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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 April 2021

Boyne River Keepers. Last month we mentioned how the Boyne River Keepers (BRK) group has made the past winter a happier time for many local folks by clearing a river trail and helping them rediscover the joy of being outdoors.


Photo courtesy BRK

With the early arrival of Spring, winter fun on the Boyne is now a fond memory. But if you visit the BRK Facebook page you’ll find a great assortment of photos such as these two as well as video clips that will keep these memories alive over the coming months. You’ll also find photos from last summer that will make you begin to look forward to months of kayaking and canoeing through the revitalized heart of Carman.


Photo courtesy BRK


Women in local history
. On a more sober note, recent media reports around International Women’s Day have focused on the pronounced impact the pandemic has had on women. Many are struggling to maintain their own physical and mental health while trying to juggle home, family and work responsibilities. They are experiencing more job loss, often from already lower paid, service sector positions. Many who still have jobs are front-line workers who fear taking the virus home to their families. Women who work from home have taken on greater responsibility for child care, homework and home management. Other data show an increase in spousal abuse as well as the higher levels of depression and general stress experienced by socially isolated families.

Over the past months, we’ve been doing a lot of searches in early newspapers for information on such diverse topics as the Sons of England lodge, early businesses, the river and water supplies, and natural history. One reason it’s been more time-consuming than intended is because of all the other interesting but distracting bits of local news—from politics to prohibition to women’s role in society. One question these news items raise is: just how much has the lot of women changed over the past century?

At the dawn of the 20th century, the Dufferin Leader (1901-02-14) challenged its readers to predict what we might see in the century to come. Among their own speculations were the following:

Will the housemaid be a houseman? Will men wear frilled shirts and women trousers? Will college girls carry a cane and smoke a pipe? Will women bosses run politics as they now run the home? Will men wear birds on their hats and crochet? Will the wife kiss her husband goodbye before starting off to business?

An earlier article on education of women, reprinted in the Carman Standard (!890-09-25), suggests that equality with men, let alone role reversal, was not likely to happen in the near future.

A decade later, the Carman Standard (1902-01-23) printed the following advice on teaching girls:

Where there are two or three girls in a family, it is an excellent plan to allow each one, in turn, the responsibility of housekeeping for a certain time. It does not hurt girls to be made to take a measure of responsibility concerning household tasks, far otherwise, it does them a world of good, and it lifts much of the burden from the overworked mother’s shoulders. Let them, in succession, have a week at a time, charge of the chamber work, the mending, the cooking, the buying even, for the family; all of course under proper supervision, and their faculties of reason, perception, judgement, discrimination and continuity will be more developed in one month of such training than in six months of common schooling.


Another article reprinted in the issue of the Carman Standard (1890-09-25) titled “The Pecuniary Servitude of Wives”, addressed the matter of household finances:

Men who are rated as honest, upright citizens, dealing justly with their fellow men; will, when the question of money comes up, treat their wives, the mothers of their children, with less honesty than they do the tax assessor, and with much less consideration than they do their office boys. They children, when not granted a weekly allowance, are ‘tipped ‘occasionally, but nothing goes to the wife without some haggling, duplicity or humiliation on her part. Let it be understood that reference is made solely to the pitiable state of things that so widely prevails in the disbursing of money in the household and the wife’s private purse.” The article goes on to describe an example of one wife’s stoic acceptance of the situation, of which ‘She was proud in a certain way, and she believed the existing state irrevocable.’

It appears that women working outside the home a century ago didn’t fare much better than their at-home counterparts (Dufferin Leader 1901-05-30):

It’s also interesting to note how current the complaint sounds more than a century later.
The authors of the “Twentieth Century predictions” (Dufferin Leader 1901-02-14) ended their article by asking readers:

Now, candidly, wouldn’t you like to know what sayers will be saying, thinkers thinking, writers writing, doers doing, and plotters plotting at the end of the next hundred years?

Now here we are, over a century later, able to answer that question—and to ponder whether gender issues will still be making news at the end of the 21st century. It’s important to note that these articles reflect the views of society in general at that time. Next month we’ll pick up on this theme and look further at what we know about the activities and the lot of local women.



