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Homesteads & Family Farms

James & Margaret (Durno) McIntosh Homesteads
by granddaughter Nedra McIntosh Burnett

James and Margaret McIntosh and their first three children (Margaret, Jessie, Alexander) came to Manitoba from Northern Scotland in 1885. They arrived via Emerson where they were met by Margaret’s brother, George Durno, who had homesteaded the previous year.

The party travelled by team and wagon to the Stephenfield area where James applied for homestead rights to SE 32-6-6w, in the same section as George Durno’s claim on NW 32-6-6w. They later homesteaded NE 32-6-6w and purchased NE 29-6-6w, a ‘school section’ from which taxes went to maintain the school. The claim on Section 29 was in Margaret’s name; it is still in the family, owned by a granddaughter, Marjorie (Gibson) Irwin, daughter of Ellen (McIntosh) Gibson.

Settlers came to this area because there were lots of trees and water in shallow wells. The family built a log home where they lived until they put up a frame house in about 1908. When this house burned in 1947, everything in the house was lost. This included wooden willow chairs made by the Indigenous people who used a trail through the property. They would stop at the house as they passed and Grandma McIntosh gave them bread and vegetables from her garden. In return, they made the wooden willow chairs for her.

Three more McIntosh children were born at Stephenfield: Ellen, James and Christine. The children attended Ravenswood School which was northeast of the farm. The family got their mail at Almasippi post office which opened in 1885 on NW 34-6-6w. Providing for the family wasn’t simple in those days. Grandpa McIntosh took wheat to be ground into flour at Nelsonville, a two-day trip with horses and wagon. The family had a root pit in the yard where they stored garden vegetables for winter use.

James Sr. served on the Dufferin Council prior to his death in 1916.

In 1921, my father, James Jr., took over the farm and lived there with his sister Chrissy until he married Maggie Findlay in 1924. They had four children: Irene, James, Jean and myself (Nedra). The farm was a mixed farm with cows, horses, pigs and sheep. They also grew grain and had hay land. James served on the Stephenfield School board for a short time. He owned the farm until his death in 1966.

In the 1970s, my mother turned the farm over to my brother Jim and his wife Joan. They had three children: James, Brian and Marlene. Jim and Joan passed the land to their sons, Jim and Brian. It has now been sold and no longer is in the McIntosh name.