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Recent History News Items from 2019

News and Events December 2019

Vintage Sports Photos. This month we have added a new set of sport-related images to our Vintage Photo collection under Sports. The photos are from the Dufferin Historical Museum collection. They represent a few of the many teams from schools and clubs in the community in the 1890s and early 1900s.

We welcome any further information about the teams.

Carman Minto Hockey Team 1898-99.
Our earliest sports photo so far.








Groaners. One ever-present feature of the early newspapers was the terrible jokes that filled every extra bit of space. For those interested in heritage, here’s one from the Dufferin Leader (1910-02-21) under the heading “Genealogy”:

She - “How far can your ancestry be traced?"
He - "Well, when my grandfather resigned his position as cashier in a bank, they traced him as far as China - but he got away."

That’s it until 2020. Wishing you all a joyful holiday season from the Carman/Dufferin Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee.


News and Events November 2019

Website Queries. We’re always pleased to get inquiries for information about local people and events. Sometimes the persons inquiring give us more information than we provide. Such is the case with a recent email from John Burchill, Vice President of the Winnipeg Police Museum and Historical Society. He is writing a history of the Manitoba Provincial Police (MPP) and was looking for information on a Christian Hansen who served as Carman’s town constable from 1908-12 before joining the MPP. We quickly discovered that this is a part of our local heritage that is sadly lacking in local accounts. Kernighan lists the town constables whose names he recalls but neither he nor other local historians speak of the duties or other aspects of the position.

Early newspapers provide a bit more information. Monthly reports from the Town Council note that Hansen was selected from among 56 applicants for the post of town constable, at a salary of “ $1,000 and uniform a year, all fees to revert to the town.” (The Dufferin Leader, 1908-05-14, p.1). Hansen had served in the Boer War 1900–01 and was living in Galt, Ontario at the time he was hired in May, 1908. By the time the next edition of the weekly newspaper came out, Hansen had arrived in Carman to assume duties as town constable. Later that year, he was invited to join police from Winnipeg in investigating a store robbery in Roseisle. In January 1909, the Dufferin Leader reported that Hansen was appointed Chief of Police including duties of building inspector, sanitary inspector and chief of the fire brigade — at the same salary.

Constable Hansen served in the Boer War
from "War in South Africa between the British and the Boers"

This is where John Burchill’s information was most helpful. He explained in part that “Town police had jurisdiction in town but could make arrests and other duties outside town on a fee for service basis. By giving local constables additional police powers to operate outside their town, it gave the province good coverage without having the unnecessary expense of salaried employees. They would only be paid on a fee for service basis so if they didn't do anything, they didn't get any money…. At the time Hansen came in 1908 there were only 12 full time provincial police officers…. Hansen's salary was equal to the Provincial Police.” In this case where his contract stipulated that “all fees revert to the town”, he didn’t benefit personally from outside duties.

Our local genealogy sleuths also checked for background on Christian Hansen. Turns out that John Burchill is away ahead of us on that research. Besides the basic birth, marriage and death records, we’ve jointly learned that Christian Hansen served in the Boer War, received a land grant for service, and was a police constable in Galt, Ontario before coming to Carman. Like every good search, we are left at this point with a few more questions than when we started. Can anyone help us answer the following questions:

  • Christian Hansen married a Margaret Kennedy in Ontario. Any possible connection to our early Kennedy settlers? Could this be how he heard of the position?

  • The Memorial Hall wasn’t built until 1919. Where were municipal offices and the Town Constable’s office located in the early 1900s?

  • Has anyone seen a photo of Christian Hansen — preferably in uniform?

  • Any family stories about run-ins with the local constabulary?

No doubt other stories about local law enforcement will surface as we delve deeper into the local newspapers from that era. The problem with old newspapers is that there are always so many distracting snippets of local history in each edition that the search through four or more years of weekly papers is going to take a while. We promise to provide updates as we go on any interesting findings. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear from anyone who can provide further information about our local police services.

Footnote. In the above photo, we see the S.S. Sardinian of the Allan Steamship Line embarking from Canada, carrying soldiers like Christian Hansen to serve in the Boer War. In the days before airplanes, ships were the only way for new immigrants, soldiers and other passengers to cross the ocean.

We are always amazed at how many links or connections we find among seemingly unrelated bits of our history. At the moment we are trying to find out whether Constable Hansen’s wife, who was a Kennedy, might be related in some way to our early Kennedy settlers on the Boyne. And in the case of the S.S. Sardinian, it just happens that this was same the ship on which my father was baptized a few years before it made its voyage to South Africa.

