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News and Events April 2020

The world changed over the past month as the COVID-19 outbreak has grown to pandemic proportions.

C/D MHAC Activities Postponed. We cancelled our scheduled March 16 meeting and have postponed all planned events and ongoing heritage projects until further notice. Unveiling the Missouri Trail sign has been tentatively rescheduled from May 12, the day the Manitoba Act received royal assent, to July 15, the day the Act was proclaimed and came into effect. The July date may well be optimistic but we have to hope that with careful attention travel restrictions, closures and thoughtful social distancing, this too shall pass.

Meanwhile, our committee members report that they are staying home, working or keeping in touch with family and friends by phone or other media and catching up with long-overdue chores. A lot of spring cleaning is getting done early this year.

Life Stories. Our first session on writing life stories was held before the onset of COVID-19. The intent with this group was to explore some of the ways in which we can help folks record their memories and life experiences. For most, the hardest part is getting started. For some with added home duties, it’s a question of finding the time. For others, it’s not being comfortable hand-writing, not being speedy enough on a computer, not knowing where to start or what to include. Our life story sessions are being led by a newly retired member of the community who has been working with small writing groups for the past several years. Everyone went home from the first meeting with suggestions for making a start. We’ll see if we can continue working with individuals through phone and internet contact. This could be a fun activity for group members and their families to pursue while we’re all in social isolation. If you can’t be in contact in the present, why not get in touch with your past?

You might even try turning those worries about the present into memories of the past. Does anyone recall the days when families were quarantined for communicable diseases like measles? Homes had quarantine notices posted on the door and families relied on neighbours to drop off supplies. No school, internet, TV or cellphones for the youngsters— just books and board games and more ‘quality’ time than you ever wanted with your siblings. And parents with their patience and nursing skills stretched to the limit. Maybe you’re concerned about how folks today are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by hoarding supplies such as toilet tissue? Ask what would have happened back in earlier days when you couldn’t hoard Eaton’s catalogues. You just never know where these memories might take you.

Pickings from the Past. Another fascinating way to spend your social isolation time is by immersing in old newspapers such as the early Dufferin Leader and Carman Standard which you can find online at You are sure to discover some real gems of information. For example, if Carman’s recent boil-water advisory piqued your interest in the quality of local water supplies, you might be interested in newspapers between 1906–1909 when the installation of water and sewer lines in the Town of Carman dominated local news.

First, we’ll make a short stop at the Dufferin Historical Museum to help you visualize what the early water pipes were like. Among the many interesting artifacts in the Museum is this piece of the old Carman water main. Notice that it’s made of wood bound together by heavy wire. With this image in mind, we’ll look at some of the trials and tribulations of installing the first water and sewer system in Carman.




Old Carman water line from DHM

The sewer and water system in the Town of Carman was initially scheduled for completion in 1906. Things didn’t quite work out that way. The Dufferin Leader (1907-02-07, p.5) reported:

At the present time there is a hold-up in the completion of the sewers and waterworks. Nearly all the work is done but the short link on Fournier avenue between E. L. B. McLeod’s corner and the river at the Victoria hotel. It is difficult to find fall enough to run the sewage north to connect with the outlet into the river at the flour mill. The contractors were proceeding to give this piece of sewer an outlet into the river at the foot of Fournier avenue, but objection was at once taken to this by Mayor Kernighan who stopped the work until the matter is satisfactorily adjusted. It will be decided on at the council meeting on Friday night how the difficulty may be got over. The material for the water tower and tank has not yet arrived from Chicago by the rail ways.

Concern over location of the outlet into the river seems to have been over its proximity to certain properties along the Boyne. Council deliberated and instructed the Board of Works

to have the sewer completed on Fournier avenue from South Railway street to the river. Dufferin Leader (1907-02-14).

Two months later there was a further hitch in plans.

It is currently reported that it will require about $16,000 more to complete the waterworks system and provide an efficient fire protection service. The engineer gave us to understand that $34,000 would complete the work in a thorough manner, and now to be faced with this proposition leads one to ask is the engineer competent? An anxious public would like him to ex-plain such a wide discrepancy be-tween his original estimate and the actual cost of the work. Dufferin Leader (1907-04-04).

The increase in cost led to a heated and somewhat acrimonious debate in the community. But by June 1907 the newspaper noted that:

The by-law to raise $16,000 dollars for the completion of the water and sewerage system was read a third time and passed. The Council after a discussion came to the conclusion that the mains should be completed at once, and the Secretary was instructed to notify both the engineer and the contractor that the work must be finished with-out further delay. Dufferin Leader, (1907-06-20)

The project apparently was back on track but it wasn’t moving ahead as quickly as people expected:

The work of completing the water and sewage systems has begun, and several openings have been made in the streets, but there is very little activity being displayed. It is time that the engineer and contractor were compelled to put some energy into the work. This manner of taking a year to do three month’s work calls for an intimation to them that the convenience of the town is of primary importance and not as they seem to imagine, the convenience of two men who have so far shown no reason why their convenience should be considered. Dufferin Leader (1907-07-04).

The project dragged on and remained a controversial topic in the local papers. In June 1909, the Dufferin Leader reported that:

Work on the waterworks will begin just as soon as preliminaries are settled. The council are now in correspondence with the Canada Pipe Co. with reference to getting a skilled man to superintend the laying of the water pipes. Engineer Ross recommends employing one hundred men on the work, as it will be all the same cost for foreman or foremen whether few or many men are employed. By the employment of the larger number the work will be completed in shorter time and the cost reduced that would have to be paid out for superintendence. Local men will be given a preference on the work, but so far only a few have applied, in fact, less than twenty.
Dufferin Leader (1909-06-03).

Workers from outside the community were hired but labour issues soon arose.

The town should furnish easy chairs for some of the workmen on the water works trenches so that they may rest comfortably between their strenuous efforts to lift a shovelful of dirt now and then throughout the day. The matter has got to be past the joking stage and the work or walk rule needs to be more strictly enforced. The ratepayers want some return for their money. Dufferin Leader (1909-07-08).

Human nature then was not unlike today and the issue soon took on a xenophobic tone. In a letter titled “Others Think So Too” a reader joined the commentary:

Dear Sir—I noticed in your last issue that you touched a responsive note when you referred to the dilatory manner in which many of the employees on the waterworks are putting in their time and from my observation I would think it applied particularly to the foreign element. No doubt many of these fellows have worked on such jobs before and are expert “ killers of time.” If $2.00 per day is a fair wage many of them are not earning S1.25 per day. If we as ratepayers do not insist that some of them “get a move on ” we will certainly be called upon to “ vote again ” to wind up the job. [Signed] Interested Ratepayer. Dufferin Leader (1909-07-15).

As often happens, there was another side to the story:

There was an incipient strike of the workmen on the waterworks, on Monday, for more pay. The ringleaders were a few Englishmen on the job who did more kicking and less work than any of the others employed. They got the Galicians to go on strike but were promptly paid off and told that their services were not required any longer. Forty of the Galicians returned to work on Tuesday morning, at the pay they were receiving. Twenty-five left for Winnipeg.” Dufferin Leader (1909-08-05).

With that issue sorted, new workers were hired:

Another gang of Galicians came in on Monday evening’s train to work on the waterworks. There are now 110 men on the work and it has been going with a rush during the past week. The end of next week will see them pretty well through on the south side of the river. Dufferin Leader (1909-08-12).

No sooner was one problem solved when another reared its ugly head.

Those who have the work of filling the waterworks trenches with a road scraper are leaving it in a slovenly state. On Villard avenue the surplus earth is left in ridges across the roadway which when driven on will make the road almost impassible and will cost three times as much to level as if it was done now. Dufferin Leader (1909-08-12).

One local resident noticed the town constable illegally riding his bicycle on the sidewalk to avoid the rough roadway and questioned whether he was above the law.

Finally the reports took a positive turn when tests indicated that the water tower pressure was adequate:

A trial test was made Friday evening last on the water pipes between the power house, the Presbyterian church, Browning avenue and McKee’s store, Villard avenue. 50 lbs. pump pressure was put on and only three joints in that distance showed any weakness. Two of them {were new pipes and closed up after they had swelled. Tank pressure of 65 lbs. was left on all night and the gauge had shown no diminution in the morning. That is quite a different result to the test made before [when the earlier contractors] tried to shove the work on the town as completed, when the water in the tank leaked 50,000 gallons in seven hours through the joints in the pipes.
Dufferin Leader (1909-07-15).

A month later, the Dufferin Leader (1909-08-26) reported that work on the waterworks on the south side was practically completed and a move to the north side of the river was being made.

Meanwhile another issue surfaced. When work resumed, inspectors found that:

The little that has been done reveals some scandalous work in connection with the former work. Just one manhole has been opened up and it is found that there is no concrete in the bottom of it. There is not a single atom of cement in the joints of the sewer pipe so far uncovered. Dufferin Leader (1909-06-24).

This didn’t quite address the full extent of the problem. The following item appeared in the paper (1909-09-02):

The opening of the old waterworks trench on Fournier avenue, between McLeod’s corner and the river, revealed some scandalous and even criminal work. The water pipes were placed below the sewer mains but that is not the worst feature of it, there was not a speck of cement on any joint of the sewer pipes and some of the joints were not even connected so that all sewerage had free course to percolate the defective joints of the watermains. Had the system been all right otherwise and the water system ever used for domestic purposes, think of the result.

We’d rather not ‘think of the result’ or of the fact that the sewers emptied directly into the river but it certainly makes the recent boil water advisory sound like small potatoes.

Understanding Events of 1870. Looks like this month’s overview of the impact of the fur trade on local 1870 history also is postponed for the moment. Writing time got lost in recalling local stories and old family memories. Old timers related stories about running a trapline through the local valley when they were kids—how they detoured through the bush to check their traps and snares on the way to school and again on the way home. The few dollars they earned over the winter were an important part of the family income in those days. As late as 1950, school children still trapped for rabbits, ermine (white winter weasels) and the occasional prize of a mink pelt. They became skilled in skinning and stretching pelts on hand-shaped wooden stretchers and felt like millionaires when their small fur cheques arrived in the mail. These days, the fur era has passed and at the moment, COVID-19 - isolated residents of the valley spend their days watching or photographing the abundant wildlife—animals that now are more curious than afraid of their human neighbours.

Thanks for leaving the fallen apples for us

Cross our heart and promise that we’ll soon be back from the past with more on the early fur trade in Manitoba.

Finally, a sincere ‘Thank You’ to all who are out there on the front line carrying out essential services and to those of you who are helping them by staying at home.

News and Events, March 2020

Historical Re-Runs. With all the current news of travel bans and quarantines on cruise ships due to COVID-19, it’s of interest to note how travel and infection have long been companions. The May 25, 1911 Carman Dufferin Leader reported that “A large number of immigrants have been quarantined at Grosse île, Quebec, because cases of smallpox were discovered on board the steamers on which they were.” Imagine the dangers faced by early immigrants, many of whom arrived in the packed holds of ships, the victims of famine, without the benefit of present-day medical and hospital care—and with no option for being evacuated ‘home’ to the country they had left to seek a new life in Canada. For general information on the quarantine station at Grosse Île, Quebec see Wikipedia. To appreciate the scope of activity at the station during more than a century of operation, or to locate individual records, check out Library and Archives Canada.

Early Council Chambers. Our recent search for information on Christian Hansen, Carman town constable from 1908–11, left us with a couple of unrelated questions about our early history, notably: where were the Town Council Chambers, Clerk’s Office, and jail located before the Memorial Hall was built in 1919? In another search of early newspapers, we found an answer. The Dufferin Leader 1907-01-17 reported that “A plan was submitted by the engineer for fitting up a council chamber and clerk’s office in the powerhouse.” The plan was adopted and returned to the engineer for specifications on the understanding that, “if it didn’t cost too much, it would be proceeded with.”

It seems that the jail was at or near the powerhouse. The Dufferin Leader (1911-12-07) noted that the town constable had arrested a local man “for being drunk and disorderly, and conveyed him to the coop, where he left him apparently sleeping at 2 a.m. Shortly afterwards the night engineer at the power house, who went over to make up the fire in the lockup, phoned him that the prisoner had escaped. The bar from the door had apparently been used to wrench the iron bars from the windows, and there had been no help from outside.

Conditions at the early jails may have left something to be desired. The Dufferin Leader (1907-07-04) urged that “Every citizen should pay a visit to the town jail (in an unofficial capacity of course) and see the improvement in the interior of the premises as regards cleanliness. For all that, the place is vile, and totally unfit for the incarceration of a fellow-human being, no matter how vile. If we are to raise those who have sunk in the slough of depravity, we had best begin by teaching them that there is the ineffable spirit of immortality within them, and this cannot be done by putting them in a place unfit even for the lowest beasts that perish. Let our philanthropic citizens look into this. We cannot believe that if they knew of the reality of the conditions they could rest with contentment. To raise money for foreign missions and keep a place for the incarceration of human beings like ourselves who, although they may infringe the laws of the country may in some one respect be even better than sinners who are more careful, seems a waste of money and a misplaced sympathy. Let charity begin at home.”

In 1919, the early jail was replaced by a cell in the boiler room and maintenance area in the basement of the new Memorial Hall. We haven’t located any photos of the early powerhouse facilities. A snapshot taken of the interior of the long-abandoned Memorial Hall jail cell in 2014 suggests that, even in the later post-WWI facility, amenities were fairly basic.

