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Recent History News Items from 2016


November 2016

Special Places Inventory. Members of the committee met with David Butterfield, recently ‘retired’ from the Historic Resources Branch, to discuss short-listing local heritage sites for special recognition. It was a productive meeting. All parties agreed on a few sites that will now receive certificates recognizing their heritage value.

Sadly, we have lost a couple of significant heritage sites that have deteriorated since the last inventory. Faced with the cost of preserving and maintaining unused structures, private owners have opted to let time take its toll. Could earlier community recognition of their historic significance have resulted in joint private and public initiatives to preserve and repurpose these structures?

For the rural municipality, this is now pretty much a hypothetical question. A few years ago, we started drawing up a heritage tour of the R.M. The plan was put on hold when we realized that, given trends towards agribusiness and changing transportation patterns, most of those old sites where schools and churches once served as hubs for small but vibrant communities are now cultivated fields. With removal of the railway lines, elevators and train stations have disappeared and with declining rural population, small town businesses are closing. Our rural area has become, in effect, a graveyard of local history. The issue now for the CDMHAC is which of these rural or small town sites should be commemorated by a ‘gravestone’ in the form of a monument or sign.

On a much more positive note, we must acknowledge how much we have appreciated working with David Butterfield over the past several years. MHACs like ours have been inspired by his knowledge and enthusiasm for local heritage. We are delighted that, unlike our heritage sites, he has been successfully ‘repurposed’ as a consultant.

David Butterfield (left) and CDMHAC President
Nedra Burnett at Special Places meeting

Promoting Local Heritage. The heritage community tends to be a close-knit group. Here in Carman/Dufferin we try to work closely with the Dufferin Historical Museum, particularly when it comes to pooling volunteer resources. This past week, the two groups promoted local heritage at the Carman Wellness Fair. We handed out our CDMHAC website business cards and introduced folks to the new Cemetery Guide along with information on designated heritage sites in the district. The Museum tested visitors' skill at identifying pioneer artifacts and promoted their plan for collecting stories of early Carman, a project that expands on work begun earlier this year by Wes Vanstone. Their intent is to collect and publish150 stories by 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Ina Bramadat (CDMHAC website) promotes
heritage projects at local Wellness Fair

We also had an opportunity to tell folks about some of the upcoming Museum events that you will want to put on your calendar:

November 16 – Museum Annual Meeting. Pot-luck at 6:30 p.m. with presentation at 7:30 by Gordon Goldsborough on his newly launched book about abandoned sites in Manitoba. Those who attended his earlier presentations were impressed with his vast knowledge and dedication to Manitoba heritage.


Museum’s Caroll McGill and Shirley Snider
discuss local stories project with visitors

December 3 – Christmas at the Museum. Everyone is looking forward as well to launching the holiday season at this annual gala featuring sleigh rides, food and entertainment.

June 24, 2017 – Official opening of newly renovated Boyne School. More about this event later.



October 2016

CDMHAC Update. Nothing new to report at the moment—just tidying up this past year’s projects and planning for the coming year. It’s been a good time as well to take a few moments to browse among those old local newspapers (Carman Standard and Dufferin Leader) which can be accessed online through the Pembina Manitou Archive.

You’ll get a fascinating insight into life in our community—ads for businesses that were operating at the time, graphic opinions on politics, details of what everyone local was doing, not to mention happenings on the global scene. And if you like corny old jokes you’ll get a lot of chuckles from these papers.

To give an idea of what you’ll find, here is an ad from back in 1908 that suggests that our present Reeve may have inherited some of his drive and enterprising business spirit from an earlier namesake:

And here’s one of the items from the Dufferin Leader, January 4, 1900:


  • A daily mail service.

  • The erection of a fire hall.

  • The standing of our public school raised.

  • Stage connections with Morden, via Pomeroy and Roland.

  • Someone to tell us where those fire companies have gone to.

  • A by-law prohibiting teams from being left untied on the streets.

