Events - A Brief History

Aboriginal Peoples

The establishment of Pine Fort on the north bank of the Assiniboine south of present-day Carberry in the late 1760's by Free Traders from Montreal, was the first attempt to by the fur traders to establish a presence in area and develop trade with the Sioux from the south, resident Cree and Assiniboine, and eastern groups such as Saulteaux, Ottawa and various Ojibwa bands; all of whom were trading or hunting in the area.
Settlers and Defining Culture

In 1878 and 1879 settlers from the Ontario began to settle the Big Plains. Many of the farmsteads and buildings in and near Carberry today bear the names of the settlers who arrived in that period – names such as McKinnon, McLaren, and  Stickle. In 1879 a post office called Fairview was established about 4 kilometres south of the current town.

In 1882, the CPR established a station and a small town-site named De Winton about three kilometres miles east of the town's present site. To combat speculation in town lots the railway company, using 100 specially-hired men, in one night physically moved the new station to the present site of the town of Carberry!  Soon the standard retail services were in place, local Municipal Government was organized and Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican congregations were established.

Other Settlement/Ethnic Groups

Although Carberry remains predominantly an Anglo-Saxon community, its proximity to Brandon and the presence of a large employer, along increasing social and commercial interaction with neighbouring communities, has fostered an increasingly multi-cultural population.

Economic Engines

As is the case in virtually all prairie towns, agriculture is the prime Economic Engine. Carberry’s location on the main line of the trans-continental rail line gave it early access to markets for its agricultural products and helped spur the growth of large grain and ranching operations. That was augmented by the establishment a large potato processing plant in the 1960’s which is still an important part of the local economy.
Commercial Growth

Carberry is fortunate in having at many notable commercial buildings from the Consolidation in its core area, offering a streetscape with a heritage feel.

Social & Cultural Development

The pioneer era, began in 1878 with the arrival on “permanent” settler Alfred Morton a schoolteacher and farmer from near Stratford, Ontario. By  July of 1882  with the arrival of the railway we see the first store erected by J.H. Lyons, the establishment of a railway station managed by T.D. Stickle, a Post Office and a Hotel managed by H.A. Perley.

In most Manitoba towns the arrival of the railway normally signaled a change in building methods with more readily available milled lumber finding its way into more substantial and well-finished homes and commercial structures. In Carberry’s case these supplies were available from the outset, but out of economic necessity most homes were modest and of frame construction.

In Carberry as in other communities, the “Consolidation” era began is defined by a “second wave” of construction, often typified by the replacement of modest homes and commercial structures. Beginning in about 1895, we see the erection of fine brick residences, churches and commercial building many of which still exist.

The Town of Carberry

The town of Carberry, in many ways a classic railway town, has some interesting and important claims that set it apart from its contemporaries. Like many other towns established along the C.P.R. Main Line its location was dictated by the railway and various scattered established businesses had to be re-established along the line. But with Carberry the C.P.R. actually established the town twice, moving the station when land speculation threatened railway profits and control.  Although many towns are named after, or by, C.P.R. directors, Carberry may was likely the last town named by J.J. Hill before he left the C.P.R. to concentrate on his American interests.  Like many prairie towns, its economy was, and still is, based on serving the surrounding agricultural settlement, but Carberry has supplemented that base with other varied enterprises and one particularly large-scale economic endeavor. Most towns had a consolidation era during which a substantial main street business district was quickly lined with two-story commercial buildings, but Carberry has retained both the scope of its commercial district and in many cases the buildings themselves. And while many towns with have a few dominant business leaders who helped shape the commercial landscape, Carberry had one in particular that left a lasting impact.

When the directors of the newly-formed syndicate charged with completing Canada’s ambitious trans-continental railway decided in the early spring of 1881 to survey the line along a southerly route rather than the much publicized more northerly options, settlers in and around some well-established towns like Birtle, Rapid City and Gladstone were disappointed, while those who happened to have homesteaded along the south branch of the Carleton Trail, at places such as Fairview, Grand Valley, and Gopher Creek suddenly had the country’s most vital transportation link at their doorstep.

Prior to the spring of 1881, many prospective settlers expected the main line of the new trans-continental railway would either pass along the main route of the Carleton Trail, some distance to the north, but the south fork of the trail from Portage  La Praire through Grand Valley and westward south of the Assiniboine  also drew some interest and a few homesteaders. By 1879 several people had taken up homesteads in the “Big Plain” region and a post office was established at Fairview and operated by Joh
n Baron, a few kilometres north of Carberry, and  soon there were settlers scattered through the region. Once the exact location of the line was evident, a series of towns were established between Portage La Prairie and Calgary - “Railway Towns” in the truest sense. Fairview was on the line of the preliminary survey but when that survey was changed or fine-tuned as the track approached, the new town of De Winton, one of the first of that era’s “Railway Towns” sprang up in 1882.

This was at the height of the “Manitoba Boom”, a period when wild speculation occurred, based on hopes, rumours and outright fraud relating to the location of rail lines. By January of 1882 De Winton lots were being advertised for sale in Winnipeg newspapers. The C.P.R. in this case countered that speculation by moving its station. De Winton soon became Carberry, a few kilometers to the west., and entered its early period of rapid growth. Like many other towns established along the C.P.R. Main various scattered established businesses had to be re-established along the line.

The town grew quickly and steadily in the security of its ready access to markets and supplies. A headline in the Winnipeg Daily Sun of October 20, 1882 proclaimed: “A Million Bushels of Grain Harvested in the Big Plain” and the story reported that Mr. Perley had built a hotel and that the town had “large stores by Mssrs Perley R.F Lyons, Wise and Dalton and Smith & McCall.” The report also mentions ”two lumber yards, feed and sale stables, blacksmith shops, a doctor and nearly all the requirements of a growing town”.  The settlers, predominantly from Ontario brought their protestant religion and practical business sense and applied both to their new surroundings. The consolidation era, which might be said to run from 1895 until 1915, saw considerable commercial expansion, much of it lead by James White a contractor and businessman responsible for many fine brick buildings, including two notable churches, and for a host of commercial enterprises including a Sash and Door Factory and a foundry. Other entrepreneurs such as Dave Kerr and Elias Jones who invented, and manufactured the “Jones Stacker and Blower” contributed to economic diversity.

Mr. White and his contemporaries have left their mark in the well-defined commercial downtown that exists largely intact today with a two block long “Heritage District” recently established to pay tribute to the towns past and to consolidate its future.