Skip navigation
Home > Recent History > Recent History 2015

Recent History News Items from 2015

December 2015

Christmas at the Museum 2015. The Dufferin Historical Museum held its annual Christmas at the Museum celebration December 5. The evening featured Christmas carols, sleigh rides to see the lights of Carman as well as refreshments, children’s activities and a visit from Santa. Diane Gillingham shared two delightful short stories from her memories of early Christmases in rural Manitoba. Lovely start to the festive season.

Not too sure about this…                                     Diane Gillingham remembers Christmas

Sheila & Brad Wiebe with Jake Derksen (front) entertain with carols

Centennial of Vote for Manitoba Women. On Jan. 28, 1916, Manitoba became the first province in Canada to grant women the right to vote in provincial elections. Our Carman/Dufferin connection to the event is through one of our own People and Family Stories, Sir Rodmond P. Roblin, whose declaration that “Nice women don’t want the vote!” helped fuel the successful campaign of women’s activists such as Nellie McClung.

Rodmond Palen Roblin                            Nellie McClung

In 1914, McClung played the role of then Premier Roblin in a mock Women's Parliament in which women debated whether men should have the right to vote or to other rights currently denied to women. McClung was a witty speaker and a great mimic. Her mastery of Premier Roblin’s well-known mannerisms and speech and her clever reversal of his own rhetoric to argue against granting men the right to vote, underlined the absurdity of his position. The performance brought down the house with laughter and received front-page coverage in local newspapers. The opposition Liberal Party espoused the cause; when the Roblin government was defeated in the 1915 election, the Liberals passed the first legislation in Canada granting women the vote.

Equality for women was an idea whose time had come and Nellie McClung continued to serve as a vocal messenger. She went west to Alberta, where she became an MLA and one the "Famous Five" Alberta women who initiated and won the ‘Persons Case’ to have women recognized for the first time as persons under the BNA Act. She also worked to secure women's property rights and the Dower Act, factory safety legislation, old age pensions and public health nursing services. She campaigned for the rights of Aboriginal and Asian women, acceptance of European immigrants during WWII and ordination of women in the United Church. McClung was the first woman on the CBC Board of Governors and, in 1938, she was the only woman on the Canadian delegation to the League of Nations.

Among Nellie McClung’s more memorable one-liners were:

“People still speak of womanhood as if it were a disease.”
“Disturbers are never popular—nobody ever really loved an alarm clock in action—no matter how grateful they may have been afterwards for its kind services!”
“Never explain; never retract; never apologize. Get the job done and let them howl.”

For more information, see:

Memorable Manitobans: Rodmond P. Roblin and Nellie McClung
Nellie McClung Foundation
Heritage Minutes: Nellie McClung


Finding the Real Family Story. Any doubts folks may have had about the wisdom of funding digitalization of our local history books and early newspapers are being quickly laid to rest as awareness and use of these resources increases. They are of special value to budding genealogists who are searching for information on ancestors who once lived in the area.

One of our past C/D MHAC members, Lilla Letkemann [photo, left], has tracked her family tree back through United Empire Loyalist roots to the 1700s, but she recently discovered that one of the family’s most fascinating stories lies right here in Manitoba.

Here’s the story in her own words:

Kidnapping at Snowflake

Have you ever struggled trying to bring back a memory? While doing some family history, I thought I recalled a story my father told me about a cousin of his who was a teacher in the Snowflake area.

Apparently she was kidnapped, and my grandfather and great grandfather were part of a posse that went off looking for her. My dad always said she sang hymns to her captive until he fell asleep, and then she escaped. That is basically all I could remember. One problem… neither of my two sisters could remember anything about it! They thought I must have dreamt it, or read about it and imagined the rest. After searching everywhere I could think of for more details, I went into the Carman library this week, and thanks to the very helpful staff there, the mystery was solved!

See more

November 2015

Memorial Hall Re-Opens. The Town of Carman and R.M. of Dufferin have moved their offices back into the renovated Memorial Hall. Still a few glitches in the new elevator and the basement is still to be finished, otherwise staff are settling happily into their new quarters.

New open look at the Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall offices – view from the door

The only interior areas that remain unchanged are the front stairwell and the Memorial Room. As Rod McPherson, past President Carman Legion points put in this week’s Valley Leader, the Memorial Hall was the first WWI memorial building in Western Canada. It is a designated municipal heritage site and stands on consecrated ground. If you haven’t been there, plan on visiting the Memorial Room to view tributes to our local war dead and admire the graceful Herald of Peace statue donated in 1920 by the I.O.D.E.

