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Timeline... 1880 - 1890

The World

1882: Thomas Edison builds the first power plant in New York.
1885: Karl Benz patents his first automobile.
1889: The Eiffel Tower opens in Paris.


In 1885, after long-standing grievances remain unaddressed, Louise Riel and Gabriel Dumont lead an uprising of Metis in the Saskatchewan River Valley communities in the Prince Albert - Battleford regions. Subsequent actions by native groups lead by Big Bear and Poundmaker create concern in Manitoba communities but relations between settlers and native people remain peaceful.


1881: March 2 - Manitoba Boundaries Act passed in Parliament, providing for an extension of the province’s borders.

The town of Brandon is created in May of 1881 when the site is selected over Grand Valley as a crossing and divisional point on the C.P.R. Within a month it is a busy centre.

The Assiniboine Rivers floods, putting much of the Assiniboine Valley under water, much as it was in 2011.

1883: An act of the legislature set up 4 municipalities within the County of Souris River, including Arthur.
Arthur included Ranges 27,28 & 29; townships 1,2, and 3.
Powers given allowed municipalities to bonus industries and railways by cash donation and by tax exemptions for a number of years.

1884 : In 1884 the Province was divided and organized into separate Municipalities.
Homestead Regulations eased to attract more settlers. Three options existed:

1. Three year’s cultivation and residence – with the settler not absent for more than six months in any one year.
2. Taking up residence for two years and nine months within two miles of the homestead and then afterwards residing in a habitabgle house on homestead for three months at any time prior to applying for the patent. With 10 acres to be broken ion the first year, 15 in the second, and 15 in the third.

3. A five year system that allowed the settler to live anywhere for the first two years as long as he began to cultivate the land within six months and build a habitable house.

1885: The end of steamboat service on the upper Assiniboine.

The R.M. of Argyle

The Argyle Icelanders

A combination of bad luck and bad weather combined with a smallpox epidemic, harsh winters and wet summers made life extremely difficult for Icelandic settlers near Gimli, but the colony persevered and eventually thrived. For those that preferred fishing over farming the location served them well once they adapted, but it wasn’t great farm land and that likely prompted some to try their luck elsewhere.

Everett Parsonage, a pioneer of the Pilot Mound district, had worked for John Taylor in Ontario and through him had contacts with some of the Icelandic settlers at Gimli. He advised them to visit Argyle. In August of 1880 Sigurdur Kristofferson and Kristian Jonsson set out to vist Mr. Parsonage and he showed them a largely unsettled area in the rolling country in the northern part of the Municipality, an area we now know as Grund.

As soon as he could Sigurdur, filed on SE 10-6-14 and called his new home “Grund”, An Icelandic word meaning grassy plain. More soon followed, with two more men taking homesteads that fall. In the spring of 1881 four families arrived at their new homes, by winter there were eight families, then 17 by the next year. By 1884 they had “650 cultivated acres, 60 head of cattle, 62 oxen, 60 sheep, 9 work horses…” and more. Six schools and a church were built by 1900. Before Baldur was established a strong community was in place, and although the store and post office established at Sigurdur Kristofferson home didn’t evolve into a village, the name Grund has lived on.


In the year 1880 the influx of settlers began in earnest to the east half of the municipality.

In April John Playfair, his son A.W. and Sam Dowell with George W. Cramer Sr. with his sons G.W. and A.E. made their way from Emerson, over the Marringhurst plains into township 5 range 13. Each of those took home¬steads and pre-emption. In August George W. Playfair the eldest son of John Playfair, and J. Bernard, ano¬ther son, with their families number¬ing fifteen in all, came through from Emerson.

In the same year Christopherson Arason, and Johnson hoisted the Union Jack in the name of the Icelanders north of the Tiger Hills.

Settlement began in the Rosehill district, at first referred to as the Clark Settlement. Mr. Clark and his family lived together on Sec. 14-4-14

Murdoch McQuarrie, who the first post office in Marringhurst also kept a stopping place and many old-timers recall the hospitality given them by Mrs. McQuarrie.


By 1881 the first council of the newly created R.M. of Argyle was in place although it was not active until 1882.

The first members of Argyle Council: Warden, George W Playfair, Councillors, F. Butcher, A. Henderson. G. W. Cramer, James Graham, J. F. Macey, and James McCelland. The new council was sworn in by A. W. Playfair who was appointed a commissioner by the local legislature of that date. Mr. Wm. Stark was ap¬pointed clerk and treasurer, a position he held for several years, and by his uniform kindness and obliging manner won golden opinions from the ratepayers of Argyle.

Mr. Neelin settled just east of the future town site that was to bear his name in 1881.

The first woman to tie a sheaf of wheat on this side of the river was Mrs. Rankin, tied with wire, the first year for crops.


This 1881 map shows that the Argyle  region was just beginning to attract settlement in 1881.
Weir, Thomas R. [Settlement 1870-1921] [map]. 1:3,041,280. In: Thomas R. Weir. Economic Atlas of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Manitoba Dept. of Industry and Commerce, 1960, pate 13.