In 1895, our family was travelling back to Canada from Ireland where my grandfather had just served a term as Dominion Land Agent. His task was to persuade potential Irish immigrants that there were no opportunities like those in Western Canada. A newspaper account noted that an Allan Steamship Line representative was at one of his presentations, no doubt from a business perspective. Our grandfather spoke from experience, having headed west from Ontario in 1874 and walked the Missouri Trail to Nelsonville where he and his brother laid claim to homestead lands. He later ended up in the Treasury Branch of the provincial government and must have made the case that he was the man to make the trip back to the old sod. My father was born while the family was in Ireland and he was baptized on the ship coming home. His middle name ‘Alan’ was in recognition of the steamship company.

Baptismal record signed on board the S.S. Sardinian July 4, 1895 [Leary family files]
for a larger version, click here

Just imagine the stories ships like the S.S. Sardinian could tell – of new births and baptisms, immigrants seeking a new life in new country, soldiers off to war and facing loss of life, as varied as the people who sailed the seas.

The Past Revisited? You can be sure the Dominion Land Agent didn’t hand out copies of the 1884 book “A Lady’s Life on a Farm in Manitoba”  when he was singing the praises of life on the Prairies to potential Irish immigrants. The following is from page 78:

The cold is so great that you have to put on a buffalo coat, cap, and gloves, before you can touch the stove to light the fire…The snow on the prairie is never very deep, but it drifts a good deal, and was to the depth of twelve feet on the west side of the house.

On Thanksgiving weekend, we were hit with an unseasonable dump of wet, heavy snow that downed power lines, cut telephone service and blocked roads. Suddenly, we went from enjoying brilliant autumn leaves to whiteouts and immense snowdrifts. If, indeed, a picture is worth a thousand words, here is a 4,000 word summary of the event.

Day 1- October glory

Day 2 - Going…

Day 3 - Going…

Day 4 - Not going anywhere

Local Manitobans found themselves back in the days before hydro power, telephones, television and internet service, not to mention loss of hot and cold running water, refrigeration, and flush toilets. For those without power, this meant no electric appliances – no electric ovens, microwaves, dish washers, garage door openers - all those amenities people take for granted each day of their life.

How did people react to this experience? Although this area was pretty much shut down for up to four days, no casualties were reported. Most people had the good sense to stay put until the ploughs, tractors or snowmobiles arrived. Fortunately, outdoor temperatures remained around zero C; indoors without heat at around 12C.

In retrospect, it seems the main outcome of the storm was that everyone had a story to tell. People without backup supplies (generators, alternate heat sources, wells, bottled water, or lanterns) described how they managed without heat, water or warm food. Refrigerators and freezers were off and food began to spoil. Dusk falls early at this time of year, leaving families not just without television and computers but without light for reading. For some folks, ‘hardships’ were limited to having no hot coffee and no long, hot showers. A common theme among parents was that their children nearly drove them crazy because they had ‘nothing to do’ (no TV, video games, telephone). There didn’t seem to be a lot of sympathy for the fellow who told how he had to get to town for cigarettes, got badly stuck and ended up slogging some 3 miles home through heavy, wet snow.

In the midst of these stories, one question kept coming up – how on earth did our parents and grandparents survive back in the days before power, telephones and the like? Thinking back to childhood days, before hydro or telephones reached our little corner of the world, the simple reality was that we didn’t miss what we never had. This is one factor we often forget about when hearing or reading of the past - the importance of context. What was life like back then and how did it affect the way people coped when a storm hit?

There were some things every family had in common. We all heated our homes with wood which was still abundant on every farm in the area. Drinking water came from wells, was pumped by hand; and when ‘soft’ water froze in the rain barrel, we melted snow in a boiler on the cook-stove to do dishes, wash our hair or scrub the floors. If the roads were badly drifted in, everyone had a sleigh and a horse or two to get us through.

Early 1900s – winter travel with horses and sleigh [Photo: J.B. Coleman]

Then as now, there was no one story of how people coped with the arrival of snow. Our home, for example, had a Delco plant – gas-operated with battery storage. So we had lights and we had power to operate pumps that filled an indoor cistern and provided hot and cold running water. We also had central heating, fueled by a wood burning furnace. And there were no breaks in the supply of hot food, thanks to the kitchen cook-stove (and, of course, our mother). Most of our food was home-grown. We had at least a cow or two to provide dairy products and the makings for smoked ham. I recall one year counting 450 jars of preserves, jams, pickles, and meat that our mother had canned for the winter. We had a bin full of potatoes and root vegetables. A few staples such as flour, sugar and tea were purchased in bulk.