Memorial Hall jail cell 2014                                View of the area adjoining cell 2014


Background to Events of 1870. Our January, 2020 News & Events posed a number of questions basic to understanding the impact of 1870 on local heritage. This month we’ll look briefly at the first area of interest: In what way did relationships between Britain, France, and their colonies in North America serve as a broad foundation for the events of 1870?

Between the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Britain and France were almost continuously involved in a series of some 23 battles, including the lengthy 100 Years’  War (1337–1453). Issues of religion, culture, language, imperial expansion and trade were closely intertwined in the conflicts. Each of these factors played a role in shaping events in what was to become the Province of Manitoba.

During much of this time, the empire-building aspirations of both countries, and of their Dutch and Spanish rivals, were playing out in a race to locate a western route to the riches of the Far East. Columbus’ discovery of what he thought was India sparked interest in North America. This in turn led to formation of the British colonies in New England and the French colony of New France along the St. Lawrence River.

Two of the many French/English wars directly involved their North American colonies— the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), also known as the French and Indian War, and the Anglo-French war of 1778–1783, which was part of the American Revolutionary War.

Between 1608, when Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec and 1760, when English General Wolfe defeated Marquis de Montcalm at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the colony of New France developed an agricultural base along the St. Lawrence River. They also extended exploration into the interior of the continent, claiming jurisdiction over vast lands of the Mississippi basin. Instead of discovering a passage to the Pacific or the richness of Inca gold, they returned with canoes laden with furs. They also returned with heightened interest in the West as a target for expanding trade and for spreading the Catholic faith. Fur traders from New France were soon making the annual voyage westward through the Great Lakes and into northwest in canoes laden with supplies and trade goods.

Meanwhile, Henry Hudson’s explorations for an ice-free north-west passage to the Far East led to discovery of Hudson’s Bay and James Bay. Although the northern passage never materialized, Hudson’s discoveries unintentionally opened up a shorter route to the rich fur-bearing lands of the north-west. Indigenous trappers and middlemen brought furs down the rivers to the forts and fur-trading posts built on the coastline, and opened up competition with traders using the longer canoe route from the East.

In 1763, the Treaty of Paris not only stripped France of most of her North American holdings, it also changed the dynamics that had developed in the competition over the fur trade. Meanwhile, to the south, the American Revolution created a new nation. Westward expansion of the former colonies under the banner of ‘Manifest Destiny’ brought a new competitor onto the scene. In our next News and Events update, we’ll look at development of the fur trade as a key factor in background to events in 1870 Manitoba.


News and Events February 2020

Museum Events. Karen Maxwell is the incoming President of the Dufferin Historical Museum. She takes over from Trish Aubin who has done such a fine job leading the group over the past several years. Karen is well up to the task—and Trish is staying on as Vice-President—so the committee is in good hands. They are busy planning a couple of upcoming events including:

Flea Market & Antique Sale – May 23, 2020
Town-wide Garage Sale – June 6, 2020

The Dufferin Historical Society installed the first Missouri Trail sign back in 1961 so we’re planning on working together to organize unveiling of the new sign this coming May.

C/D MHAC Doings. We’ve been making the most of the recent blast of frigid winter weather to get on with reading, writing and planning this year’s projects. We’ve been looking into options for setting up life story writing groups, figuring out how to accommodate people who are interested but wary of the time commitment when they are still working outside their homes. Or those who find it difficult to write because of arthritis, lack of computer skills and the like. How to be flexible and still get a satisfying outcome. Interesting to see how this works out.

Of course, we’ve not just been hiding out in our homes. We were asked to speak to the Wednesday Morning Group at the Carman United Church this past week. Always great to meet in this lovely old Designated Heritage Site building.

We chose to talk with the group about where they can find information about local heritage and what’s available on our C/D MHAC website. We also pointed out that most of the information in local histories, including our website material, is based on post-1870 writings and recollections. And we touched upon the importance of examining the broader context of events around 1870 if we are to understand the impact that becoming a province of Canada had on this little part of Manitoba. As mentioned in the January News and Events, this is an area we hope to focus on further in 2020.

We also spoke of C/D MHAC plans for commemorating the 150th anniversary of Manitoba by installing highway signs directing visitors to the Îlets-de-Bois cairn and unveiling the Missouri Trail sign.

Missouri Trail Sign. One of our first tasks this year is to arrange the unveiling of the newly re-installed sign. A couple of years ago we asked our committee why they thought we should plan on re-installing the Missouri Trail sign in time for 2020. The response was “because that’s how the first settlers reached the Carman area”. Since then we’ve asked others the same question, including the Wednesday Morning group; each time we get the same reply. That’s not at all surprising because most of the recorded history as we know it has been written by people who arrived after that time. We tend to see history through the lens of ‘our’ experience— in this case, the people who wrote existing accounts of local history. Most of the events and artifacts we’ve collected information about through our C/D MHAC projects fall into the same post-1870 category—our heritage buildings, stories of homesteads and early farms, inventories of resources from communities, vintage photographs.

The only photograph of indigenous people we’ve seen so far in our collections of local photographs was taken by early photographer J.B. Coleman who documented the area around Roseisle in the early 1900s. His family homesteaded along the escarpment beside the local “Indian Trail” marked on early survey maps.

‘Indian’ Trails along escarpment and Indigenous family circa 1900
click on the image for a larger view

The photo clearly is from an era well after European clothing came on the scene. The story we related earlier (News and Events, October 2017) of an encounter between a homestead family and a local “good Samaritan” native occurred just a few years earlier along the same trail.

Seen from a broader historical perspective, the Missouri Trail is a symbol of local pre-1870 history. The legend on the sign records that the Trail dates back a few centuries to the days when the hooves of migrating buffalo first carved out a pathway to the Great Marsh in search of grass and hay. Nomadic indigenous people followed their trail to hunt the buffalo that were essential at that time to their survival. Dried buffalo meat or pemmican was their staple winter food. They used the hides for clothing and tents, the sinews for thread, and bones for needles, tools. Indigenous groups are thought also to have followed the pathway to sacred sites at places like Calf Mountain and to meet with other tribes.

With the arrival of the fur trade, pemmican took on new significance as the main source of a light, portable source of nutrients for canoeists who paddled up to 14 hours a day and carried heavy loads across portages. The buffalo herds were found at that time south of Lake Manitoba and west of the Red River and this area became part of what has been described as the ‘larder’ of the fur trade.

Adapted from The History of the RM of Dufferin in Manitoba 1880-1980, p. 5
click on the image for a larger view

In 1870, Métis made up a large percentage in the Red River settlement. Even though they lived for the most part on land claims, their main livelihood was as buffalo hunters and guides. They also were middleman in the fur trade between the fur agents and the native population because they knew the language and had connections through their Indigenous ties. The hooves of buffalo hunters’ horses and, after about 1806, the creaking wheels of Red River carts further defined the trail with deep grooves from passage of cart wheels. When Manitoba became a part of Canada in 1870, the land was surveyed into townships and sections and opened for homesteading. The Trail initially was the main pathway into this area.

The Trail wasn’t designed for bringing in settlers from the East and their belongings. A.P. Stevenson gave an account of his 1874 journey through swampy areas of the Trail where they were plagued by mosquitoes (see History of the RM of Dufferin, p.4). Within a decade, a railway was built to End-of-Line (Barnsley). It was extended to Carman in 1889 and by 1901, ran from the east through Homewood and other communities. New towns grew up along the rail line to the west. From this broader perspective, the importance of the Missouri Trail lay in the centuries before 1870. Arrival of settlers in effect marked the end of a trail that served as a pathway to and from the southwest. The Missouri Trail sign is not so much a tribute to the present agricultural community as it is a symbol of the rich early history of the territory that became known as Southwestern Manitoba and the Carman/Dufferin municipalities.

Further Reading:

The History of the R.M. of Dufferin in Manitoba 1880-1980, pp. 4-7

A Review of the Heritage Resources of Boyne Planning District, pp.97-101 a study by Karen Nicholson, Historic Resources Branch, November 1984.


News and Events January 2020

2020. A new decade. And a year that’s significant to us as the year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Province of Manitoba. In 1870, the Canadian government purchased the territory held under charter by the Hudson’s Bay Company and Manitoba became the fifth province under Confederation. This led to a rapid influx of settlers seeking land and opportunity in the West. With it came sweeping socio-economic change for a part of the continent that had been known primarily for its role in the highly competitive fur trade and for the small settlement along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

Over the past months we have been trying to gain greater insight into local history of this during the pre- and post-1870 era. C/D MHAC members have researched the story of the Missouri Trail and re-installed a sign where the trail once crossed the Rivière-aux-Îlets-de-Bois (Boyne River).

Unveiling the original sign in 1961                                         New sign installed 2019

We’ve searched out articles on the early settlement in the St. Daniel area northwest of present-day Carman. In 2020, highway signs will be erected giving directions to the site of the original settlement and cemetery in the area. Meanwhile, our Homestead/Early Family Farm researchers have been collecting and recording information and stories of the first European settlers — many of whom still have descendants in the area. We’ve also been working on inventories of heritage resources in local communities with a goal of identifying and preserving the information, records and artifacts that are rapidly disappearing with passing generations.

An exciting new initiative is planned for 2020: a series of life story workshops to encourage collection and preservation of our history-in-the-making. It should be a busy, fun year.

20/20 also is the standard for perfect vision. It’s unlikely we’ll achieve this level of insight, but we’ll be aspiring this coming year to gain at least a sounder understanding of the history of Carman/Dufferin municipalities. We hope to share our findings with you through this website and to provide you with a list of resources for further exploring our complex and rather fascinating heritage.

Where to Start? Our local history didn’t occur in a vacuum — it was the product of interaction of local people and circumstances within the context of provincial, national and international events. If you’re like most of us and have forgotten much of what you learned in your early school years, we’d suggest beginning your quest by reviewing a general history of Manitoba. What better time to review the broader framework of the Carman/Dufferin story than the 150th anniversary of our Province?

The biggest dilemma lies in selecting resources from the vast array of books and articles that offer interpretations of our past. One general source we’d recommend is ”The Centennial History of Manitoba” by James A. Jackson. (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd. and the Manitoba Historical Society, 1970).

This volume provides a readable, balanced overview of the many factors that drove our development as a province from the Ice Age through to the past generation. Jackson places Manitoba in the larger geo-political space that is now known as Canada, including its relationship with Great Britain and the rest of North America . In so doing, he lays a foundation for a deeper understanding why history played out as it did on our little part of the province.

Some of the questions you might want to ask in your reading are:

How did relationships between Britain, France and their colonies in North America help lay the foundation for their activities in the West?

How did the geography of Manitoba impact on its development as a fur-trading and later as an agricultural province?

What role did early explorers and fur traders play in opening up the West? What impact did rivalries between the major fur-trading companies have and how were they resolved? What was the origin/use of the Missouri Trail?

How did arrival of the Selkirk settlers change our history? What was the number and distribution of settlements in Manitoba in 1870?

What role did Luois Riel and his Provisional Government play on the history of Manitoba?

What were the terms and the outcomes of the Dominion Lands Act of 1872?

Who was living in our local area of Manitoba in 1870? How was the lifestyle of indigenous inhabitants affected by first the fur traders and later, by arrival of homesteaders in the area? What happened when the different cultures met?

Let us know what resources you find particularly helpful in understanding the broad context of local history and the events around 1870. Next update we’ll zero in on what is now the Carman/Dufferin area of the province.

Groaners. And now a final thought on the realities of the passage of time:

A young boy was looking through the old family album. He asked his mother “Who’s this guy on the beach with all the muscles and curly hair? “ Mother: “That’s your father.” Son: ”Then who’s that man who lives with us now?”


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. See The Valley Leader for more information.

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

News and Events December 2018

Heritage Resource Management Plan 2019-21. It’s that time of year again – the month of reckoning when we outline for our Councils what the committee has done for the past year and what we expect to accomplish in the year to come—with their financial support.

This year is special—it marks the end of our 2016–18 Heritage Resource Management Plan (HRMP) with a look ahead to the next three years. Two years from now, our Province will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. When John A. Macdonald’s government purchased the Hudson's Bay Company territory that became Manitoba, the sale unleashed a wave of westward migration that dramatically changed the socio-economic structure of the province. One of our objectives for 2020 is to gain a better understanding of the impact of these rapid changes in local population density, ethnic and religious make-up, patterns of land ownership and land use.

Breaking prairie sod
Click on the image for a larger view

We have two projects currently under way to ensure that early accounts of the transition are identified, preserved and made part of our efforts towards promotion of local heritage. Volunteer groups in each of the small communities that grew up across the municipalities are searching out local heritage resources, drawing up inventories to document their location, and where feasible, copying or otherwise preserving original sources.

The initial inventory from the Roseisle community is now on this website (see Roseisle). Homewood documented much of their local history for their 2018 reunion. We’ll alert you to others as they go up over the next couple of years.

Carman/Dufferin MHAC also is collecting information and memories from owners and families of early homesteads and family farms in the area. These stories of why early settlers came to the area, how they arrived, what the country was like and how it developed over the years are fast becoming lost to memory. Few local residents still remember their homesteading grandparents or have documented their experiences.