(Warkentin and Ruggles. Historical Atlas of Manitoba. map 153, p. 332

The Glenora Story
Glenora may claim to be the first “town” in Argyle in that there was a half-hearted effort to promote the original site of Glenora by the usual method of selling lots to speculators. The site, unlike the many other wonder towns,  did have both some potential and some actual commercial activity. Thomas Rogers was operating a store on SW 20-3-13. 

The first Post Office at Glenora was opened by Thos. Feeley in 1881 on S ha. 28-3-13. He carried the mail in an oxcart from Pilot Mound, (the old Mound).

Blaine & Reid built a flour mill north of Rock Lake at the original site of Glenora. It was the mill that is credited with providing Glenora with its name. The Ogilvie Milling Co. had a flour mill near Montreal which they called the Glenora Mill. Their flour bags were marked "Glenora Patent".  When the Flour Mill was built on the SE ¼  20-3-13, north of Rock Lake, in 1882, the name Glenora was given to the mill as a compliment to the Ogilvie Co. which owned some three sections of land close by. The name was then given to the post office and later to the school. The sawmill was built by Walsh and Sons of Montreal and Mr. W. J. Porter, later of Baldur, worked in the mill as manager. George McKnight, early resident of Glenora district, also worked in the mill and Jim Chester worked in the Flour Mill. Both the mills were burned down in 1885.


Millstone, on the grounds of the St. Georges Anglican Church     

Store from the original Glenora site.

Glenora served  the commercial centre of the region for a short time and is recalled in several pioneer reminiscences. Alex Rankin from Killarney recalls traveling to Glenora “for grists”.  Wlliam Cummings recalls that the first school in the Huntly area was built of lumber hauled from Glenora. George Lawrence, later an MLA for Killarney, operated an agricultural implement business for the Massey Manufacturing Company at Glenora in 1883, likely out of his homestead. It appears that the store may have closed soon after the mills burned, but the name was well enough established to be resurrected when the railway finally arrived a few kilometers to the northeast.  The millstone from that mill has been carefully placed on grounds of St. George’s Anglican Church, in that new Glenora.

Wm. Lawrence was born at Uxbridge, Ont., in June 1850 where he spent his boyhood days. He left home at an early age and spent many laborious days lumbering.  He came west in 1881, landed at Emerson and walked from there to the Glenora Plains as it was called at that time, where he took up land and broke it with oxen and went through the same hardships as other early pioneers.

Winnipeg Daily Sun - Sept. 13, 1881


Before the coming of the Northern Pacific and Manitoba Railway to the district in 1889, the settlement from Dry River to Grund was named Otenaw. The post-office was on sec¬tion 16-5-13, and was kept by A. W. Playfair, who drew the mail from Pilot Mound. The greater number of the early settlers came from the province of Ontario and reached the district in 1881

A less successful attempt was made to create the town of Glasgow on Twp 5 Range 13 (somewhere between Greenway and Baldur). Lots were offered for sale in the Rock Lake Herald, Sept, 1, 1881. But there is no record of any development occurring.


“Mr. J. Chester, proprietor of the Chester House, Baldur, in connection with which he runs a livery stable, ten good drivers being constant¬ly on the road; and also deals in flour, bran, shorts and oatmeal with which his warerooms are kept well stocked, came to this country in 1882 from Lanark county, Ontario, and was the pioneer settler in 5-14, engaging in farming half a mile west of the present town. Mr. Chester was instrumental in selec¬ting the present site of Baldur, after the advent of the railroad in 1889.” Gazette 1899

The First Schools

In 1882 Mr. Porter negotiated with Wm. Clark for the construction of a school. He took a petition around to be signed, the school was built, and called Rosehill after Mr. Porter's farm. It was built on the North-east corner of section 16-4-14 which was the centre of the township.

The Wigton School was built in 1882, cut and erected by the settlers, the carpenters were Mr. William Macorquadale, Sheffield, Bell and Huffman. The first trustees were McLellan, M. Rankin, Scott, Glouston. The secreta¬ry treasurer was Wm. Reid.

The Marringhurst School district was organized in the winter of 1881-82 with Bentley D. William Galloway and John Wilson as trustees, with James Butchard as first teacher in the district. D. W. Minden and J.J. Elsey were among the first pupils. The present school was erected in 1892.


Mr. Porter also was the instigator for the formation of post-office service for the Rosehill district. The post office was called Moropano in preference to Rosehill because there happened to be another post office somewhere by that name.

The first school built in the Baldur district was the Tiger Hills school on the McDonald homestead in 1883. A building bee took place with a committee of four, Messrs. McAulcy, Chester, Hodgkinson and Norton. The teacher was Mrs. J. Chester, who had to write to Ontario for a permit to teach in Manitoba, as she had been a teacher in that province before her marriage.