  • A lacrosse team worthy the support of all true lovers of clean sport.

  • Economy consistent with progress in our municipal management.

  • A guard rail on the southeast approach to the Villard Avenue bridge.

  • Some effort towards organizing a fire company that will have some existence beyond name.

  • An Agricultural and Horticultural Society with some snap to it and an exhibition worthy of the name.

  • Information posted up in every shop and public place directing where the chemical engines may be found.

  • A railway station that will not only be more commodious, but also a credit to the C.P.R. and an ornament to the town.

  • Owners and tenants required to keep the streets in front of their property free from weeds, refuse and other unsightly objects.

The Town has made lots of progress since 1900. What would you put on that wish list today?

Besides giving a glimpse of the past, old newspapers can be a treasure trove for anyone searching for family members who lived in the area. One of our greatest satisfactions from working with the website has been from helping folks locate an obituary, news item or business ad that gives an important clue to their past. I can personally attest to the thrill of these discoveries, having just returned from a trip to Ireland, visiting the village near Kilkenny where my great-grandmother grew up. After almost 40 years of searching for information about her birthplace on the usual genealogical sites, it turned up in her obituary which was published in one of our early 1901 papers. Let us know if we can help you in your own search for your local roots.

Museum news. Volunteers have been extra busy this last while getting Boyne School ready for the July 2017 opening. The interior painting is coming along well; electrical work is still to be done. Grandparents’ Day was not as well attended as planners hoped, however the Amazing Race day was successful again this year with 83 people (21 teams) visiting the Museum.

A project is underway in which volunteers plan on collecting 150 local stories in recognition of Canada’s 150th anniversary this coming year. Interviewers are pretty excited about their results so far. Good luck, everyone.

August 2016

NEW ON OUR WEBSITE.   Our Guide to Carman-Dufferin Cemeteries is now online.
Tour the nine public cemeteries and learn more about their location, history and layout, changing styles and materials of gravestones, symbolic meaning of designs, and changing craftsmanship. You will also find a section on location and background information on abandoned burial sites.

The cemetery project began last fall with visits to each of our public cemeteries and initial photos of most of the grave markers.  In larger cemeteries such as Carman Greenwood, we photographed samples or small sections of the cemetery, looking for examples of different styles, materials and craftsmanship, interesting inscriptions, symbols and motifs.

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Evening primrose, symbolizing eternal love, memory, youth, hope and sadness

It was a fascinating project, partly because we learned how much more there is to see when you know what to look for, even in places you have visited all your life. Winter storms and soggy spring days were welcomed as an excuse for escaping into research and writing. 

The final products are: 1) a guide to the nine public cemeteries in the municipalities, plus a section on abandoned burial sites; 2) a brochure with map of cemetery locations and QR code to access online version of the guide, and 3) signs which will be placed in cemeteries, giving QR code access to online guide content specific to the cemetery.  The guide can be accessed online now; brochures and signs will available this fall.

May 2016

Special Places project. In 2015, consultant Lorne Thompson completed an inventory of 152 local heritage sites. Over the winter months, folks from the Historic Resources Branch did a further analysis and evaluation of the inventory and identified some 30 places that rank high on a list of sites that merit special heritage recognition. CDMHAC will be looking carefully at the short-list and will be working with the Branch to see what can be done to preserve these important parts of our heritage.

Shirley Snider, David Butterfield and Nedra Burnett discuss the project
(photo Ina Bramadat)

Dufferin Historical Museum has a busy schedule of events lined up for the summer including:

Women’s Suffrage Tea – May 12th, 2016 featuring a Nellie McClung theme
Pioneer Day – June 17th with the usual array of pioneer demonstrations and
Grandparents Day – September 10th
Keep up to date with Museum activities at:

The Museum is pleased to announce that student Emily Wiebe has been hired again this summer, starting work May 17. Work continues on renovations to the interior of Boyne School. One of the current challenges is finding ways to protect the buildings from pesky little varmints such as squirrels and woodpeckers. As one strategy to deter Woody and friends, a fake owl will be mounted on the roof.