Both of these projects focus strongly towards post-1870s settlers’ perspective on local history. An exception is the St. Daniel area where both written histories and the monuments such as the Îles-de-Bois cairn are reminders that local history didn’t begin with the arrival of predominantly Anglo-Protestant homesteaders. Elsewhere, awareness of our rich pre-1870 history is emerging through Carman/Dufferin MHAC’s project to replace the Missouri Trail sign. This project is due for completion by 2020.

For further information on our committee’s work over the past three years and our plans for 2019-21, see the full Heritage Resource Management Plan.

News and Events November 2018

Remembrance Day 2018. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War 1. In addition to the annual Remembrance Day services in which we honour those who lost their lives in the war, the centenary is being commemorated worldwide with special ‘Bells for Peace” services and other events.

At Roseisle, children representing the many ethnic groups who make up the community lined up at dusk to take part in ringing the ‘bell for peace’ under the guidance of ceremony
co-ordinator Diane Gillingham and husband Grant.

Lest we forget                        Carman Legion #18 laying wreath at cenotaph 

This year, the Royal Canadian Legion encouraged school children to learn more about the WWI veterans who are buried in our local cemeteries. These are the young men who made it back to Canada – and lived the rest of their lives with memories of the war. They didn’t talk about their experiences, one reason the camaraderie and support of the local Legion was so important to them.

Nursing Sisters. One aspect of military service that is often overlooked is the service of Nursing Sisters with the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Anna and Grace Bruce were two local sisters who served with distinction in WWI. Their parents were early settlers in the Stephenfield district. The sisters both trained in Vancouver General Hospital. Anna received the prestigious Royal Red Cross for bravery while serving in Greece. She also was awarded the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in 1920. Grace served in England and France; among the patients she nursed was John McCrae, author of ‘In Flanders Fields’.

Their brother George also was a decorated WWI soldier. Read more about the family in “The History of the R.M. of Dufferin 1880–1980, p.358. The photograph of the three siblings is of interest—the caption notes that Anna and Grace could not pose in their uniforms because they were lieutenants and outranked their military brother.

Anna, George & Grace Bruce WWI

Agnes Wrightman Wilkie, a WWII Nursing Sister with local connections, has been in the news this Remembrance Day. Agnes’ grandparents homesteaded on SW 6-7-7w near Roseisle in 1887. Agnes graduated from high school in Carman then completed her Nursing program with distinction at Misericordia General Hospital.

She joined the Royal Canadian Navy as a Nursing Sister. She died when the S.S. Caribou on which she was returning to duty in St. John’s, Newfoundland after visiting her parents in Carman was struck by an enemy torpedo in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Agnes was the only Nursing Sister killed by enemy action in WWII. She was buried with full military honours.

Read more about her bravery and compassion and the many ways in which she has been honoured in Newfoundland, Carman and at Misericordia Hospital in a Facebook article by Dr. Barbara Paterson, chair of the MGH heritage collection.

News and Events October 2018

Leary Brick Works. 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.

“Special Places” signs.
The third phase of a larger “Special Places” project has just been completed. In 2015, we received support through the Heritage Grant Program to work with consultant Lorne Thompson on an inventory of over 150 significant heritage sites in Carman/Dufferin. The Historic Resources Branch (HRB) then applied set criteria to the information collected and identified a short-list of sites that warranted special recognition.

Nine of the sites already have Designated Municipal Heritage Site status; the remaining 21 structures were awarded certificates. In this latest phase of the program, we designed and distributed signs to further acknowledge the historic and architectural significance of the ‘certificate’ sites.

Marg & Dale Warkentin display their sign

To add to the interpretive and promotional value of the project, we also designed two new heritage tour brochures, one for the R.M. of Dufferin, the other, a revised tour of the Town of Carman. When these brochures are printed in 2019, free copies will be available at the Memorial Hall, Museum, and at several businesses around town.


News and Events August 2018

Homewood Reunion. A year and a half of hard work by the Organizing Committee more than paid off July 15th when around 300 residents of Homewood from past and present turned up for the reunion. They gathered to pay tribute to former Homewood School #1456 and to honour the Froebe brothers who are credited with having made the first helicopter flight in Canada. Two cairns were unveiled to mark these significant reminders of local history.

To see a larger view of the cairns, click on the images.

The Reunion Committee had a full program planned for the day. Official events included greetings from Reeve George Gray and MLA Blaine Pederson, a brief history of helicopter flight by Jim Bell of the Canadian Aviation Society and stories of Homewood’s past by MC Charlie Froese and Co-Chair Stuart Breckon.

A highlight of the afternoon was a surprise visit by the Stars Air Ambulance crew who paid tribute to the Froese achievement by landing where the first helicopter flight took place back in 1938. Volunteers put together displays of past memorabilia, vintage machinery, video interviews and an informative walking tour of Homewood. At the dinner that evening, former teacher Gwen Last gave an entertaining account of her days teaching at Homewood School.

Early Threshing machines

Stars Helicopter Ambulance Crew

Small sample of displays

And those were just the organized events. The highlight of any reunion is sharing memories with old friends and neighbours and, in this case, with former classmates from Homewood School. Many of these tales will resonate with anyone who grew up in a small Manitoba community and attended a one-room school—snow forts in winter, hide-outs in the lilac bushes, the smell of wet wool garments in the cloak room in winter, playing hide-and-seek, prisoners’ base, or softball at recess, school picnics, Christmas concerts, pranks that might just warrant getting ‘The Strap’ — more stories than tadpoles in a spring pond. Then there are memories of small-town prairie life— the elevators, country stores, curling rink, spring floods, catching gophers.

Homewood residents also have some strange and unique stories to tell about the local sugar beet industry, such as their memories of Japanese-Canadian internment families sent to work on the sugar beet farms and of later post-war migrants to the area. There are tales of resourceful farmers who built their own farm machinery, of teenagers literally ‘riding the rails’ and of kids just being kids.

Special credit goes to Merle (Cutting) Kluczkowski who collected these stories for the printed history book Homewood Reunion 2018. This rich collection underlines what many of us already knew—that growing up as a ‘free-range’ kid in a close-knit community and attending a one-room school can be a great way to start your life.

Part of the crowd at the Homewood Reunion

Collection and preservation of local heritage are among C/D MHAC’s priorities. Thanks to the website ( and history book, Homewood has a fine record of their past. Well done everyone. You did your hometown proud.

News and Events July 2018

Local Heritage Resource Inventories. Over the past half century, the thriving small communities that once dotted the RM of Dufferin have been on the decline. As schools, churches, businesses and local organizations close their doors, many local records are being lost. The Carman/Dufferin Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee is organizing committees in these areas to complete inventories of local heritage resources and, where possible, ensure they are preserved.

As well as buildings and monuments, resource lists include written material such as minute books of local organizations, local histories, collections of newspaper articles, obituaries and cemetery records, along with interviews, photograph collections and more. Many of the resources are available to the public, either digitally or through museums and libraries; others are in private collections.

Our lists of heritage resources and their locations are designed to guide readers through the maze of available information to sources relevant to communities that have been a vital part of our local heritage.

The Roseisle community inventory is now online and can be accessed here. We’ll alert you to other inventories as they become available over the next few months.

Burial Locations. How do you know if someone is buried in a local cemetery? Even if you are on site, finding a grave can be a challenge. Many are unmarked; on others, time has obscured names and dates. As one of our projects, the Carman/Dufferin Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee will be working over the next several months on making the names and location of Carman/Dufferin burials available through our website.

The first list is now online for Roseisle Cemetery. It can be accessed here. Burials are listed alphabetically by surname. We will alert readers to lists for other cemeteries as they become available.

News and Events May 2018

Stan Reitsma with his certificate
for 110-2nd Street SW, Carman

Heritage Certificates. In an earlier ‘News & Events’ (Recent History, February 2018) we told you about a project in which the Carman-Dufferin MHAC and the Historic Resources Branch (HRB) prepared an inventory of heritage sites in the Town of Carman and the RM of Dufferin. As part of the project, HRB consultants prepared a short-list of 21 sites warranting special recognition.

The HRB also designed, printed and framed certificates which have now been distributed to building owners. As promised, a list of these sites is now available on our website at Heritage Certificate Sites.

Museum Events. Trish Aubin, President of the Dufferin Historical society, was recipient this past month of the Individual Award of Distinction from Central Manitoba Tourism. The award recognized Trish’s outstanding leadership in promoting local heritage and attracting visitors to the Museum. Congratulations, Trish, on a well-deserved award.

The Dufferin Historical Museum held its Spring Tea Saturday, May 12 to honour veterans on the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

Other Museum events planned for 2018-19:

  • Pioneer Days Saturday June 9th (1 to 4 pm)
  • Paint Night Wednesday October 10th (6:30 to 10 pm, painting at 7pm)
  • Christmas at the Museum Saturday December 1st (5 to 9 pm)
  • Flea Market/Antique Sale Saturday May 25th 2019 (10 am to 4 pm)

Homewood Reunion Update.
The Homewood July 15 reunion is fast approaching. You should check out their website at for early photos and history of the area. They are still looking for pictures of the railroad station, the Anglican Church and the curling rink.

The Planning Committee just sent out the following update:

Homewood 1950s


Dear friends of Homewood,

It is now only two months until the Homewood Reunion on July 15. Things are progressing well. Many of you have already indicated that you will be attending.

Here are the highlights of the Reunion:

  • 1:00 PM: Registration starts at the big tent to be set up in the old school yard (the Co-op yard)
  • 2:00 PM: Festivities – Free to all:
    • Dedication of “First Helicopter Flight” plaque
    • Dedication of Homewood School plaque
    • Walking tour of Homewood displays and socializing
  • 5:00 PM: Meal and Socializing

Please plan to join us—we’d love to see you. Well over 100 Homewood folks have already signed up for the evening meal. They are coming from California, from Nova Scotia and from many places in-between.

The dedication events are free and open to everyone. There is a charge for the evening meal at the Active Living Center in Carman ($25/person, $7 for under 12). For meal tickets send your cheque to:

Charles Froebe, Reunion Treasurer
P.O. Box 2023, Carman, MB R0G 0J0

Note that due to catering requirements the meal tickets must be purchased in advance so please get your meal tickets purchased.

The web site continues to improve. Go to There are lots of pictures and history about Homewood—find your name on the school class listings!

If you have pictures or historical information that should be on the site, please forward them to my email address  and we shall include them. We are short on pictures of the railroad station; the Anglican Church and the curling rink so please send any that you may have.

The monument for the school will be funded by individual donations. Please consider donating towards the costs. Forward a cheque to “RM of Dufferin” and mail it to:

Charles Froebe, Reunion Treasurer,
P.O. Box 2023, Carman, MB R0G 0J0.

This is a tax-deductible donation. And think about it, if you donate now, you won’t have us chasing you during the reunion!

Plan to get your family history written so that it can be included in the Homewood History, even if your family was there a short time. Send them to:

Merle Kluczkowski
419-21 Clayton Dr., Winnipeg, MB R2M 1G2.
Phone: (204) 299 6059 or

Merle would also like you to send any memories about the school or village events that you would like to share. Jack Neufeld, who taught at Homewood School when Merle was in Grade 1, relates a story about how recess sometimes got extended when he and the students were playing football.

We look forward to seeing you on July 15, 2018! And please let your Homewood friends/relatives know about the reunion.

Homewood Reunion Committee:

Deanna Mutcher: Co-chair. Phone: (204) 745 2719 or email:
Stuart Breckon: Co-chair. Phone (281) 450 1884 or email:

News and Events April 2018

At this time of year, weather seems to dominate our lives and conversations even more than usual. The impact of weather is a constant theme that runs through local histories, life stories and early newspapers. Blizzards, floods and hailstorms are part of most memories of the past as well as accounts of current events.

Another common factor is the effect of lengthing days and sunshine. Spring is that rare time of year between grumbling about the cold and complaining about mosquitoes, when prairie folks come out of hibernation and actually beam at the world.

Here are a few comments on the subject from both our past and present:

St. Patrick’s Day. One time of year when a slice of our local heritage hits the spotlight is March 17th. People without a drop of Irish blood find something green to wear and small towns across the district hold their annual St. Patrick’s Day supper. It’s a welcome gathering with friends and neighbours after winter hibernation and maybe the green reflects a bit of longing for the green grass of Spring.


It is interesting to note that this tasty dinner, served at one of the local events, reflects how different groups and their traditons meld over time into the local scene. Here the traditonal Irish stew is replaced by a pork loin and beans, the cabbage appears as coleslaw, however the potato still holds true to its roots. And of course the punch was dyed green.

More thoughts on Spring. Now, a month after St. Patrick’s Day, there are unimistakable signs of Spring. Deer are back at the salt block, squirrels nipping buds from the awakening trees and tom turkeys on the prowl. Spring is definitely in the air as rural Manitoba turns to thoughts of mud and floods.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to find weather dominating local life in a farming community, just as it is now on everyone’s minds with talk of global warming and climate change.



An Early Settler on Weather.
Among some old family letters was one from an early settler who eloquently expressed the impact of overcast skies and who had her own interesting theories about weather anomalies and forecasting.