#40-1st Street SW

Now and Then. This month’s rollover photo features the NW corner of 1st Street and 1st Avenue SW, formerly the corner of Fournier St. and Maple Ave.

The site is best known for the clothing stores located here since before 1900. The following ad appeared in the Dufferin Leader (1898-12-22).


The original two-story Victoria Hall block was later replaced by a single-story building. For an earlier view of this location as well as more information on businesses located here over the years, see the rollover photo under Vintage Photos Now and Then.


 

 

 

 

 

Natural History. Spring has officially arrived. It’s warmer and drier than normal this year. But no matter how mild the winter, we always get a lift from seeing the snow start to melt, the creeks and ditches fill with run-off water and from being able to put aside the heavy winter clothing. An email last week from one of our members summed it all up:

“Wasn’t that gorgeous weather yesterday?  I heard some geese honking and it brought me a jolt of joy! We saw a beautiful fox walk right past the house yesterday morning just as the sun was coming up.  The sun’s first rays lit up its healthy red coat.  Maybe I should have taken a picture but sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the moment.”

With Easter arriving in April, we likely should be following our ‘animal of the month’ theme looking this month at the habits and habitat of our local bunny rabbits. But for now, let’s just welcome Spring with our memories of outdoor winter fun, the joyful sound of returning geese and those special moments of insight into the beauty of nature. What is your favourite image of Spring?

 

News & Events March 2021

March. One year since the pandemic first changed our lives. For many it’s been a dreary, even depressing, time of isolation from family and friends. Not to mention worries from job loss, hassles of working from home or virtual schooling. Anyone who has had family members in hospital, especially in palliative care, has experienced the depths of grief and loss.

The more fortunate among us have rediscovered the outdoors and gardening or maybe found time to catch up on all those DIY projects tucked away in the back of our minds for the ‘someday’ that finally arrived. Cupboards and closets have never been cleaner. Then there are a few seemingly natural-born recluses who look back at the last months as a sort of vacation from meetings and routine, a time to read, soak up nature, and just do what they want to do, when they want to do it.

The positive side to 2020—rediscovery of the outdoors. The Boyne River Keepers have spearheaded the return to use of the Boyne by clearing what has become a well-used skating and hiking trail. As Dennis Young reported in the Carman-Dufferin Standard (2021-01-14), “The Boyne River has found new life this winter with games of shinny, avid walkers and snowshoers. The old swimming hole area welcomes visitors.”

Photo: Dennis Young, Carman-Dufferin Standard

From requests we’ve received, it seems that for some folks, it’s finally an opportunity to dig into family history, to discover and preserve their roots. Last month, we mentioned a few of these initiatives. Thanks to pandemic closures, our search has been limited pretty much to online sources. That said, here is an update on what we’ve located so far in response to the request for information on the Carman Sons of England Lodge.

Sons of England. You’ll recall that we knew almost nothing about the S.O.E., other than their name on one of the more significant buildings in Carman. Newspapers from the early 1900s noted that the R.M. of Dufferin Council met in the upper chambers of the building and ads identified it as the location over the years of various business ventures. Photos from the 1970s record loss of the building to fire at the time when the Rex Café occupied part of the lower story [New & Events August & September, 2019]

The Sons of England Society was one of several benevolent societies from the pre-insurance era that provided support for its members in times of need.

“The Sons of England Benevolent Society was a fraternal society for English Protestants, founded in Toronto, Canada, during the year 1874. Its purpose was to bring Englishmen together for mutual support, social intercourse, and to provide financial security to them and their families in times of sickness, hardship or death. In addition to these aims, the society acted as a cultural organisation, aspiring to preserve and celebrate the Anglo-Protestant cultural heritage of its members.”amazon.ca/Early-History-England-Benevolent-Society/dp/1978374992

The Winnipeg and Western Canada Directory, p. 93 lists the Carman S.O.E. as Lodge No. 186. Newspaper items from 1898–99 give some insight into construction of their building:

“The Sons of England, of Carman, contemplate the erection of a hall for meetings and are looking for a suitable site.” (Carman Standard, 1898-09-02).