WWI Airmen. Speaking of the Memorial Room, we’ve received another interesting bit of information from our website contact, Eileen McGavin McIntyre. You may recall that she is the granddaughter of former Carman physician Dr. Andrew McGavin, and that, a while back, she sent photos and material from her grandfather’s days in Carman. She is still sorting through family memorabilia and has located more material of interest to this area.

During WWII, Eileen McIntyre’s father, Kenneth McGavin, served with the RCAF. Among his effects are photos he took of the graves of two other airmen from Carman who were killed in action and buried in cemeteries in Scotland. Sergeant Oscar Jensen served as a wireless operator and gunner; he died August 9,1942, at age 26. Sergeant Paul Sanders, a pilot with the RCAF, died in action March 18,1942; he was just 20 years of age. Both men are commemorated in the Memorial Room and on the Commonwealth War Graves site. It’s November, and this e-mail is a poignant reminder of why we observe Remembrance Day.

Grave of Oscar Jensen                                   Grave of Paul Sanders


Dufferin Historical Museum. The Annual General Meeting of the Museum was held November 18 at Grace St. John’s Church. Combining business and fellowship, the meeting was preceded by a bountiful pot-luck supper.

Museum members plan for 2016 at the AGM

Jack McKinnon relives his early days of aerial photography

Jack McKinnon gave an overview of the 30 years he spent recording aerial photographs in the province and presented a proposal for ‘backing up’ the Museum’s original photos by scanning them to an external hard drive. A positive spin-off of the proposal is the impetus it’s given to both the Museum and CDMHAC to discuss our policies on digital scanning and use of digital images. This is a hot issue in a world that is being inundated with social media.

The Museum will be hosting its annual Christmas Tea December 5th and has ambitious plans for the coming year.


Early Health Care. Our second e-mail communication was from a contact who was searching for her great-grandfather‘s grave. Francis “Frank” Jessop was one of the early, pre-1885 settlers in the Almassippi district north-west of present-day Carman. His obituary, which we located in The Carman Standard for July 24, 1894 (online through Pembina Manitou Archive), confirms the family’s understanding that he was buried in Carman Cemetery. Unfortunately, the grave doesn’t have a headstone nor does it appear on cemetery records. It’s been long suspected that the cemetery has early unmarked graves; now we know that this is likely the case, but we still have no clues to the exact location(s).

The obituary is of interest as well for the insight it provides into the life of our early settlers. Frank Jessop is described as a man “much liked by his neighbours for his kindly and generous nature” who had served as councillor in the Elm River area. When he came west in1881, his family remained in Ontario. Other families have reported finding the winters and living conditions too harsh to bring women and children west. Jessop’s farm was in an area known as locally as “Scrubtown”. The Dufferin history book (p. 38) describes it as an area with “heavy brush and a lot of scrub to be cleared”, other areas being “low and swampy”. Apparently the conditions affected Frank Jessop’s health and he was said to have been “suffering for three years from complications of diseases brought on by exposure when living on his own farm.” Since fall of the previous year, he had been unable to leave his house and for two months was confined to bed and cared for in the Peter Robertson home. Mrs. Robertson is credited with providing “unceasing care” and doing “all in human power could do to make his last days easier”, though he suffered from continual pain.

Stories like this provide some insight into the tremendous need for doctors, nurses and hospital care in settlements that were rapidly growing up across Manitoba. That is why the work of Eileen McGavin McIntyre’s grandfather, Dr. McGavin, and others like him still hold a special place in the histories of our community. It also provides a convenient segue to this month’s Vintage Photos on the development of hospital-based services in the Carman/Dufferin area.

Growth of institutional care, of course, is only part of our health-care heritage. Some of us still remember when doctors made home visits. And, as seen in this ad from 1905, registered nurses also provided private duty care in patients’ homes or nursing homes.

Ad in The Dufferin Leader Feb 2 1905

Mrs. Smith’s Nursing Home

During the 1930’s, Mrs. Smith’s Nursing Home in Carman was another of the nursing homes that offered care for the terminally ill as well as for birthing mothers (Valley Leader, March 27, 2009).