“Aunt Kate”, as she was known to everyone in her small community, was loved by all for her sharp wit, entertaining stories and for the Irish brogue that she never lost over a lifetime in this country. She lived to the age of 102, the last few years spent with her daughter in a city apartment where she dearly missed her rural home community. She wrote: “…it is the heavy black clouds that hurt me. All this month it has been so dark we sometimes put the light on.”

At her 100th birthday party, Aunt Kate still holds the rapt
attention of her audience.

Apparently unfazed by recent triumphs of science and technology, she goes on to give her own ideas about the reason for prolonged bad weather: “I wish those lads who went to the moon had stayed home as our weather has been broken at all times since they started climbing up there. What do you think?”

After a bit of family news, she continues on a brighter note: “Oh, my dear, I just looked out the window and we are having a nice day tomorrow. The sky is just pink over your house down to the south-west. We do not want any more rain for at least three weeks or more to give the poor farmers a chance.”

But don’t knock winter. I’ve always maintained that there is something positive to be found in any situation. At times, like this past winter when everyone was grumbling about the frigid temperatures and wind chill that kept them indoors, it took a bit of searching to recognize the obvious. Maybe this was an opportunity to scratch off an item that was high on that ‘Things to do in Retirement’ list made—how many years ago? Somehow, “Sort family letters” never quite made it onto the daily ‘to-do’ agenda.

We’re told that finding the family pack-rat is like a prospector discovering pay dirt. Our mother had lived through the Great Depression and never threw out anything because you “never knew when you might use it”. An initial sorting years ago—e.g., cutting out an obituary rather than saving the entire paper—turned up a few obvious nuggets of information and left three or four boxes of ‘tailings’ to rework at a later date.

The result of finally revisiting this cache was a rewarding and fun-filled trip down memory lane. It also made me think again about how we preserve our own family history or more often, how we don’t get around to preserving it.

1) Why do we put it off? Probably because we don’t really accept our own mortality or that of family members. We don’t do the family life stories because we somehow expect them to be around forever.

2) What should we save? Other than birth, marriage, death documents and the like, what would be useful to family historians a couple of generations from now? What about the hundreds of photos taken over a lifetime? For example, you likely don’t need to save 40 pictures of trees in Northern Alberta—well, maybe one, in case there aren’t any trees left fifty years from now.

3) Is everything labelled? A key question. This is likely the reason those lovely old photos get thrown out—no one has a clue who they are, whether they are family or friends or how they are related. Think of the value of attaching a short description of that artifact you kept and why was it kept, who the letter writer was, to whom they were writing and when.

4) Letters and photos call up vivid memories of people and events. Why not keep your phone or recorder handy and record those stories and memories while you reminisce? And have you made copies of important material?

5) Who gets what? Now that everything is sorted and labelled and remembered, who will be the custodian in years to come? This is often one of the big decisions. With luck and foresight, hopefully you have laid the groundwork by making sure at least one person in the next generation is as keen on family history as you are. You don’t really want to lose all your work sorting, labelling and preserving to have it all chucked out in the next 20 years.

6) A final bit of obvious ‘wisdom’ from someone who is feeling virtuous at having finally started re-working the family ‘pay dirt’—it won’t get done if you don’t start it.
So that’s our mother’s boxes sorted. Blame it on nature or nurture, but we also kept every letter, childhood drawing, school report, programs and the like from our own children and grandchildren. Let’s hope we soon get another long spell of nasty weather.

News and Events March 2018

Homewood Reunion Update. Merle Kluczkowski (nee Cutting) from the Homewood Reunion Committee is hoping to obtain as many family histories and pictures as possible for the Reunion Book they will be publishing for the July 15, 2018 reunion. She is looking for “short little memories or stories of things that happened in the district, or to yourself, [that] would help to make the book come alive for people who are reading it.

Homewood 1950s

Merle explains that “What we are looking for is a short write up about your family with things like when your family lived in the district, how you or your parents were connected to Homewood either through the school, church, curling, co-op, sugar beets, elevators or post office. It would be great if you could share who is in your family and what or where they are now living. Pictures and memories would also be appreciated.”

One of her own memories was of "the ditches swollen with water and kids out in the middle with homemade rafts with boots filled with water." That should bring back memories for a lot of us— that Spring run-off water was sure cold when you fell in!

You can send your history, pictures, memories to Merle by e-mail, letter or by giving her a call:

address:        Merle Kluczkowski
                              419 - 21 Clayton Drive
                              WINNIPEG, Manitoba  R2M 1G2
phone:         204-299-6059

Merle notes that: “You will not receive an immediate response from me from mid-April to about the second week of May. If you could get your information to me prior to that time it would be very helpful. I would like all information to me by the beginning of June.”

The books will be available at the reunion. CDMHAC looks forward to helping preserve this valuable heritage material and making it available later online as part of our ‘living history book’.

C/D MHAC Projects.
CDMHAC’s goal for 2018 is to complete our outstanding projects before taking on anything new. As the old saying goes: We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start.

This winter’s bitterly cold weather hasn’t been conducive to holding meetings or doing outside work, but it has given us a chance to hunker down in our warm homes and catch up on background reading and online research. Two productive sources were the early digitalized newspapers and a local family history.

Old Newspapers.
So what was happening locally around this time of year a century or more ago? Back in 1899, news of the dedication of the new St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Carman dominated the front page of the Dufferin Leader (Feb. 23, 1899). A week later (Mar. 2, 1899) the paper carried an attractive little sketch of the new church—an impressive structure that still stands strong today. It’s now a Bed & Breakfast and it’s one of the buildings short-listed in our recent heritage inventory.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Then and Now

Other items from the same edition suggest that much of the social life in outlying communities also focused around the local church. “Last Friday evening large sleigh loads of young and old people could be seen wending their way to the residence of Mr. Geo. Alexander, where they held the annual entertainment of Rosebank church. The house was well filled and a very enjoyable time spent in games, songs, etc., and in partaking of a liberal supply of good things. $8.40 was realized from the social.”

In the western part of the district, “The gospel meetings in Roseisle school house continue with increased interest.” But as folks coped with the unpredictable pre-spring weather, one news correspondent noted that, “The attendance, on Sunday at service, was rather small owing to the cold and stormy weather. You would think that when the preacher could drive 20 miles through the storm people could come one-half of a mile” to church. Seems the impact of February/March weather is one factor that hasn’t changed.

Some area residents were using the snow to good effect. From Ravenswood, north-west of Graysville, came a report that, “Moose and elk hunting is being surreptitiously carried on in the district, the hunters using snow shoes in their unlawful business.” Later in the same report, the correspondent notes that “Believing that a certain gentleman was out hunting on snowshoes, and being a law-abiding people, we thought it our duty to arrest the rascal if possible….So we traced the tracks through the bush, but the direction seemed kind of strange, and under the circumstances we deemed it wiser to return home, which we did. Why? Well, we did not wish our heads broken. The said gentleman was hunting “dear,” but not the kind we thought. As to whether he was successful, we are unable to state.” (Dufferin Leader, Feb. 23, 1899).

As the weather started to improve, one local correspondent cheerfully noted “At last the cold snap has passed and we now have splendid weather. Why, Mr. Editor, even our ideas were frozen.” As the snow started to disappear, farmers were busy moving their grain to local elevators, where they would store it until prices rose. Others were hauling wood down from ‘the distant mountain’ as the Pembina Hills were then known. And a local real estate agent reported “great activity in the sale of farm lands. During the last fortnight he disposed of over a dozen quarter sections of land at good prices.” (Mar. 2, 1899).

Family Histories. Also on the reading list was little gem that turned up in the form of a local family history – Jacob’s Flock 1735–1975 by M. Cummer Kiever.

What’s special about this book is the way in which the authors have gone beyond the usual ‘begat’ genealogy to fleshing out profiles of ancestors and providing a wealth of details and anecdotes portraying early homesteading life. In their words, “To attempt to tell of the lives of our forefathers without describing the life of the times would be like an effort to paint a picture without color and without perspective.” That’s a great reminder of how we should be recording our own life stories.

Jacob’s Flock gives a glimpse into the family’s life from their homesteading days in the forest land at the end of what now is Yonge Street in Toronto through migration to similar conditions in Manitoba, including several small settlement areas in what is now Carman/Dufferin.

In the process, the book highlights the tremendous changes that have occurred in every aspect of Canadian life over the past few two and a half centuries.

Take, for example, health care. At a time when health care concerns center around long waits in the ER and adequacy of Home Care, this history is a reminder that until recent decades, ‘Home Care’ meant pretty basic care in the home, by the family.

In winter, when the ‘grippe’ was epidemic, folks resorted to remedies like “Aunt Ida’s cure for a chest cold” (Jacob’s Flock, p. 270):

That dredges up old memories—of being told about a frail ancestor who wouldn’t have survived a childhood bout of the croup had he not been slathered with copious amounts of warm goose grease. Or, how grandmother might have lost her foot when she burned it with scalding tea, except for a salve she made of goose grease and Balm of Gilead buds (the sticky buds of black poplar). In retrospect, perhaps our grandmother’s ‘watch-dog’ geese—those detested birds that terrorized us youngsters by racing after us across the yard, hissing, their wings spread wide—just perhaps they were good for something other than gracing the New Year’s dinner table. Memories. That’s one reason we all should record our life stories for the generations to come, hopefully without being shy about including all the warts, wrinkles and family anecdotes.

Across generations, the members of ‘Jacob’s Flock’ are said to be motivated by a strong work ethic. Given that our committee is trying to complete a few outstanding heritage projects, anything having to do with motivation is sure to catch our eye. Here’s another bit of tongue-in-cheek ‘wisdom’ from the same family history (p.224), this one on how to deal with a balking horse (for those of you from the post-horse era, that’s one that won’t move):

Not much practical help in our case, but I’ll try not to smile when members refer to motivating their committees as ‘lighting a fire under them.’


News and Events: February 2018

“Special Places” certificates. Over the past couple of years, C/D MHAC has worked with the Historic Resources Branch (HRB) to do an inventory of heritage sites in the Town of Carman and the R.M. of Dufferin. As part of the project, HRB consultants examined each building or structure using specific criteria, such as historical importance, architectural significance and structural integrity, to prepare a short-list of 21 sites warranting special recognition.

The HRB also designed, printed and framed certificates which we will be distributing to building owners during the coming weeks. At that point, the information also will be made available on our website. To give our readers a sneak preview, here is one of the certificates.










We also received a heritage grant this year to follow up on the project by providing outdoor signs to mark the sites. The objective is to identify and encourage preservation of valued heritage sites. Recognition is strictly honorific and places no obligations on owners. More later on this important aspect of C/DMAHAC activities.

Missouri or Hunters’ Trail. A sub-committee under the capable guidance of Debbie Nicolajsen is working on a proposal to reinstall a monument marking the place where the Trail once crossed the Boyne River in the R.M. of Dufferin, about a mile and a half east of the Town of Carman. The original sign was put up in 1961 by the Dufferin Historical Society but later removed by a landowner.

The Trail is of historical interest to all Manitobans because, for centuries, it formed the pathway for buffalo herds, Indigenous tribes, fur traders and buffalo hunters from the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers to what later became the south-western part of the Province and northern U.S.A. From the birth of Manitoba in 1870 until the arrival of the railways 20 to 30 years later, it then became a major route through which settlers poured into the area to claim homestead lands.

Indentation still visible where the Missouri Trail crossed the Boyne River.

The challenge for Debbie and her team is to design a permanent, attractive marker, visible to passersby but not publically accessible because it will be on private property.

As well, they want to tell the fascinating story behind a trail whose last rutted traces across the R.M. are disappearing in the face of cultivation and development.

The committee has some neat ideas which will unfold between now and 2020, when we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Province. A big high-five to our volunteers!

Advice from the Past. I’ve realized over the past while that one part of our heritage we are losing is the old sayings our generation grew up on, those quaint bits of advice and wisdom our parents and grandparents passed along to us.

Some were short-cuts to family memories. Our family lived in a hard-water area and my grandmother prized her rain barrel of soft water for washing hair and other important things in life. She is said to have stood looking out the window at the rain and wistfully saying “Too bad you can’t catch all the rain that comes down.” I’ve found recently, as the volunteer commitments pile up, I am more and more often reminding people: “You can’t catch all the rain that comes down.”

When asked to recall old sayings, my peers chuckle over expressions they grew up on, like:

“Keep frowning and your face will freeze that way.”

“What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

“When I was knee-high to a grasshopper…”

A hefty female was said, rather unkindly, to be “built like a brick outhouse.”

Getting older? You were “No spring chicken.”

Question: “How do you feel?” Responses: “Finger and thumb.” or “Fair to middlin’.”
Someone who was really ill had “one foot in the grave” or looked “like death warmed over” and an appliance or machine that broke down was said to have ”given up the ghost.”

A person who had “a bone to pick” or “an axe to grind” was likely looking for an argument. If they were more tolerant of others you might hear: “Everyone to their own taste (said the old maid as she kissed the cow).”

If you were in a big hurry, your parents probably told you to “Hold your horses.”

And one we all grew up on: ”If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” - which is maybe a good place to end this month’s News & Events.

Louis Riel Day. If you are looking for some relevant reading for the Feb.19th Louis Riel Day holiday, check out “The Confrontations at Rivière aux Ilets-de-Bois” by Alan B. McCullough, published by the Manitoba Historical Society and available online.