“The Sons of England have bought a lot from Butchart & Somersall and intend erecting a hall for the meetings of their society the first floor will be rented for a general store.” (Carman Standard, 1898-09-16). The same week, the Dufferin Leader (1898-09-15) reported that the lodge had formed a joint stock company and applied for incorporation. “When completed, it will not only be one of the best business stands but one of the best equipped of any in town.”


Sons of England Building early 1900s

The Carman Standard (1898-09-16) provided further details, including the names of the first directors.

 

 

 



The following year, the building was completed and the first-floor tenants had begun to move in [from the Carman Standard, 1899-09-21].

Over the years, changes in businesses can be traced through newspaper ads. So far, we haven’t located any records in family histories or the like of financial aid, however, newspaper reports do record some of the organizations’ social activities.

The Carman Standard (1898-06-24) reported that an S.O.E. excursion was being planned from Carman to Selkirk on July 7th. Tickets for the round-trip cost $2. The committee had arranged a three hour trip up the river for an extra charge of 50 cents. In addition, “Those who desire to take a trip up Lake Winnipeg to Cumberland House can, by taking in this excursion, make the round-trip from Carman for $15.70 including berths and meals on steamer.”

There is no indication of the number of excursionists on this outing, however, the following year, the Dufferin Leader (1899-06-22) reported the S.O.E. excursion was “not as well patronized as it might have been” due to rain and mix-up in departure times. As a result, they had only 200–300 on board when the train pulled out. Wonder what the usual number totalled? On that excursion, the newspaper noted, the excursionists were “met by a reception committee of the Sons of England, of that city, and the trolley cars were in waiting, which conveyed the excursionists to the auditorium instead of Elm Park as previously announced. Here the crowd were entertained with music, etc., until 12 o’clock when they dispersed for dinner. Returning, the excursionists left Winnipeg at 8:30, all feeling that an enjoyable time had been spent.” They apparently were not a group to be daunted by a bit of rain.

The Winnipeg lodge also travelled to Carman. The Carman Standard (1898-06-24) coverage gave an account of the outing and the entertainment provided by the local lodge. Under the heading “S.O.E. Excursion” the newspaper reported that:

“The Sons of England came to Carman on Monday for their annual outing. The first train arrived at 10 o’clock, and the remainder of the excursionists came on the regular train at noon. Headed by the Citizens band the visitors wended their way to Clark’s Grove, where the athletic sports were held, a band concert was given and dancing indulged in. The sports were well contested, a number of fine athletes accompanying the excursion and carrying off most of the prizes…. Carman people took a great deal of interest in the tug of war between Carman and Winnipeg Sons of England. It only required two tugs to decide the superiority of the dwellers on the banks of the Boyne over those who pitched their tents by the Red….

The singing contest or rather the comic songs, created a good deal of amusement. There were about half a dozen entries…. The dancing platform was not well patronized, the day being too warm for that exercise. That antiquated old source of amusement, the Punch and Judy show, bobbed up on the grounds and seemed to draw as of yore. The Citizens band gave an enjoyable concert in the evening opposite the station. The Winnipeg Sons of England are a jolly outfit and seem to know how to get all there is in a picnic out of it. All we have to say to them is “come again”. “

An item in the Dufferin Leader (1899-06-01) gives insight into the patriotic roots of the organization. The article describes an S.O.E. service at St. Andrew’s Church. Forty members of the order paraded from the Orange hall to the church, led by the Carman band. Rev. H.C. Sutherland chose his text a theme from the Psalms, “I have a goodly heritage”. He “began by paying tribute to the greatness of England and the nobility of the Queen. He believed that the finest civilization the world had ever known found its highest expression in England”. Sutherland went on to speak of religion as the chief moulding force in the development of civilization and the key to England’s greatness.