We’ll look some other time at Public Health, home care, personal care homes and other programs that are an equally important part of our health services heritage. But to come back to hospital care for a moment - it was just 40 years ago that the first hospital-based palliative care program began in Canada (at St. Boniface Hospital, 1975, under Dr. Paul Hentelef); the first unit was set up in Carman Hospital in 1995. What is striking about this ‘modern’ hospital program is how closely its underlying precepts (providing compassionate end-of-life care in a home-like setting open to family and friends) mirror the “unceasing care” Mrs. Robertson provided for Frank Jessop in her own home, while doing “all in human power to make his last days easier.” His obituary is a fitting tribute to Mrs. Robertson and other early settlers whose compassion and presence helped family and neighbours through their final days.

C/DMHAC 2016–18. November is when our committee submits plans for the coming year. This year saw completion of our 2013-15 Heritage Resource Management Plan (HRMP) and some soul-searching on objectives for the next three years.

We identified a couple of areas where human resources fell short of our good intentions. Student involvement and engagement of schools and local teachers in heritage projects has been one of our less productive areas. Over the next three years, C/DMHAC will continue to seek out members with interest in heritage and background in education to develop this aspect of our mandate.

Another objective that wasn’t realized was our plan to sponsor heritage activities in small/former communities across the rural municipality. There are fewer of us each year who recall the pre-1950s era, that time before reliable autos and good roads, when each small community had its own strong social and commercial identity. If any of you are interested in helping preserve this part of our heritage, a few of the projects you might get involved in are: collecting local stories and family histories, histories of Century Farms and property ownership; attending genealogy workshops; organizing local heritage fairs; or helping extend signage to rural sites. If any of these ideas is of interest, we’d love to hear from you.

On the other hand, we’ve reasonably successful in getting heritage information to the public through signage, website updates and funding digitalization of early newspapers. Local media coverage of heritage events has been excellent.

2016-18 Heritage Resource Management Plan (118 KB) pdf

October 2015

Museum Tea. Dufferin Historical Museum held a tea Sept. 11 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s achieving the longest reign of any monarch in British history. Visitors enjoyed tea and home-baked scones and viewed an impressive number of displays of royal artifacts. Among the highlights was a large display of royal memorabilia loaned for the occasion by Donna Cameron.

Donna Cameron shows visitors some of her collection of royal memorabilia

MP Candice Bergen brings the federal government’s message of
congratulations to the Queen

Special Places Project.
Consultant Lorne Thompson completed his portion of the Special Places Project, documenting some 175 sites in Carman /Dufferin. Nedra Burnett will be adding to the inventory and revising it over the coming months.

Missouri Trail Sign. Shirley Snider and her committee are moving ahead with plans to replace the Missouri Trail sign, formerly located where the trail crossed what is now Highway #3 east of Carman. The original sign was designed and erected in 1961 by the Dufferin Historical Society.

The Museum photo collection includes the two images shown below. The first is a view of the unveiling in 1961. This photo shows the rear view of the sign, however the map and legend are difficult to decipher. The second is a view of the front of the sign taken during a motorcade visit in 1963.

The Committee would like to know if anyone has photos, information or stories about the Missouri Trail or the original sign. And does anyone know for sure where the trail crossed the Boyne River?

Unveiling the sign in 1961

Motorcade visit in 1963
To view larger image, click here

Cemetery project.
In every successful project, you learn something new. Hopefully, not just a bunch of facts, but information that changes how you look at some small part of the world. From that perspective, our latest project should be a winner.

C/DMHAC received a heritage grant this summer to develop a brochure with a map of Carman/Dufferin cemeteries. A QR code on the brochure will take viewers with smartphones to an online guide that highlights features to look for in each of our nine local cemeteries, including changing styles and materials, interesting inscriptions, the meaning of designs found on the markers and so forth. Data collection is well under way with the hope of completing much of the first phase of the project before snowfall.

For a sneak preview of what we’re finding, here’s the first grave marker we looked at.

Marble column in Roseisle Cemetery

Close-up of details

Most of us would recognize the materials in this marker. It’s made of marble, resting on a limestone base and stabilized on a cement foundation which was possibly exposed by many years of soil erosion. From the materials and column style you’ll likely guess it’s from the early 1900s. And you might admire the pretty design, but would you recognize the symbolism of the flowers—the calla lily (beauty, marriage) and the lily-of-the-valley (an early Spring flower representing renewal and resurrection)?