Îlets-de-Bois monument commemorates early Métis presence

McCullough outlines the complexities around purchase of HBC territory by Canada and the resulting interpretations of competing land claims.

Although he focuses on this specific area of Manitoba, McCullough places local events within the broader context of regional, provincial and national politics. Useful background for understanding our local heritage.


Boyne Regional Library
. While you are online, why not update on recent happenings at the Boyne Regonal Library. The Library Expansion/Renovation Committee recently unveiled a completely new, scaled-back version of their original two story renovation. They are confident that the new plan meets earlier goals of ensuring accessibility, expanding the children's section, and providing a tech resource centre to help patrons work with new devices and technology.

Of particular interest from a heritage perspective is the intent of organizers to ensure the plan maintains the integrity of the building as a designated heritage site. To achieve this outcome, the architects have worked closely with the Historic Resources Branch.

The new Library plan as seen on Library website. Note new accessible entrance on west side of building.

Homewood School Reunion.
If you aren’t already a regular visitor to the Homewood Reunion website, you really should check it out. Besides information on the reunion, organizing team members have posted photos of the town, the school, pupils and teachers through the years along with the early history of the district. They also have put out a call for stories of local history and families post-1980s. Keep up the good work!

C/D MHAC happenings.
The bitterly cold weather of the past couple of months has provided a great opportunity for getting immersed in heritage research and planning. And finally, time to browse through more of those old newspapers that C/D MHAC invested in digitizing through the Pembina Manitou Archive.

For decades, the Dufferin Leader was the main source of local and district news. Among the old ads, local happenings, extensive coverage of world events and ‘corny’ jokes are items that remind us of both changing times and in some ways, how things never really change.

Take, for example, changes in transportation. In recent times, local folks followed with interest as the Town made changes to traffic flow and parking. Back in 1900, transportation posed different challenges.

The Dufferin Leader, Sept. 13, 1900 reported that:

If the jail at that time was anything like the small cell built later in the Memorial Hall basement, this was likely a pretty good deterrent.

Just as it does today, politics was a topic that featured l prominently in early newspapers. Editorials, letters to the editor and other random comments left no doubt about party preference.

The Dufferin Leader, Nov. 8, 1900, p.2 noted that “The parrot owned by the genial proprietor of the Starkey House died a few days ago. Art Simpson is of the opinion the bird had heard so much Toryism of late he sickened and the overdose being too strong resulted in his death.” This is one of the milder ‘digs’ that probably helped boost newspaper circulation – at least amongst those of the same political persuasion.

Why not visit the old local papers (Carman Standard and the Dufferin Leader) in the Pembina Manitou Archive. You’ll be amazed at what you locate.

More old sayings.
Since our last update, several people have reminded me of old saying that were popular in earlier days. Some of the origins were pretty obscure so I finally consulted a little book titled “Why Do We Say It?” published by Castle Books, New York - another absorbing cold-weather diversion.

Do you know why we say:

‘He never even turned a hair’ meaning someone remained calm and collected? Supposedly it comes from horse racing, where a horse that ran without sweating and roughing up its coat was said to have ‘never turned a hair’. Seems to me the current expression ‘No sweat!’ is even more to the point.

‘Dead as a doornail’ was used because in the pre-doorbell days, the knob on which the hammer of a door-knocker struck was hit so often in a day, it surely couldn’t have much life left in it. Wouldn’t have guessed that one.

Closer to home, our most faithful reader * pointed out that the expressions ‘lock, stock and barrel’ (i.e., all parts of a gun or ‘everything’) and ‘half-cocked’ (on safety catch, so not properly prepared for action) both had their origin with guns.

* that would be our web manager, who makes sure everything on the website is ‘A1’, ‘above board’ and ‘in apple-pie order’.

Can’t promise there won’t be more of these sayings next update. Do you have any personal favourites?

News and Events: November 2017

Lest We Forget
Remembrance Day. Services were held across the municipalities November 11 to pay tribute to the young men and women who gave their lives in service of our country. These Remembrance Day services are one of our most enduring tributes to our past. Sadly, memories of our veterans and of the families who mourned their loss or celebrated their safe return are fast becoming lost to present generations. This is an area C/D MHAC will focus on as we work with local communities to research and compile inventories of their heritage resources.

Homewood Reunion. How many of you were a bit astounded when you read the article in this week’s Valley Leader (‘Marking Homewood history with helicopter cairn’, Thursday, November 9, 2017, p.4) and learned that Homewood was the site of the first helicopter flight in Canada and second only in the world? We would bet it caught a bit of attention amongst readers and that it will swell the ranks of folks who head to the community on July 15, 2018 for the local school reunion. Co-chair Stuart Breckon kindly forwarded the following information about the event:

In April, 2017 a group of former Homewood School students met to organize a reunion and arrange for a cairn to be placed in memory of the school. A committee was set up with Deanna Mutcher and myself (Stuart Breckon) as co-chairs.

Homewood School 1952

Here is the progress to date:

The date of July 15, 2018 has been set for the reunion and dedication. As Homewood tended to be the center for several other local schools, the organizers wish to celebrate Homewood village as well as the school.

All friends of Homewood are welcome. Whether it was school picnics, field days, curling, skating, church or just going to the co-op, grain elevators, or Latham’s store we’d love to see old friends.

A web site has been set up. It contains the history of both the school and the village, class lists from each year and pictures.

The reunion will be an afternoon event with lots of time to visit with old friends. Events will include the dedication of the school cairn and a walking tour of “old” Homewood. At the end of the afternoon there will be a meal served with more time to visit.

Prior to the dedication of the school cairn, the Canadian Aviation Historical Society will be dedicating a cairn for the first helicopter flight in Canada. As many know, in the 1930’s three Froebe brothers built the first helicopter in Canada that actually got off the ground. It happened right in Homewood. We are excited that this dedication will be part of the day.

Another part of the reunion will be the “History of Homewood” project. This will include the overall history of the school and the village plus histories of individual families that lived in the area. Copies will be available at the reunion. Merle Kluczkowski (nee Cutting) is coordinating this project. Merle’s email is:

What you can do:

1. Plan to attend and let us know that you are coming. Send a reply email to Deanna or myself or respond in the Reunion section of the web site. We need to know you’re coming so we can plan accordingly.

2. The dedication events are free and open to everyone. There will be a charge for the meal. The meal tickets will be sold in advance and a further email will outline the details.

3. The school cairn will be funded by individual donations. Particularly if you went to Homewood School please consider a donation towards the costs. The donations will be tax deductible. A follow up note will outline the cairn, the costs and where to send your cheque.

4. Help us with contact information. If you have any information about former students or any friends of Homewood who should be at the reunion, please send their names.

5. Plan to get your family history written up so that it can be included in the Homewood history. Many will be able to update their family history from the Dufferin Municipal history book of 1980. Others will have to start from scratch. Please note that the histories will also be turned over to the Carman/Dufferin Municipal Advisory Committee (CDMHAC) to be sure that none of the old history is lost.

6. If you would like to volunteer to help on July 15 or help with the histories or with other preparations, please let us know. Everyone is welcome to join the committee.

We look forward to seeing you on July 15, 2018!

Deanna Mutcher: Co-chair.  Phone: (204) 745 2719
Stuart Breckon: Co-chair. Phone: (281) 450 1884

If anyone has photographs or information they can share with the committee, or can assist them in any other way, let’s help Homewood community make this an event to remember!

Graysville Heritage Inventory. Graysville heritage committee members are hard at work locating local heritage resources and sorting out what needs to be copied, archived or otherwise preserved. They all have firm ties with the past in a community that is rich with local heritage. We’ll be looking forward to seeing the results of their work as well as getting ideas about how to proceed in other communities in the municipality.

Graysville heritage group – Coordinator Judie Owen, Carrol Bruce,
Neil McNair, John Murray







Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden. The final construction phase of the garden has been completed.

Rod McPherson (Carman Legion) George Gray (Reeve)
Marg Neumann (Rose Garden Committee)







In mid-October, a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the installation of a second water feature and completion of the final phase of the project. Under the dedicated leadership of Diane Gillingham, the committee and other volunteers have worked diligently over the past three years to landscape and fence the site, install water and lighting in the area and plant rose bushes in memory of the individuals and families who built the community.

The garden surrounds and highlights metal craftsman Cliff McPherson’s ‘Roseisle Rose”. A special feature of the garden is a section honouring local soldiers who died in WWI. C/D MHAC contributed along with other groups towards placing an obelisk at the WWI site. Thanks to the committee and other volunteers for many hours of fundraising, planting, weeding, watering, dead-heading and otherwise maintaining a beautiful tribute to the community and to the past.

News and Events: October 2017

Nedra Burnett and Bill Curtis set up equipment

Genealogy Workshop #3. The third in our series of genealogy workshops was held at the GPAC Saturday, October 28. Bill Curtis gave an informative overview of DNA testing – from the X and Ys to the how and whys. This session took some of the mystery out what happens when you send off that saliva sample and where best to send it. Over the next few weeks there will be a number of local folks who are anxiously waiting to see what surprises are hidden in the roots of their own family tree.

Participants discuss progress on finding their roots


New Arrivals (continued). In our September update, we spoke about the great work being done this summer by the Multi-Cultural Committee and related a story told by a new arrival to the community back in the 1940s. This prompted a bit of feedback and recounting of similar tales. Here is one from an even earlier era that caught my attention. It’s from a book put out this summer in honour of the 125th anniversary of the family-owned Burrows homestead. The story was related by a family member and is reprinted with permission of the authors.

I was told that the first winter on the land was not an easy undertaking. The first temporary shelter for James, Betsy, Tom (4) and William (2) was quite sparse….Food and other provisions were limited and survival for the first winter meant that hunting and gathering from the land was vital to their existence. As the story goes, James was away from the shelter during mid-winter hunting for game when unexpectedly, a lone Indian entered the shelter and started rummaging around the meagre food cache obviously looking for something to eat. Betsy was shocked, alarmed, and uncertain about this intrusion and the only means of communication between herself and this apparent intruder was a hastily cobbled together form of basic sign language. There was absolutley no meat to be had in the larder and Betsy out of desperation hastily prepared some oatmeal porridge which, after his first taste of this gruel, was quickly rejected by the hungry visitor.

The visitor resumed his search throughout the shelter for something to eat that his palate was more accustomed to and finding nothing to his liking, finally left. Betsy’s relief was short-lived when, in what seemed like a short passage of time, the shelter entrance flew open once again. This time, the first thing through the door was a deer carcass closely followed by the hungry visitor. Through sign language and gestures Betsy came to realize that the visitor fully expected her to skin and butcher the deer, which was something she had never done without her husband’s assistance. She started to dress the deer and in the eyes of this hungry man must have appeared sadly lacking in terms of traditional food preparation skills and not a good choice for a frontier wife. She was promptly scurried away from the carcass and the visitor took up the task of preparing this anticipated feast in a manner more to his liking.

While Betsy was in the process of cooking the visitor’s choice of the tenderest cuts, James returned home empty-handed from his hunting expedition. Once again, sign and body language introductions cleared the air of caution and a hearty meal was shared and enjoyed by all. The vistor, however, must have concluded that James was not a capable hunter and if the family was going to survive the winter, some help would be needed. For the remaining months of that first winter a much appreciated skinned rabbit or skinned deer would mysteriously appear in the snow just outside the entrance of the family’s shelter. (The Burrows Family by Brian Burrows & Dianne Swain, 2017).

This photo of James and Betsy’s sons, Charlie and Tom, which was taken after a grouse hunt some years later, supports the authors’ speculation that this first winter may have been a prime motivator for males in the family who all became “excellent marksmen and very capable hunters.”


Wellness Fair. The C/D MHAC and Dufferin Historical Museum shared a display table again this year at the local Wellness Fair. Knowing our heritage—getting in touch with our roots and our connection with the community—is all part of our sense of belonging and our personal well-being.

Trish Aubin, President of the DHM and Shirley Snider (Sec.-Treas., C/D MHAC)
at Wellness Fair Oct. 25, 2017

News and Events: September 2017

Genealogy Workshop. Our second workshop with Bill Curtis of the Manitoba Genealogical Society was held Sept. 9 at the Golden Prairie Arts Centre. Bill lead an informative session on navigating the internet, offering helpful hints for locating your ancestors or just for general searching. The third workshop will be on DNA testing and will likely be booked for November when Bill Curtis is next available. Nedra Burnett will contact everyone who attended earlier sessions when she has a firm date. For further information, contact Nedra at or telephone 204-435-2217 or watch for posters.

Heritage Grant. We just received word that our application for a heritage grant in the amount of $2,650. has been approved. The grant will pay for signs for sites short-listed in our recent Heritage Inventory project.

Missouri Trail sign. Debbie Nicolajsen and her committee have been working hard on putting together a proposal for replacement of the former Missouri Trail sign in the R.M of Dufferin just east of Carman. The earlier sign noted that the trail originally was formed by Indigenous tribes and buffalo herds following higher ground west of the Great Marsh. Later used by fur-traders, hunters and settlers, the trail became a rutted highway linking Fort Garry to the north with the Dakotas in the south-west. The trail crossed the Rivière-aux-îlets-de-Bois (renamed the Boyne River) a short distance north of the sign.