When the first big storm was on the way, my father and brothers made sure the farm animals were safely in the barn, watered and fed and that the wood box was full of wood. After supper, my brothers and I hauled out our skis and started waxing them. Snow meant we could ski to school. We lived in a valley and our one-room school was about a half mile distant up a winding trail near the top of the hill. Skis meant not having to plod through the snow. At recess we skied on the school-ground hills; at lunchtime and after school we buckled on our skis at the back door of the school and glided down through the trees almost to our own back door. We could laugh at those oft-told tales of how, in grandfather’s day, school-children walked three miles to school, through deep snow, uphill both ways.

But, recall that everyone had their own story. Several of our school-mates lived on top of the hill on the opposite side of the valley from the school. They also had a wood-heated home, but without the Delco plant and hot and cold running water. A large family, they didn’t have skis. To get to school, they walked about three miles - down one side of the valley, through our yard and up the long hill to the school. At the end of the school day, they trudged the same route back home. In other words, they walked some three miles to school and back, through the snow, and they did have to walk uphill both ways. Memories get reshaped over years of telling, but usually there’s at least a grain of truth.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder what, if anything, will be remembered a generation from now about our recent Thanksgiving weekend storm? Which of those stories will survive, how will they be reshaped over the years? Will anyone leave a written record as part of their life story? Writing personal accounts of the storm might be a fun warm-up exercise for participants in the life-story workshops C/D MHAC is introducing in 2020.

News and Events September 2019

Rex Café. Last month we told you about a request for information about the Rex Café that we received from the Gin Wah family in Vancouver. The family owned the restaurant in Carman before fire destroyed the building in late November, 1976. We’re pleased to report that Carman/Dufferin MHAC Secretary Debbie Nicolajsen hit the jackpot when a friend produced a copy of a menu from the days when Gin Wah was proprietor. How many of you recall the days when you could get "Dinner for Six" for $10?

For a larger view of the menu and the photo below, click on the image

Debbie also located a couple of photos of Fournier St. SW, taken around 1970. The Rex Café sign shows the location of the restaurant on the ground floor of the old Sons of England building. On this occasion, the street is under water from the periodic flooding that Mother Nature bestowed upon Carman in the years before the Boyne River Diversion was constructed.

Roseisle War Memorial Restoration. The first phase of restoration and preservation of the Roseisle cenotaph has been completed. In this phase of the project, brickwork was repaired, lettering on the plaques enhanced and new lighting installed. The work was completed thanks to grants from Veterans Affairs Canada, the Legion poppy fund and the R.M. of Dufferin.

The question the local committee now has to address is how best to protect the masonry and lettering from further deterioration. They recognize that without additional protection, the cenotaph will remain exposed to the effects of weathering. The marble plaques that record the names of local lads who served in three major conflicts — WWI, WWII and the Korean War — are particularly susceptible to our harsh Manitoba climate. The WWI plaque is now one hundred years old. In 2018, Manitoba Heritage recognized the unique architectural features and historical significance of the cenotaph by awarding the site a Heritage Certificate.

To help preserve the memorial, the committee has launched Phase 2 of the project. This will involve building a protective shelter of pressure-treated cedar-tone wood, with open-beam construction and a roof supported by three-quarter walls. Fund-raising is now under way with expectation that the project may still be completed this year.

Meanwhile, in keeping war memorial protocol, a re-dedication service will be held Sunday, October 6, at 2:00 p.m. at the site. Legion members, Cadets, Boy Scouts and local dignitaries will take part in the ceremony. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Dufferin Historical Museum. On September 7, the Museum celebrated 60 years of service to the community by hosting a tea and quilt display. Over 30 quilts made for a fine display of the handiwork of local women across the years.

Some of the many quilts on display in Boyne School.


Heritage Inventory – Hyde Park/Emberly/Kenneth. This month we are adding an inventory of heritage resources from the northwest corner of the RM of Dufferin. As we noted under Local Heritage > Communities “many ‘communities’ never had a post office, church or store but formed strong identities around the local school; names of former schools are still used by local residents to identify where they live.” The portion of Dufferin lying north of Roseisle was made up of three school districts, each with its own identity.