Although we have little information on membership in the S.O.E., the following account from the Dufferin Leader (1899-05-18) gives a hint of the fellowship amongst lodge members. Salterville, to the east of the present-day town of Carman, was the fist post-1870 settlement and post office in the area. We gather from the earlier list of directors that Richard Salter was an early pillar of the organization.

Other early lodges. The SOE was just one of several lodges active in the area around this time. Among other organizations mentioned in local newspapers were the LOL (Loyal Orange Lodge), Masons or AF and AM (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons), IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows), IOF (Independent Order of Foresters) as well as women’s groups such as the IODE (Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire). Look for these initials or organization symbols on grave markers in local cemeteries.


 

The Orange Lodge figured most prominently in early history of this area. The order was named in honour of Protestant King William of Orange’s defeat of
Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne. Irish Protestants in Ontario, stirred up by a push to revenge Riel’s execution of Thomas Scott and secure the West from the Catholics, were strongly represented among the first waves of new settlers.

Samuel Kennedy, the first post-1870 settler to take up a homestead in the area was a staunch member of the L.O.L. He is credited with making a bold statement of his beliefs by renaming the Rivière aux Îlets-de-Bois the Boyne River. The first L.O.L. meetings were held in his home. As settlements spread, several local communities established their own branches of the Lodge.

On July 12, local lodges gathered to march in parades, accompanied by fifes and drums. They also sponsored local community events. The Dufferin Leader (1910-11-03) announced that “Loyal Orange Lodge No. 2137 Roseisle, will give a Grand Ball on the evening of Friday, Nov. 4. On the afternoon of the same day a Turkey Shoot will be held. Admission to ball, $1. Come and bring your girl.”The last remaining local L.O.L hall in Graysville has deteriorated to the point where its valuable records and artifacts have now been donated to the Dufferin Historical Museum. The museum also holds a copy of The Early History of Dufferin Loyal Orange Lodge #1514 Graysville, Manitoba, 1883–1959 by L.O.L. member Dr. T.J. Harrison.
A local RM of Dufferin lodge
 

March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day. One of the main celebrations in the month of March is St. Patrick’s Day. Given the strong Irish representation in our history, you might also expect to read early reports of parades and celebrations built around shamrocks, fanciful little green leprechauns and green beverages. The event as we know it today is celebrated by anyone with Irish roots or by organizations looking for an excuse to hold a community supper fund-raiser. The LOL, however, were not keen on ‘Saints’ and their association with Catholicism. St. Patrick’s Day events appear to be of somewhat later vintage in the area.

Now and Then. Here is the next picture of the Town of Caman from our rollover Vintage Photos. This is a view of the corner of Main St. and 2nd Ave. as it looked back in 1912. Since that time, these buildings have had many different occupants. As part of Shirley Snider’s research on early Carman businesses, she has managed to identify many of the past owners.

For more on the history of this part of Main St., go to our Now and Then Vintage Photo section.

Natural History. In February, we looked at the groundhog and his annual weather predictions. March also has its animal connections. If the month comes in like a lamb, we should expect it to go out like a lion—and vice versa. This year it came in fairly lamb-like, mixed sun and clouds, chill winds but with promise of a fine week to come. As far as animals are concerned, neither the lamb nor the lion is indigenous to this area. Carman/Dufferin folks have to go the Assiniboine Zoo to see a lion. Sheep are occasionally mentioned among new species being introduced by settlers but they aren’t a mainstay of the local economy. So let’s just check in see how our everyday wildlife friends are managing during our recent erratic change of temperature.

Squirrels. Local squirrels have been surprisingly visible this winter, venturing out of their winter hideaways each time the temperature soars above freezing and snow begins melting from the roof top. They can be seen scurrying up the trees to see if the spring buds are beginning to swell and rooting around in the snow for those caches of nuts they stored in the fall. If they are fortunate, like the one seen below, they may even manage to raid the birdfeeder.

Both red squirrels and their larger grey cousins can be found in this area. The reds are noticeably more aggressive and don’t hesitate to chase the greys from their territory. Although we are often amazed by their speed and climbing skills, we may not give them enough credit for some of their other abilities.