Traces of where Missouri Trail travellers forded the river

As the land has been cultivated, most traces of the trail have vanished, other than at the point where it crossed the river. This area also is of interest as the location of the abandoned Kennedy Burial Site. A member of the Missouri trail Committee has ancestral connections with the site and has a list of persons buried there. Several of these were young children, lost during a typhoid epidemic. The dual importance of the site adds to the relevance to this project.

Multi-Cultural Committee Events. Congratulations to the Carman/Dufferin Multi-Cultural Committee who just wound up a successful month of events in the community. The committee reports that at least 28 different countries are represented locally. During September, the group hosted a series of cultural events including music, film, displays, ethnic foods and talks, winding up the series with a colourful ‘dress expo’ and dance display this past weekend at the Active Living Centre.

This is great news for other heritage groups such as the C/DMHAC. One of the messages we try to promote is that ‘heritage’ is more than just preserving buildings and putting up signs and monuments. It also embraces our traditions, culture, memories – all the individual and family experiences that enrich community life. Getting to know our neighbours and learning more about their transition to Canadian society takes on special importance at a time of reaction to worldwide movements of refugees and immigrants. It seems timely that this ‘one small step’ towards understanding our local diversity coincides with the installation of our new Governor General, a former astronaut whose message is one of global inclusiveness.

Our families have all, at some point, been new immigrants to Canada. Accounts of adapting to life in a new land are among the more striking stories that have emerged in interviews and family histories we have been collecting over the years. If you are one of the many local folks just getting started on the journey into your family’s past, be sure to ask yourself: ‘What do I know about my family origins - why they came to Canada, where they came from, what it was like when they arrived, what was their reception by those who were here before them, the ease with which they integrated into the community?’ Here is an excerpt from just one local story:

“Our family was of German origin but we had been in Canada many years already when we moved to [this] town. It was 1942, during WWII. A friend told me later that when we arrived, a local man said: ‘We’re going to get rid of those Germans.’ But two years later he told her: ‘You know, when you get to know that family, you wouldn’t find nicer people anywhere.’ That’s the thing, to get to know people….”

The Multi-Cultural Committee is making a great start in that direction.

News and Events: July 2017

Genealogy Workshop. The second in our series of genealogy workshops will be held Saturday, September 9, 1:30 p.m. at the Golden Prairie Arts Centre. Bill Curtis from the Manitoba Genealogical Society will lead the workshop, which will focus on use the internet to locate your ancestors. No fee. Please contact Nedra Burnett at, or telephone 204-435-2191 if you plan on attending.

Museum Activities. An appreciative crowd turned out June 24th to the reopening of Boyne School. The event was part of local Canada 150 celebrations. It was highlighted by speeches, tours of the school, exhibits, refreshments, launch of their new book, 150 Memorable Stories of Carman and Area, plus lots of reminiscence about the good old school days.

Ribbon-cutting at Boyne School Re-opening


Is that really where our milk comes from?

C/D MHAC shared a table with the museum again this year at the Carman Fair. It’s a great opportunity to promote our website and other projects. The museum folks started a time capsule that will be opened for Manitoba’s 150th anniversary in 2020. And, as always, they came up with some creative displays, such as this milking demonstration, which fascinated a group of local children.

Other Summer Activities. C/D MHAC takes a break from meetings in July, but committee projects are still moving forward. We have launched our grassroots initiative to do inventories of heritage resources in our small and abandoned rural communities. The lists include everything from designated and repurposed buildings and cairns through histories of local organizations, family histories, interviews, photograph collections, cemetery records and much more. The Roseisle inventory is already six pages in length and growing. A group of interested volunteers from Graysville plan on launching their collection and preservation this fall.

Our signage committee installed a couple of new Business Signs in Carman last month. The signs trace the history of two of the Town’s early buildings. The Leader Block was built in 1897 by architect Edmund Watson and was part of a complex of five similar buildings built to promote the economic development of Carman. The other building, which now houses Nine Lives Fashions, has always housed clothing stores. It originally was a two-story building, built around 1896. The Victoria Hall, located on the second floor, was used for town gatherings, political meetings, stage and theater groups.

Finally a heads-up on an upcoming event: Homewood district is planning a big community reunion for July 15, 2018. This will be another great opportunity to visit the past. More information on their website.

News and Events: June 2017

Bill Curtis at genealogy workshop
Genealogy workshop. The Introductory Genealogy Workshop, given May 13 by Bill Curtis of the MGS, was enthusiastically received by participants. The second workshop on use of internet resources is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 9 at 1:30 p.m. at the Golden Prairie Arts Centre.

Century Farm Interviews. Jack McKinnon and C.J. Piatowski have plans in place to begin interviews this fall with owners of Century Farms in the area.

Collections. The Smith Family materials, donated recently by Bev (Garwood) Russell, are finally sorted, with photos in archival envelopes, everything scanned, printed and organized in binders, along with a DVD copy of the whole works. This process always seems to take a lot of time, much of it spent studying photos or becoming distracted by interesting tidbits of previously unknown history.

Thomas and Jane Smith
One item of interest surfaced in a note attached to a Smith family photo. Thomas and Jane Smith farmed near Morden. One of Thomas Smith’s “most valuable possessions” was a diploma he received at the World’s Fair in England in 1886 for growing the “best ten bushels of wheat in the world.” This was a sample of Red Fife, No. 1 hard wheat, weighing in at 98 lbs. per bushel. The grain was exhibited at the fair by McBean Bros. from the Winnipeg Grain Exchange. According to the note, the company informed Thomas just the day before they needed to send the sample.

The Smith family stayed up most of the night hand-picking ten bushels of grain so it could be ready to send the following day. Incidentally, the wheat sold for the grand sum of 50 cents a bushel.

This little note speaks to a rightly proud event in the Smith family heritage. From a broader perspective, it would have supported John A. Macdonald’s efforts to settle the West. After 1870, Macdonald was determined to populate the newly purchased HBC territory before it was overrun by the westward surge of American settlers. The Smith’s prestigious award added credibility to extravagant promises made by land agents and government posters. No doubt the promise of cheap and fertile land helped fire the dream of a second ‘gold-rush’. This time, the dream was of golden wheat from the unbroken prairie soil, land that could grow the “best wheat in the world”.

Museum Doings. The Dufferin Historical Museum folks have been spending long hours putting the finishing touches on the restored Boyne School, cleaning the log cabin, getting the150 stories of Carman project off to the printer and otherwise getting ready for their big June 24th celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

News and Events: April 2017

Genealogy Workshop - Change of Date. Due to a change in Manitoba Day events, workshop leader Bill Curtis has had to reschedule the Introductory Genealogy Workshop from May 6 to May 13. The workshop will now be held Saturday, May 13, 1:30 p.m. at the Golden Prairie Arts Centre. For further information or to let us know you will be attending, contact Nedra Burnett Tel.: 204-435-2191 email:

Battle of Vimy Ridge. April 9-12 marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Ceremonies in Europe and across the country marked the battle where Canada ‘came of age”. Local soldiers fought at Vimy and some did not survive; others, whose bodies were never found, also have their names inscribed on the monument. The following poem was written by a local soldier in memory of a brother who did not return home; it is reproduced courtesy of a great-nephew:

image of the Vimy Ridge MemorialVimy Ridge is green theyt they say,
I saw the Ridge in a different way.
Where larks sing now and children play,
I know there’s truth to wha
The Ridge wasn’t green that long gone and fateful day,
They saw the Ridge in a different way, 
A ridge that seemed too far away,
Rain swept and dangerous gray,

Cold and wet, a cheerless dawn,
The command that was passed along said, “up and over, carry on”.
They left the trench with muffled curse and bated breath,
No lark sang here, so close to death.

The flare that turned their night to day,
Kept them low, in slippery clay.
Machine gun fire and screaming shell,
Made their journey a living hell,

A rusting rifle laying where,
My brother died and left it there,
I see the ridge a different way,
I see the ridge in sorrow gray.

Pte. William “Bill” Colvin RCCS

A ceremony was held April 10 at the Manitoba Legislature to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Thirteen Manitoba soldiers who died in the April 9-12, 1917 assault had Manitoba lakes named in their honour. Family members attended and received special certificates. Two of these young men were from the Carman/Dufferin area.

Pte. Iver Bernhardt Werseen was born in Roseisle and lost his life on April 9, 1917, at the age of 23. He is remembered on the Vimy Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Werseen Lake northeast of Flin fFlon has been named in his honour.


The Werseen family. The person holding the certificate is the official  family historian, a great-niece who now lives in the USA. The Werseens are among our most regular visitors to Roseisle Cemetery where several family members are buried.


Pte. Dorval Augustus Saunders was born in Carman and was living with family near Roseisle when he enlisted. He lost his life on April 11, 1917, at the age of 19. He is buried in the Barlin Community Cemetery Extension, France.

Dorval Saunders Lake, north of Flin Flon, has been named in his honour.

In 2015, Stephanie Fraser from Winnipeg contacted our website in her search for living relatives of Iver Werseen. Stephanie had found a number of letters, carefully preserved between the pages of an old copy-book that belonged to her grandmother Zelma Hood. Zelma had corresponded during WWI with both Dorval Saunders, a relative through marriage, and another local lad, Iver Werseen. Stephanie’s goal was to return the original letters to family members. Her efforts have gone far beyond that mission, re-connecting families, sparking deeper family research, and prompting a belated memorial service. Stephanie also placed a copy of the letters in the War Museum in Ottawa.

For more, see our Recent History for March 2015 and July 2015.

Heritage Queries. Shirley Tort from B.C. wrote recently to ask if we had a photo of one of our WWI soldiers. She is active with the Find-a-Grave program and is planning another trip this summer to visit war graves in Europe. In preparation, she has been researching local soldiers with the hope of visiting their graves and writing their stories for the FAG site.

Shirley also has early connections with Carman. She wrote: “My grandparents were Alice and John Henry Johnston who had a machine shop and garage in Carman.  His son, Ross, was a mechanic. Gert Bowie, their daughter, had a beauty parlor and her husband Hugh was a partner in the Bowie Bakery.  My cousin Mildred Johnston married Jim McFadden… I saw the piece on the Bowie Bakery, knew the horse, Barney, and was given 5 cents/week for driving him when I was visiting in town, not that Barney needed driving because he knew where he was going.  But Hugh made a little girl feel good by giving her work driving a horse.  Barney was retired and they got a younger horse before they went to a vehicle.”

Canada 150. The Dufferin Historical Museum folks are taking the lead locally on celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada. One of their main projects, collecting 150 stories about Carman, is in the final stages of production and should be ready for the Grand Re-Opening of Boyne School on June 24th.

The Museum has put a huge amount of time, effort and money into moving the school to the Kings Park site where they have re-designated it as a heritage site, restored the building and preserved it as a fine example of the one-room schoolhouses that once dotted the municipality. As many of you know, their recent booklet “School Bells and Honey Pails” documents the history of schools across the municipality.

C/D MHAC 2020. Meanwhile, the C/D MHAC is planning ahead to the 150th anniversary of Manitoba in 2020. When the John A. Macdonald government purchased this territory from the HBC, surveyed it into townships and sections and opened it up to homesteaders, they did more than save the west from encroaching Americans. They also precipitated the most dramatic change in the local social and economic history since the disappearance of Lake Agassiz.

The Hunters’ or Missouri Trail had long been used by buffalo, indigenous tribes, fur-traders and buffalo hunters to skirt the massive Boyne Marsh that stretched east of the trail to the Red River.

After 1870, the trail became a conduit for settlers who staked out holdings on what is now some of the most fertile farmland in the province. This included the land along the Rivière-aux –Îlets-des-Bois, now known as the Boyne River.

View larger image (Source: History of the RM of Dufferin, 1880-1980, p.7)

This wasn’t the first settlement in the area. Métis settled near the Boyne from around 1832. The first baptism in the area was recorded in 1837 and in 1969, a Roman Catholic church was built at the Îlets-des-Bois settlement, the site where some 100 Métis are buried. And as can be seen on the above map, John Grant also had established a cattle transfer station, mill and large dwelling east of the Trail. He grew the first grain in the district in 1869. A change in the name of the local river to the Boyne marked the ascendancy of Irish Protestant settlers and gradual withdrawal of Metis from the area.

In 1960, the Dufferin Historical Society installed a sign to commemorate the place where the Trail crossed the Boyne. A property owner later removed the sign. One of the priorities in the C/D MHAC plans is to replace the sign for the 2020 celebration.


1960 Missouri Trail sign on 29-6-4w east of Carman

March 2017

Genealogy Workshop. Nedra Burnett has been working with Bill Curtis of the Manitoba Genealogical Society to set up a workshop designed to get you started on the search for your family roots. The session is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. in the Memorial Hall.

If participants are then interested in more advanced skills, Bill Curtis offers two additional sessions on locating information online and on DNA testing for genealogy. For more information, contact Nedra Burnett at 204-435-2191.

Back to the Memorial Hall. The basement rooms in the Memorial Hall have been completed and CDMHAC once again has a filing cabinet, work space and a meeting area available for our use. We have greatly appreciated being able to meet at the Museum over the past couple of years but will be glad to get our records together again in one location. At our next meeting on March 20 we’ll be working on plans for the 150th anniversary of Manitoba, which is coming up in 2020.

Website Feedback. One of the fun things about working with the website is the feedback we get from folks who have a query about relatives who lived in the area or perhaps have information to share about our past.