It turned out there’s a lot more to learn about this marker. This is where the expertise of our resource person, Murray Billing, comes in. Recently retired from family-owned Carman Granite, Murray is lending his special knowledge to the project by identifying different techniques, processes and materials used in creating the markers. He explained, for example, that those sharp, v-shaped letters were done by hand with a chisel. We’ll explain this process and others later in our guide. And did you notice where the name has been corrected? I didn’t. But it was obvious after Murray pointed out the faint markings at each end of the name, combined with a slight cupping that could be felt where the soft marble surface had been ground down. There was more to be learned but we’ll leave a few insights for the finished project.

That was just the first gravestone, and we’ve already learned a few things and become more observant. Hope you’ll look for our guide and more information next summer when the project is completed.


July 2015

Swimming Pool Sign. The Boyne Swimming Pool sign is finally up.

Sean Billing of Carman Granite and assistant installing sign

Local author Margaret Riddell is seen below examining the new sign.
View a larger image of the sign.

Margaret wrote the text for the sign as well as the article from the Valley Leader reproduced in an earlier News and Events (March 2014). She and her husband are among the folks who, for many years, have cleared and kept up the site near their home.

Soldier honoured. A rose was planted July 1 in the Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden to honour WWI casualty Dorval Saunders. On the local cenotaph, stars mark the names of those who gave their lives for their country. For some reason we will never know, a star never got placed by Dorval’s name and he was not among those recognized last July as part of the WWI anniversary celebrations (News and Events July 2014).

Aiden and Cassie Saunders plant rose in honour of Dorval Saunders

Judy (Saunders) Penner reads tribute to Dorval Saunders at rose-planting ceremony

But by some stroke of destiny or good fortune, Stephanie Fraser from Winnipeg read the write-up of that event on our website. She wrote us to say she had letters that two of our WWI soldiers had written to her grandmother, Zelma Hood. Zelma lived at Learys, west of Roseisle, and like many young women on the home front, she had faithfully corresponded with these lonely young soldiers serving overseas. Their letters were pressed between the pages of a copy book and remained in pristine condition over the past century.

Active e-mail correspondence has taken place over the last few months. Stephanie returned the original letters to the grateful families of the two soldiers. We discovered in the process that both young men, Dorval Saunders and Iver Werseen, had died in the Battle of Vimy Ridge (see War Memorials). Members of Carman Legion #18 have now arranged to have a star placed by Dorval’s name on the Roseisle cenotaph.

In one of his letters to Zelma, Dorval Saunders wrote (Sept., 1916) : “If I could only put my feet under my father’s table again, I would never leave.” He never got his wish but thanks to the happy congruence of Stephanie Fraser’s interest in family heritage, the diligent research that linked her to our CDMHAC website, and the Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden’s thoughtful tribute to our war dead, Dorval has a permanent place of honour in his home soil.
Zelma later married Frederick Guise Stevens; both are buried in Roseisle Cemetery.

June 2015

Condolences. Our condolences to CDMHAC Chair, Nedra Burnett, whose sister Irene died after a brief hospitalization. These are times when family memories and heritage are very much in our minds.

Welcome. We are pleased to officially welcome Jane Swanton to the CDMHAC as our new Town of Carman Council representative. The Dufferin Historical Museum also is among the several committees on which she sits, so we are fortunate in that Jane’s appointment forges another link amongst our local heritage bodies.

Special Places Project. Consultant Lorne Thompson has completed an initial inventory of Carman town sites that are of interest from a heritage perspective. He has visited and photographed approximately 90 houses, 13 commercial structures, one government building, and one hall. Many of the sites have been renovated and a few have disappeared since the last comprehensive inventory in the 1980s. Lorne now has current photos and has updated ownership where possible. A lot of homeowners weren’t at home when he visited so he still has some contacts to make. Lorne still has to do an inventory of rural sites—these, unfortunately, are now relatively few in number.

When all this information is collected, the list will be pared down until a few key sites are identified as high priority for preservation. We look forward to the final product later this year.

Lorne Thompson hears with interest about an owner’s restoration

With the original trim back in place and the veranda restored,
it will look as good as old.

QR Cemetery Tour. CDMHAC has just received confirmation of a heritage grant to prepare a brochure and guide on cemeteries in the Town and R M of Dufferin. Using QR code technology, viewers will be able to access an online guide that outlines special features of the cemetery including styles of tombstones, materials used and meaning of symbolism on the grave markers. You’ll be hearing more about this project in the coming months.