Hyde Park School on NW 3-7-7w was named by early English settler Joseph Smith. Long after it amalgamated with Roseisle School in 1911, the Hyde Park School remained the social hub of the district, hosting picnics, meetings and community activities. A local correspondent submitted Hyde Park news to the Carman newspaper. Soldiers enlisting in WWI gave their home address as ‘Hyde Park’. The Hyde Park Ladies Club continued meeting as a group until the 1950s.

Hyde Park Ladies, still actively meeting ca 1950

The area around Emberly School (NE 22-7-7w) was unique in that it became the home for a number of Ukrainian families who settled in the area. They held church services in the school until they were able to establish Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church on a nearby property. In 1921, the RM of Dufferin allocated land adjoining the church for two cemeteries; Ukrainian Catholic to the south of the property, Roman Catholic on the north.

Although the church is no longer present, the cemeteries are still in active use. A cairn at the site records the community’s ongoing pride in its identity.


Ukrainian decorations at cemetery

Kenneth School (NE 22-7-7w) was located in the northwestern corner of Dufferin Municipality. The population in this area represented an interface between Anglophone settlers to the south and the Francophone community to the west and north of the school.

As with other small schools, the building served as a public meeting place and site for local picnics. The current owner of the property attended the school and the family proudly maintains the site.



Cheryl and Albert Tranq at Kenneth School cairn

Special thanks to Iona Produnuik and Adeline Cox who assisted us with the inventory and recorded a list of burials in the Sts. Peter and Paul cemeteries.

News and Events August 2019

Remembering the Rex Café. Does anyone happen to have a picture of the Rex Café? We received an email this past week from Margot Wilson, daughter-in-law of the Gin Ming Wah, the last proprietor of the café. She wrote: “My husband grew up in Carman Manitoba. His father Gin Ming Wah was the owner of the Rex Cafe during the 1970s and the family lived above the cafe.  When the cafe burned in November of 1976 the family, parents and 4 children, lost everything.  My husband remembers how generous the community was towards them. Shortly after the fire the family relocated to Vancouver. I am wondering if you might have any pictures or information on the cafe in your archives that I could share with my husband and his 3 siblings.”

The restaurant was housed in one of the town’s historic buildings. The two-story brick structure was built in 1898 by Carman’s noted architect Edmund Watson.

The Sons of England Lodge occupied the upper floor. Hemminway and Waller operated a store in the south of the main floor (later site of the Rex Café) and Loree Real Estate had offices on the north (later a bakery). The original building can be seen in this early 1900s photo of Fournier Street (1st St. SW).

The building burned to the ground on Sunday, November 27, 1976. Gin Wah and his family lived on the second floor of the building.  They escaped safely but lost all their possessions in the fire. The local Dufferin Leader gave front page coverage to the fire. You can access early newspapers online through Pembina Manitou Archive >newspapers>Carman Dufferin Leader or on disks at Boyne Regional Library and Dufferin Historical Museum.

 The Dufferin Leader (December 1, 1976, pp.1–2) carried photos and details of the fire. Volunteer units were brought in from Morden, Sanford and Elm Creek to help Carman’s fire brigade.  The intense heat touched off an explosion that blew glass and debris across the street, shattering windows in nearby businesses. Hydro employees worked to save power lines in the back lane. In an article the following week (Dufferin Leader, Dec. 8, 1976, p.3), we learn more about the impact of the fire on the family.

Mr. and Mrs. Gin Wah and their children, aged 8 to 15, lost their business and all but the clothes on their backs. The family, along with three employees, were temporarily housed in the Ryall Hotel. The total loss of some $100,000 was only partially covered by insurance. The local Chamber of Commerce were busy raising funds to help the family re-establish their business. Meanwhile friends, local businesses and the Red Cross had managed to provide clothing for the family. Unfortunately, the new restaurant never became a reality and the family finally decided to move west. We learned from Margot Wilson’s email that Mr. Gin passed away a few years ago but, even in his final years, he remembered and talked fondly of Carman and the Rex Café. 

Everyone who lived in the Carman area before 1976 also remembers the Rex. Many have a story to tell — usually with a smile. “I was young when it burned. But I recall when we went to town, if I was good, I got taken there for ice-cream.” “Gin Ming Wah was a really nice man. He gave my father some scrolls or wall hangings from China.” “The Rex Café was always busy….” Some of the Rex Café’s appeal may be accounted for by an item in the Dufferin Historical Museum’s 150 Stories of Carman and Area. The story is that, at one time, all the young ladies went to the Rex Café in hopes of getting a glimpse of Clark Gable. The film star came up to Delta Marsh to hunt. A man who lived on ‘The Island’ in Carman, kept a couple of dogs that Gable used in hunting. And, when he came to town, Clark Gable ate at the Rex Café. How is that for a story out of a small prairie town?