Here is a sample of contacts from the past month:

Marion Hughes from Ontario came across an old photo of the first Carman Hospital among her mother’s belongings. It’s framed in a lovely little cellulose frame and must have had some special meaning for someone close to her. Was it perhaps someone who trained or nursed in the hospital, or one of the women who raised money to build, furnish and maintain the hospital? Marion has identified aunts with the surname MacVickar who were in Nursing, but so far, we haven’t traced a family connection to Carman or even to Manitoba.



Ken Pomeroy from Duncan, B.C. wrote to ask if we knew whether Pomeroy School was named after a particular individual. We sent him links to the local online history book which identifies Rev. Daniel Pomeroy as the missionary who was sent to Manitoba from Ontario by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada to search out and cultivate new mission fields in this area. Pomeroy School is now preserved at the Threshermen’s Museum near Morden. Ken has forwarded our information to the family historians to see if he can pinpoint the family connection with ‘our’ Rev. Pomeroy. He attached a number of photos and background on the Pomeroys, whose roots have been traced back several centuries.

Ken Pomeroy also sent information on a former pupil at Pomeroy School by the name of Martin Lukaitis who settled in Duncan, B.C. and was an Alderman in the city. So far we haven’t located local traces of the family but if anyone has information, please contact us.

Bev Russell & part of her family collection, A few treasures from the past. The Carman website forwarded an e-mail from Bev (Garwood) Russell, formerly of the Roseisle and Carman areas. We visited her in Winnipeg and had an opportunity to look through her extensive collection of family photos and early records.

Bev’s grandfather, Cecil Garwood, came to Manitoba from England in 1907. He married Ruth Smith, a daughter of early settlers in the Roseisle area and worked at the cement plant at Babcock. He then homesteaded and taught near Gypsumville. Returning to Roseisle in 1930, Cecil operated a store there for many years before moving to Carman and buying the Harry Bolt store. His son, Montie, continued running the Red & White Store in Roseisle and raised mink as a sideline until 1965 when he also moved to Carman.

As happened in small rural communities, the family had connections through marriage with many of the early settlers from the area. Bev’s collection, which includes a large number of family photos, hand-written family histories, and minute books from previously undocumented early groups such as the Roseisle Literary Club, Roseisle Skating Rink Committee, and Roseisle Community Club, provides new insight into small-town life in the R.M. of Dufferin.

Museum News. The folks at the Museum are hustling to meet their deadline for collecting 150 local stories in honour of the 150th Anniversary of Canada. Word is that they are getting some great memories of the past. The booklet is scheduled to come out by June 24th, the date of the official reopening of the renovated Boyne School.


January 2017

ABANDONED MANITOBA. Gordon Goldsborough’s introduction to his fascinating new book “Abandoned Manitoba” was the highlight of the recent Dufferin Historical Museum  AGM. The book is based on his many years sleuthing out sites of interest across the province for the Manitoba Historical Society website and his weekly talks on CBC’s Weekend Morning Show.
The show’s host, Terry Macleod, aptly describes the author as a “walking, talking, insatiably curious story-telling machine.” *  His enthusiasm for his subject and the fact that his early roots were in the Graysville/Stephenfield area ensured that the evening was a special treat for the local audience.

* From Foreword  to Abandoned Manitoba: From Residential Schools to Bank Vaults to Grain Elevators, by Gordon Goldsborough, Great Plains Publications, p.7.

LIFE STORIES. Have you written your life story yet? Or recorded your parents’ or grandparents’ tales of their early days? It seems more often these days that our good intentions (“We must talk with …”) are turning into regret (“Too bad we never got around to…”). 

This maybe the best time of year to get started writing or collecting life stories.  

Most of us are still basking in the glow of the holiday season when stories shared at family gatherings brought memories of the past.  And of course now we are wondering what to do with these snow-bound winter days.

Why do it? I was struck when working on our cemetery project by the fact that all that many of us leave behind in this world are a name and dates on a gravestone.  That thought was reinforced by a poem titled “You are Gone” written by a newly-widowed friend.  It read in part: “You are gone and there is no one here/ Who remembers us when we were young and fair …./ I sit and recall again those days of distant past / And fondle all those memories like precious stones / I know they’ll disappear one day / as if they’d never been, / But, oh, to have someone / Remember us when we were young, / after I am gone.”  [Marjorie Cover Maxwell]

Lack of information is frustrating for those of us who dearly wish they knew more about their ancestors — who they were, their interests, how they spent their spare time, the attitudes and values of the day, or how the world changed during their lifetime. 

Our grandchildren were here from Australia this year for their first white Christmas. When 14-year-old Sean left a note saying “I just wanted to say thank you for all the great memories you have given the family, especially me!”  it wasn’t just the exciting new memories of snowshoeing , tobogganing, helping prepare traditional family recipes or visiting with relatives. It also referred to hours spent browsing through old photo albums and video clips, hearing stories of holidays and people past and reading life stories of family members — all of which gave him a sense of roots and global family connections. 

Family Christmas 1940s – only three of the people in the photo are still alive to recall these family gatherings.

Getting started. The biggest problem with life stories is getting started.  How do you begin writing or recording a lifetime of memories? And how do you persuade older relatives, who argue that they haven’t done anything worth talking about, that they have a rich legacy to leave for their family? Here are a couple of strategies that might help you get started:

Have everyone write a brief story of their life for your next family reunion. Put someone in charge of the project, have family members lend a hand with the very young and the elderly and compile a book of memories.  People will highlight what’s important to them, most will leave out stories they’d rather forget, but you will have the basic information — their family connections, where they lived and went to school, what they do for a living or aspire to do in the future, with probably a few early memories of other family members. It takes a bit of work, but if updates are added at each subsequent reunion, a rich compilation of family profiles is quickly built up.

Invest in a tape recorder. It’s a great gift for parents or that family member who has everything. The new compact, high quality tape-recorders make it easier to interview a family member or to record your own history. A huge bonus of recording life stories is that it captures the added richness of hearing the person’s voice. You may have to be present to get the memories on a roll. Think ahead of time about general areas to explore — such as school days, special events, holiday traditions, then prompt them with open-ended questions and sit back for one of the most informative and rewarding times of your life. You likely will end up having to spread taping over more than one session. A bonus these days is that the new recorders plug into your computer so you can readily transfer the interview to other media. More importantly, the interview can be digitally shared with others so more than one copy exits.

Future genealogists may have a different problem — that of wading through reams of social media material, masses of photos and personal details such as what their ancestors had for breakfast, what they think of climate change or the recent U.S. election. Can you imagine the excitement of finding amongst all that data a thoughtfully recorded life story, in an ancestor’s  own voice? 

Organize a group or sign up for a workshop on writing life stories.  It’s a great way to get started. You can expect to be inspired by the memories of others and reminded of experiences you had long ago tucked away in the back of your mind.

It just happens that the CDMHAC has talked about organizing a workshop for anyone who wants to get started writing or recording a life-story. Would you be interested in joining a workshop on writing your life story or on genealogy ?   If so, you can contact us through this website or watch for our next update.

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.

Description: C:\Users\Ina\Searches\Pictures\Ann Gray gravestone detail.tif
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.

See more

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.

See more


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 Notable People, 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

November 2014.
Congratulations to George Gray, who was elected Reeve of the RM of Dufferin in the October 22nd Municipal elections. George has been a long-time CDMHAC member and one of our staunchest supporters of local heritage. He comes by this interest naturally. George is the great-grandson of the George Gray for whom Graysville was named. He and his wife Noreen live on one of the oldest Century Farms in the municipality where they incorporated the original Gray dwelling into their own home.

Left–Right: Diane Gillingham (Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden), Candace Bergen (MP), Blaine Petersen (MLA) with George Gray (then Deputy Reeve, CDMHAC representative) at the WWI Anniversary service and monument dedication last July 1 in Roseisle.

We are delighted to have Georges Picton (Town of Carman) and Barrie Fraser (RM of Dufferin) back as Council representatives on the CDMHAC. Congratulations to both of them on being returned by acclamation in the recent municipal elections. Sheldon Harder, also elected in Ward 4 by acclamation, will serve as an alternate for the RM of Dufferin and will be a welcome addition to the committee.

Lorne Thompson, consultant for our “Special Places” heritage grant project, toured the district with CDMHAC members in October to get an overview of the heritage resources in Carman/Dufferin. Nice to get to know Lorne better. We are looking forward to working with him in the coming year.

More Support for Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden

Rod McPherson, on behalf of Carman Legion #18, presents a cheque to Marg Neumann, Diane & Grant Gillingham

Carman Legion #18 presented the Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden Committee with a cheque for $500 to help fund a monument which was placed in the garden this summer in memory of local soldiers who died in WWI.

The CDMHAC also helped fund the monument and assisted students in researching the lives of the local soldiers who died in the conflict (see Old News from July 2014). On November 11, the students mounted a display of their research and took part in a well-attended Remembrance Day service.

Rod McPherson, Carman Legion #18

July 2014
. Overcast skies and morning drizzle failed to dampen spirits or halt the WWI commemorative event July 1 in Roseisle. The community is known for its traditional Canada Day celebration—waffle breakfast, parade, tractor pull, lawn mower races, food, entertainment and spectacular fireworks. This year’s special heritage event added a new dimension to being ‘Canada Proud’.

Roseisle area sent 62 young men to war in 1914–18; eight of them did not return. Local students ages 10 to 15 each selected one of the soldiers to learn about their life and the circumstances of their death on the battlefield. On July 1, the students presented profiles of ‘their’ soldiers and placed name tags on roses they planted in a special section of the Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden.

Students at Memorial Rose Garden ceremony

Candace Bergen, MP, Blaine Petersen, MLA, and George Gray, Deputy Reeve, brought official greetings to a large audience that included relatives of the fallen soldiers.

Speaking on behalf of the Carman/Dufferin Councils and Carman/Dufferin Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee (CDMHAC), George Gray lauded the project for providing young people of the community with tools to learn about their past and help preserve and promote local heritage. CDMHAC made a financial contribution towards the monument and members of the Committee helped guide the students in their research.

George noted that “Three to four generations after the First World War, there aren’t too any of us left who personally knew veterans of WWI. For most folks, these soldiers have simply become a name and an initial on a plaque. We have to thank our students for reminding that these were real people, the sons of local families. Their loss was mourned by the entire community, many of whom feared they might be next to receive the dreaded casualty notice.”

On behalf of Carman Legion #18, local veteran Rod McPherson dedicated a monument that marks the special area of the garden. He said that “this was the most beautiful thing the community could have done” for our war dead.

See The Valley Leader, July 10, 2014, for additional coverage of the event. See also War Memorials for more information on the monument and profiles of the soldiers.

Visitors check out student displays

Hammond Avenue Home

Robert Martin of Calgary is trying to locate a photo of the home where his grandparents lived in Carman. He wrote: “In 1916, when my Grandfather when to war, the family, Jessie and George Wilson and children, moved to Carman, to an address the Census indicates as 226 Hammond Avenue [street or family number]. Current town maps show the new street and avenue numbers and not their original names…. The family chose Carman because my Grandmother’s family resided there (or in the vicinity). My Grandmother was a Harrison (Jessie Caroline), [sister of] John Harrison… “ The search is on; does anyone have information that would help Robert Martin locate a picture of the house?

Website Feedback: Olive Bowes on Changes in Carman

Olive Bowes, Carman teacher 1928–1969, is seated in the middle, front row. Does anyone know the other people in the group or the occasion of the gathering?

A number of items were forwarded to us by Eileen McIntyre, granddaughter of Dr. A. McGavin, who served the district from 1911 till his untimely death in 1948. With the collection was a letter written by Carman teacher Olive Bowes on July 4, 1969 to former students who were unable to attend her retirement reception in June of that year. Olive Bowes was born at Stephenfield in 1903 and taught in Carman for 41 years. Being a product of the prairies, she talks first about the weather and farming; she then describes some of the changes that occurred in Carman during her teaching years:

We have been having cool weather all spring. Our furnace has been on every day except four since January 1st. Lately we have been having very heavy rains. As a result much of the grain is standing in water. This is very serious as last year the farm crops received too much moisture. Then there was great difficulty in harvesting and later the work and cost of drying grain. Then there was little market for the grain.

As you all know the economy of Carman depends to a large extent upon the farmers. The landscape of Carman has also changed. The island has disappeared. The river now flows almost straight east from the Ryall Hotel to the former MacKenzie property. Highway No. 13 now runs directly north through the town and no longer circles the post office corner. I miss the island as I always thought it added to the beauty of the town. But for business purposes and travelling the new arrangement is much better.

Bridge over the Boyne River to ‘the island’

The Bank of Montreal and the Bank of Commerce have built new attractive banks. The old Bank of Commerce has been moved to the property south of the “Old School”. This year I believe it is to be used as an open area classroom for three grade two classes. But in the future the basement is probably to be made into a banquet room. The first floor is to be used as lodge rooms and the third floor is to contain two suites.

The new Boyne Lodge is located on the west road just east of the railway track or just north of the trestle bridge. It provides a comfortable, happy home for some seventy senior citizens. In the north end is the Legion Lodge, which provides most comfortable living quarters for single older people, or married couples.

Carman’s project for Manitoba’s Centennial Year is a new library, which the committee hopes to have built on a convenient downtown location.