Museum Events. The Dufferin Historical Museum folks have been busy as always in promoting local heritage. The Museum is now open for the summer. They had to cancel the BBQ fund-raiser due to foul weather but everyone is in high spirits as they plan for Pioneer Days on June 19 and for a Harvest Tea and hosting the AMM AGM this autumn.

July 1 Celebrations. Up in the west end of Dufferin, folks are getting ready for the annual July 1 festivities. Heritage plays an important part in the celebration. It’s a time when former residents return ‘home’ to renew connections with the past and in many cases, to pay their respects to family members who are among our ‘permanent’ residents in the local cemetery. This year the community also will honour a previously unidentified local WWI casualty, Dorval Saunders, by planting a rose in the Memorial Rose Garden. It was thanks to one of our website readers that the community learned that Dorval had died at Vimy Ridge and that he should have been among the soldiers honoured in last year’s ceremony. More news on this event in the next update.

Heritage can be Fun! Part of the Roseisle July 1 preparations involves getting a series of cartoon figures in place. The community has a bit of fun with its heritage through a series of plywood cartoon cut-outs created by local artist Karen Adamson. Visitors love to pose for pictures with the figures. Among the favourites is this representation of the first post-master and his wife, the folks who gave the town its name.

Mary Breukelman and children pose as Mr. & Mrs. Alex Begg—and dog.

Other figures depict stories that are still told locally by old-time residents who recall “The Great Store Robbery” or “The Runaway Car”. Since you ask—here are their versions of these tales:

The Great Roseisle Store Robbery

(As recalled by Roseisle resident Hugh Clearwater)

The robbery took place when my Dad (Del Clearwater) lived in the house across from Guy Taylor’s place. I must have been 16 or 17 years old at the time. About two-thirty or three o’clock in the morning, Taylor came rushing up the stairs yelling “Get your gun! Get your gun! The store’s being robbed.

So we got our guns and headed for the store. I went around to the front of the store and there was a kind of ditch there. Dad stayed on the east side. All of a sudden the robbers blew the safe. It blew the door open and paint flew through the front of that store. There used too much dynamite. Anyway, I was standing out front and I guess they were hiding behind the counter or something. This man came out and I was standing there with the shotgun across my arm. I wasn’t pointing it. The robber had a revolver. If he had wanted he could have shot me I guess. He decided I wasn’t going to shoot so he took off west just a-running.

There was boardwalk going east down past Taylor’s. You could hear one going down the boardwalk. It took hours for the policeman to come up from Carman. It was just the old town cop in those days. They never got the robbers. But I was lucky the robber didn’t shoot or I wouldn’t be telling this story today.

‘The Great Store Robbery’ as depicted by local artist K. Adamson

The Runaway Car

(Another Roseisle story as told by Hugh Clearwater)

Dave lived about three miles north of town. His wife Leafy was a big woman. She used to wear one of those great big round hats with flowers on it.

Dave had an old Chevy car he was really proud of. You could always tell when they were coming to town because it sounded like an airplane.

Dave was always doing something crazy. When they got to town one day he took out a piece of string and tied the car up to the hitching post at Taylor’s store. He said the car was so frisky he had to tie it up. Dave went into the store and Leafy stayed in the car. George C. came along and was standing talking to Leafy with one leg up on the running-board.

In those days, you had to crank the car to start it. So when Dave came back out, he untied the car and then he went around front and cranked it. And away it went— bouncing down the street. Dave forgot he’d left the car in gear. George C. was sent flying. Leafy was sitting in front but she didn’t have a clue what to do.

Well, Dave managed to pull the crank out and he was running along ahead, looking back over his shoulder. And the car just kept bouncing along—until it went down into the ditch. Leafy’s hat fell off, dust was rolling out the back…. If it hadn’t gone in the ditch—that car would still be going…

‘The Runaway Car’, recreated with the help of Roseisle residents Robin, Yuriko & Shirley

March 2015

Georges Picton. Carman Dufferin Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee members were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death this week of committee member ‘George’ Picton. He was in his second term as Town Council representative on the committee. George was the ideal committee member—always present, on time, well prepared for meetings, and tremendously encouraging and supportive of our work; but it was his practical wisdom and quiet humour that particularly endeared him to the group. After our January meeting, George admitted he was worried about a biopsy he was having the following day; less than two months later he is gone from our lives. We’ll dearly miss you, George.


