settlers to the present day, high bush cranberries have been a local favourite for making jams, jellies and juice. You are unlikely to forget the rather unpleasant smell of boiling cranberries or the mouth-puckering taste of the ripe fruit which sweetens slightly after first frost.

This is an attractive shrub with maple-leaf shaped leaves. In spring it sports striking clusters of white flowers. Autumn leaves range from bright red to purple. As seen in the photo, the brilliant red berries can often be seen well after first snowfall, until they are gladly harvested by birds and animals.

High bush cranberries are high in vitamin C. Among its medicinal properties, the bark and leaves can be brewed in a tea for relief of pain and as a sedative. And, though it doesn’t qualify yet a heritage-status beverage, on a hot, muggy, summer day there’s nothing more refreshing than a chilled glass of cranberry juice and fizzy soft drink.                     


News and Events September 2020

Carman Cadets.  Does anyone have information about the Carman Cadet Corps from the around 1916? We received a welcome cross-section of information recently from Bob Briggs, formerly of this area, now living in Victoria BC. Among the treasures he shared were photos of his Briggs/Haycock/Tucker relatives.

This photo of Thomas Haycock was taken around 1916. Bob Briggs asks if anyone has any information about the corps. So far we’ve drawn a blank, so we’d be grateful if you can help us.



Thomas Vincent Haycock
ca. 1916                               

 

Carman Hospital. Among the photo collection from Bob Briggs were several snapshots taken by his grandmother Elsie Tucker who worked in the laundry at Carman Hospital in the 1950’s.  His grandfather Bruce Tucker drove the ambulance. Most hospital pictures feature the buildings, doctors or nurses rather than the other staff members that help keep the hospital going.


Carman Hospital laundry 1954                                             



Carman Hospital ambulance 1950s- Bruce Tucker driver    



Carman Hospital staff on break 1954                       
             


In 2000, Bob Briggs organized a reunion for former students and teachers from Hopeland School, north-east of Homewood.  We are working on getting a copy of the school history he prepared at that time. He also forwarded pictures of the 1927 Carman flood and contributed to our life story project through recollections of his early rural childhood and information and photos of local relatives. Great additions to preserving local heritage.


Recent History

Earlier news items are stored on a separate "Recent History" page.