Wes Vanstone pursues local history. Applause for Rosebank resident Wes Vanstone who has been following through diligently on his interest in the history of businesses in Carman during the 1948–52 era. He has been interviewing folks who recall those years. His research led to trying to learn more about “The Island”. As many still remember, it was formed by a loop in the Boyne River and accessed by a footbridge. The area became history when the bend in the river was eliminated and the highway extended straight north rather than curving picturesquely through town. Wes shared his findings with various groups and created a lot of interest in earlier days. He is working on a map which can be seen, along with coverage of his quest, in The Valley Leader, April 14, 2016. Way to go, Wes!

Missouri Trail. Another group of local folks is in pursuit of the exact point that the Missouri trail crossed the Boyne River east of Carman. The Missouri Trail or Hunters’ Trail skirted the huge Boyne Swamp to the east of present-day Carman and was the main route south for fur traders and buffalo hunters, later for settlers to the area. Tales abound of the grooves left by oxcarts and of the remnants of gravestones from the Kennedy Burial site found near the crossing.

Marker from Kennedy Burial Site   Missouri Trail Sign unveiled 1961

A small party of enthusiasts recently visited the site and are sure they have pinpointed the location. This is all part of CDMHAC efforts to restore a sign marking the point where the trail crossed Highway #3. The Dufferin Historical Society erected a sign at this location in 1961; however, it later was removed by a landowner.

February 2016

Memorial Hall Open House. The Town of Carman and R.M. of Dufferin had an opportunity to showcase the new look at the Memorial Hall October 25 when they hosted an Open House for members of the community.

Applause for the Valley Leader. For great coverage of the Memorial Hall Open House, renovations and memories past, check out editions of the Valley Leader from January 21, January 28 and February 4. Our local newspaper staff are to be commended for their excellent coverage of this and other heritage-related events. A big “Thank You”, Valley Leader. Our lives are richer from knowing about our past.

Louis Riel Day - February 15. Speaking of the past, how much thought will we give on Feb. 15 to the way in which Riel’s life touched upon our local history? CDMHAC’s major project at the moment is restoring a sign marking where the Missouri Trail passed though Dufferin. Also known as the Hunters’ Trail, this was the route taken by buffalo hunters and fur-traders long before it became the main conduit for settlers who homesteaded along the Boyne. The Métis had no permanent settlements in the area but used the land for pasturing cattle and hay rights. The meeting of these two groups set the stage for our local connection with Louis Riel and his mission.
Much of what is written about Louis Riel is biographical, colourful and controversial; people tend to see him as a ‘sinner or a saint’. Unfortunately, the bigger issue of his impact on our transition from territory to province often gets lost in the shuffle. Manitoba historian J.S. Bumsted1 fills in some of the historical pieces by documenting the legal, political and social context in which Riel played out his life.

Two of the situations he describes have particular relevance to our own history. The first is the way in which western delegates were ‘hoodwinked’ by promises from Eastern politicians; the second, actions of the Canada First movement that fueled and polarized racial and religious differences. The Anglo-Protestant group helped set the stage for conflict by re-casting Thomas Scott as the poster-boy of ‘Orange’ martyrdom and promoting settlement of the western territories as a strike against popery.

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Sequel to Kidnapping Tale. In January, Lilla Letkeman told the story of her search for the truth about a family kidnapping tale. (See Part I: Kidnapping at Snowflake – News and Events, January, 2016). Since then she has continued the search and provides this update:

“After writing the first part of my story, I continued in my research and can add the following details about the kidnapper and events. I learned that the kidnapper, prison escapee Bill Mine, was a man of about 40, good looking and well dressed. He had been working in the area for a couple of months, but had never met teacher Miss Price. After he allowed teacher Eleanor Price to leave captivity, he remained in the Snowflake area for the next few days.

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