The co-op has built a lovely new store where you can purchase drugs, clothing, hardware, meats and groceries. There is also a co-op lunch-room where meals and lunches are served. The co-op also sells fuel oil, fuel for engines, lumber and custom-made buildings.

There is a laundromat and there are two dry-cleaning establishments.

The water from the Boyne is filtered and purified and so is now used in almost all the homes. Wells have almost all disappeared. Little houses behind big houses are also a thing of the past. No longer do the police call at the school on Nov. 1st and take out a group of students to put up what they knocked down the night before because they have almost all disappeared.

The Carman memorial Hospital is very attractive and provides for forty patients. The hospital is serviced by two local men—Dr. Ken Cunningham and Dr. Clinton North—and a newcomer, Dr. Regehr. The hospital also provides ambulance service.

There are many lovely new homes scattered throughout all parts of the town and whole new streets of houses have been built on the eastern side of the town.The golf course is absolutely beautiful and boasts an attractive club house.

At certain times of the year the Ryall Hotel and the Carman Hotel have rustic beer gardens located on their premises. The Boyne Theatre is not nearly as well patronized as it used to be but perhaps this is due to the varied television programs. Good eating places are prevalent in town. Syl’s Drive-In, Co-op Lunch Counter, Fireside Inn, Ed’s Service Station, Campbell’s Lunch Counter, Ryall Hotel dining room, Rex Café and the York Café all provide nourishing meals. The B.C. Café opposite the post office has disappeared.

Remember the Boyne Theatre and the York Café next door?

Potatoes, carrots, and sugar beets are now produced in very large quantities. Aubin’s nursery produces fruit trees, shrubs, perennial flowers, etc. for an ever-increasing market. Mr. Hunt also has a small nursery. Vanderveen’s and Vandersluis’s have very large greenhouses where bedding plants are grown.

Riding horses are very popular and many young people are the proud owners of beautiful horses which they board on the neighbouring farms.

The collegiate is located on the eastern edge of the town and has ample space for outdoor sports. The elementary school located on the grounds where the old school was now has grades I to VIII located in it. But a large school building program is planned. Many rooms and a new auditorium are to be added to the collegiate and then the grades VII and VIII will be moved to the collegiate. New classrooms are also to be added to the elementary school. When I first taught in Carman, there were only eleven on the staff: now there are almost fifty on staff. Carman no longer has its own school board but the Midland Divisional Board has charge of all the schools in the area. Wingham, Elm Creek, Miami, Roseisle, Graysville, Sperling, Roland and Altamont are all under the Midland Board. Two of my former teachers live in Carman—Miss York and Mrs. Campbell.

The rink is now located in the park. The swimming pool run by the Kinsmen, is also in the park, which forms a beautiful setting for it.

Olive Bowes goes on to describe her June 29th retirement reception which was attended by over 800 guests. She also gives an outline of the program, gifts received and names of out-of-town attendees.

The letter provides a fascinating journey back in time and, even if the weather and the uncertainties of farming remain constant, other changes have continued to re-shape Carman in the forty-five years since Olive Bowes retired. The letter is now in the Dufferin Historical Museum, which also is the source of the above photos.

June 2014. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of WWI. In the Carman/Dufferin area, the Memorial Hall has served as a day-to-day reminder of the “war to end all wars” and of the impact it had on communities far removed from the European battlefront. Erected by local citizens in 1919–20, the building and grounds are well deserving of their Municipal Heritage Site status.

The Legion maintains the Memorial Room in the building; in 1987, they erected a cenotaph on the grounds

Do you remember? Far from being a static tribute to the dead, the Hall has served over the years as the hub of municipal government, housing the offices of the R.M. and Town as well as  other services. Some of you may remember the corner office where you got your first driver’s licence. “Can you drive? Fine, here you are! Good luck.” Or the days when the Hall was an active social centre—with drama productions, talent shows and graduations in the upper level theatre? Or the Saturday night dances in the basement, dancing to waltzes, foxtrots and polkas, with live local music. Women may recall when the Memorial Hall Ladies’ Rest Room was the place where women socialized or waited while husbands located machinery parts or dropped in for a visit at the men-only facilities in town. 

Memorial Hall (June 2014). Veteran’s groups and others have managed to maintain the integrity of the consecrated grounds, the exterior architecture and the Memorial Room. Inside the building, much has changed over the years. At present, the interior of the building is a blend of the old and new. In the front entrance, radiators, a visible reminder of  the traditional heating system, can be seen side by side with the current list of occupants of the Memorial Hall and the most recent addition to health and safety, an AED device.

Front entrance blends old and new          Original window maintains heritage

Council Chamber. See Vintage Photos for a 1925 view of the room and some of the same furniture.

In the basement, beyond the view of the general public, lie areas that remain largely immune to the passing of time such as the elaborate heating/plumbing system and the infamous holding cell or jail.

A glimpse at the depths of the basement including the early jail     


Ironically, the 100th anniversary of WWI also marks the year that plans for renovation of the building have finally come to fruition. With a thoroughness worthy of WWI destruction, the building is being gutted in preparation for complete renovation of the interior. See The Valley Leader (April 3, 2014) for excellent coverage of future plans for the building.

Upper floor June 2014, ready for renovation

A disk and hard copies of these and other photos of the Memorial Hall 2014 will be kept in the CDMHAC filing cabinet.   


The Old Swimming Hole on the Boyne River (March 2014)

CDMHAC appreciates help from the local community in identifying heritage sites that should be commemorated by cairns, signs or in other significant ways. One of the sites that was brought to our attention was the Old Swimming Hole on the Boyne River.

Margaret Riddell kindly forwarded a copy of an article she wrote for a special Homecoming Edition of The Valley Leader (July 10, 2000, p. 31) in which she reminds us of this intriguing piece of local heritage. Margaret wrote:

Wherever you find a river, you will find swimmers, and the Boyne is no exception. From the time of early settlement, there were many swimming holes along its shady banks.

In the mid-forties, the idea of a 'pool' in the centre of town was conceived. The Carman Swimming Club developed an area on a wide curve in the river just west of the present Riverview Legion Place. It quickly became one of the major recreation centres of the community.

Construction at the Boyne Swimming Hole

Crowds of up to 2000 people showed up to watch annual swim meets. Local people competed in races and relays and diving exhibitions, and young daredevils catapulted into the water from a rope on the great tree overhanging the river. The Carman Band often entertained from a bandstand on the south side of the Boyne.

The Carman Kinsmen managed the day-to-day operation of the pool until 1950, when they took over all the assets of the Swimming Club. The Kinsmen proceeded to enlarge and improve the site, which included tennis courts and horseshoe pits to the north of the river. They moved a building to the west side of the tennis courts to serve as a lunch stand and storeroom. Fine sand had to be hauled in on a yearly basis to maintain the beach area.

Boyne Swimming Hole showing bandstand on left and other amenities

By the late fifties, safety concerns were mounting. The Kinsmen opened a modern pool in Kings Park in 1960, and the recreation area next to the Boyne disappeared beneath a residential development.

All that remains of the once-busy pool is a set of small concrete steps which led down to the diving platform at the river's edge, and the remnants of concrete sidewalks leading to the change houses. Part of the low concrete wall that protected the sand beach area is still visible, but the great tree with the rope swing is long gone.

CDMHAC is looking into the type of signage that might be suitable to mark the location of the swimming hole, considering public access to the area. Note that the above photos are from the fine collection of pictorial images at the Dufferin Historical Museum. See this month’s Vintage Photos for more pictures featuring the Boyne River.


Christmas at the Museum (January 2014)

Dufferin Historical Museum again is to be congratulated for another entertaining Christmas at the Museum. Members pitched in to decorate the Museum and plan an evening of fun, including carols by the Sonatrice Singers, a reading by author Lloyd Kitching, a vintage Santa, along with sleigh rides and refreshments. For coverage & photos of the event, go to the Museum website.

Sonatrice Singers December 7, 2013 at Christmas at the Museum

100th Anniversary of WWI

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. Carman/Dufferin district has two war memorials. The Memorial Hall in Carman is one of our designated heritage sites and the only building in Western Canada designed to commemorate those who fought in the “War to End all Wars”. The second site is the Roseisle War Memorial which records the names of local soldiers who served in WWI and later conflicts. Carman Legion #18 will announce plans shortly for holding commemorative services. In Roseisle, young members of the community are researching the lives and deaths of eight local lads who died in WWI. This summer they will plant roses in the Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden in memory of ‘their’ soldiers.

Roseisle Memorial Rose Garden

Dr. A. McGavin

One of the first emails we received in response to our new website was from Eileen McGavin McIntyre, granddaughter of Dr. Andrew McGavin who practiced in Carman from 1911 until his death in 1948 while on call to the scene of an accident.

She also sent a poem her grandfather wrote about curling in Carman. The poem, titled Regarding "Fans" and Skips was written in February, 1936 and voices spectators’ views of the prowess of various skips and their teams. Dr. McGavin explains for the reader that “The "Fans" on the benches have all kinds of advice to give and one would think they knew the game better than anyone else. How often our forays into the past show us that some things never change!

Thanks to Eileen McIntyre for these and other anticipated gems from her collection. We are hoping to compile a booklet of Dr. McGavin’s poems about golfing, the hospital and other aspects of life in Carman. For more information on Dr. McGavin, see Memorable Manitobans: Andrew Edward McGavin (1876-1948).

Dr. McGavin in front of his office 1940.

Our Website Logo

Folks have been asking about our choice of the CDMHAC logo.The logo was designed by web consultant David McInnes, who drew from our website content and feedback from CDMHAC members to design a logo that is meaningful to the site.

David's inspiration came from the wheels in the A.A. Brooke paintings. In this context, they symbolize connections and the role of transportation in shaping and changing our community—from the ox cart that brought the first settlers, to the wagons that carried the grain, the trains that took the products to wider markets and gave people greater access to the world, and the cars and trucks that have changed our patterns of interaction and trade. The wheel also represents progress in our community—and the recognition that as we roll forward into the future, the present becomes the past and we generate new and ever-changing heritage. In our local context, the wheel represents the community as a whole, with Carman as the hub and the RM as the rim, joined by the spokes. Neither works without the other—rather they achieve their strength and function through interdependence.
The colour gold derives from a dominant impression of the area—the golden fields of grain, the golden prairie sun. From a less theoretical perspective, gold also complements the green colour band in the header which is our colour link with the Carman website. Black, the second colour, is the secondary colour that comes up.

Our thanks to David for simply and creatively conveying our heritage and purpose.


New Website (November 2013)

Launching our new heritage website marks the culmination of several months’ work on the part of the Carman/Dufferin Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee (CD MHAC) and our colleagues at the Historic Resources Branch (HRB) of Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism.

HRB examined 96 municipal websites in Western Canada and the USA . Few sites, including those in Manitoba, highlighted local heritage. To remedy this situation, HRB worked with the Gimli MHAC to develop a template that other areas could use for developing heritage content.

Last December, our MHAC received a grant for a pilot project to see how well the template works in other settings. HRB has provided consultants and a webmaster; we have researched and provided the content.

We are proud to present this website as the result of our mutual efforts. The website is still a work in progress. We have tried to search out and cross-check our information as carefully as possible. Our main written sources included: The History of the RM of Dufferin in Manitoba 1880–1980 published by the RM of Dufferin , and A Review of the Heritage Resources of Boyne Planning District, a study by Karen Nicholson, Historic Resources Branch, 1984. Other sources are listed in the Local Heritage section of the website. The Dufferin Historical Museum has been a splendid source for photos and other information.





David McInnes (web consultant) and David Butterfield (Historic Resources Branch) meeting with CD MHAC members

Boyne School Re-locates (Summer 2013)

The big heritage news in Carman/Dufferin this summer has been the relocation of Boyne School from its original site east of Carman to its new home in King’s Park, north of the Dufferin Historical Museum. The move marks the culmination of more than two years of planning and fundraising by the Museum under the leadership of Trish Aubin and her diligent Board of Directors.

a one storey white building with red trimBoyne School is one of just a few well-preserved one-room schools remaining in the province. The original log school was built in 1878. It was replaced by a frame structure in the 1890’s and by the present building in 1930. The school and land were designated as a Municipal Heritage Site by the RM of Dufferin in August, 1988. The building has now been re-designated by the Town of Carman.

The move is just the first part of the project, and a lot of restoration work still lies ahead. The Museum is working with Gord Menzies, a provincial Restoration Specialist, to restore the building in keeping with accepted guidelines. When it is completely refurbished with desks, maps, blackboards and books, the school will allow both old and young to step back in time and re-visit or newly experience one of the most important parts of our early heritage. Meantime, you can learn more about our early schools on this website.

One of the major concerns with any heritage venture is sustainability. It was long-term preservation concerns that prompted the Boyne School move; it is ongoing effort and funding that will keep it intact. The R.M. of Dufferin has just made a generous contribution towards ensuring this will happen. When the land the school was on east of Carman was sold by the municipality, Council decided to put the money into a fund to be used for the future upkeep of the school. We need to hear big applause for the R.M. as well as for all the other donors who have made the move possible, and, not least, for the Museum committee who are now in charge of the building and continuing to fundraise for restoration. Great community effort, folks!

And for excellent photo coverage of the move check out the Museum website.