We’re still trying to get our hands on a good photo of the Rex Café during the time the Gin Wah family were here. Meanwhile, the search for information about the Rex Café is taking on a new life. Our C/DMHAC Treasurer, Shirley Snider, was a key player in compiling the Museum’s 150 Stories of Carman and Area booklet. She is now inspired to collect Rex Café stories for the next volume of the book. Be warned that, when you next see Shirley, her first question will likely be “What do you remember about the Rex Café?” Or you can just send us your memories through this website.

In the meantime, we’ll keep up the quest or a more recent photo of the Rex. I wonder if we’ll spot Clark Gable?

Mad Hatter Dinner. Cheerful madness reigned at the library corner in downtown Carman last Friday evening. A beautiful summer evening, tables outdoors across the bridge by Ryall Park, good food, wacky outfits, creative table decorations, entertainment — a fairy tale evening and successful fund-raising dinner for the Boyne Regional Library.

For more images of the Mad Hatter Dinner, click here. These images are courtesy Dale Owen, Chair of the Boyne Regional Library Renovation and Expansion Committee, and include some outstanding drone shots taken by her son Mark.

In recognition of the hard work of volunteers in planning and carrying out renovations to this landmark Designated Municipal Heritage Site, C/D MHAC members compiled a small booklet with the history of the library. In keeping with the evening’s theme, it features photos of what Alice would have seen down through the years if she had climbed up the clock tower rather than falling down a rabbit hole. Lots of fun — and all for a worthy cause. See View from the Clock Tower.

Museum 60th Anniversary. The Dufferin Historical Museum will be hosting a tea and quilt display Saturday, September 7, from 2:00–4:00 p.m. in honour of the Museum’s 60th anniversary. Drop in and help celebrate 60 years of service to the community.

Homesteads/Early Family Farms. In our most recent farm story, Larry Stevenson traces the history of his family from Scotland to the RM of Dufferin and Carman area. The Stevenson family is one of several local families who can trace their farm roots in Dufferin back to the1870s. Larry Stevenson’s great-uncle A.P. Stevenson arrived in Manitoba in 1874, following the Missouri Trail to Nelsonville (or “Old Nelson”) near the escarpment, in what was then the southwestern part of Dufferin Municipality. By the early 1880s, Nelsonville had become a rapidly growing boom town. Residents anticipated that when the railway came through, the town would become next in importance to Winnipeg and Brandon. But the rail line came instead through Morden, a few miles south. The town was quickly abandoned — businesses left and many of the buildings and homes were moved to Morden. By 1890, when Larry Stevenson’s grandfather, John, arrived in the area, the once-thriving town was history. The site is now marked by a cairn and the area is known as Dunston.

Meanwhile, Larry’s great-uncle A. P. Stevenson became a well-known horticulturist. The Farmers’ Advocate (Feb 5, 1911) referred to him as the “Apple King of Manitoba”. His apple orchard and homestead on 2-4-6w remained in the family long after municipal boundaries changed and “Old Nelson” was no longer part of Dufferin. John Stevenson worked briefly for his brother, then sought out his own farmland in the Graysville area.

John and Margaret Stevenson and the house built by John Stevenson in 1904 on NW 3-7-6w

In this account, Larry Stevenson traces the family through subsequent generations in the Graysville and Carman districts where they have established deep community roots.

Heritage Inventories.
Stephenfield was an active community located between Roseisle in the west and Graysville to the east. Life in this farming community centered around the school, store, post-office, and elevator. At one time, it also had a blacksmith shop.

Stephenfield, early 1900s, in photo by J.B.Coleman

The area is now known best for the recreational facilities and water plant at nearby Stephenfield Provincial Park. Research for the Stephenfield Inventory was done by Shirley (Johnston) Snider, Nedra (McIntosh) Burnett and Betty (Reimer) Friesen, all of whom grew up in the area.

News and Events July 2019

Missouri Trail sign. We are delighted at finally being able to announce that the new Missouri Trail sign has been installed. The sign marks the location where the trail once crossed the Rivière aux Îlets de Bois, now known as the Boyne River. For centuries, this historic pathway was used by buffalo coming to feed on swamp hay. Indigenous people followed the trail for trade and contact with other tribes or for travelling to sacred sites such as Calf Mountain near Darlingford.

