Timeline... 1880 - 1889

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.

Hartney and the R.M. of Cameron


A Land Office is opened on the Boundary Commission Trail.

Turtle Mountain Land District is the first administrative unit for the southwestern Manitoba. It was administered from the Turtle Mountain Land Office on 19-2-22. with George F. Newcombe as agent, and a Mr. W.H. Wood as assistant. The site, southeast of Deloraine became known as Newcombe’s Hollow.

In 1880 a group of Ontario settlers started the settlement of Old Deloraine to the north of the Turtle Mountains in Manitoba.  


The CPR main line arrives at Brandon

In June of 1881 John Fee & Samuel Long were the first settlers to reach the Hartney district. They selected farm sites - each taking a half section of  35-5-23W. They were able to break some land before winter when they left to find work, John in Brandon and Sam in Winnipeg. That autumn four Englishmen from Blackpool including William Cross also arrived

Samuel Long

John Fee

In 1881/82 – William Roper, with sons Benjamin & James are the first to spend winter.

James Hartney

James Hartney was one of the region’s early settlers in 1882. He had received an education at the Pakenham High School, after which, from 1870 to 1875, he went into business with James M. Robertson. He spent several years working at Arnprior before moving to Manitoba in 1882, where he farmed for six years at the present site of Hartney.

James Hartney’s farm, which he purchased from the CPR (9-6-23) in 1881 became the centre of the community by 1883 when he had established a Post Office and Store on his land. The Post Office was called Hartney and it became name for district.

In 1891, he was elected Reeve of the Municipality of Glenwood then, the next year, a member of the provincial legislative assembly (1892-95) for the new constituency of Avondale.  In January 1900, he was appointed provincial immigration agent, based in Toronto, Ontario. He held the position until December 1915 when the position was abolished. He died in Toronto on 27 December 1924.

This 1881 map shows that the Hartney 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



Fee & Long  return to their land an register their farm sites.
Fee’s log cabin served as a temporary shelter for incoming settlers. That April “The Orphan’s Home” as it was called, housed 17 people. Numerous others arrived in the region, including W.J. Higgins 36-5-24, James Hartney 9-6-23, William Cross, William Roper and his sons, Benjamin and ten year old James, Albert Henry, and Edward Nixon.


Fee returns to Ontario for winter.
First Presbyterian services are offered by Mr. W. Rochester.
Dominion Land Survey in area.


Most of the desirable sections  in Twps 5 & 6 in Ranges 24 & 25 were taken.


The first school in the region is established at Whitewater with Fred Wright as teacher. This was followed closely by schools at Meglund on July 11, and Swaffham School.

James Hartney makes application for a Post Office at his farm. A separate building is put up which soon houses a store as well.

The Pembina Branch of the C.P.R. reaches Deloraine – offering an alternative route for people and goods.

Promises, delays, and more promises were the order of the day when it came to railway expansion. The settlers in the Hartney district expected a line to be built from Brandon, but there was no assurance that it would pass close to existing settlements. The following two maps show possible routes.


Several prairie fires mark the fall season
Mr. Dickson is operating the General Store on the Hartney farm


Mrs S.H. Dickson dies & is buried on Hartney area farm

Canadian Pacific Railway Company. Manitoba and the Northwest Territories of Canada Showing the Lines and Land Grant of the Canadian Pacific Railway  (Detail from SW Mb.)
Image Courtesy of University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections

This maps showing actual and proposed rail lines illustrated the situation in 1887. Settlers in the Hartney region have been promised a rail line and are waiting patiently.  Note that in the 1887 map Hartney is to be bypassed..


Hartney Site Chosen

Sometime in 1889 it became apparent that the long-anticipated Souris Branch was to become a reality. When locals learned that a town was planned on a site somewhat northeast of present-day Hartney (35-6-23) settlers succeeded in having the  C.P.R. place the new town in the vicinity the Hartney Post Office and  succeeded in having  name changed from Airdrie to Hartney,

After the visit of the surveyors in 1889, the building began. When the train whistle sounded for the first train on Christmas Day 1890, The Lake of the Woods Milling Company had a grain elevator ready, as had David Leckie and H. Hammond. A boarding house erected by W.H. Hotham was in place. James Hartney and his brother-in-law S.H. Dickenson had erected store and post office, and Dr. Frank McEown had set up a practice and started work on a drug store. William Hopkins had built his three-story brick building housing his store, a residence, and a meeting hall. Seemingly overnight all the services and goods one would expect in a thriving town were available to settlers who had waited for the better part of a decade.


Hartney town site surveyed.

Lake of the Woods grain elevator erected 30,000 bushel capacity.
Leckie & Hammond Elevator built.
1st house in the new town built by Mr. & Mrs.  W.H. Hotham.
James Hartney rents out farm & goes to live in Souris; but opens Hartney Store & P.O. with S.H. Dickson as first postmaster
Dr. Frank McEown sets up a practice and begins building a drug store.
Mr. McEown’s Drugstore burns / also burned is the Butchart/Bridgett hardware store.
Barber Shop established by (J.A. Bradley).
Mr. Barter’s Butcher Shop opens.
A hotel is established by Jos. Young, it later becomes the Commercial Hotel.
In September a Baptist congregation is formed under Rev. JH Best.