February 2015

Not much else to report this month in the way of news and events. It’s been a cold month and other than those hardy souls who have been out on local cross-country ski trails, down at the rink curling or watching hockey, a lot of folks have stayed indoors longing for the first signs of spring.

Browsing Old Newspapers. As for the CDMHAC , we’ve been working behind the scenes preparing for another busy summer. Issues of the early Dufferin Leader which are now available online ( have helped us pass many a frigid day as well as turning up lots of interesting news items. Knowing that for heritage buffs, old news is good news, we’d like to give you an idea of the gems you’ll find in the early papers.

Early Ads. One of the first things to catches your eye are the ads with those unbelievably low prices, such as those featured by the A.F. Higgins Co. Store in the Dufferin Leader, Feb.25, 1915:

Prices may not be that impressive when converted to present-day values but they still make you long for the ‘good old days’.

‘Corny’ Jokes. On the lighter side, if those old vaudeville style jokes appeal to your sense of humour, you’ll love the fact that the early newspapers so liberally used jokes as fillers throughout the paper:

Mother: Bobby, you’re a selfish little boy. Why didn’t you share a piece of your apple with your sister?
Bobby: But, I did. I gave her the seeds – she can plant them and grow a whole orchard.

“But, Captain”, said the lovely young lady, coquettishly, “ will you love me when I grow old and ugly?” “My dear lady”, the soldier gallantly replied, ”You may grow older but you will never grow uglier.” And he wondered why their friendship ceased so suddenly.

Arrival of Spring. For those of us who are looking for signs of winter’s end, an early edition of the Dufferin Leader reminds us that anticipation of the spring is nothing new. On March 21, 1900, staff reported in a tongue-on-cheek news item that:

The rumble of wheels is once more in our midst, and the merry jingle of sleigh bells is no longer heard in our streets. Surely spring is at hand and the busy farmer will shortly go forth to sow, and everyone will rejoice because the days of hoary frost when the thermometer doubles the tens below zero shall have fled and the coal bill will no longer trouble the anxious householder. The young lambs shall skip and play and the small boy will make the evenings hideous with his yelling …while the bicycle club will once more assemble, make one evening’s run and disband for the season. The lacrosse club and the tennis club and the football club will begin to say it is time to organize. Then will they send challenges to the four corners of the province….the flowers shall flourish and the green grass and the budding leaf will make all things lovely, therefore everyone in his heart sayeth, “Come, gentle spring with all thy fragrance come.”

Reminder from 2014 of the fragrance of Spring to come

Road conditions. Of course, the flip side of the spring thaw was that it also brought flooding and muddy roads. From the days of the Boyne Marsh, drainage was a major issue throughout the rural municipality as well as areas to the east. Premier Roblin weighed in on the issue of all that water running east from the escarpment with the comment that “by the laws of gravity the water would flow in the direction it did, whether there were rains or not, and in any event the municipalities lower down must expect to be put to a greater expense than those higher up.” (Dufferin Leader, Feb. 25, 1915). Wonder where his votes came from?

Spring roads were often impassible and, for some parts of the rural municipality, water problems persisted well past March. A letter to the editor (Dufferin Leader, Aug. 2, 1900) proclaimed:

In Roseisle we have much cause for complaint, but as a rule we suffer in silence. Our road leading to Carman along Secs. 22,23 has been in a deplorable wet condition. For 15 years we have had to plod through mud and mire, causing much inconvenience and loss, when a ditch run now partly opened, straight south about one mile would relieve us of all the trouble. This year being so dry would be suitable to have the work done. Again, a road north from the school for three miles also has been promised for three years, but we must find a way as best we can, causing much inconvenience and loss of time. Now sir, are we to be compelled to pay taxes and yet get no road?

Last election was so quietly conducted we never heard of it until it was long past and had no chance to choose a suitable man as councillor. We had no choice, no say and no share in our tax money. When will the next election be?” Signed : “A Taxpayer in Roseisle” .

Rural road near Roseisle c. 1900

Road improvements weren’t too far in the future, thanks to the arrival of the automobile. Almost exactly 100 years ago, an ad in the Dufferin Leader (Feb. 25, 1915) asked local farmers:

Is it three hours to town in a buckboard—or thirty minutes in a sturdy Ford? More than seventeen thousand Canadian farmers drive Fords because they make the necessary trips to town during the busy season in the shortest possible time—at the smallest possible expense—and they don’t eat when they aren’t working.