In later years, it was used by fur traders to reach the Missouri and by buffalo hunters when the herds moved further southwest. After crossing miles of open prairie, the point where the trail crossed the river was important as a source for water, fuel, and wood to repair Red River carts.

Post-1870, the government opened Manitoba lands to homesteaders and granted land to men who had served in military expeditions. This marked the beginning of the socio-economic transformation of the area into a primarily farming community.

Early setters used the Missouri Trail to travel from the Red River settlement to this area and further south. The first settlers selected choice lands near the river where wood and water were abundant. Others settled in the Salterville area or fanned outward to claim homesteads in other parts of what is now the RM of Dufferin. As more families arrived, the demand grew for easier access to the area. By 1882, the railway to Barnsley became an arrival point for both new settlers and for the mail. Use of the trail declined.

Today, most of the land has been cultivated and the last traces of the deep ruts formed by the Red River carts have disappeared. In 1961, the Dufferin Historical Society placed a sign to mark this significant historic site. The sign was later removed by a landowner.  


Above, original wooden sign installed in 1961
by the Dufferin Historical Society. A map and
legend similar to the current sign were on the

Right, new black granite sign marking
location of the Missouri Trail.

Replacing the sign has been a Carman/Dufferin MHAC priority for the past decade. Thanks to the diligent efforts of our members over the years, this has at last been accomplished. Ironically, it’s just in time for our celebration of the 1870 events that changed the course of local history and, in the process, marked the beginning of the end of the Missouri Trail as the major access route to this region.

The new sign features a diamond-cut map and legend on black granite and was crafted by Carman Granite. We are indebted to Debbie Nicolajsen for guiding the project these past months through the process of obtaining highway permits and caveats. Members of the community also have stepped forward with significant support. Special thanks to Lee and Lee, Barristers and Attorneys at Law for donating their legal services and to Sperling Industries for generously donating the metal framework for the sign. And, as always, Sharla Murray, CAO of the RM of Dufferin, has been a primary resource person for our work.

Library dinner. The Boyne Regional Library is housed in one of our area’s most significant Designated Heritage Sites. After years of serving the reading public out of storefronts, an insurance office and a room in the Memorial Hall, in 1972 the library found a permanent home in the former Dominion Post Office building. See the Library's website for a history of the library and the dedicated work of employees and supporters in introducing services and technologies including public internet access, online databases and digital collections. Now a major expansion is underway. Building committee members have worked with Manitoba Heritage to ensure they retained the integrity of the site.

As a fundraising venture, the Library is hosting a long-table dinner on August 16. It will take place over the bridge adjacent to Ryall Park. This fun event is based on a ‘Mad Hatter’ theme and diners are asked to come in suitable themed attire and participate in a table decorating competition. Lots of fun for a worthy cause.

Brickyard Links
. David Butterfield’s recent study of the Leary Brick Works is currently the feature project on the Heritage Manitoba website. See the link below for the full text of his research. The site also provides a link to earlier research by Randy Rostecki on brick manufacturing in Manitoba. His study of small urban and rural operations includes information on both the Leary Brick Works and on the two brick manufacturing plants operating in Carman during the same era.

The Leary Brick Works also appears on the Manitoba Historical Society’s “Top-10 Endangered Structures for 2019”, a list of “historically-significant buildings around our province that deserve to be preserved and better known”.

The Leary Brick Works is the last semi-intact remnant of some 200 brick plants that once operated in Manitoba. Based on extensive research, architectural historian David Butterfield completed a study of the Leary brick plant in 2018.

The full report is here.

Please note: the remaining structures at the brick plant are unsafe and public entry to the site is prohibited.



Heritage Tour Brochures. Carman/Dufferin MHAC has prepared two heritage tour brochures featuring heritage sites in the Town of Carman and the RM of Dufferin.

Free copies are available at the Memorial Hall, Museum, and at several businesses around town.


News and Events, May 2019

Gray Homestead & Family Farm. Five generations of the Gray family have lived on 25-6-6w. What is distinctive about the farm is that they share this section of land with Graysville, the community that bears their name. Another unique feature of the farm is that the original claim was made in the name of Ann Smith Gray, under the Métis land claim agreement.

This sets the Gray farm apart from other homesteads in the area which were obtained through homestead claims, military scrip, or by direct purchase from companies such as the HBC or from land speculators (see Recent History January, 2019) . To learn more about the Gray family farm, go to Local heritage > Homesteads & Family Farms

Gray family home built 1916

‘Beautify the Boyne’ Project. At our May 13th C/D MHAC meeting, Nikki Falk ‘planted a seed for thought’ that she has been mulling over for the past while – the clean-up and beautification of the Boyne River.