Jon Olafson called the meeting. "All farmers" are present and 36 persons of over 18 years join in forming a congregation which they call Frikirkju congregation, indicating by the name, their non attachment to any state church. This was New Year's Day 1884. Trustees elected were: Bjorn Jansson. Skapti Arason, Skull Arnason.

The original Hecla School was built on 16-6-14.

The first picnic in the district took place in 1884 at Jones's Lake. Baldwin Benedickson entertained at stilts. Sigurjon Snydal shone in the ox race.

Rosehill School built.

Local news…


Winnipeg Daily Sun - Dec 3, 1884                                                      

Winnipeg Daily Sun - Dec 3, 1884


John Montague, an early settler on Sec 30-3-12, brought in the first steam thresher in 1885.


Dry River SD. # 339, 1885 – 1958,  NW 22-4-12

Cypress Valley SD. # 394, was established in 1885 – 1958. The first school was on N 24-6-13. 


By  1886 15 school districts had been established. 

Roseberry School was built on SW 33-3-14 in 1886 by contract. R.B. Watson was responsible for the building. The trustees were Wm. Stark, John Neelin and H.N. Cooper The latter being the  Sec.-Treas., too. The first teacher was John Lawrence and then Mrs. B. C. Martin, John Gochen, G. Peters A. McGinnis, A. E. Buttress, A. S. Rose, D. A. Ross, Miss Kitty Lockerby, Miss B. Leece and Miss Carrie Cumming. One teacher was dismissed because he taught by sound… the parents fearing his sanity.

South of the old Roseberry School in 1886 on SW 28-3-14 Mr. John Neelin had a Grocery Store and part time had the Post Office, the mail being driven from Pilot Mound. Before that Alex Kelso had the mail in Moropano, 5 miles west of Roseberry.


Bru SD. # 368 established. The first building was on SE 16-6-13


Marringhurst Anglican Church is built on Sec. 24-3-13. Mr. George Stewart of Dry River was the builder. Mr. Joseph Stevens (father of the late editor of the Baldur Gazette) plasters the interior in the following year. Rev. A. D. Wood is one of the first ministers to preach in the new building.


Frelsis (Grund) Church built.


Frelsis Church in 2010

The Northern Pacific is being run from Morris to Brandon.

In the fall of 1989 Mr. G.W. Playfair moves his grain buying business (which he conducts for Bawlf & Co.) to the new town site in a building he also moved from its previous location on his farm. Once the issue of the town site is firmly settled he moves the building to the front street and begins a lumber, furniture and coal business.

Jesse Chester’s house becomes a sort of unofficial restaurant for railway workers and he is soon persuaded to open a boarding house that becomes known as the Chester House.

St. George’s Anglican Church built at Marringhurst.

Baldur is Born

In 1889, after several unsuccessful efforts to secure a much-needed rail link, the Canadian Northern Pacific Railroad (a branch of the American company), proposed a line linking Morris with Brandon and passing through the center of Argyle. The towns of Greenway and Belmont were quickly established. But that left quite a stretch without a station and farmers felt they deserved better service.

Settlers in the district directly west of the present town and the north and south were not sat¬isfied. To their way of thinking, a station should be placed between, Greenway and Belmont.

While the surveyors were busy grading the line, farmers in the Otenaw district lead by A.W Playfair, suceeded in convincing the railway company that another station was needed. The first site chosen was three miles west of the present town and again citizens including Jesse Chester, Reeve Peter Strang and Sigurdur Chistopherson, rallied in support of the current location. The surveyor reconsidered and chose a location a few miles further east. This still wasn’t what the locals had in mind and Jesse Chester apparently carried the surveyor’s equipment himself to the current site. His persuasion won out and in the spring of 1890 land was purchased from M.T. Cramer and Mr. Taggart for $7.00 per acre.

Given that beginning, the name “Chesterville” suggested by a railway official Mr. Lehorn would have seemed appropriate, but Sigurdur Chistopherson’s daughter Carrie has been given credit for the suggesting name “Baldur” the Nordic God of innocence and summer sun. A vote settled the issue and Baldur it was. Carrie herself was recognized in the name of the second avenue of the new town.

Previous to this Mr. G.W. Cramer had undertaken grain buying for the Bawlf Grain Company. He had built a spur at the track, and brought a building from his farm for his winter grain buying on sleigh. Mr. A.E. Cramer moved an old creamery, often referred to as the Cheese factory, of which Mr. Brown was the cheese maker, to the present site of Mr. Kilgour’s store and sold it to G.W. Griffiths for a General Store in the spring of 1890, although the townsite was not yet settled.

The Bethel church, a frame building was moved in from the Welsh farm out from the prairies south west of town to site of the present United Church. Later the present church was built and the frame building moved and finally dismembered and the parts used for various purposes throughout the town. The Tiger Hills School was moved into town by W. Playfair and used for the municipal Hall. G. W. Cramer built a blacksmith shop, manned by Harry Goodman, who had deserted his trade to go on a homestead five miles east of town. This blacksmith shop was placed where Stillwell's is now.

The development of the new town was well under way.