Fast forward to 2015.
There’s been a lot of water under and over our bridges in the past 115 years. Rail transportation has come—and gone—as have most of those complaints about driving through mud and mire. Drainage ditches have dried local marshland, bringing it under cultivation; farmers are now looking to tile drainage and irrigation to produce that extra few bushels of grain. Roblin’s laws of gravity still pull spring run-off eastward and wash out local roads, but these days,a paved highway connects Carman with the western boundaries of Dufferin and roads are well maintained. Most ratepayers would agree that the area is now well served by local councillors—and the concept of silent politicians leaves one scratching their head in awe.

Spring run-off still forges east towards Carman/Dufferin and beyond - 2014

In keeping with this talk of roads and such, our Vintage Photos this month give a glimpse of early transportation in the area.

Website Feedback

Two Soldiers at Vimy. One of the most rewarding things about coordinating this website has been the contact with folks who have shared new information, photos, or memorabilia with us. In response to recent news items on our WWI project, we were contacted by Stephanie Fraser, the granddaughter of a young woman who had corresponded with two of our local soldiers. She had kept their responses carefully pressed inside an old school copy book. The letters provide a new dimension to the impersonal ‘facts-and-figures’ information that surfaced through our own research and gave insight into the war through the eyes of the young men themselves.

We learned from one set of these letters that: The thrill of enlisting was followed by months of drill and training at a home base, then more of the same in England, until finally: “there is another draft picked out [for France] and I am one of the lucky ones… the worst of it that M. and B. [buddies he enlisted with from home] can not go yet… but I am O.K.”

Soon he was off to France and a new camp: “The mud is just like at your place only deeper….sleeping 12 in a tent…you can’t keep clean or warm because you can’t dry your clothes…” “..not much I can tell you except it rains then rains again.”

The highlights of life were letters and parcels from home: “The [Ladies’ Aid] sent me a pair of socks, an undershirt and a pack of cards…. a change of clothes makes a fellow feel like a new man.” Troop entertainers helped relieve the boredom while they waited to go to the front line.

Another troop movement brought the reality of war: “Now I’m getting down to real stuff….I can hear the big guns now and see the flares – it just sounds like thunder and lightning…I’ve got along fine, so far…..You know I just enlisted to do what I could and I have never yet felt sorry for doing so although I found it hard to leave you…When I left I intended to get back as soon as possible and as I am about to go into the trenches now, it is just like this – if there is a Bullet with my initials on it I’m going to get it, that’s all, so don’t worry about me…I am sure we will meet again but if anything should happen to me, just let it pass over you – we have only been friends so far….”

Then a final letter: “I’m looking forward to the time when we won’t have to write letters, aren’t you? .... I hope the birds are singing, the river running and green grass showing up when you get this letter. Read it and just imagine I am there just to cheer you up.” Five days later, the Bullet with his initials on it found its mark during the assault on Vimy Ridge; no doubt this final letter arrived after the telegram informing the family of his death.

Sadly, the grandmother’s second correspondent died two days later in the same battle.

‘Vimy Then’ from WWI album of W.A. Leary

Vimy Today

Thanks to Stephanie for sharing these letters with us and for finding homes for the originals with the soldiers’ families.

Dufferin Leader online. We are pleased to announce that copies of the Carman Dufferin Leader from 1898-1940 have been digitalized and now are available online through Hard copies of the Dufferin Leader 1936–2000 are held in the Dufferin Historical Museum. CDMHAC funded digitalization of both the Leader and the Carman Standard as part of an ambitious project in which the Pembina Manitou Archive has made a number of early Manitoba newspapers accessible through the internet. Hats off to them for their great work!

January 2015. Christmas at the Museum. At no time of year are local heritage and tradition more evident than during the Christmas season. Dufferin Historical Museum celebrated with its third annual “Christmas at the Museum” complete with horse drawn wagon rides, carols by the Animato singers, children’s activities, and piles of goodies and hot chocolate. Gordon Arnold read from his first novel, ‘Skippy’s War’ and, of course, Santa had the Museum on his list of special places to visit.

Santa and helper. Well done, Mrs. Claus, for getting Santa on a diet.

Animato singers and writer Gordon Arnold amidst artifacts