The River runs like a thread from west to east across Carman/Dufferin municipalities. It also is one of the common threads running through our local history. With its heavily forested banks, the river was a source for fresh water, fuel, wild fruit and small game for early First Nations and Métis camps.

Later, as the Riviére aux Îlets-de-Bois, it became an oasis where hunters and fur traders following the Missouri Trail could pause and repair their Red River carts, or come in springtime to harvest the syrup of maple trees. A number of early Métis families, such as John Grant, settled in the area.

Post-1870, the river and its environs became a prime destination for an influx of Anglophone homesteaders who renamed it the ‘Boyne’. It also became part of a Métis land claim to the river and adjacent lands, from the escarpment east to the big swamp. The claim was never recognized.

In more recent history, the river has powered a flour and lumber mill, served as a source for town water and as a popular, well-used swimming hole. (For a larger view, click on the image.)

Clendenning Mill west of Boyne settlement       Boyne Swimming Hole Carman

Until a diversion was built around the Town of Carman, floods periodically devastated the town. In the process, flood waters destroyed many early records; they also provided striking images of the power of Mother Nature.

Villard Avenue during 1893 flood

Boating on the Boyne early 1900s

In recent years, a dam on the Boyne River near the west end of the RM of Dufferin created a lake which serves as a popular recreational centre and site of a water treatment plant. Local farms draw water from the river for irrigation. Unfortunately, the human presence also has contributed to more runoff from farms and human waste, trash in the river and along river banks, and the presence in summer of slimy green scum on the once-pristine waters.

Kayaking on the Boyne 2019. While kayaking this spring on the Boyne, Nikki Falk was struck by the continuing beauty and peacefulness of the river. “It felt like another world, floating along for hours with the massive trees canopied over the water. We enjoyed seeing a wide variety of different birds, fish jumping, turtles sunbathing on logs, etc. It really felt like a connection to the past, as if we were stepping back in time and experiencing just what the generations before us had, and what the future generations could have if we can only safeguard it.

What we also sadly witnessed was the pollution, the debris caught up along the river banks, the downed trees impeding the vital water flow and finally, the realization that later in the summer the toxic algae would put a stop to our kayaking.”

This past winter, Nikki began “researching what options are available for communities for the revitalization of our rivers. How can we preserve and protect the Boyne River’s heritage for future generations to enjoy? How do we instill a sense of community stewardship to the care and well-being of our precious water resource?”

One of her key takeaways from her research on other community projects was the potential for helping the river once more become a focal point in the Town of Carman and a part of local efforts to enhance the tourist value of the Town. Ideally, respect for the river would carry through to other property owners and communities along its banks and to maintenance of one of the few remaining wildlife corridors east of the escarpment.

Expect to hear more from Nikki and her colleagues as their ideas and enthusiasm for restoring and conserving this important heritage resource take shape.

News and Events, March 2019

Graysville Inventory. Judie Owen and her committee have submitted their Graysville Heritage Resources Inventory. Please contact us if you know of any resources we’ve missed.

McGill Family Farm.
This is one of a few farms in the R.M. of Dufferin that has remained in the same family for over 125 years.

Unlike local homestead families, William McGill purchased the east half of section 8-6-3w from the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) and the west half from a previous buyer. This departure from the typical homesteading process was possible under provisions of the Dominion Land Act by which sections 8 and 26 of each township were reserved for the HBC. The company then sold the land to individuals or to land speculators.
Original McGill home on 8-6-3w

To learn more about this early pioneer family, go to Local heritage > Homesteads & Family Farms

A Broader Context for Our History. The focus of Carman/Dufferin MHAC projects these past months has been on our early history, in particular on events around 1870 and the birth of the Province of Manitoba.

In our February 2019 News & Events, we noted that one of our objectives for this year is to better understand the impact that formation of the province had on local population density, ethnic and religious make-up, patterns of land ownership and land use. Most of our research so far has focused on the post-1870 era—the arrival of settlers, development of an agricultural economy and preservation of heritage resources from this time period.

Agricultural economy arrives—breaking the prairie soil RM of Dufferin. Photo: JB Coleman

At our March Carman/Dufferin MHAC meeting, members identified a couple of ‘missing pieces’: first, how little we really know about the broader context in which local history unfolded and second, how relevant this history is to present-day events.