No way the birds need all those sunflower seeds!

Here's an excerpt from a local life story that gives a whole new appreciation of the talents of our wily little wildlife friends:

“One late autumn morning Grandad woke to find the ground covered with a thick blanket of snow. He decided it was time to put out more feed for the birds. So he made a big ball of suet and sunflower seeds. He put the ball into a mesh bag, attached a long cord, and hung it near the end of a tree branch where he could watch the action from the comfort of his rocking chair. All sorts of birds soon found the food—nuthatches, woodpeckers, chickadees, juncos, redpolls, a blue jay, even a beautiful red-breasted grosbeak. And a squirrel. As he watched, a little red squirrel raced up the tree trunk and scampered out onto the branch. When it couldn’t reach the bag on the end of the cord, it just chewed through the cord and dropped the suet bag to the ground. Then it raced down the tree, grabbed the cord in its teeth and pulled the bag of suet towards the base of the tree—and settled in for a hearty meal.

Grandad was determined to outsmart the squirrel. He got a tall wooden post and dug a hole in the middle of Grandma’s flower beds. He nailed a feeding tray on top of the post and put out more seeds and suet. The squirrel watched closely from a nearby tree. As soon as Grandad was back inside, the squirrel raced down the tree, across the snow and up the pole. It stretched out, got its sharp claws around the edge of the platform and soon was enjoying another snack.

The wooden post was replaced with a metal pole. No way even those sharp little claws could get a grip on smooth metal. Have you ever watched a squirrel with its legs wrapped around a pole, using its strong thighs to shinny up, the way you climb coconut trees n the tropics? Believe me, they can do it like they’d been climbing metal poles all their lives.

The next try was a foil pie plate secured part way up the pole to act as a barrier. Tiny squirrel paws and sharp claws soon bent and twisted the flimsy aluminum plate enough to make a hole alongside the pole – then the squirrel was through the hole and back up enjoying its lunch.

Back to the drawing board. The next feeder was an impressive structure—a tall metal pole with a huge 4- foot square platform on top. If the squirrel climbed the pole – he still wouldn’t be able to stretch and reach the edge of the feeder. This seemed to be the answer.

Then, a day later, as he watched, Grandad saw the squirrel come bouncing across the snow and up a tall tree. The closest branch was about twenty feet from the feeder. The squirrel paused for a moment then raced full speed along a branch, took off with a flying leap, sailed through the air and landed with a thump on the platform.

Grandad watched in amazement as the squirrel ate a few seeds then proceeded to roll the suet ball off the platform onto to the ground. Then he jumped down and tried to push the suet ball towards the base of the tree. But the fresh snow was too deep and the ball wouldn’t move. After several tries the squirrel seemed to give up. He ran across the yard to the base of the tree and started digging in the snow. Maybe looking instead for nuts he had hidden away last fall? Not likely. He pulled out something orange from the snow. It was the mesh bag that had originally held the suet ball when he dropped it from the tree.

The squirrel grabbed the bag in his mouth and ran to where the suet ball lay in the snow. Taking the mesh bag in his paws, he spread it carefully over the top of the suet ball. Then he grabbed the cord and tried to pull the bag and the suet. The bag slipped off the ball. He smoothed it back and tried again.

Grandad’s mouth dropped open in amazement. “Will you look at that? Who said animals don’t know how to use tools? The squirrel remembered pulling the suet bag by the cord after he chewed it down from the tree. And he remembered where he hid the mesh bag. Now he’s trying to put the bag back on the suet ball so he can pull it through the snow. You know, if he’s that smart, he deserves to get fed too.”

So he put on his winter parka and warm winter mitts and went outside to scatter seeds all over the ground under the feeder. From then on, he watched both the birds and squirrels enjoy their food.

Later that year, I helped Grandad write up that story for his grandchildren. Years later, they still mention from time to time that they just re-read the story and had another good chuckle at his attempt to outsmart the crafty little red squirrel.”

For more information of squirrels see articles such as: orkincanada.ca/pests/wildlife/squirrels/


Recent History

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