Fortunately, there has been a flurry of research in recent years around the formation of the Province, in particular as it relates to land grants. Much of this research is accessible through online sources. Over the next while, we’ll direct readers to some of the key articles and studies that give some insight into context in which the 1870 transition occurred. We’ll also try to understand why, 150 years later, these issues are still part of our daily news. We’ll begin our review by looking at an article that places this region of Manitoba directly in the conflict in the 1870 controversy over land settlement.

In The Confrontations at Rivière aux Îlets-de-Bois (published by the Manitoba Historical Society and available online), historian Alan B. McCullough provides an overview of the complexities around purchase of former HBC territory by Canada and the resulting interpretations of competing land claims. He highlights the specific Métis land claims in what is now the Carman/Dufferin area and places local events within the broader context of regional, provincial and national politics. McCullough notes how provincial politics, particularly dispatches between prominent figures such as Lieutenant–Governor Archibald and Archbishop Taché, were often at cross purposes with federal strategies. The article is a good place to start in understanding events around 1870 as they pertained to our local history and heritage.

What makes this article of particular interest are Alan B. McCullough’s family ties to this area. His paternal great-grandfather homesteaded near Carman in 1874. His maternal great-grandparents were among the first to homestead in the Roseisle district. Alan grew up in the St. Daniel area and attended Albert School. For much more on the McCulloughs, see History of the R.M. of Dufferin, pp. 590-606.

News and Events January 2019

Settling the West. With the 150th anniversary of Manitoba just a year away, one of our objectives for 2019 is to better understand the impact that formation of the province had on local population density, ethnic and religious make-up, patterns of land ownership and land use.

Painting of early pioneer life donated by artist A.A. Brooke to the Dufferin Historical Museum

Between 1670 and 1869, the Hudson Bay Company (HBC) held a charter and trade monopoly on all lands draining into Hudson Bay. Towards the end of this period, competition from American fur trading companies and the development of faster, cheaper southern transportation routes eroded the monopoly at the same time that HBC commercial interests were expanding beyond the fur trade. Finally, in 1869, the Company surrendered its charter back to the British Crown.

Meanwhile, in spite of the Canada-USA border treaty of 1818, the Canadian government had begun to fear that the westward surge south of the border would outflank their own efforts at settlement and that the USA would occupy and lay claim the western prairies. In 1870, the John A. Macdonald government paid £300,000 compensation to the HBC and their former holdings became part of Canada under the Constitution Act. One of the new government’s first undertakings was to survey the territory in preparation for opening it to settlement.

Surveying. Agricultural landholdings at that time were laid out mainly along the Red and Assiniboine rivers using the river lot system of survey. Narrow frontage along the river gave access to transportation and nearby neighbours, along with land for farm produce to the rear of the property. Under the new survey system, the land was divided instead into townships of thirty-six sections, each section approximately one mile square. Within each township, lands were set aside for the HBC, school lands and later, for railways. Grants also were made for military service or service with North West Mounted Police. Those, such as Métis settlers, who were already on the land, were given ‘scrip’ which could apply to purchase of the land or could be sold for cash. The rest of the land was open to homesteading.

Homestead Act. Under the Dominion Lands Act, 1872, or Homestead Act, a person over 21 could obtain a land grant by laying claim to a quarter-section land and paying a $10 administration fee. They were required to live on the land for at least six months a year for three years, build a dwelling and cultivate a specified number of acres of land. After meeting these requirements, they could apply for a patent, which gave them full title to the lands. Between 1872 and 1889, homesteaders could pre-empt or claim the right to buy, an adjoining quarter- section of land. This promise of land, fired by a strong dose of religious and cultural propaganda, unleashed a wave of westward migration that dramatically changed the socio-economic structure of the province.

For an overview of land settlement in the Boyne area, see A Review of the Heritage Resources of Boyne Planning District, by Karen Nicholson, pp 8–15.

Homestead & Family Farm project. One of our ongoing heritage projects has been the collection of information and memories from families that homesteaded or purchased early family farms in the Carman/Dufferin area. Although the number is decreasing each year, we still have a few local residents who remember grandparents or other family members who homesteaded the land or who recall family stories from the early days. We’ve been asking these folks why their families came to the area, how they arrived, what the country was like and how it developed over the years. Our goal is to document early homesteading experiences in the Carman/Dufferin area and to begin tracing changes in agriculture and in life on local farms over the past century.

Over the coming months, we will be adding these accounts to the Local Heritage section of our website under the heading Homesteads & Family Farms. See the first in our series, the McIntosh Family Farm.


McIntosh Family Farm